Batya Ungar-Sargon

S2E16

  
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Batya Ungar-Sargon, deputy opinion editor of Newsweek, discusses her latest book, Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy (2021) outlining how long before “fake news” became the calling card of the right, Americans had already lost faith in their news media. Noting how during the 20th century journalists used to live among the working class, Ungar-Sargon reveals how American journalism has undergone a status revolution over the twentieth century—from a blue-collar trade to an elite profession today firmly cemented within the well-rewarded and often high-profile knowledge-industry labour sector. Covering the conterminous to the rise of the Internet, the implosion of local news, and the nationalisation of America’s elite news media, Ungar-Sargon notes how journalists became both affluent and ideological which contributed to their ability to de-platform working class voices through the employment of obscure academic language and identity politics. She highlights how the working class has been rendered untouchable while the pressures of the digital media landscape align corporate incentives with newsroom crusades of wokery while the poor flounder under the goals of neoliberalism and meritocracy. Vituperating against the moral panic around racism, Ungar-Sargon elaborates how neoliberal media covers up the economic interests of the elite with a “patina of social justice” while abandoning the American descendants of slaves.