Cognitive dissonance, compartmentalization, and a lack of critical thinking: how Canadian journalism’s narrative always harmed women.

#MeToo was fine when it was “just” Americans getting the tag of shame, but now, when it is politicians getting outed, many in the Canadian media are behaving as if someone stuffed horse dung deep into their nostrils.

They are fuming that it has all gone “too far”, and making all sorts of excuses, but there are none, with the standard that somehow women were all but asking to be abused and have to some “responsibility” for it.

The same old narrative used to harm women in this country for decades will just not fly.

Once upon a time, the Men in Power had all the rigs work in their favour. In Canada, to be a “feminist” prime minister, you have to be a wealthy and well-connected white male with a powerful daddy.

It doesn’t matter that women around Brown have said they weren’t comfortable around him and that there were rumours circulating about him long before the initial report was published. It also didn’t matter that we have had now — for several years, female politicians who have said that sexual harassment from their male colleagues was a thing.

But most of all, journalists covering politics have seen all sorts of stuff up close because journalism is usually requires standing in halls and close to doors waiting for power players to come out.

You know underlings and they gossip. They tell you things.

So much of journalism is edited — most of it is edited. As I journalist, I can tell you that you see a whole lot more than what the middle class would be comfortable watching or knowing.

But laying the blame on women is the standard to those who shelter and protect predators — they are the manure shovelers who clean up messes.

If journalism in this country was actually functional and honest (and it is neither), the story would be covered in a completely different way.

First, let’s talk about blaming women for getting abused. We shouldn’t ignore that predatory behaviour is not the same as normal behaviour. Predators lure, size up, prime, and groom people and create a perception for the prey to believe they are the ones who are the predators. People would rather be in control than admit to being victims. Cognitive dissonance takes care of the rest.

Children who have been sexually abused often believe they did something or had some say in the matter, when they didn’t.

It’s a rig, not unlike a magician’s force choice: you think you have control choosing a card from a deck of 52, but the truth is there is only one card you can take — the other 51 are feints and red herrings.

Predators are very careful who they choose to manipulate, and what they are doing is called gaslighting. 

This is far different than normal dynamics in a given relationship. A predator, for instance, may always pick someone who is alone, or intoxicated, or in an abusive relationship and pretends to be the knight in shining armour — they “recuse” a now loyal damsel for the express purpose of having her do something illegal or destructive, and she honestly believes it is her choice to do it.

No, it’s not. He is exploiting gratitude to make her do what she would not do under normal circumstances.

And this isn’t a man-woman dynamic per se, but those in power often get those positions not because they are competent or capable of the job, but because they know how to manipulate others to rise above those who are capable of the job.

We often wonder why some goober got a lofty position, and yet we don’t consider they used stratagems to get there.

So a predator uses cognitive dissonance to prime a target to follow a secret script.

Journalists should know these games by now, but never do. It is always a perpetual surprise when someone is outed as being untrustworthy.

Journalists themselves then have their own moment of cognitive dissonance: they spent years writing positive or even fawning pieces over someone — never questioning how dark is their dark side — and so, instead of admitting failure, they up the praise because heave forbid they did something irresponsible.

But it gets worse.

Journalists compartmentalize stories: so they will cover a scandal in a vacuum, and completely ignore all the other factors in play.

In this case, how common sexual harassment is among politicians. All that previous stuff doesn’t exist to them.

But to treat an issue as if it were divorced from the others means there isn’t any critical thinking going on.

Journalists don’t look for any evidence that refutes their grandiose theories, just the facts that seem to support it.

A confirmation bias.

It’s why so many blunderers in this country get the Great Man label: we can ignore all the problems and scandals, and cheer them on as we accuse those these men harmed as being troublemakers who lie, or sketchy, and probably a little nutty and slutty.

Grifters get away with a lot, and when they get press coverage, they gain legitimacy.

What journalism here is all about is one thing: opinionated narrative with unfounded assumptions. We have news producers having meltdowns because not everyone has glowing things to say about a particular man in power. Calling what happened a “bad date” is a straw man fallacy: repackaging something to make it seem as if were innocuous.

Al Franken’s supporters tried that gambit and failed. They refused to acknowledge what he was practicing wasn’t jokey behaviour — but a way to unnerve the competition through humiliation and ambush.

When someone always keeps sober and yet keeps rounding up others lower on a pecking order whose capacity is less than sober, there is a pattern for concern.

And a legitimate reason to dig deeper into those allegations, not throw a childish temper tantrum as you willfully close your eyes shut as you keep pretending everything is happy and wonderful around you.

That’s not journalism. That’s the essence of propaganda.

That kind of skewed coverage has harmed women — and men — for decades, and it needs to be confronted and stopped — the sooner, the better.

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