Podcast #173: Batya Ungar-Sargon on the Growing Gulf Between Ordinary Americans and the Progressive Journalists Who Cover Them

Quillette podcast host Jonathan Kay talks to Newsweek editor Batya Ungar-Sargon about her new book, Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy—and her political voyage from doctrinaire progressive to self-described “left-wing populist.” Podcast Quillette Newsletter Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://quillette.com/2021/11/28/batya-ungar-sargon-on-the-growing-disconnect-between-ordinary-americans-and-the-progressive-journalists-who-write-about-them/
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The podcast is simply awful; one cannot navigate within it or even pause it without going back to 00:00.

What didn’t you like, aside from navigating the podcast?

I think she shows some courage by swimming upstream, or maybe wokeness has just become so obviously ridiculous that a clever business woman sees an opportunity to be a bit of a trendsetter.

Either way it’s nice to hear some liberal types come around to the realization that instead of being the voice of the working class, the formally blue collar- but now elite journalism club has lost touch with the working class for the most part.

And instead of the obligatory Trump snub, she actually gave him a compliment. Holy smokes!


The conservative media has captured the working class audience because the liberal media don’t care about them? Or more factually, they captured them by using misinformation scare tactics & conspiracy theories.

As for the study on liberals dumbing down their conversation when they speak to minorities that was specifically regarding the language presidential candidates used not liberals in general.

Lot’s of convenient misrepresentations from this author.

So you’ve been saying. I’ll be sure to pass it along to my pals at work tomorrow.


What’s your point Chris? Spit it out…

Nothing to spit out really. You are critical of some of the dodgy propaganda from the right, I am more critical of the dodgy propaganda from the left. Plenty to go ‘round.


The podcast itself was interesting. I thought I had noticed a more contrarian tone in Newsweek recently, which Sargon did confirm. But as Kay and Sargon are and always will be people of the Left they will never really get over the “no enemies to the Left” way of thinking that seems to have originated in the late 19th Century German SPD and arrived in the US and Canada when the Kaiserreich began expelling them in the 1890s. Because they are blind to the threat from the totalitarian Left they will never be able to effectively oppose it. The best one can hope for is that they will stop actively supporting and excusing it.


Good point. Thx.

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You claim that Kay and Sturgeon are no-hopers when it comes to reading the woke left as the threat it is. We’re clearly not reading the same texts by them. Kay is certainly wildly trenchant in his criticism. You’re basically making the statement without backing it up. At all. Sounds pretty hidebound to me. Sorry if I’m getting something wrong here. As for the German SPD, they were a party of two factions, one full metal Marxist left, uninterested in elections or civil rights, the other, more pragmatic, and interested in something aprpoaching liberal democracy as we understand it. The Kaiserreich dumped the lot because they were leftists at all; I’m sure they all looked like rabid communists to those folks. (Kind of like the Canadian conservative take on the NDP. Yawn.) Your last sentence has no basis in facts whatsoever either. But you do sound blind to the real threat: the authoritarian right. The authoritatian left will never get beyond messing up universities, mainly humanities and social science departments. That’s dreadful. But they will eventually burn out. The moderate left is too smart to let this shit go on forever. So-called moderate Republicans have not been so smart. And now their autoritarian right wing has routed them and state legislatures are set to walk back electoral college votes in 2024 if things swing against the Republicans, gerrymandering house seats has been jumped up dramatically, and of course the people who used to run the mechanics on elections have now been replaced with ideological hacks. The monster at the front door is at least letting out know it’s there. Sure, it’s taking up some room on your porch. That’s a drag. The monster you seem to unaware is coming to eat you and it’s on the right. Someone tell me what I’m missing. Cheers

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Paragraph spacing.


Thank you for the testimonial.


Um, Jonathan, Rush Limbaugh announced awhile back that he had stage 4 lung cancer, and he passed away in February 2021. So he’s definitely not on the air any more. As best I recall, at one point Dan Bongino was supposed to take over his slot, but I don’t know whether he did, whether he still has the slot, how much of Rush’s popularity he was able to maintain, or anything of that nature.

I guess you’re betraying your Canadian biases, because for a brief time it was a significant political headline in the US. :wink: Whether one liked him or not, his influence on conservative politics across his entire life, and on American politics more generally, was massive. And the many observations on his passing were definitely well warranted.

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How did the conservative media capture the working class with misinformation scare tactics & conspiracy theories when the liberal media has more outlets to get the truth out and so much control over the content of social media? Are you suggesting that the liberal media is correct that the working class are pretty dumb? Easily manipulated?


Number of outlets is irrelevant if certain demographics prefer a particular style of news delivery. Fox news after all is the most watched news channel in the US & youtube which now enjoys huge popularity is dominated by right wing voices. And I don’t think it’s so much a matter of intelligence but preference for not digging deeper which a lot of this style of news offers. What the cause of that is I couldn’t definitively say why.

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So would I be misrepresenting your view of this by saying that those who watch Fox and listen to right wing voices on Youtube are less intelligent since they prefer not to dig deeper into issues by perhaps watching MSNBC, CNN or other media outlets that actually dig deeper into issues? I’m not challenging your statement that conservative media has captured the working class with misinformation, scare tactics & conspiracy theories. I’m trying to figure out how that happened and does it have anything to do with a difference in intelligence between those on the right and on the left. It is one thing to say those on the right simply prefer to stay ignorant but there must be a reason they prefer that state of being. Any suggestions?

As far as network viewership in the U.S., Fox is actually fourth, after CBS, ABC and NBC.

People beating up on Fox (which I don’t watch, btw - it’s kind of a clown show) always seem to avoid this by using terms like “news channel” or “cable news”, despite the fact that most people get their (television) news from one of these three networks.


I think some of us here on QC were just called White Supremacists :face_with_monocle:

As I said not sure but I suspect varying factors. I grew up working class, my family neighbourhood & work mates were all working class & that is exactly the sort of media everyone I knew consumed. That’s not to say people who aren’t working class don’t consume it as well or that all the working class do.