Lest we forget, war is not only the health of the state, it's one of the great enforcers of media groupthink. According to the tally put together by Adam Johnson at Fair.org, out of 46 major newspaper editorial boards, exactly one—The Houston Chronicle's—opposed the Trump administration's bombing of a Syrian airbase last week. Seven were ambiguous. Reason's coverage has been anything but ambiguous, noting that from effectively every possible angle, the Tomahawk missile attack was not only ineffective—planes were flying out of the airbase within 24 hours—but unjustifiable.
Of the top 100 US newspapers, 47 ran editorials on President Donald Trump's Syria airstrikes last week: 39 in favor, seven ambiguous and only one opposed to the military attack.
In other words, 83 percent of editorials on the Syria attack supported Trump's bombing, 15 percent took an ambivalent position and 2 percent said the attack shouldn't have happened. Polls showed the US public being much more split: Gallup (4/7–8/17) and ABC/Washington Post (4/7–9/17) each had 51 percent supporting the airstrikes and 40 percent opposed, while CBS (4/7–9/17) found 57 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed.
The difference between elite opinion (including elected officials; even liberal Trump critics such as Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Nancy Pelosi supported the attack) and the vox populi is striking and calls to mind Thaddeus Russell's comments in Monday's Reason podcast. Russell, a historian who is working on a book about the effect of Wilsonian ideas on U.S. foreign policy, noted that media and political elites have long been far more bellicose than voters writ large. Similarly, they have been more hostile to immigration and free trade than jes' plain folks too.
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