Every center of power has its fair share of political jockeying for influence and power, but 2020 has exacerbated all the worst features of politics and brought new desperation into Idaho’s political establishment. It is rare to see political and media actors work together so plainly to maintain control of the consensus narrative as we have seen during the last few weeks of this year, and it has brought some remarkably dirty mudslinging with it.
In the early stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, Idaho’s governor Brad Little shut down businesses with his lockdown order and sent out the Idaho State Police to ensure compliance, declaring- at first- a shutdown of “fifteen days to slow the spread” with the stated goal of ensuring adequate hospital space by spacing out infections over time. “Fifteen days” soon turned into a month, and then a slow crawl of reopening with no end to the declared state of emergency in sight.
This created a popular movement in opposition to the governor’s abandonment of both Idaho’s and the United States’ constitutionally protected right of freedom of speech and assembly. As the summer continued, we watched as the George Floyd killing and subsequent riots gripped our nation. We also saw how differently the corporate media and the political elite treated lockdown protesters and the George Floyd protesters, levying unbridled disdain upon the former and unquestioning support for the latter, even while a number of those protests turned ugly and fearful Americans cleared the store shelves of guns. The lockdowns brought enormous devastation, threw 22 million Americans out of work, and brought on a sharp rise in hopelessness, suicide, and drug abuse.
Clearly, Idahoans have not been having a good time. Here’s where the story gets spicy.
Brad Little, after receiving a strong backlash from the conservatives he relies upon for reelection, has chickened out and pressured municipalities and empowered local health districts to manage the continuing response and issue decrees and mask mandates. The health districts themselves became the focus of protest. On December 8, 2020, several hundred protesters descended upon the parking lot of the Central District Health office in Boise to oppose an amped-up “public health order” in one of the largest protests of its kind to date. Three protesters also went to the home of CDH board member Diana Lachionado, expecting her to be attending the CDH meeting virtually. They stood on the sidewalk outside of the home and banged pots and pans together. Lachionado was actually not at her home during the protest, attending the meeting virtually from another location, and claims her 12 year-old son was home alone and frightened by the protesters, who were later arrested on charges of “disturbing the peace.” Governor Little and Boise mayor Lauren McLean were quick to express shock and indignation at this act of temerity, ignoring the several hundred protesters at the CDH offices and focusing on the three who went to Lochionado’s house. “There is no place for this behavior in Idaho,” said Brad Little, the man who apparently found this act by three protesters more reprehensible than his own obliteration of the 1st Amendment by decree.
Interestingly, on the same day, Idaho’s Ann Frank memorial was tagged by an unknown person who placed several Nazi stickers on different monuments. Disgusting behavior, to be sure, but no one knows who did it and stickers are typically easy to remove with a little soapy water. One would think these events might not be connected, but the elite of the Idaho Republican Party establishment decided to manufacture one.
They issued a press release the next day saying that “The harassment and intimidation of public officials as they do their work, at their homes, or anywhere for that matter will not be tolerated. We vehemently condemn anyone who engages in this unacceptable behavior. We strongly support free speech and the right to peaceably assemble but political expression must be exercised civilly and in a proper setting….”
This is obviously false, because Brad Little abolished the 1st Amendment in Idaho, but that’s beside the point. It continues in the same paragraph, taking an unusual turn…
“…Further, anti-Semitism and the defacement of the Anne Frank Memorial are abhorrent, and discrimination on any basis will never be tolerated.” The intended implication is obvious- that protesters opposed to government overreach and mandates are Nazis, or Nazi-like. The Idaho GOP proved Godwin’s Law right again.
This press release was signed by Brad Little, Senators Crapo and Risch, and Congressmen Fulcher and Simpson, as well as several other members of Idaho’s establishmentarian political class, all of whom were using whatever they could of the moment to shame and condemn the conservative grassroots and establish a narrative of events that serves to protect their power. That press release is a remarkable attack on conservatives upset at government overreach, but it’s also a clever bit of political checkers-playing.
Idaho’s corporate media took the softball pitched to them by Idaho’s GOP and swung for the fences. Idaho Press Tribune’s social media wrote about Lt. Governor Janice McGeachin, “…McGeachin did not sign the Idaho GOP statement condemning protests at public officials’ homes and vandalism of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial with swastikas.” McGeachin has been a critic of Brad Little’s control-minded approach to the state’s Covid-19 response from the beginning of the lockdown, which has infuriated the local corporate media, and the political establishment who require uniformity in order to reduce pressure against them when reelection comes.
So now, not only is Idaho’s aristocracy, (the local corporate media and political clique) telling us that mandate protester equals Nazi, but Janice McGeachin must be one too. It’s an intensely amusing and rarely seen piece of dirty political mud-slinging, but there are few examples that illustrate this clearly how the political class and corporate media work together to create a narrative consensus to bludgeon their political opponents with and control public opinion. They’re actively working together to marginalize those they view as holding unacceptable opinions. The political operators do it by granting special access to friendly corporate press organizations, and the local media does it by framing the story in a way that serves to bring about the world they want to live in. There are no longer dispassionate journalists covering stories of local interest, instead they see only heroes or villains to be extolled or excoriated because they feel they have a responsibility to use their press platforms for the common good –as they see it.
In any case, Idaho’s political and corporate media aristocracy has united in unprecedented ways to draw boundaries of acceptable opinion. The good news for liberty lovers is that in shedding their pretense of impartiality, they have revealed how desperately they’re failing to control the narrative and ensure universal compliance with whatever the next mandate is that they attempt to install.
Tags: Anne Frank Memorial, Boise Police Department, Brad Little, Central District Health, Covid-19, Idaho GOP, Janice McGeachin