A couple of articles over the Memorial Day holiday weekend were hardly kind to the establishment media, and the one authored by former CBS President Van Gordon Sauter may have had the most bite, because he’s seen the press decay of balance and objectivity from the inside.
The other piece, an editorial in the New York Post, pulled away the armor to show a “mainstream” media whose skin is all-too-thin.
Sauter, writing in the Wall Street Journal, bared the bias against President Donald Trump in a way that even the White House Tuesday morning was circulating an email calling it to the attention of the American public.
“News organizations that claim to be neutral have long been creeping leftward, and their loathing of Mr. Trump has accelerated the pace,” Sauter observed.
A few lines later, he added, “To many journalists, objectivity, balance and fairness—once the gold standard of reporting—are not mandatory in a divided political era and in a country they believe to be severely flawed. That assumption folds neatly into their assessment of the president. To the journalists, including more than a few Republicans, he is a blatant vulgarian, an incessant prevaricator, and a dangerous leader who should be ousted next January, if not sooner. Much of journalism has become the clarion voice of the ‘resistance,’ dedicated to ousting the president, even though he was legally elected and, according to the polls, enjoys the support of about 44% of likely 2020 voters.”
Omitted from his observations was any reference to the undeniable fact that most of the media—including some evidently stunned folks over at Fox News—expected Hillary Rodham Clinton to grab the election in a walk. But she took some important states for granted, and he didn’t.
Sauter also offered this: “More important, how will a large segment of the public ever put stock in journalism it considers hostile to the country’s best interests? Unfortunately, dominant media organizations have bonded with another large segment of the public—one that embraces its new approach. Pulling back from anti-Trump activism could prove commercially harmful.”
The media—in this case the press corps—is supposed to be objective except on the editorial page. Since before the election of 2016, critics say that simply has not been the case. The press largely fawned over Barack Obama.
Writing back in September 2012 at Forbes, Larry Bell stated, “A February 2012 Pew Research Center poll found that a record-high 67 percent of Americans saw a ‘great deal’ (37 percent) or ‘fair amount’ (30 percent) of political bias in the media, while 31 percent reported little or none. The percentage who believed there was a great deal of bias had increased six points since 2008…” That was before Trump was even running. It was when Mitt Romney was the GOP’s sacrificial lamb.
Trump, on the other hand, is no sheep, nor has he been shy about accusing the press of bias and even manufacturing the news. His current press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, doesn’t pull any punches, either. The New York Post took the opportunity Monday to declare the media is not a victim, no matter how much abuse it takes.
“Of course the Trump administration is playing tough with the media,” the editorial says, “because the media has played tough with him before he was even elected. Nearly every question asked in the briefing room is usually in the loaded construction of, ‘As you know, things are terrible, and it’s your fault, care to comment?’ McEnany has decided to hit back.”
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But then the Post editorial does something else about which the media—which has zealously defended the First Amendment while using it to attack, or support attacks on, the Second Amendment—should do a bit of self-examination.
The editorial says this: “President John Adams signed a law making it a crime to criticize the government; 20 newspaper editors were imprisoned. Andrew Jackson not only had his own paper, edited by a member of his cabinet, but it got government subsidies. Kayleigh McEnany hurting your feelings is not a constitutional crisis.”
Meanwhile, most establishment media editorial boards are knee-jerk quick to support every gun control proposal that comes along. They support bans on so-called “semiautomatic assault rifles” even though that description amounts to fraud, and despite the fact that rifles of any kind are used in a fraction of murders in this country in any given year, according to easily-accessible FBI crime data. More people are stabbed or bludgeoned to death in any given year than are killed with rifles of any kind.
They refer incessantly to an “epidemic of gun violence” when the FBI crime data shows that a tiny fraction of all privately-owned firearms in this country—by some estimates more than 300 million—are ever used in a crime. In 2018, the most recent year for which data is available, the FBI estimates there were 14,123 murders of which 10,265 involved firearms. Balanced against 300-million-plus legally-owned firearms in private hands, that’s a fraction of a fraction.
Reporters and editorial writers all-too-regularly refer to the gun prohibition lobby as “gun safety advocates.” When was the last time a reporter asked one of these organizations where they conduct firearms safety classes, or how many certified firearms instructors they have trained? If you don’t teach it, don’t preach it, say Second Amendment groups.
While one murder is too many, and every homicide is a tragedy to somebody, when has the establishment media ever said, “Hey, wait a minute. Preventing millions of law-abiding citizens from exercising a constitutionally-protected fundamental right is not the way to stop criminals from committing crimes.”
Trump has suggested this. Perhaps that’s another reason he’s not so popular with the establishment.
Perhaps Sauter sums it up with this observation: “Journalism affects social cohesion. Convinced of its role and its legitimacy, however, the media doesn’t seem to much care.”
And the media should care a lot.
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