The Intercept stays on my trail. Emails come about once a week asking for a donation. Their pitch can be ham-handed. One started like this: “If you believe that journalists should always cover the news by giving equal merit to “both sides” of an issue, there are plenty of centrist corporate-owned outlets for you to choose from.”
So far, they haven’t provided names of any of the news outlets faithfully delivering “both” sides. Glenn Greenwald, one of their founders, jumped ship when Intercept editors spiked a submission that stuck to facts. Whenever you’re siding up, certain facts can be inconvenient.
Those same “corporate-owned” “centrists” tacitly alluded to clammed-up on Hunter laptop stories just as tightly as The First Look Institute when the story broke. Insulting your mark’s intelligence is no way to score a handout.
The Heritage Foundation wants my money too. They’ll also admit to ideological bias with palms outstretched. Squeezing a political congregation doesn’t really work if the preacher says half the tithe goes to the devil. A formal announcement isn’t necessary. The problem, for less partisan consumers, is finding sources that are first and foremost about telling what actually happened.
Jackie Calmes of the LAT wrote, “Why Journalists are Failing the Public with ‘Both-Siderism’ in Political Coverage” about a year ago. A few months later Lester Holt said: “I think it’s become clearer that fairness is overrated…” Similar views have cropped up more frequently since in the WP, the NYT and all the way down the status food chain of journalism. Some media agents may have different conceptions of one-sidedness than Calmes and Holt. How even-handed things ever were has always been debatable.
There’s nothing new about this “the stakes are too high to play fair anymore” news philosophy except for the owning up to it. The story there is how much more bumptious and self-deluded the 4th Estate is than we already thought. Elementary school kids know that everybody is coming from a side. Some of our professional informers seem to believe they only recently found themselves on one.
Once you land on a “side,” where do accuracy and full disclosure fall on the scale of priorities? And, are there only “two” sides anyway?
The rest of Holt’s statement goes: “…before you run off and tweet that headline, let me explain a bit. The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention.”
Well, Les, I’m right there with you. But, while this factoid might be overplayed and over reported on some platforms, the ugly details of how much payola was setting in the hands of Hunter Biden was found less than newsworthy on the campgrounds where Holt’s tent is pitched. Those 50 intelligence officers who deemed the laptop data likely “Russian disinformation” had the overwhelming means to verify its authenticity practically overnight. They chose to rule on the matter without bothering – one can only generously conclude – otherwise they were outright lying.
Major media has been known to take the word from Langley and brethren on things beyond the sun also rising in the east before. They’ve displayed zero reluctance to accept that Boris and Natasha could cyber-masquerade as the president’s own son and deceive all the snoop-ware of the CIA, the NSA, the FBI, Booz Allen Hamilton and the DIA combined. Now that the laptop’s original owner is out of all doubt, assertions from the spook community have been quietly written off as mistaken. Tossing around the idea of disinformation coming from them, rather than those dastardly Russkies, is asking too much of our truth obsessed informers.
Calmes says that the train started going off the rails in 1995 when Newt Gingrich got hold of the House gavel. It’d be nice to know when things were ever on the track. You are not reading a Newt fan here. But before 1995 Democrats had held the House for 20 elections straight. That’s 40 years. Jimmy Carter, believe it or not, tried to constrain their abuses. He did not succeed. Tip O’Neill, from the president’s own party, kept heading him off at the pass. The fact that before 1995 Congress was in the grip of a class laden to the brim with entitlement – enjoying an often pliant contingent in the press — is something Calmes steers clear of.
She says Newt was a nasty guy as Speaker. I don’t disagree, but he wasn’t really that good at it. In 1996 he said:
“Often we search hard for words to define our opponents. Sometimes we are hesitant to use contrast. Remember that creating a difference helps you. These are powerful words that can create a clear and easily understood contrast. Apply these to the opponent, their record, proposals and their party.”
Those 65 words weren’t too imaginative. They could have been chosen by a guy with a vocabulary the size of Donald Trump’s. When it comes to anything requiring mental acuity, Gingrich has never had the edge of a new wood chisel. Fox News arrived in American households via cable one year after Newt became speaker. It’s not surprising that that’s when Calmes claims all the trouble started.
There’s no doubt that Fox, Matt Drudge, Gingrich and others were out to get Bill Clinton. And the truth of the matter is that the loudest attackers cared far less about the man’s marital fidelity, than they did about simply having something on him. But mainstream media priorities had taken some mighty strange turns before anyone ever heard of Monica Lewinsky.
It is hard to imagine anything more relevant to public examination of a governor’s record than a case like William Horton’s. This was a man who had participated in stabbing 17-year-old Joseph Fournier, a gas station attendant, 19 times – after he had willingly turned over the cash. He was then stuffed into a trash can with his feet at his chin before he bled out. What legitimate news priority could justify suppressing the further violent adventures of an offender in on such an atrocity? Whether he was inside a prison or out of one? Unlike Emmet Till, Fournier won’t be getting a movie.
The crime occurred in Lawrence, Massachusetts in 1974. Horton was let out of prison for an unsupervised “furlough” in June 1986 and – to the surprise of Bay State officials but few others – failed to return as promised. Although, it should be noted that he did report back after previous furloughs.
Almost a year later he was caught in Maryland after a rape, torture and car theft. Dukakis, the Democratic candidate in 1988, had earlier vetoed a bill that would eliminate “furlough” for convicts sentenced on 1st degree murder. Al Gore brought the furlough program up in Democratic presidential primary debates. The Republicans were watching. It took little digging to come up with Horton.
Now, on the side of full accounting (should there be any other?), California had a furlough program when Reagan was governor. And, as the Post reported nearly 6 months before the 1988 election, “California gave furloughs to convicted felons throughout the eight years Ronald Reagan was its governor; Reagan retained the policy even after two convicts committed murder while on furlough in 1972.” What T.R. Reid, the articles author, did not tell us is if those two had previously committed murder, or crimes as monstrous and senseless as Fournier’s killing, before being allowed out.
What the public was largely unaware of was that the furlough program generally, which the Post reported was in place federally and in 40 states at the time, existed. Al Gore brought that to national attention. Whatever its merits, including murderers in such schemes should have gotten more scrutiny from the press without having to be alerted by a Tennessee senator. The general oblivion of the public and political wonks themselves was revealed by the fact that Al Gore gave Lee Atwater the whole idea in the first place. Media keeps us all, including the campaign chieftains, obliquely informed.
Nobody was barring the Democratic Party from the same kind of ad creativity the GOP resorted to in the Bush-Dukakis race. Why details compromising to Ronald Reagan – and by association GHWB — weren’t blared more loudly by the Dems at the time is a good question. Might they have placed Michael Dukakis at 1600 Penn in January 1989? The tank ride didn’t help. I didn’t vote for George Bush in 1988, nor believe it possible for him to be a national candidate without the aristocratic background he came from. But I didn’t vote for Michael Dukakis either, and wouldn’t have Horton or no.
Since then we’ve been deluged in the notion that it was “racist” to bring this case up against Dukakis. Horton, in case you haven’t heard, is black. Does anyone believe the Bush campaign wouldn’t have proceeded accordingly if they could find a white offender who’d done the same kinds of things? Everybody in media complaining of the racism of the ad should be filling us in if there was. If there was not, do we need a rule book for which classes of criminal are exempt from public attention?
What’s “racist” is finding the racism in it. Horton doesn’t represent blacks. He represents William Horton. I never hesitate to tell blacks, whites or anybody else claiming to speak for their own “kind” that they don’t. We all speak for ourselves.
People in journalism don’t lay back with arcane knowledge and suddenly pull it out in response to events. In the past, it was not uncommon for them to learn of government programs, propensities and atrocities at the same pace laymen did. In the modern communication age, the lay public often informs them.
Major media organizations do have more resources to pour into examination as facts arise. Their selective deployment of them is legend at this point. It’s always a jolt to see the sudden legions of experts the 4th estate conjures up as entirely new fields of focus gather attention. An unknown species of primate that walks on its hands could be discovered during evening rush hour. The morning edition would include quotes from half-a-dozen authorities on them.
Is racism a principal feature of what Calmes stands so far above? If so, the grisly facts of the Horton case shouldn’t be topping the page. What “side” was The Washington Post on when they ran “Jimmy’s World” in 1980? Donald Graham, WP publisher at the time, had been to Harvard, served in Viet Nam and done a stint as a DC policeman. Managing editor Bill Bradlee, went to Yale and was a Naval Intelligence officer in the Pacific theater during WWII. Bo Jones, the company’s general counsel, was a graduate of Harvard Law. The three men had pooled decades on the streets of Washington DC when they ran Janet Cooke’s outlandish tale of an 8-year-old junkie peddling heroin to his third and fourth grade classmates. Suits at the Post had a view of the DC school system’s faculty not far removed from William Pierce’s.
Courtland Milloy, younger and less prestigiously schooled than any of his superiors, told the bunch of them that the story couldn’t be true. I said the same thing that Sunday morning when the first installment came out. It was obviously crafted to fit a suburbanite’s fantasy nightmare of urban depravity – being a suburbanite at the time my expert opinion qualified. Anyone who believed 8-year-old black boys were that much different from 8-year-old white boys was not only a racist but a damn fool.
Things got worse when the Pulitzer Prize committee decided to run with it. What accounts for this kind of credulity? The Prize Board included 17 members in 1981 – all of them well over 40. Two were black – and considerably less worldly than the still youthful Courtland Milloy. The plausibility of the tale, or lack of it, played no part in bringing it down. If Janet Cooke had not exaggerated her educational credentials…little Jimmy would have had a “based on a true story” movie running by now. Who knows what the film academy might have made of it.
Is it possible others, better at covering their tracks, got as far unscathed?
In The Washington Post’s defense Bill Green ran a comprehensive piece on what happened, THE PLAYERS: It Wasn’t a Game, on April 19, 1981. If it’s all true, it amounts to a tale of what’s wrong in every organization that gets too big for its britches. The top dogs are the last to get a clue that anything’s amiss. The most telling quote in it comes from a still clueless Bob Woodward: “I think that the decision to nominate the story for a Pulitzer is of minimal consequence. I also think that it won is of little consequence. It is a brilliant story — fake and fraud that it is.” You can hire a 16-year-old if you want an employee who knows everything. You’ll have to reach higher to find the saps who’ll believe anything.
Now, compare the treatment of “Jimmy” to Horton. It has been called Klan level “racist” to recount the facts found by two different courts, at a time US urban crime was arcing to its second 20th century peak, for 30 years. Meanwhile, a story, uncorroborated by anyone or any provable facts, that sounded concocted by the combined likes of Josef Goebbels, Richard Spenser, Theodore Bilbo, Tom Watson and Lester Maddox, is brought to you by the editing jury of the Washington Post. Their sole reason for believing it was one woman’s word who they barely knew. This was topped off by submission to the Pulitzer Board – who also accepted it unquestioningly.
Horton’s history was no rarity in crime annals. Cooke’s “Jimmy” was the “holy shit” kind of copy assistant managing editor of the WP Bob Woodward – Yale grad and former US Naval officer – was browbeating the staff to submit. Nobody had seen anything quite like it before. Why did it fly? There is only one possible explanation – all of those media aristocrats wanted to believe it. Rather than “racism” mass media has written it off as an “oops” for 40 years. Is that the “side” The Intercept, Calmes, Holt et al are sticking with?
Some years ago a white plainclothes NYPD detective was assaulted outside a Harlem bar. He shot and killed the black assailant after a struggle. The civilian was getting the better of him. The NYT story of the case told readers the cop was attempting to score marijuana for an arrest – there was no indication of an imminent deal. The writer was at a loss for the cause of the conflict. It never occurred to him that a 40-year-old black man might get riled randomly solicited for a bag of weed – by a white guy far from his own stomping grounds. Whether you call this “racism” on the reporter’s part, or simply naïve oblivion, it is a blatant example of just how hip the NYT actually is. The author clearly implied that there was nothing untoward about black men fielding requests for contraband from strangers when they went for a beer. Was the reporter accustomed to such inquiries himself at the local pub?
Is this the same NYT that thinks it is on the side of the downtrodden? Is it possible the environment they inhabit is a wee bit too cushy? Dissolute rednecks on remote stretches of Route 1 tend to be more streetwise. Anyone can hire people who “dress for success”, which is how Green describes Janet Cooke in his WP apology. Black, white or otherwise they may leave something to be desired in the authenticity department.
The hard copy in media needs to be composed and edited by people who know their way around the track. Plucking scribes who followed Andover with Princeton may not guarantee that. Until healthy skepticism is a job requirement, all the whining about internet encroachment on 4th estate turf is Luddite-antine. We do not occupy a country with streets that can be vividly recreated on blackboards by professors on a mission. Columbia University, home of the Pulitzer and a world renowned school of journalism, is only 15 blocks north of Harlem. The record is pretty clear. Easy physical access doesn’t provide the cultural exposure guaranteed to wise anybody up – no matter how their heart might bleed.
The incident at the Harlem bar was a few years back. Have our professional informers come around at all since? Some of us remain unconvinced. In any case, none of this is about anything as trivial as a “side.” It is about literal, statistical, scientific, panoramic and worldly description of the world we inhabit. It is about capable recounting of what competent human senses perceive. If you’ve got different selective standards for different demographics, as a major media entity you better come armed with the rhetorical firepower to explain why they are necessary. When a stranger or anyone else sounds perfectly rational speaking to you, scrutinizing for appearance and other superficialities is where bigotry begins. When they don’t sound rational, accommodating for deportment, apparel or locale is equally unfounded and some kind of prejudice. If that be “objectivity” let’s make the most of it.
Questioning the human capacity for “objectivity” is valid enough. But, if that stops anyone claiming to put reality into words from shooting for literal accuracy, they are in the wrong business. If reality is a “side” how far from their senses should a reasonable observer stand?
Listen to WP writer Kathy Kiely reviewing Margaret Sullivan’s book Newsroom Confidential:
“In an era when a former president and his acolytes routinely traffic in Orwellian funhouse distortions of reality, journalism’s standard operating procedures — carefully finding stakeholders in a controversy and balancing the viewpoints of one against the other — clearly haven’t been cutting it. How are you supposed to “balance” sources when some are patently unreliable?”
The only ones I’ve seen holding stakes were unfake newsmen like Claas Relotious, driving them through the hearts of the vampires they invented. When Sullivan sounds like that same Der Spiegel fraud, do we take her at her word?
“One of her early mentors, the managing editor of the Buffalo paper, would evaluate stories by asking, “What would Sweeney think?” Sweeney, Sullivan explains, was “an imaginary character … presumably a working-class guy sitting on his front porch in Irish Catholic South Buffalo, cracking open a Labatt Blue and picking up The Buffalo Evening News.”
Sullivan’s reporting tour of small towns in northwest Pennsylvania and western New York took her to places that should have felt familiar. She meandered into saloons packed with plenty of Sweeneys. Only now, they were telling her that the 9/11 attacks were arranged by the U.S. government, that the 2012 massacre of schoolchildren at Sandy Hook Elementary School never happened and that journalists who report otherwise “get paid to be wrong.”
Sullivan’s ethnic proximity to a name like “Sweeney” grants the lady license no one of Jewish or African heritage is getting away with these days while running down kinfolk. The Congressional Medal of Honor roll lists more Irish surnames than all other ethnicities combined. But they’ve remained rhetorically defenseless since Cromwell, if not further back. Why not tell us the real names of these kooks and the dives they were found in? I’ll gladly buy the rounds and do the fact checking. Did any of those reeling Hibernians mention leprechauns? Is it possible they knew who she was and were having her on?
When was “balancing the viewpoints of one against the other” ever “standard operating” procedure? When Trump made a false claim that over 80% of murdered whites were killed by blacks, nobody ran with that. It was easily corrected. What, exactly, were the Trump mistruths, lies or exaggerations that obsolete practitioners were supposedly “balancing”? When the man said something stupid it hit the internet and all other media with lightning speed. The incoherent misstatements of his opponents traveled more circuitous routes. Even when verifiable, Sullivan serves up lame examples.
“So, some journalists and news organizations are blowing up the usual playbook.
Sullivan cites a number of examples that she covered for The Post: the Philadelphia Inquirer deciding not to use the word “audit” to describe a Republican attempt to cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential vote in Pennsylvania; a Harrisburg, Pa., radio station announcing that it would routinely remind its audience which state legislators joined an effort to reverse that election’s outcome; and, sadly, longtime Associated Press congressional reporter Andrew Taylor’s decision to walk away after watching the desecration of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.”
Scratching the word “audit” rates in the media annals of “one-siderism”? News consumers in possession of their senses should ask, what-siderism can possibly explain editorial priorities? Step back and look at some major “news” over recent years.
How does anyone find a nationally, or even locally, relevant feature about two guys eyeing each other coolly? According to the Wikipedia article, Vox called Nick Sandman facing Nathan Phillips beating a drum, the “nation’s biggest story.” Even if what the hysterical people at CNN, the WP, the NYT et al said had been true, it failed to amount to a story at all. Worse confrontations happen on DC’s metro-rail system practically around the clock. The US endures over 40 murders a day in years when bloodletting is on the wane. Yet, somehow this non-event reached foreign media? The editor of The Mayberry Times should be fired for running such a story. What is it, I still feel compelled to ask true believers, you think that kid did?
Many news platforms made Phillips out to be a victim of some kind. Sixteen days after the video was posted The Guardian gave him a 3500 word testimonial. The former Marine appliance mechanic is seated in a plush leather chair looking majestically into the distance. The image takes up a full monitor. If you aren’t thinking Nez Perce Chief-“I will fight no more forever”-Joseph, you must have a heart of stone. The article includes the line: “Unlike Sandmann, Phillips does not have a PR firm to represent him and his side of the story.” Seven legal pages length on an international daily would be a rare score for any Mad-man. It’d be tiresome to rifle the copy from four years back and recount the rest of the mainstream tribute. If the overblown lines of copy in the piece don’t make author Julian Brave NoiseCat squirm today, he’s got to be an unwitting comic genius.
Sullivan says Hillary was robbed by the NYT’s coverage of her emails on a private server in 2016. What was never covered was the 30 some thousand deleted personal missives. Exactly how demanding is running State when you have time for 25 to 30 personal messages everyday for four years? That’s in addition to phone calls and texts. Who drew the line between “personal” and US government business? The same one who struggled desperately to conceal the content of two speeches to the hierarchy of Goldman Sachs? Going by recent classified document scandals, the account would have been pored over by Feds before Hillary was informed of legal concerns and any deleting was allowed.
We had people like Joy Reid of MSNBC going on about new voting rights hurdles blocking the POC of Georgia for weeks on end. Episode after episode never included actual citations from the statutes or one word of description what the obstructions were. They also failed to compare the new laws to existing ones in other states — even some of the bluest. Instead, we got a cacophony of voices reminding us of lynching, Jim Crow and sundown towns. Record Georgia turnout in 2022, took no wind from MSNBC or CNN sails.
The Nunes memo, before it was ever published, was covered by CNN exactly the same way. “Experts” were featured for hours pontificating on a document they’d never seen.
It probably isn’t possible to count the raging screeds that reached print and airwaves in the Kyle Rittenhouse case. At least hundreds didn’t include a single literal reference to what was on the compilation of videos that logged the whole incident. Coverage of the Jacob Blake shooting that sparked Kenosha unrest was often similarly vacant of detail. Blake was at the home of Laquisha Booker, who he was accused of non-consensually penetrating sexually, in violation of a court order. In spite of an outstanding felony warrant he proceeded attempting to take off with her children and car he was stealing – while in the presence of police he was physically defying. Whether he had a knife or not – he admitted at least once that he did – if ignoring police commands in such circumstances isn’t dangerous, any semblance of law and order has vanished. Where would Kenosha cops be if something had happened to those children?
The new, improved journalistic standard known as “one-siderism” is livid with sermons touting its saving grace. Not one I’ve seen so far gives a single example of how the previous plague of “objectivity” left news consumers worse off understanding the state of things. Does anybody know what is even meant by the supposed “both sides” standard that must be abandoned?
On June 6, 2020 the NYT reported “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill US Troops, Intelligence Says.” It could have been true. But since that time the BBC, NBC, ABC and others have said that the “intelligence” is held in “low to moderate” confidence by “intelligence sources” today – and has never been adequately corroborated. If you peruse comment sections on left wing sites, you’ll find substantial numbers who still take the report as gospel, along with lots of other things far more spurious.
Sullivan didn’t need to throw down all that jack in rust belt gin mills. She could have struck on troves of tightly clasped fictional beliefs plowing through comment sections at Slate, HuffPost and the then still extant one at Salon. Screenshots wouldn’t have left any skeptics in doubt. Plenty of people who don’t know which way to turn a screwdriver have minds laden down with false convictions. Vague newsy references to “transphobia” have created an article of faith. We are told that those who have undone their naturally endowed plumbing endure perpetually violent onslaughts from crazed Christianity.
Where do they get the idea and what are the underlying facts? Berkeley Law professor Khiara Bridges told Josh Hawley in a Senate hearing that, ““So I want to recognize that your line of questioning is transphobic, and it opens up trans people to violence,” when asked if abortion was a women’s rights issue. The latest report says 32 trans people were murdered in the US in 2022. This is a country with well over 50 murders per day. In the meantime, we get about zero evidence that any of these killings, in 2022 anyway, were motivated by transphobic ideology. Similarly skewed distortions about which way most of the violence crosses demographic lines are pervasive everywhere commenting is allowed. The news outlets responsible perpetuate the mythology daily. Hard numbers are always curiously lacking when violence is examined through demographic or ideological lenses.
Meanwhile, any dissension from HuffPost’s editorial lines is commonly shouted down by the faithful in the comment section as the work of Russian “bots.” The “Russian collusion” narrative has permeated every news angle getting play in social media. Microsoft’s Bing newsfeed blocks the most careful, fact-laden posts you can muster with obsessive frequency. Once they ran a piece about Muslims traumatized by the sight of Swastika graffiti. Any recitation of Hitler’s actual views on Islam didn’t stand a chance of being allowed. Calling skeptics of damn near any mainstream line Putin minions, however, continues to fly. Silicon Valley, going by their censorship policy, must believe that Columbia Journalism Review editors are now in the grip of Kremlin tentacles too.
There was plenty missing before Jeff Gerth’s CJR article dismantling the Russky plot piece by piece ever ran. We heard phrases like “Russian collusion,” “Russian collaboration,” “Kremlin bots” and the word treason without let up for years. What we very rarely got were examples of the actual fake news that supposedly hornswoggled the trailer trash in 2016. The literal details making the case of mass deception never came up in thousands of printed articles and hundreds hours aired covering it. It brought the prosecutor’s line in the film “Idiocracy”, “we’ve got all this like, evidence,” to mind. What the “evidence” actually was flew vaguely in the minds of believers.
That’s not to say examples of misleading posts and “memes” on Facebook and other social media didn’t exist. Or that many of them had didn’t have origins from Putin’s sphere of influence. But the content of them was practically unknown to anyone relying on conventional media. Repetitive reports of this ubiquitous propaganda rendered the silly requirement of ugly details unnecessary. Any reliable journalist should have laid out examples. Able readers were likely to be underwhelmed with the number of hits they received.
This does not even scratch the surface of beliefs 180 degrees off course from reality cranked out around the clock on social media. The kookiest and crankiest don’t necessarily come from Alex Jones fans. An academic study could be done at low expense producing a much higher resolution picture of mass delusion than bar hopping. The media generating general misperception is unlikely to launch one. The government entities and contractors busy scouring social media now – at prices hardly justifiable — are looking in entirely different directions. Steering them any other way would take a coup d’état.
What is worse, from a deplorable “objective” observer’s standpoint, is that it is necessary to make these observations and have to convince others that you didn’t vote for Trump. We have reached a level of political Schmittism, where a person is called out as a proponent of any figure they don’t accept outright lies about. And our faithful opponents of “bothsiderism,” at the top of the media food chain, are fine with it.
For at least a decade, media has found “anti-Semitism” in scrutiny of the activities engaged in by organizations George Soros has been funding. Can a man’s ethnic background really be taken seriously as a valid shield from examination of political wheelings and dealings on an epic scale? Culturally, Soros looks about as “Jewish” as an English monarch. Shutting limelight off his agenda, or any other political financier’s at such a level, is nothing less than media malfeasance. The man’s popularity in Israel is never in focus as the “anti-Semitism” angle gets perennial play. That Israelis’ generally, aint’ too keen on the boy, is a point our finest professional informers never seem to notice. That Soros’ countryman, Victor Orban, enjoys more support in the Promised Land is well known – and under reported if reported at all. The selectivity of major media choosing which commenters, sharing a big shot’s ethnic background, get coverage isn’t limited to the Soros case. But George’s may be the most egregious.
Recently Dilbert cartoonist, Scott Adams, responded to a shallow Rasmussen poll about supposed widespread black attitudes toward white people with: “Based on the current way things are going, the best advice I would give to white people is to get the hell away from Black people.” It wasn’t the brightest thing a guy running a strip as white-centric as Dilbert could come out with. Still, people like Dr. Aruna Khalinini, Rutgers professor Britney Cooper and Texas A & M professor Tommy Curry – to name just a few — have alluded, or suggested outright, that killing white people can be okay with far less interest from the press.
On Friday February 3, 2023 former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. took up half a page of the Opinion section with “Newsrooms that move beyond ‘objectivity’ can build trust.”
“…I never understood what “objectivity” meant. I didn’t consider it a standard for our newsroom. My goals for our journalism were instead accuracy, fairness, non partisanship, accountability and the pursuit of truth.”
How any of those objectives are at odds with “objectivity” can leave a reader – not to be confused with an “objective” one – at a loss. We hear over and over again in the article about women, Blacks, Latinos, Asian Americans and LGBTQ+ people. How “objectivity” is out to get them gets zero clarification. “There is some confusion about the value of good reporting versus point of view,” Downie quotes current WP exec Sally Buzbee. “We stress the value of reporting,” She goes on, “what you are able to dig up – so you (the reader) can make up your own mind.” Maybe, if the lady paid a bit more attention to what her paper’s critics have complained about for 50 years, her foot would have remained on the ground and her head well above the waist.
Downie claims “our generation of young journalists moved away from mostly unquestioning news coverage of institutional power.” Is that what happened when Christine Amanpour of CNN parroted her husband Jamie Rubin, chief spokesman for the Clinton State Department in 1999? The couple chimed together about “satellite images of mass graves in Kosovo.” The further reports of exhumations at those locations are 24 years late. The late Daniel Pearl covered numerous other media exaggerations about what went on there, during and prior to US bombing of Serbia, on the front page of the WSJ December 31, 1999.
Fourteen years after that John Kerry was serving as US Secretary of State. Mohamed Morsi became Egypt’s first democratically elected president following the so-called “Arab Spring.” He still held a majority in polls when deposed by the military July 3, 2013. This was accomplished by, among other things, shooting his supporters down in the streets. That was when America’s chief diplomat assured the world “it was not a coup d’état”, it was “restoring democracy.” If the military had kept shooting long enough to thin pro-Morsi ranks down to a minority Kerry would have had a point. In any case, Rand Paul was ridiculed by the likes of Post writer Dana Milbank for suggesting US law be upheld and further US billions to Cairo cease.
The NYT can run a piece written by three lawyers on one day, telling the world that nobody following the trial would have convicted George Zimmerman. Opinion pieces that ignored the relevant facts and trial minutes, seething with outrage over the outcome, have gotten tides more ink from the gray lady since. It’s a safe bet more like them will come our way in the future. Squaring up this kind of factual and rhetorical disparity is never a priority.
The idea that legacy media once walked around in an objective fog giving every voice equal weight is institutional oblivion to itself on a pathological scale. They have been known turn on the fat cats and policy making ins they dine with on occasion, I’ll give them that much. But finding a principled, consistent pattern in such reporting is delusional. They are far more inclined to deploy the standard of lese-majeste when any kind of authority is questioned.
A classic illustration of how far things have gone came out of last year’s Arts sections. Reviewers of John Michael McDonagh’s film The Forgiven communally channeled a woke Jonathan Edwards. A collection of these essays could be aptly titled “Whiteness in the Hands of Angry Aesthetes.” The story is something like taking Tom Wolfe’s The Bonfire of the Vanities 4000 miles east by southeast.
A besotted doctor and his jaded wife are driving on Moroccan roads that look like trails in abandoned gravel pits. They are headed to a soiree in the Atlas Mountains. The journey is at least a couple of hundred miles. Their destination is an abandoned fortress that must have been constructed by a rich Barbary pirate who made a bundle slaving. It has been restored into a fancy resort by two wealthy gay Americans.
With teeming hordes streaming north to the Euro side of the Mediterranean, the reviewers are already livid. Manohla Dargis of the NYT, Christy Lemire of RogerEbert.com, Mark Kermode of The Observer and Robert Daniels of the LAT can’t forgive any of the Eurotrash for making the reverse trek. Doing any developing in the developing world must equal a crime against humanity. All of the reviewers saw it that way. The population density of about 1 per square mile affords no elbow room for gentrification. New York, Paris and London belong to everyone. Empty stretches of Saharan dunes are the exclusive property of peoples literally dying to get elsewhere.
Night has fallen during the lengthy journey of Dr. Heninger and wife. While bickering the Doc hits Driss, a native Berber teen, at speed killing him. At this point, our reviewers raise their pitch to bloodthirsty banshee. Not one of them bothers telling readers the boy has intentionally stepped in the vehicles path for a carjacking. Including that frivolous detail, even covering fiction, would plunge us into the dreaded realm of “both-siderism.” So, his friend hiding behind a boulder with a pistol must be left out too.
The score is settled by film’s end. The same kid who planned to draw down on the good doctor earlier does the deed. Our faithful reviewers find this small compensation. Going by the tone, nothing less than a massacre would satiate them. Driss’ father, Abdellah, is roundly treated with solemnity, sanctimony and reverence by the critics. There’s no notice that he is fully aware of his boy’s criminal intent. Driss and pal’s plan, which could have included murder, does nothing to stop Dad from putting the revenge plot in motion.
“One-siderism” is out to get people. The one-siders are none too cryptic about who they might be.
Heisenberg told us efforts to observe a moving particle skews its path. The beams of media operate on principles a little less lapidary than those of basic physics. Trying to keep track of their moves defies any known instrument of measurement. They, and government bureaucracies assisted by tech giants and other private entities like Booz Allen Hamilton, are the official lights – we are the particles getting skewed. Looking back at these overseers is an action they want penalized. If there is any limit to how far they will push this position we have yet to see it.