A sanctimonious, hypocritical (national) media | A Pragmatist's Take | Douglas Moran | Palo Alto Online |


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By Douglas Moran

A sanctimonious, hypocritical (national) media

Uploaded: Aug 17, 2018

"Are you willing to pay for quality journalism?" is a promo I routinely receive. And my rhetorical response is "Does that mean you have an intention of starting to provide it?"

This week, the Boston Globe promoted a combined effort by hundreds of newspapers to publish editorials criticizing Trump for his attack on press coverage, one of them being the ^Weekly^. Big problem: The editorials I have seen have largely followed the example of the Globe and the NY Times of treating the media as providing the ideal of a free press, rather than the current status of agenda-driven, political partisanship. For example, when an article from The Washington Post pops up in my news feed, I ignore it because I have learned the probability is that it is erroneous and propaganda.

The NY Times recently hired a racist (Sarah Jeong) for their Editorial Board, and when called on it, their explanation didn't align with the available facts. Furthermore, they had problems only with her "rhetoric", staying silent about her attitudes underlying that rhetoric.

The NY Times editorial argue that Trump's statements about the press put reporters in physical danger. Yet the NYT and many other media outlets have no problem falsely identifying people and groups as being White Supremacists/Nationalists (= AltRight), putting their lives in very real danger. I hope that this isn't a threat here in Palo Alto, but in some other locales physical harassment is already a reality for low-level activists, such a bloggers and members of college Republican Clubs.

The need to push their political agenda is so basic that they label as "White Supremacists" a group whose leaders are non-Whites, with a substantial portion of the membership being Blacks and Hispanics.

Who the media regards as a danger to their reporters is full of absurdities. A group of Trump supporters chanting at CNN's Jim "Narcissus" Acosta? Most definitely.
Antifa hurling bottles, rocks and potentially lethal fireworks at reporters? No, it goes against their narrative that only the Right is violent.
How about Progressives/Leftists at demonstrations where camera crews who are trying to do interviews, get their equipment smashed or stolen? Again, no.

Antifa stands for "Anti Fascist Action", which has been designated a (left-wing) domestic terrorist group.

At a demonstration in Berkeley, a man was trying to use his body to provide some separation between a group of demonstrators and photographers. He was on his knees so that they could shoot pictures over him. An Antifa member smashed him in the skull with the equivalent of a large hammer (a bicycle U-lock). After failing to get a conviction in an earlier similar case,(foot#1) the Alameda District Attorney bargained the charges down to a mere ^nolo contendere (no contest)^ plea to a misdemeanor with no jail time. Again, silence from big media.(foot#2)

In various of my previous blogs, I have pointed out where the mainstream media (MSM) has presented as "news" a false narrative that was almost certainly deliberate. There are stories where I know enough about the topic to sense that something is off, and I look for primary sources. For example, there was a story about a demonstration where the MSM claims that one side started the scuffles, but the raw video shows that those reports had snipped out less than a second showing the other side throwing the first punch. Or the fuller video of a statement reveals that the MSM was using statements way out of context. Similarly for excerpts from documents.

Then there are the articles seemingly designed to mislead the reader. For example, consider an Associated Press (AP) story about a demonstration: "Portland police arrest 4 and seize weapons as right-wing and anti-fascist protesters clash", 2018-08-05. The lead photo shows three demonstrators holding up two Nazi flags. You would reasonably assume that these are right-wing protestors, unless you read the small type caption and knew that the "counter-protestors" referred to were Antifa. My link to the AP version is dead/moved, but the ^LA Times^ republished it with little/no alteration.

The MSM editorials make a big point about the need for a free press to point out Trump's "lies". No question that Trump routinely produces falsehoods, ranging from transparent exaggeration to whoppers to apparent lies (definition: knowingly false, intended to deceive). Yet the MSM media incessantly lies about Trump, so when the MSM claims that Trump lied, how are we to know whether it is Trump or the media lying? Or both?

The Boston Globe editorial contained one such: "president who has created a mantra that members of the media who do not blatantly support the policies of the current US administration are the 'enemy of the people.' ?"
Then there was "it sends an alarming signal to despots from Ankara to Moscow, Beijing to Baghdad, that journalists can be treated as a domestic enemy." Yeah, right. Those and many other countries were treating journalists that way long before Trump even announced he was running for President. The right-wing calls this "Trump Derangement Syndrome", while the term "Trump Anxiety Disorder" is being pushed by some psychotherapists (a new revenue stream).

The Boston Globe editorial and derived ones claim that "The press is necessary to a free society because it does not implicitly trust leaders". For those of us who remember the MSM being cheerleaders for the Iraq War and so many other sketchy government policies, please hold your laughter.

For those newer to politics, the editorials' claims of the importance of objectivity rings hollow given the full-court press for Hillary Clinton over Bernie Sanders.

The media leads for Obamacare and the Iranian nuclear deal have both made public statements about how easy it was to mislead the press. In the latter case, a profile of Ben Rhodes in the New York Times Magazine ($) ^The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama's Foreign Policy Guru^ (2016-05-08) has him saying "The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns... They literally know nothing." and how he played to their ignorance, career aspirations, partisanship and ideology.

From the Q&A of a panel at Stanford's Hoover Institute ^Cardinal Conversations: Christina Sommers and Andrew Sullivan on "Sexuality and Politics"^: ^@1:23:16^ Comment from prominent journalist Andrew Sullivan about the political atmosphere in current newsrooms.

My newsfeed is inundated with less-than-trivialites whose only motivation is to criticize Trump. For example, there was a widely reported story that Trump's smartphone had auto-correct/completion. Only it was presented as such, but as his misspelling his wife's name "Melania" and "Melanie". For security reasons, the President's smartphone is periodically replaced, which presumably means the dictionary is rebuilt from scratch. These idiotic stories -- one category of "fake news" -- make it hard to find real news. Or maybe this is what the MSM is focused on, since it is so much cheaper to produce than real news.

Various editorials criticize Trump for attacking the essential credibility of the press. Sorry, but they should look in the mirror. As more and more information became available on the Internet, more and more of us became aware of just how mediocre a product the MSM was producing. Sure, we had heard a news publication described as "never let the facts get in the way of a good story", but now we could see it for ourselves, and we passed it on to friends and family. During the Iraq War, I regarded several non-US newspapers as an essential corrective to what I was reading in the US MSM.

The credibility of the MSM was in tatters before Trump came along. A significant portion of Trump's support came from people recognizing the failure of the elites, with the media elite being one of those. Perhaps the long-term failure of the media elite was a factor in Trump's election.

----Freedom of Speech----

Freedom of speech and of the press are equal partners in the First Amendment, because both apply to distributing ideas in different media. Rhetorical Question: Is a podcast covered as speech or part of the press? Depends. If it is live-streamed, it is probably speech, but if it is recorded, it would probably be regarded as press.

Despite this tight linkage, I see the MSM repeatedly coming down on the side of censorship of speech, using the pseudo-category of "hate speech" to rationalize suppressing ideas with which they disagree.

The Social Media Trust (oligopolies colluding) -- Facebook, Google/YouTube, Twitter, ... -- have banned people because the Trust disagrees with their politics: The purported rationales don't stand up to even cursory examination because the Trust doesn't ban far worse behavior by those adhering to their dogma. I regard the social media platforms as instances of "the press". So why isn't the MSM screaming about this? Might it be that their high principles apply only when it suits them (in which case, they aren't actually "principles").

When there is violence or threats of violence by groups like Antifa to deprive people of their free speech rights, where is the MSM? Ignoring or minimizing the intimidation.

----Intimidation of Press??----

The editorials claim that Trump's conduct is intended to intimidate them. Evidence of intent? Evidence that they are self-censoring real news? Not that I can see.

----Enemy of the People----

I believe that Trump is more than half right on this when it is applied to the current national press and not the concept of a free press. I see a MSM that profits -- economically, ideologically -- from stirring up animosity and division. The MSM labels people with mainstream positions -- center right and center left -- as extremists. It distorts what is actually being said. Marketing studies have long shown that outrage and conflict get more viewers.

My newsfeed gets articles from major MSM publications about the coming Second Civil War. Such stories may get views, but they are normalizing the idea that political violence may be necessary. If one feels they must read such, do so in a private browser window to avoid it being used to recommend more of such articles.

The MSM has actively worked for years against what these editorials point out are the reasons that a free press is crucial for a democracy.

None of what I have said here is unique to me. These points have been common in critiques of the MSM for years, and have largely fallen on deaf ears.

----Footnotes----
1. Failed prosecution:
^Update: Jury finds 5 men not guilty of assault during 2017 Berkeley protest^ - Berkeleyside, 2018-06-18.

2. Eric Clanton, the Berkeley Bike Lock Basher:
The only competent coverage I found: ^Eric Clanton takes 3-year probation deal in Berkeley rally bike lock assault case^ - Berkeleyside, 2018-08-08.
Do a web search on the term in the header.You will see little coverage of this result, other than in the Conservative media,and also minor coverage of the attack and of Clanton being ID'ed as the perpetrator.


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An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.


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