The Trump nail in the me­dia cof­fin

Lib­er­als un­hinged by his elec­tion are killing tra­di­tional jour­nal­ism

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - By Vic­tor Davis Han­son

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump prob­a­bly will not of­ten com­mu­ni­cate with the na­tion via tra­di­tional press con­fer­ences. Nor will Mr. Trump likely field many ques­tions from New York-Wash­ing­ton jour­nal­ists. What we know as “the me­dia” never imag­ined a Trump vic­tory. It has be­come un­hinged at the re­al­ity of a Trump pres­i­dency.

No won­der the fad­ing es­tab­lish­ment me­dia is now dis­trusted by a ma­jor­ity of the pub­lic, ac­cord­ing to Gallup — and be­com­ing ir­rel­e­vant even among pro­gres­sives.

Once upon a time in the 1960s, all the iconic news an­chors, from Wal­ter Cronkite to David Brink­ley, were lib­eral. But they at least hid their in­her­ent bi­ases be­hind a pro­fes­sional ve­neer that al­lowed them to fil­ter sto­ries through left-wing lenses with­out much push­back.

When Cronkite re­turned from Viet­nam af­ter the 1968 Tet Of­fen­sive and de­clared the war stale­mated and un­winnable, no one dared to of­fer the dis­sent­ing viewpoint that Tet was ac­tu­ally a de­ci­sive Amer­i­can vic­tory.

The main­stream-me­dia nar­ra­tive in 1963 that Lee Har­vey Oswald, the Cas­troite, com­mu­nist as­sas­sin of Pres­i­dent John F. Kennedy, was a prod­uct of rightwing Texas ha­tred was com­pletely crazy — but largely un­ques­tioned.

That old monopoly over the news, de­spite the ad­vent of ca­ble tele­vi­sion and the In­ter­net, still lin­gered un­til 2016. Even in re­cent years, Ivy League jour­nal­ism de­grees and well-known me­dia brand names seemed to sug­gest bet­ter re­port­ing than what was of­fered by blog­gers and websites.

Soft-spo­ken lib­eral hosts on pub­lic TV and ra­dio su­per­fi­cially sounded more news-like than their grav­el­lyvoiced pop­ulist coun­ter­parts on com­mer­cial ra­dio and ca­ble news.

Yet the thin­ning ve­neer of cir­cum­spec­tion that had sup­pos­edly char­ac­ter­ized the elite lib­eral suc­ces­sors to Cronkite and Brink­ley was fi­nally ripped off com­pletely by a me­dia melt­down over Mr. Trump.

Jour­nal­ists such as Jim Ruten­berg of The New York Times and Chris­tiane Aman­pour of CNN said that they could not — and should not — be neu­tral re­porters, given their low opinion of Mr. Trump.

When the press is unashamedly slanted, even its bene­fac­tors want even more par­tial­ity — me­dia heart­throb Barack Obama in­cluded.

In his last press con­fer­ence as pres­i­dent, Mr. Obama at­tacked pet jour­nal­ists for re­port­ing on Wik­iLeaks’ re­lease of John Podesta’s emails, sup­pos­edly at the ex­pense of his own legacy and Hil­lary Clin­ton’s ac­com­plish­ments.

The Wik­iLeaks trove cer­tainly proved another dis­as­ter to the me­dia — but only be­cause it re­vealed that main­stream jour­nal­ists con­spired with the Clin­ton cam­paign. CNN’s Donna Brazile leaked pos­si­ble de­bate ques­tions to Mrs. Clin­ton. One op-ed colum­nist, Dana Mil­bank of The Wash­ing­ton Post, even asked Clin­tonites for re­search to help him at­tack Mr. Trump.

Politico’s Glenn Thrush sent a story to the Clin­ton cam­paign team to be au­dited be­fore pub­li­ca­tion. He begged to keep his col­lu­sion quiet and ad­mit­ted that he had be­come a “hack” for such jour­nal­is­tic im­pro­pri­ety. Mr. Thrush may have been re­warded for his pre­dictable left-wing bias, re­cently be­ing hired by The New York Times as a White House cor­re­spon­dent.

Last week, New York Times op-ed colum­nist Paul Krug­man grotesquely sug­gested via Twit­ter that Mr. Trump might wel­come another Septem­ber 11-like at­tack, given that such a hu­man catas­tro­phe sup­pos­edly helped win sup­port for Ge­orge W. Bush.

Re­cently, another Politico re­porter, Ju­lia Ioffe, used Twit­ter to re­lay a news story about the pos­si­bil­ity that Mr. Trump’s daugh­ter, Ivanka, would get an of­fice at the White House. In her tweet, Ms. Ioffe sug­gested that Mr. Trump was ei­ther hav­ing in­ces­tu­ous re­la­tions with his daugh­ter or skirt­ing nepo­tism laws.

Politico fired Ms. Ioffe — sort of. She had al­ready an­nounced that she was mov­ing from Politico to the At­lantic.

Yet the At­lantic an­nounced that it would not re­scind her hire — sug­gest­ing that her po­lit­i­cal bias, de­spite the ac­com­pa­ny­ing un­pro­fes­sion­al­ism and un­couth­ness, could al­most be in­ter­preted as a plus.

In to­day’s me­dia, all of this pro­gres­sive dis­tor­tion serves as an in­sur­ance pol­icy for lapses of per­sonal in­tegrity like those of Mr. Thrush and Ms. Ioffe.

MSNBC an­chor Brian Wil­liams ser­mo­nized about the so-called “fake news” epi­demic. Mr. Wil­liams failed to re­mind us that he was re­moved as NBC’s evening news an­chor for serv­ing up all sorts of fake de­tails about his sup­pos­edly brave trips abroad in search of edgy news sto­ries.

Af­ter the fa­tal shoot­ing of Michael Brown in Fer­gu­son, Mo., the co-hosts of the show “CNN News­room” col­lec­tively put up their hands in “hands up, don’t shoot” sol­i­dar­ity — echo­ing a nar­ra­tive of po­lice mur­der later proved to be com­pletely false by a lengthy fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Decades-long jour­nal­is­tic one-sid­ed­ness was ap­par­ently tol­er­a­ble when there were no other news al­ter­na­tives. Main­stream-me­dia mo­nop­o­lies once were also highly prof­itable, and lon­gago lib­eral news peo­ple were at least well-man­nered.

All of those as­sump­tions are no longer true. News out­lets such as The New York Times and NBC have no more cred­i­bil­ity than most websites or the Na­tional En­quirer.

Is it any sur­prise that we are wit­ness­ing the fu­neral for tra­di­tional jour­nal­ism as we once knew it?

News out­lets such as The New York Times and NBC have no more cred­i­bil­ity than most websites or the Na­tional En­quirer.

Vic­tor Davis Han­son is a clas­si­cist and his­to­rian with the Hoover In­sti­tu­tion at Stan­ford Univer­sity.

ILLUSTRATION BY

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.