I’ve gotta say folks, it’s getting harder and harder to read and understand the news these days. It’s not so much the tribalistic biases, distortions, and lying by omission that we’re all used to, it’s about honesty, ethics and accountability. There’s a reason why Brian Williams was fired from his show for lying about his experiences during the Iraq war, Hurricane Katrina, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. If people are forced to take William’s statements with a grain of salt, that kind of undermines the whole purpose of news and being a journalist, right? So how does the MSM still get it so wrong? You had one job…
Although it would seem that lying for your own benefit as a journalist is punished, lying on behalf of the political class is accepted. The fourth estate has been subject to a form of regulatory capture. There’s a revolving door and members of the news media are often considered for propagandist positions in administrations such as Press Secretary and Director of Communications. In order to be considered for the job, administrations will be looking for loyalty, and a body of work that they or their candidate approve of.
This means that unethical hack reporters and pundits who view journalism as a stepping stone to their own personal power will collude and slant their coverage to curry favor with powerful politicians. Those who wish to become White House propagandists will produce propaganda on their own to show that they are capable of it. When you have a field of such competitors vying for a limited amount of administration positions, you can have your own propaganda machine quietly working for you in the news industry.
If you’ll remember, Wikileaks published a list of journalists who agreed to have dinner with John Podesta. It should be noted that this was a private dinner, none of the participants have come forth to explain what was discussed, and we probably would have never known about this if it weren’t for Wikileaks and Julian Assange. It should also be noted that ABC’s George Stephanoplous was RSVP’d, and that he was Bill Clinton’s Communications Director in 1993.
And then there is, of course, Donna Brazile’s dismissal from CNN for passing town hall questions to the Clinton campaign, the various brown-nosing emails from people like Glenn Thrush and John Harwood, fraternizing at the White House Correspondence Dinners, and so on and so forth.
When somebody like Trump points out this collusion and tries to hold the media accountable, they claim victimhood and persecution of a free press. These delicate geniuses are anything but. You can’t be that delicate when you have the power of the pen, and there was absolutely nothing genius about the MSM’s 2016 election coverage. And yes, it is important to have a free and independent media in this country, but that last part – independent- isn’t mentioned.
Then I heard the UKIP’s Nigel Farage speak at a convention for journalists in Copenhagen, and I was struck by his statement that many are viewing the MSM in the same light as politicians.
“2016 has been the year of political revolution, it has been the year of the outsiders. But remember, what made Brexit happen, and what got Trump elected, were a lot of little people who don’t normally vote at all, but have simply had enough and want to vote for change. They feel they’ve been talked down to, they feel they’ve been sneered at, and I think what this conference needs to face up to is it’s not just the political class that increasingly is treated with contempt by the broader public across the West. Actually, the national broadcasters – and the rest of the media, too – are being, I’m afraid, viewed in the same way. You are now on a par with the political class. How ’bout that? It’s not a great place to be, is it?”
With all of the whitewashing, distortions, omissions of context, and appeals to emotions, media pundits and commentators are beginning to talk more and more like politicians. Looking at the 2016 election coverage and the Podesta Wikileaks, it would seem that news networks like CNN, ABC, MSNBC, and the New York Times were little more than political advocacy groups. So if the mainstream media pundits are willing to advocate on behalf of politicians, attend private dinners with campaign managers, and even help them cheat at town halls, should they be considered a part of the political class? Should the public have to take their words with a grain of salt the way they do with politicians? I find myself doing just that.
So what can we do? I think if Trump wants to drain the swamp in DC, he could drain the swamp in midtown Manhattan as well. I suggest that print and especially broadcast journalists working for the 6 major media conglomerates (CBS, Time Warner, Viacom, Disney, News Corp, and GE) be required to resign from their positions for a period of 4 years before accepting a job in the federal government. This will prevent the kind of media collusion and manipulation of public opinion we saw in the 2016 election. With such a steep requirement to transition into the public sector, the incentive to appease politicians disappears, and the revolving door is locked shut.