The Myth of the Good Old Media
Donald Trump recently noted that the media had become much worse since Walter Cronkite, which is an honest mistake by a man who grew up as a Democrat leaning to the left. But there was no "Good Old Honorable Media." The establishment media have been utterly biased and often outright dishonest for many decades.
The 1965 CBS documentary Hunger in America began with outright lies, citing an infant dying in a hospital as the victim of malnutrition, which was pure invention. The 1971 CBS documentary The Selling of the Pentagon actually took the answer of an assistant secretary of state to one question and edited it so that he was giving the answer to another question – and the documentary did that over and over again.
ABC News, weeks before the 1972 presidential election, in which national defense was the central issue, broadcast the documentary Arms for Defense: How Much is Enough, which began with the completely false statement that "six out of every ten federal dollars goes to defense." The correct number was 38%, and that included the expenditures related to conducting the Vietnam War. This "documentary" was pockmarked with utterly dishonest statements, one of which was an "expert" telling ABC News staff that we did not need to build the B-1 bomber because we already had a supersonic bomber, the B-52, when the B-52 was subsonic and not supersonic. All of these errors supported the left's belief that we were spending too much on national defense.
In 1975, when CBS "journalist" Eric Severeid conducted a one-hour interview with disgraced German chancellor Willy Brandt, the leftist Severeid never once asked the Brandt why he had been forced by his own Social Democrat Party to resign and remain exiled from German politics forever: the closet aide to the West German chancellor was an East German agent.
The same year, when George Wallace, planning his run for the Democrat nomination in 1976, chastised arrogant Swedish officials who were attacking Wallace as a warmonger by reminding these Swedes that Sweden in the Second World War allowed Nazi troops to travel across Sweden, the Washington Post, on the front page as news, not opinion, stated that what Wallace said was false and that the Swedes had never let German troops cross their territory. The problem was that Wallace was completely right, and the Washington Post completely wrong.
One might have thought that NBC or ABC or CBS or PBS (notionally the people's network) might have picked up on these frauds or, at best, gross incompetence because of congenital bias committed by these "competitors," but in fact the leftist establishment media five decades ago were worse, not better, than today. This tired old establishment is so weak now because of a confluence of factors.
First, conservatives beginning in 1969 began to aggressively attack the leftist bias in network news, and organizations like Accuracy in Media began to publicize and chronicle systematically the intellectual dishonesty of these corrupt cadres masquerading as journalists. TV Guide added a column on media bias. A professor in Nashville began recording and saving each 30-minute network broadcast. (The networks had been destroying them, and CBS actually tried to force the destruction of what had been archived already.)
Second, Rush Limbaugh brilliantly used his funny, irreverent, and enlightening radio show to expose the fraud of the network news. Rush's show became wildly popular and immune to pressure. Like the BBC in occupied Europe and like Radio Free Europe in the Cold War, Rush made sure that every weekday, tens of millions of listeners actually learned real news and also learned that they were the majority in America, not despised inbred bumpkins, as the left portrayed them.
Third, Fox News began to report stories that the rest of the media ignored, and, while hardly conservative, Fox News gave conservatives an opportunity to present their case. Crucially, Fox News also began to report how its competitors in broadcast news were behaving, and Fox News began running away from its competitors in number of viewers.
Fourth, the internet provided a means through which conservative news and opinion organizations could present almost instant news in areas the left scrupulously avoided. This also provided a means through which conservatives throughout the nation could talk without mediating action of the mainstream media.
Today, most Americans can simply ignore the leftist media. Those media have not become worse; they have simply become pathetically irrelevant.