Journalists Work to Divide, Not Inform

As a young journalist starting out many years ago, I was proud to join a profession where so many men and women had distinguished themselves through honest, thorough investigations, entertaining features, and excellence in writing. But for a long while, I’ve been depressed to see much of the press openly working as political operatives. Objectivity in reporting was always impossible, but at least it used to be discussed as a goal. Now journalists boast of their advocacy journalism for an increasingly leftist agenda.    

Former CBS reporter Bernard Goldberg chronicled the media’s slanting of the news in the first of his bestselling books, Bias. A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News (2002) and has continued to document the trend ever since. Now that bias has swung to the radical left, the media increasingly damage their own credibility. Even Rolling Stone -- which abhors the president -- has published a piece titled, “The American Press Is Destroying Itself” by Matt Taibbi. It begins: “It feels liberating to say after years of tiptoeing around the fact, but the American left has lost its mind. It’s become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness.”

Taibbi condemns the “shaming, threats and intimidation” that are “replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony.” Taibbi has nailed it. Journalists who enjoy unfettered and constitutionally protected rights to say or write nearly anything they want in this country, and who predicted that Trump would silence them, now work to wrest rights of free speech from others. Failure to toe the line results in sudden job expulsions, coerced apologies for “wrong” statements, redefinitions of language, threats to ruin businesses and reputations, and campaigns to quash dissenting voices. Respected students of history rightly see echoes of the early days of Communism in these tactics.     

Casualties are piling up like homeless tents under freeway underpasses. NBC appealed to Google to deplatform a tiny, mainstream conservative website, the Federalist, over allegedly problematic language, in effect trying to shut it down. NBC’s “Verification Center” falsely claimed that Google had demonetized the website, and to survive Big Brother, the Federalist has had to disable comments for the moment. 

The New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet was ousted for publishing an op-ed by U.S. Senator Tom Cotton (R), who argued for bringing in the U.S. military to restore order in cities where the police were overwhelmed. (George H.W. Bush deployed troops in Los Angeles to tamp down riots following the Rodney King court verdict.)

NYT reporters threw tantrums, claiming the op-ed endangered the lives of black coworkers. Incredibly, the paper’s management rewarded the tantrums by taking a knee. Is it time the paper updated its motto for accuracy? How about, “Just the views we like to print?”

In a domino effect, the editor of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Stan Wischnowski, resigned under pressure for the headline, “Buildings Matter, Too,” on an article that suggested that buildings damaged by violence could “leave a gaping hole in the heart of Philadelphia.” Editors at the website Refinery29 and Bon Appetit magazine resigned over sudden allegations of racism.

Bon voyage, comrades. See you at the reeducation camp.

The media’s open agenda to change society in a hard-left direction has led them to junk the high standards we were taught in J-school. Pay close attention when you read or listen to the news. What questions are reporters asking, and what aren’t they asking? Who are they interviewing? Who are they ignoring on the other side? What books with social and political agendas are reviewed, and which are ignored? 

Note the headline, “Atlanta police killed a Black man for being drunk at Wendy’s,” (L.A. Times, June 16) regarding the shooting death of Rayshard Brooks, in which the Times acts as judge and jury in the case, ignoring the twenty-six minutes the officers spent talking to Brooks calmly before deciding they needed to arrest him, barely mentioning Brooks’ resisting arrest and grabbing an officer’s taser.

Ask yourselves why journalists’ curiosity stops short of any self-evaluation, such as admitting that they all rushed to affirm the Russian collusion theory, now thoroughly discredited.

A long-term study titled "The American Journalist in the Digital Age" revealed that in 1971, Republicans represented 25.7% of all journalists, Democrats, 35.5%; and Independents, 32.5%. By 2014, the year of the last survey, only 7.1% of journalists identified as Republican, and Democrats outnumbering them four to one. So much for diversity in the newsroom.   

In Ethics of the Fathers, a classic Jewish text on the human condition, it says, “Who is wise? One who learns from everyone.” A timely lesson for those in the media today.     

Judy Gruen’s latest book is The Skeptic and the Rabbi: Falling in Love with Faith.