Categories
Media Politics Trump Truth

10 Stunning But Quickly Forgotten Obama Comments

Rod Thomson

The media and Democrats are aghast at some of the comments made by President Trump and his surrogates. And some are indeed questionable; we know how Trump can be with Twitter and some of his circle are not accustomed to dealing with the media regularly. It shows.

That said, Obama made a lot of jaw-dropping statements while president — both truly frightening and truly embarrassing. And the response was, shall we say, somewhat more subdued.

So here are some frightening comments that got little response outside of some conservative circles, and some embarrassing ones that were similarly shrugged off by the media. Such comments would have dogged Bush or Trump endlessly, showing the heavy partisan nature to the current situation.

 

Obama’s truly frightening comments
  • Obama at the UN: ‘‘The future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.’’ Wow. But there was no blowback, no demonstrations, no riots, no constitutional crisis.
  • “…I’ve got two daughters. 9 years old and 6 years old. I am going to teach them first of all about values and morals. But if they make a mistake, I don’t want them punished with a baby.” Punished!? Those are some seriously whacked morals.
  • “If you’ve got a business – you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Well, of course, Obama didn’t build it. He didn’t build anything. He did tear down quite a bit.
  • “I do think at a certain point you’ve made enough money.” Plain old socialism. But a big media yawn in response.The Obamas have a net worth of about $24 million right now. According to American University, the Obamas could stand to make as much as $242 million once leaving the White House. No word from the former President if he has reached the point of “enough” money yet.
  • “Whether we like it or not, we remain a dominant military superpower….” Or not!? Its really not hard to see that Obama actually did not and does not want us to be a superpower. He wants us brought down to the mundaneness with the rest of the world — socialism among countries, where all are equally bad off. He made a solid stab at doing just that over eight years.
  • “The point I was making was not that Grandmother harbors any racial animosity. She doesn’t. But she is a typical white person…” Those white folks! Imagine Bush or Trump saying “typical black person.” Yes, there is a double double standard at work here. And an enormous amount of racism to say that about the grandmother who raised him. Head-shaking.

 

Obama’s truly embarrassing comments
  • “No, no. I have been practicing…I bowled a 129. It’s like — it was like Special Olympics, or something.” OMGarsh! Can anyone imagine what would have happened if Trump had said that? Or Bush? The heavens would have collapsed.
  • “Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go.” Again, imagine Trump or Bush saying 57 states?
  • “When I meet with world leaders, what’s striking — whether it’s in Europe or here in Asia…” He was in Hawaii. Oops. Did I mention if Bush or Trump?
  • “Let’s not play games. I was suggesting – you’re absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith.” His what?

 

Context for these statements

Look, people in public life say a lot of things. I didn’t think anything of Obama’s miscues in the second listing above. Those are natural enough for anyone who is constantly in the media spotlight.

But that’s not the issue. What all this continues to demonstrate is the media’s galactic double standard in covering Republican and Democrat presidents, meaning they are less and less trustworthy. It also means that they really should not be consumed.

So if you choose to read or watch the media histrionics over every Trump action or statement, then at least be aware that they didn’t care so much about Obama’s dangerous and embarrassing actions and statements.

And neither did the American left. It is all partisanship and not much more.

Categories
Islam Media Truth

WATCHDOG WATCH: The Media’s Smiley Face Islam

By Rod Thomson

Smiley face Islam.

That seems to be how the media is determined to depict the face of Islam. The media has unacknowledged, and at times unknown agendas on multiple fronts. It’s the perfectly natural outcome when a large group of people have essentially the same worldview and their check and balance on that worldview is each other.

There is not going to be much of a check or balance. In a word, bias.

The bias in Muslim coverage seems to be ensuring that all Muslims are painted as exactly like every other American, and that Islam as a religion is depicted the same as any other religion. The truth is that Islam is a mixed bag in 2017 unlike any other religion. There are many productive, pro-American, peaceable Muslims in the United States. We probably have the most moderate Muslim population in the world, on a whole, and a majority fit into the American culture.

But while polls show that American Muslims are some of the least radicalized in the world, they also show that Islam worldwide does not fit the media narrative and hundreds of millions believe Sharia law, for instance, a legal system antithetical to American beliefs. And that raises questions of immigration.

Yet the media persists in describing Islam as an overtly peaceful religion that preaches tolerance, and the thousands of adherents to Islam that participate in atrocities are not really Muslims. No real reporting on the millions that support atrocious behavior, but do not participate directly.

So the truth is there really exists a smiley face Islam. But there also really exists a hateful, murderous Islam. Both are true, but the media highlights one.

 

The happy face example

An example that beautifully illustrates this bias was published a little over a year ago in a well-regarded Florida daily newspaper. In fact, this particular Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper helpfully directed readers with the headline, “The Face of Islam in Southwest Florida.”

Here is the lead:

“Imam Yousuf Memon is the face of Islam in Sarasota and Bradenton — and it’s a face that smiles constantly and is quick to laugh.

“Memon, only 24, shatters the stereotype of a Muslim cleric.

“Before services Friday, he was dressed in a trendy Abercrombie & Fitch hoodie, jeans and flip-flops.

“He admits he’s much younger than most Islamic clergy, but in the eight months since he became Imam of Sarasota’s diverse Muslim community, his efforts have drawn wide acclaim.”

The brave Imam — truly a brave young man — condemns violence in the name of Islam and says if he got wind of radicalized Muslims in his community, the first thing he would do is report them to the authorities. Here here! That is precisely the type of leadership many Americans hope for from Muslim clerics. So that’s all great and may God protect him.

 

What is missing journalistically

But as to the journalism…this story is one big promotional puff piece for smiley face Islam on Page 1 of a newspaper. Paid advertising is only mildly more overt. There are verrrrrrry long quotes (which you rarely see) by the Imam explaining that his view is true Islam and not the violent views of others around the world and occasionally in the United States. That’s legitimate, except that there is zero balance in the story.

What is missing? No normal journalistic push back. No context. No actual tough questions or topics, which are abundant with the Muslim issue. As a former journalist, I would ask some basics such as:

— Do you believe in Sharia law?

— Do you think it is safe to let in Syrians?

— How have ISIS and others gained such huge followings in your religion, particularly when no other religion has anything like this going on?

— Why do such large percentages of Muslims around the world support Sharia and even support terrorism and terror organizations in many instances?

That used to be basic journalism. But none of those were asked — or were not reported if they were asked, which seems unlikely. Instead, we got a happy face Islam promotional piece ignoring all the tough questions.

This type of coverage played out recently in President Trump’s 90-day ban on people traveling to the United States from seven predominantly Muslim countries. The first day of the ban, 109 people were detained because of it, out of 325,000 who entered the country that day. All were released within 48 hours. But the media reported chaos at the airports (which was caused in part by a major computer outage at Delta) and referred for a while to the “Muslim ban” (an absurd characterization) while endlessly quoting people about the inhumanity and civil rights violations and un-Americanism of it all.

This is a constant within media coverage, and driven by a monolithic worldview that sees Islam as peaceful, violence as not Islamic, and Christian extremists are an equal threat as Islamic extremists. This is done in two ways: One, equating maybe half a dozen terrorist acts attributed to Christians in the past 30 years, to literally thousands of acts attributed to Muslims in the past 10 years. The false equivalence muddies the waters and makes way for the second way, smiley face Islam the reality.

There are obviously Americans like Imam Yousuf Memon who is an important and productive part of his communities. If all Islam were like him, obviously there would be no conversation. But the data overwhelmingly demonstrates that is not the case.

You just won’t get that in most media reporting.

Categories
Government Media Politics Truth

9 Predictions That Will Come True. Guaranteed.

By Rod Thomson

If there’s anything we learned from 2016 it’s that we simply cannot predict the future in such uncertain times. With that, The Revolutionary Act now predicts the future.

OK, actually these are more extrapolations of the surreal reality we have been living in for decades. No guesswork. No crystal ball. No polling. Much of what will happen in 2017 is an extension of precisely what has been slapping us in the face for a long time.

Launch:

Honey, I shrunk the media

The media will continue to march toward diminishing significance in American life, dwindling in both influence and numbers. This endless march of self-inflicted decline won’t ever actually end the mainstream media as liberals and activist Democrats will continue to imbibe it heartily and think it the only true and faithful way of honest information. But the industry’s unwillingness to confront the overt worldview biases that have long infiltrated its ranks and pervade journalism will spell its ultimate minimization.

 

To the walls!

Democrats will be more obstructionist, more hyperbolic, more shrill and faster to Hitler than ever. And the party will be less effective than ever. They will be cheered on by their core base, and hysteria will be amplified by a fellow-traveling media, with whom they are joined at the hip. But it will actually hurt Democrats. Voters who went over to Trump will not be moved by post-election histrionics when they were not by pre-election ones. They will get sick of it and tune them out. The “boy who cried wolf” saying will be replaced by the “Democrats who cried Hitler” saying. This will accrue to the harm of Democrats and the media.

 

Unceasing and unacceptable

The radical left will unrelentingly push the LGBTQIAetc agenda, again with an approving media that itself is overly represented by LGBTQIAetc journalists, and continue to strongarm reasonable Americans far beyond where they are willing to go. We saw this in 2016 with the transgender bathroom issue.

Despite the blowback on that, activists will continue to march and push, apply economic pressure and get spineless PC organizations in professional sports and some corporations to go along, legitimizing increasingly bizarre and dangerous behavior. The media will write one-off stories about a little boy who felt like a girl his whole life, thereby enabling what has always been and is still understood by most professionals to be a mental condition. Side note here: psychiatrists and their related associations will too quickly cave to the will of LGBTQIAetc activists and re-label the conditions as lifestyle choices. And untold young people will be damaged for life.

 

When narcissism is just not self-absorbed enough

Mark it down, self marrying will become a thing. It sounds absurd — and, of course, it is — but there are no boundaries to absurdity when it comes to the American progressive left.

There are “solo wedding” packages that include a wedding gown of your choice, bouquet, hairstylist, limousine service, a hotel stay and a commemorative photo album all for $2,500. There’s even the option to rent a “decorative” man — not groom. The stated goal of these (besides obviously making money) is to encourage “positive feelings” for single “brides.” Interestingly, only women seem to be interested in these.

This probably won’t fall under the LGBTQIAetc agenda because this does not include any sex weirdness, or threats to others. But who knows in our up-is-down culture.

 

The omnipresent President

President Obama will go nowhere. He is setting up camp in Washington, D.C. to continue hounding the Trump administration after doing everything in his power to ensure the bumpiest transition possible. He will look for cheering college kids still buying his personable but failed shtik. The end result will be relatively strong approval ratings for Obama personally — because Americans find him likable and don’t want to be seen as disapproving the first black president — but the continued abatement of the Democrat Party if its leaders follow his rhetoric. Which, see above, it will.

 

The things that never change

The rallying cries of the left will be: racism! sexism! rich people! white males! This is the same slam-dunk prediction every year. Every. Single. Year. There are simply very few rhetorical tools in the Democrat toolbox because it is a tired, worn-out party. I mean, a disheveled 75-year-old was its change agent.

 

And the old will become new again

Back to the media, because it can drive so much; After lying largely dormant since the Bush years, the media will suddenly rediscover:

  • the homeless ‘crisis’
  • the replacement of full-time jobs with part-time jobs
  • the health care ‘crisis’ of the uninsured and costs of health care
  • the national deficit and dire threat that it is
  • the Iranian threat

 

Obamacare-free zone

The ridiculously named Affordable Care Act will be repealed and replaced with some hodge-podge of needed changes and political expediencies. But hair-on-fire leaders in California will create their own CaliforniaCare, or some such bankrupting silliness. It will include mandates and require illegals be covered and set the stage for one of two eventualities: the financial collapse of the state or the election of Republicans to fix things. My money is on the collapse option. But it will also ensure that illegals continue to vote Democrat in California, and that’s what really matters.

 

Easiest prediction of all

Islamist terrorists will maim and murder innocent people around the world by the thousands. They will quote the Koran, call on the name of Allah, be supported by a small but real minority of Muslims and be funded in part by Muslim-run nations. Meanwhile, the media and Democrats will tell us the terrorists have nothing to do with Islam. Those of us who make that connection will be labeled bigots.

Happy New Year!

Categories
Media Politics Truth

Fake News by the Fake Mainstream Media

So the media and the Left are all appalled, dismayed, horrified and aghast at fake news allegedly created and distributed by hubs in Eastern Europe and Russia — and that it may have influenced the presidential election.

This, as opposed to the fake news created by the traditional media in hubs in New York and D.C. Because mainstream media journalists, about 90 percent of whom are to the left of the American political center, get to define what is good journalism, they also get to decide what is fake news and more importantly, what is real news.

And then they most definitely do influence elections with their “journalistic” decisions.

For some evidence, here are five examples of completely fake news by the same mainstream media now lamenting fake news as something new and abhorrent.

 

➠ Hands up, don’t shoot 

Maybe the most egregious and damaging of mainstream media fake news was the coverage of the 2014 Ferguson, Mo. police shooting of Michael Brown.

The initial coverage, and for days and weeks afterward, was that teenager Brown, who was black, was gunned down in cold blood by a white police officer. It was reported, because someone made it up, that Brown was trying to surrender and said his hands were up, don’t shoot.

Rather than wait for any verification, the media in lockstep ran with it 24/7 until race relations were deeply inflamed, riots had started and the professional protester class had descended on the community. It was easy. It fit a left-of-center world view of a racist America and racist cops and it became a rallying cry for activists and journalists.

 

cnn-newsroom-handsupdontshoot-dec13-b_0

Fake journalists on a fake story.

 

The problem is, nothing like that actually happened. Brown, who was always called a teen or a boy, but who in reality was a giant man weighing more than 300 pounds, had just robbed a convenience store and threatened the Korean clerk. It’s on camera. Then in the confrontation with the police officer, Brown attacked him, bloodied the cop, and tried to take his gun. Brown was walking away, but then turned back and was charging the cop — who was more than a 100 pounds smaller. Only then did the officer shoot and kill Brown.

Even the deeply racial Obama Justice Department could not find problems with the officer’s actions, finding them justified.

But the damage was done. Black Lives Matter was birthed. Ferguson was burned. The cop’s life was ruined. And it was all based on fake news as fake as anything allegedly out of Eastern Europe.

 

➠ Dan Rathergate 

CBS ran a story in the heat of the 2004 presidential campaign between George W. Bush and John Kerry that purported to show that Bush’s Texas Air National Guard duty was scandalous.

Lead anchorman Dan Rather relied on a mentally unstable man with a grudge against George Bush to give CBS “copies” of documents that he claimed were received from a person who apparently never existed. Further, the documents were supposedly typed on a military typewriter in the early ‘70s, but were coincidentally the exact same font as Microsoft Word, which was on half the computers in America in 2004 and not used on typewriters. Further, the documents even used the wrong acronym for the name of the report!

In other words, these were obvious, amateurish fakes. But Dan Rather and CBS apparently wanted Bush to lose so badly that they eagerly swallowed the childish scam. It was even featured on a 60 Minutes segment.

Eventually, Rather retired and CBS issued a “we regret” sort of take-back of the story.

Then last year, Hollywood — being a fellow-traveler of the Left with the media — made a film about the scandal; not the real-life Rather/CBS scandal, the made-up Bush part.

And Rather is still venerated as one of the great journalists in American history.

 

➠ Doctoring the tapes

During the salacious, media sensationalized, racially charged George Zimmerman murder trial in Orlando, NBC doctored the 911 phone call Zimmerman made while following Trayvon Martin. In fact, as was later revealed, they edited the call to make Zimmerman into a despicable racist.

ABC played this from the call:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. He looks black.

But here’s everything Zimmerman did say:

Zimmerman: This guy looks like he’s up to no good. Or he’s on drugs or something. It’s raining and he’s just walking around, looking about.

Dispatcher: OK, and this guy — is he black, white or Hispanic?

Zimmerman: He looks black.

That was atrocious and when caught, NBC had to apologize and claim it was just for length.

Right.

But CNN kept trying to keep the flame of racism alive in the story. Weeks after NBC apologized for doctoring the 911 call, on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360, a CNN audio expert digitally enhanced the audio and thought Zimmerman used a racial slur, ‘f—ing coon.’ CNN reporter Gary Tuchman readily chimed in: ‘It certainly sounds like that word to me.’

Turns out, Zimmerman said it was ‘f—king cold.’

Streams of “mistakes” such as these only ever happen one direction.

 

➠ Koran flushing

Newsweek ran a story in 2005, citing famed “sources” that military interrogators at Guantanamo had put Korans in the toilet and in one case flushed one down. Within the week, Newsweek had backtracked and apologized for the story, but the damage was done as rioting and violence broke out throughout the Muslim world as the fake news report spread.

How could this happen? Many on the Left have an instinctive distrust of the military and a fault-finding mentality regarding America. This thinly sourced story fit that mindset to a tee and made it all the easier to accept and run with.

Just like the Ferguson cop being a cold-blooded racist killer, just like Rather’s story on Bush, just like Zimmerman being a racist.

 

➠ Fake fact-checkers 

This has become a somewhat comedic part of mainstream media fake news. Pretty much no conservatives put trust in it.

The formula is this: Pick the most egregious and obviously wrong or mis-interpretable statements by Republicans and slam them. Then pick the most obvious statements by Democrats — Hillary Clinton said the sun will rise in the east tomorrow — and give her a smiley pat on the back for accuracy.

Remember when Trump claimed that President Obama founded ISIS. No? Well he didn’t really. It was in the context of Obama’s lousy foreign policy in the Middle East. Trump claimed, with some legitimacy, that Obama’s policies led to the birth of ISIS. Even though he did not say “policies,” it was obvious what he was saying to any rational, mildly objective person.

But not to the fake fact-checkers.

They took the sentence literally, without any surrounding context, as if Trump was saying that Obama Skyped in with the nascent terrorist network to strategize its start. Just laughable.

 

➠ Fake Journalists

This is an entirely different category operating on the exact same premise. Democrat operatives and activists get media jobs, and vice versa. It’s like the politician-lobbyist revolving door in D.C. — you just don’t hear about this one.

George Stephanopoulos may be the most infamous of these. Stephanopoulos was a senior advisor in the Bill Clinton campaign of 1992 and Clinton White House Communications Director. In 1996 he stepped down to…go to work for ABC News and later took over the once-prominent This Week Sunday morning talk show. He’s also now on Good Morning America and Chief Anchor at ABC News. Wikipedia refers to him first as “an American journalist.”

Here are a couple more practicing fake journalists.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank reached out to Democratic National Committee Eric Walker while writing a piece entitled “Passover-themed 10 plagues of Trump.” Trolling for dirt.

New York Times/CNBC reporter and Republican debate moderator John Harwood contacted John Podesta (Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair!) for some gotcha questions he could ask Jeb Bush during a sit-down interview.

And then there are those who just switch back and forth between being journalists and working for Democrat administrations, including:

  • Jay Carney: Time magazine correspondent turned White House Press Secretary
  • Warren Bass: Former deputy editor of the Washington Post’s Sunday Outlook section turned aide to U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice
  • Geoff Morrell: ABC News reporter turned spokesman for Obama Defense Department.
  • Linda Douglas: CBS Congressional correspondent turned Obama healthcare media chief.
  • Beverley Lumpkin: Formerly of ABC and CBS turned Obama’s Justice Department employee
  • Rosa Brooks: L.A. Times columnist turned DoD employee.
  • David Hoff: Reporter for Education Week turned communications staffer at the Department of of Education
  • Peter Gosselin: L.A. Times reporter turned Treasury Secretary employee
  • Rick Weiss: Washington Post reporter turned White House employee
  • Jill Zuckman: Chicago Tribune writer turned Department of Transportation

You get the idea. In addition to fake news that has been long established in the media, there are fake journalists, too. Yes, there are a few solid, middle-of-the-road journos out there — more often than not at local, community outlets — but they are run over in content and influence by the mass unable or unwilling to see that their bias creates fake news at times.

There’s just nothing new about the fake news hyperventilating, except that it looks different now and isn’t being done only by traditional news outlets.

Categories
Culture Media Politics Truth

Rigged Elections? Yes. Think Broadly.

by Rod Thomson

There has been much hot-air hissing over Donald Trump’s continual charge that the election is rigged against him. The gaseous releases come from Trump’s Democrat opponents, naturally enough, the media, also naturally enough, but also many Republicans.

This is an ongoing revelation in this election cycle. The elites (oh for a better word) in the media and the two-party structure separated from the heartlands of America cannot grasp how the ground has shifted under their Guccis.

The shift explains Trump’s appeal, Bernie Sanders’ appeal, even the appeal of the Libertarian and Green Party candidates plus third-party independents such as Evan McMullin, who has a very real chance of winning Utah in the presidential election. There is an almost bottomless pit of frustration with the country, both the direction it is going and the way it is getting there.

The frustration is appropriate. “Rigging” in the common, original sense refers to the system of ropes, cables or chains used to support a ship’s masts. These become part of the mechanism that controls the direction of the vessel. Think in those terms.

It’s almost like everything is rigged against every traditional thought and impulse of Americans, directing the ship of the nation and politics in a different direction. But the yawning chasm between elites (urgh…) in the three culture-moving centers of the nation — Hollywood, D.C., New York — and the rest of the country keeps each group from even understanding what the other is saying.

Let’s see if we can…rig up a bridge.

Before the ground shifted, a rigged election was understood to mean gross tampering with the actual vote. People voting illegally multiple times, ghost ballots sent in and ballots “lost” and “found” (think Minnesota and the 2008 election of Al Franken, where ballots kept mysteriously materializing over months until he had enough votes to flip from loss to win.)

When the elites (culture centers?) hear the charge of the election being rigged, that is what they are thinking. And in that respect, a nationwide rigging does sound far-fetched. Although to be fair, the Democrats and some in the media made that exact charge about the 2000 election where Bush beat Gore after the Florida recounts and appeals up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Selective memory.

But when others say rigged, including perhaps Trump, they are meaning the entire process is rigged. So for Trump — or any Republican — this means that the entirety of the formidable culture-moving apparatus is arrayed against him during the election.

The traditional mainstream media coverage from the alphabet soup of TV networks to the major and minor newspapers, all provide deeply biased coverage — often not even recognizing it. In this election, it is overt. But there is also Hollywood, which pillories Republicans on sitcoms, in movies and on late night shows. The music culture also throws in against the Republican, loving on Gore, Kerry, really on Obama, and Clinton. All these cultural stars have mammoth social media followings and often take to them on behalf of partisan politics. This mammoth assemblage of idea-moving firepower is almost impossible to fight against.

The same dynamic was in effect against Mitt Romney — perhaps the most opposite man from Trump that you can get. Yet this exceedingly decent man was also demonized (as was John McCain and George W. Bush) by the cultural centers.

And finally there is the university system where Democrat professors outnumber Republican up to 11 to 1, according to a study published in Econ Journal Watch. That system churns out millions of indoctrinated students voting Democratic at a rate of about 4 to 1.

So, in this broad sense, yes, the entire election process is rigged and rigged heavily against the Republican. That Republicans actually win sometimes approaches the miraculous.

The “professional” media particularly will tut-tut about using the word “rigged.” Trump is truly incautious with word choice. But a lot of Americans know what he is talking about. And it is that very elitist tut-tutting that makes them so distant and betrays their insularity. Out of touch does not do it justice.

There are deep dynamics running beneath our nation like fault lines. Use of the word “rigged” is just a little tectonic friction along those fault lines.

Categories
In-Depth Media

IN-DEPTH: Bias is Foundationally Ingrained in Traditional Journalism

By Rod Thomson

A quarter century in the mainstream media establishment furnished me with ample evidence of how the media shades and distorts coverage in the most professional and yet opaque ways — so ingrained that the shading is all but invisible to the journalists doing it.

(IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: There is no conspiracy of bias across the mainstream media. However, there is such deeply entrenched bias that most toiling journalists do not even recognize it. They believe that their choice of stories and coverage is pure professionalism, free from any encumbrances of prejudice. So know that if you pursue a conspiracy theory, you will immediately be discarded with an eyeroll. There is far stronger ground on which to stand and expose why this bias creates inherent and accurate distrust.)

The media’s multi-generational predilection has become established journalism. The worldview defining what is newsworthy and why, and what is not and why not, is now a foundational part of journalism. That it reflects one worldview over a competing worldview is undeniable for those looking at life through the competing worldview. But this truth is invisible to those practicing journalism, because the newsworthy industry standard fits like a glove with their worldview. Of course it’s good journalism! We all agree!

Most reporters and editors I worked with were mystified at the accusation of bias, or simply chalked it up to my own conservative proclivities. That my conservatism might inform my view of journalism was perfectly clear to them. That their liberalism might inform their view of journalism was bewildering to them, because by every journalistic standard they were practicing professional journalism. The reason they could not see the bias was not a lack of intelligence or dishonesty, but that journalism was defined through the basis of liberalism and therefore they did not see any bias.

 

The mystery of Rush Limbaugh

My colleagues would often shake their heads incredulously at the rise of Rush Limbaugh and conservative talk radio in the 1990s. They simply could not understand it and ended up shrugging it off as conservatives being less educated and more easily led. Conservatives just didn’t like the truth coming out in the media.

The problem did not lie with American conservatives, however, but with the very bewildered journalists unable to grasp his popularity.

Rush Limbaugh and others were filling a void for a large swath of Americans who felt under daily assault by local and national media. Rush Limbaugh took the news of the day and explained it from a conservative point of view — the opposite of the way the media was professionally describing it — and 20 million Americans thought, ‘Finally someone is saying what I believe!’

There are many conservative sites dedicated to pointing out the daily media leftist bias. They have been so successful, that some have popped up on the other side, focusing primarily on Fox News. That, in itself, is telling that they only have one news source to hit on. But we can simply let the market of millions of Americans speak.

In a recent Gallup Poll on media trust — which has been taken since 1972 — the media has sunk to its lowest level ever. Only 32% of Americans consider the media trustworthy. That’s not good, but the political party breakdown tells the real story:

  • 51% of Democrats consider the media trustworthy;
  • 14% of Republicans consider the media trustworthy.

Does the media reflect on why there is such a stark difference? Here is the response I have heard from colleagues over the years: “Well, those are conservatives pulling the numbers down. They’re just angry.” Exactly! One worldview trusts journalists at nearly four times the level as the other worldview. That’s the blind spot, spelled out in rock solid numbers by the consumer market of news. And yet, that glaring reality remains largely obscured to the working media because proper journalism is interwoven with modern progressivism determining what is news.

In all my years, I only came across one working journalist, an editor and a friend, who was forthright and clear enough to admit the bias. He went further, however, with his normal bluntness and confessed proudly that he thought it was right for journalists to be biased in favor of helping the little guy against the big guy. Indeed, much of journalism stems from that, which is laudable from an individual’s point of view, but deeply problematic for a media struggling with the public trust.

 

The media’s telltale sign: Story choice

Think about it. The exposés on the homeless, the poor, single mothers, imprisonment numbers, income inequality, plight of minorities and so on are virtually endless. There are also legions of stories on environmental issues and the greed of CEOs. All of these are legitimate topics and should be covered, at times in-depth. They are also favorites of the leftist, progressive ethos and are only half of the set of excellent story ideas.

Story choice matters because that is the first step in coverage — those stories that journalists choose to cover, and just as importantly, those they choose not to. These choices are reflected in a perspective that journalists see merely as good journalism, independent of their personal politics. But it’s not. Media consumers instinctively know that, as demonstrated by Gallup.

To see just how warped is the sense of news judgment, here are some examples of what journalists do not spend much — if any — time and resources on, but which are as legitimate as the story topics listed above.

  • Exposés on the trials and tribulations of being a cop in a high-crime neighborhood. This story not only humanizes cops in the same way that stories on the homeless and poor humanize them, but could also shed light on some root problems of the high level of crime while creating public support for better solutions. But these stories are rare and will never win major journalism awards.
  • Exposés and regular coverage on the struggles of small businesses and the difficulty of creating a successful business with a high level of government costs involved. The humanization of the small business owners’ struggles to stay afloat would be hugely educational to the majority of people who are employees their whole lives — or unable to find work. Such stories — routinely done as the list above is — would create a much better understanding of how well-meaning government rules just add more and more difficulties for businesses to succeed, and workers to get good jobs.
  • How about exposés on the size of the federal debt and the weight of taxes now and on future generations? There are endless stories on the difficulties of making ends meet for our elderly citizens living on Social Security, Medicare and other transfer payments. Again, legitimate stories. But they are done in the contextual vacuum of emotional heartstring-pulling. Compelling stories on individuals’ struggles without context result in encouraging public support for more money to go to those people. The context is $20 trillion debt. What if just as regularly journalists did stories on the cost per millennial of the current debt? Talk to young people and do the same emotional stories on how they feel about being burdened to pay off debts that previous generations incurred. They can’t afford rent, but they have to send more and more money to people who are not working. That could really change the conversation. But those stories are as rare as stories on the importance of fossil fuel to a local economy.
  • Speaking of which, how many emotional heartstring-pulling stories are done on the plight of the “hard-working middle class” — a favorite phrase for all politicians — in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio and elsewhere on the decimation of the fossil fuel industry for political reasons? Those are rare as a sighting of stories on the costs of environmental regulations on new development driving up housing costs for the middle class and millennials, also a legitimate story.
  • Exposés and continuing context on the forces driving college costs? There are endless stories on the how the high costs and the ensuing college debt are worrying young students. So much so that it was a central plank of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign. But they are done in a huge vacuum of “Why?” rarely being addressed. Where are all the cojoining stories on why college costs are so high? Those are rare as the story on how the lumber industry has paved the way for responsible resource use.

This list can go on almost indefinitely. If you are a conservative you can think of a ton more. If you are liberal, or a mainstream media person, you are probably shaking your head in disbelief. Again, that is exactly the point.

The matter is ingrained at every level.

 

The problem of journalism schools

The indoctrination begins here. Of course, it is largely not intentional indoctrination, so perhaps not the best word. It is merely repeating the formula that a liberal ethos equals good journalism — not stated in words so much as in the daily classroom teaching of journalism.

I graduated from Michigan State University’s School of Journalism in 1982 and the professors were uniformly liberal. I was too, sort of, because that is what college will do to you if you are not well-grounded otherwise. I accepted what I was taught and dutifully took it out into the world of daily newspapers with me until I slowly began forming my own set of beliefs.

But Michigan State is simply like all the rest. In addition to all the media people I have worked with, I’ve hired out of J-Schools around the country and the cookie-cutter products of those institutions are impressive from an efficiency perspective. It’s almost impossible in the major journalism schools to find a graduate with a conservative worldview who might look at good journalism from a different perspective. Truly, such a student probably could not have earned a degree if they had.

A journalism degree is necessary currency to get in the door of mainstream media outlets — and a lot of new media. So navigating journalism schools and learning the proper definition of newsworthy journalism creates a gatekeeper effect for the liberal journalism professors dominating schools. And it means they are well-prepared on the worldview level to fit into modern media — even if they are not well-prepared to actually practice. Much of that is learned on the job, making journalism schools all the more a place whose primary role is to mold “proper” political views.

 

The problem of journalism awards

Like all human beings, journalists love winning awards, being recognized for their efforts. I sure did. Iowa Young Journalist of the Year in the late 80s. Inland Press Association’s Reporting Award, a dozen Associated Press Awards and so on.

Yeah, it was great. Here’s the thing, though. Naturally enough, journalism awards are judged by other journalists. I know. I sat on a few judging committees. Makes sense. But the now-established deeply ingrained worldview kicks in at this point. Practically every judging committee will be made up of people whose worldview is somewhere between center left and radical left.

The story lists mentioned above that are viewed as important through that leftist prism will be the ones awarded.

Then how did I win awards? For many years as a younger reporter, I did not see the bias. I fully understand being blind to it. I was practicing good journalism. As my worldview matured and I began to see things more clearly through conservatism and biblical standards — and as I began voicing my opinion in the newsroom — the reality of how deeply rooted the predisposition was and is became clear. It created a lot of friction. And it exposed a lot.

One revelation was on journalism awards.

Journalists tend to write and produce stories for their next editor or producer at the next paper and television station on the career ladder. Or they write with the aim at winning awards. I worked for a paper whose publisher said the stated aim was to win a Pulitzer Prize, which the paper finally did. Guess the politics of the Pulitzer Prize Committee.

So even after the solid indoctrination received in every major journalism school, the reinforcement sets in at every level, at every institution. While in the field, the newsroom hierarchy is uniformly somewhere left of center. As mentioned previously, that worldview uniformity goes to story selection, story angle, story content and story play. And then all of those decisions are affirmed and rewarded through awards outside the newsroom. Again, this is not to say those are not worthy coverage topics. But it is to say that those are the ones rewarded and therefore reinforced as good journalism.

Unless you become a columnist — as I did for several years — there is no career track for a journalist writing from a conservative worldview without just caving to all the liberal story topics.

 

Solutions are dicey

Perhaps the largest obstacle to correcting this problem is that the vast majority of practicing journalists that I know and have known do not acknowledge the problem. As explained, they merely see solid journalism by professionals who set aside their personal politics and biases.

I don’t think that is possible. For anyone. We all see the world through our prism of life experiences and belief system. That’s inescapable. So in practice the only way to make media newsrooms function with balance to accommodate a sea of views is to populate them with a diversity of perspectives, political beliefs and backgrounds.

There are only two pathways I can see to creating balance in the profession. The best one in my opinion seems highly unlikely. The other one is what the market is slowly grinding towards.

The best solution would be to hire based on worldview. This would mean shifting from the leftist v of diversity in hiring based on skin color and gender to a diversity based on a multiplicity of viewpoints that is colorblind and gender blind. Right now, an executive editor would gaze out over a newsroom with female liberals, black liberals, Hispanic liberals, lesbian liberals, Asian liberals, transgender liberals and handicapped liberals and smile approvingly at the wonderful diversity — totally missing that they are all some stripe of liberal producing the same kinds of stories with the same angles.

While working for a daily newspaper within the New York Times, I made a pitch to generate a policy to recruit journalists based on a diversity of worldviews. We could have liberals, conservatives, libertarians, greens, Christians, atheists, Muslims, Jews and so on. This would provide the natural check and balance on everything from story selection to coverage to play. It would be cutting edge and a start towards restoring trust. (Of course, it would also ultimately require a change in the lock-step liberalism of journalism professors to a worldview diversity. Given tenure, that would only be possible over a couple of generations and require university administrators with spine.)

A consultant who was in town, a former New York Times executive, ran it up the flagpole when he returned to Manhattan. The answer was “No. Our people are professionals. We don’t need ideologues.” Again, the blind spot is sort of astonishing — if you are not a liberal.

A second solution is already happening: market-based alternatives. This is a model that is actually similar to what has been the case in major European cities for years. Media outlets there are overtly politically-based. In London, for instance, everyone understands that the London Guardian and London Independent are the liberal newspapers and the London Telegraph and London Times are the conservative organs. The tabloids break down similarly. Consumers then choose their media accordingly.

In the United States, the modern history was of at least an attempt at a centrist, fair, non-partisan media. That has failed. And because of the blindness of that failure within the media establishment, there is no willingness to make the necessary corrections. Therefore, the advent of new technologies have opened the door to competing media.

The Drudge Report was an early online portal for conservatives. Matt Drudge linked to stories in the mainstream media, emerging alternative media and, importantly, international media. His site exploded in size and popularity with…conservatives. Like Rush Limbaugh and Fox News, the Drudge Report was filling the worldview vacuum left by the media being blind to its daily inclinations.

Now there is everything from Townhall, National Review Online and Real Clear Politics to Newsmax, the Daily Caller and the Blaze. Listening to reporters from some of these conservative news outlets talk on podcasts is almost identical to listening to conversations in newsrooms over the years — except flip the worldview.

This is ultimately the future of American media. There is not balance. The big media outlets continue to dominate, although they are diluted. As the traditional media is unwilling to reform itself, the American marketplace is reforming it and the grand journalism of the mid-20th century that everyone trusted — whether they should have or not — will be consigned to history.

And like most great institutions and nations, their undoing will be from their own doing.