For most of the country’s history, we did not have a professional, fair and objective media just reporting the news straight. It was an alien thought to most, and not the purpose.
The media (newspapers for most of that time) was always partisan, from Adams and Jefferson newspapers in the early years of the infant Republic up to the mid-20th century, newspapers were Democrat, Republican, pro-slavery, anti-slavery and overt about it. In fact, some newspapers today still bear that legacy — most Southern states have numerous newspapers named Democrat, such as the Tallahassee Democrat in Florida. There are dozens that retain this heritage, although many dropped the Democrat name in mergers.
Only for a short period after WWII, when there were a lot of anomalies that would not last, we tried this new idea of a professional class, college-trained media that would objectively report the truth in the news. I peg the ending of it to very roughly Watergate, but you could argue before that time. Certainly by the time of the Reagan presidency, the pretense was wearing thin,, but you almost had to be in newsrooms (as I was) to realize the depth of the bias. By the 90s, it became much clearer in attempts to smear Republicans and whitewash Democrats and Bill Clinton’s ugly proclivities.
Since that time, the media has been reverting to form as a fully partisan industry. This is acceptable under the First Amendment, and historical, but we for a short time tried the other approach. Now, it never really was unbiased. It turns out Walter Cronkite, that most trusted of all trusted names was a doctrinaire leftist and wielded far, far too much power in influencing the American public against the Vietnam War.
The problem, however, was that all of the media — now known as the mainstream media — was uniformly left-wing. We see it more clearly in hindsight, but it was quite clear then. It’s why the deregulation of the airwaves and dumping of the Fairness Doctrine that opened up the airwaves allowed Rush Limbaugh and then a wave of other conservative voices to thrive where liberal voices could not. Liberals had all the rest of the media. It was conservatives who were hungry for balance. This also explains the launch of Fox News as “Fair and Balanced” and “We Report, You Decide” was and continues to be hugely successful. There was pent-up demand that was not being met by the unbalanced supply of the mainstream media.
Then we had the rise of the internet and another outlet for conservative voices and worldview takes on the news to further balance out the increasing reversion to the norm of the mainstream media. Andrew Breitbart was a pioneer here, but now the space is full of alternatives. We are continuing to transition back to our country’s historic pattern.
But herein lies the problem with this transition. Most Americans have no context for understanding a bias media (thank you again, public schools.) European media has all along been party organs. Everyone in London knows that with the Guardian they are getting the leftwing view and with the Telegraph they are getting the rightwing view. It benefits by being honest about the bias, something desperately lacking in the American media and driving the basement-level trust numbers.
This almost assuredly is the future for America. We can no longer accept the idea that we have a professional, above-the-fray media, and just give over to the more realistic model of party organs and worldview platforms. It’s not clear we ever strayed all that far from it in the first place.
Pretty much everyone to the right of center (including many moderate Republicans) now realize the mainstream, oldstream media is hopelessly biased and partisan. One good thing that has come from President Trump driving the left off the mental stability cliff is that it has finally and fully unmasked the media partisanship that has existed for decades. Judging by the response I get when talking on this subject, they will not regain our trust. That era has ended. It’s on to the past!
For many, it is hysterically funny that outfits such as the New York Times (building its newsroom around the bogus Trump-Russia narrative, now shifting to bogus Trump racist narrative, according to its executive editor) and the Washington Post (Democracy Dies in Darkness, actually surpassing the Trump’s narcissism) to CNN (once known as the Clinton News Network and now the Democratic Party’s video proselytising arm) all still try to declare they are straight news sources. The evidence to the contrary is so overwhelming it would crash The Revolutionary Act’s servers.
So what will happen is we will increasingly have on one side of the media the Daily Caller, Daily Wire, Breitbart News, the Blaze and other internet outfits as the conservative media, along with Fox News, the New York Post, Washington Examiner, and a few more old mainstream media outlets that are pretty honest in the bias, and then talk radio.
On the other side of the media we will have the Huffington Post, Slate, Salon, Daily Kos, Buzzfeed, Yahoo News, MSNBC (honest about their bias) Media Matters, and weirdly the Daily Show and Colbert (because inconceivably, people on the left claim to get their news there) and a raft of others.
And finally, for an extended period, probably, there will be the New York Times, WaPo, CNN, Bloomberg, NPR and the rest of the entrenched mainstream media around the country, which will also be leftist partisan — but will lie about it.
Rod Thomson is an author, past Salem radio host, ABC TV commentator, former journalist and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act.
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