The media is a surprisingly self-unaware lot sometimes. And boy are they putting a fine point on that today.
A few months ago, the media went into circus hysterics when Sinclair Broadcast Group required all of the company’s television news anchors around the country to read a scripted editorial that pointed out the “troubling trend of irresponsible, one sided news stories plaguing our country,” decried “fake stories” and lamented that “some members of the media use their platforms to push their own personal bias and agenda to control ‘exactly what people think’…This is extremely dangerous to a democracy.”
The media responded theatrically about how “chilling” was this call to commit better journalism than is being done. Well, actually they were most upset at some corporate suits daring to tell journalists to commit to high standards. Sure, it may have been poor optics to recite the exact same verbiage on each station. The goal of the script, however, is something every media outlet says it aspires to and does (but doesn’t.)
Here is the dirty little secret. What Sinclair did is exactly what happens at newspapers across the country every day. An editorial board — in almost all newspapers made up entirely of leftists — determine what the opinion of the newspaper will be. Not the owner, not the suits, a group of leftists who largely all think alike. And those opinions across the country from paper to TV are as uniform as the Sinclair statement in terms of worldview, politics and agenda. And far more nefarious to America and the role of the media.
Today, in a self-unawareness zeitgeist, literally hundreds of newspapers across the nation are taking to their editorial pages — as one, a la Sinclair — to denounce and attack President Trump and his “media is the enemy” rhetoric. They pledged to all write editorials and publish them on this day, today — to recite a pro-media, anti-Trump message all at once. Just. Like. Sinclair…Self. Un. Aware.
Now frankly, they do this all the time anyway. This bit of publicity stunt was dreamt up by the relentlessly liberal Boston Globe to show the importance of journalists. Now mind you, they don’t really mean Breitbart or Fox or Daily Caller journalists. No, those aren’t real journalists. They’re the wrong kind of journalists because they have the wrong bias. Real journalists are biased from the left. Sure, they don’t see it in those terms, but it is undeniably true.
Of course, this is hyped up nonsense in pursuit of an agenda — exactly what Sinclair was rightly saying journalists shouldn’t be doing. How can I be so sure? President Trump has not lifted one finger to limit the expression of the journalists or cause them any harm while President Obama waged a veritable war against the friendly media and was arguably the most dangerous president to American media freedoms in the modern age.
Obama spied on AP reporters by seizing phone records of more than 100 journalists in a dragnet to scare off whistleblowers. It was thug intimidation of both journalists and whistleblowers. Obama also went after Fox News reporter James Rosen, and named him a “co-conspirator” to pursue criminal charges after he — get this — published leaked information. Obama also went after New York Times reporter James Risen to reveal his source of a leak. In fact, Obama used the arcane Espionage Act to pursue nine other reporters who reported leaks. Further, in one of his first acts in office, Obama dismissed AP photo so he could better control pictures of himself. And Obama’s Federal Communications Commission was actually planning to put government monitors in newsrooms to see how reporters gathered information. (They ultimately backed down.)
Now, how many reporters have been criminally pursued or monitored under President Trump for about 10 billion leaks? None that we are aware of. How many phone records seized? None. How many charged as co-conspirators for publishing leaks? None. And so on.
And yet here we are. Through all those Obama media assaults, there was never an organized editorial day to fight back against the dangerous usurpations of that administration. In fact, there was little more than perfunctory reporting. No outrage. Why? Because Obama was their guy. He represented their vision for the country and their agenda for getting there. In practice they were every bit as much his wingmen as Eric Holder. It’s what inevitably happens with a monolithically one-think media.
A few journalists saw it and still remember. They are worth highlighting because they are a rare species.
Here’s what the New York Times’ Risen wrote shortly after Trump’s election:
“If Donald J. Trump decides as president to throw a whistle-blower in jail for trying to talk to a reporter, or gets the F.B.I. to spy on a journalist, he will have one man to thank for bequeathing him such expansive power: Barack Obama.”
Chicago Tribune anti-Trump columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote in June:
“But what happened under Obama set an ominous tone for reporters who were trying to do their jobs of informing the public.”
This tiny handful of journalists saw the dramatic and real actions taken against reporters by Obama. But the media at large just yawned. Why? Because unlike Sinclair’s corporate statement on good journalism, the Globe, Times and all the rest hold a monolithically left to far-left and vehemently anti-Trump worldview.
The reason this is so much more telling than Sinclair’s, which was a one-time, generic statement promising good journalism, is that this reveals publicly, by the newspapers themselves, just how uniformly their worldview is anti-Trump. Trump’s statements of “enemy of the people” simply reflects him somewhat hyperbolically seeing himself as a representative of the people — which he, sort of, is electorally. Today’s antic puts in neon lights that they are certainly an enemy of Trump.
The media’s anti-Trumpism is the actual agenda Sinclair was decrying. Yet the self-unaware media only saw a chilling effect by Trump’s words while shrugging indifferently all the way through Obama’s literal attacks on the media — cheering themselves on now in pursuing their own journalistically ubiquitous, anti-elected President agenda.
So the very thing they decried as chilling when Sinclair did it in favor of good journalism, they are now doing to attack the President. They not only don’t see that, they see themselves on the side of the angels. The vast majority of America disagrees.
Rod Thomson is an author, TV talking head and former journalist, and is Founder of The Revolutionary Act. Rod is co-host of Right Talk America With Julio and Rod on the Salem Radio Network.