Liberal media bias is not new. During the Nixon years, for instance, the three major networks, The New York Times and The Washington Post in news stories and editorials, savaged the president and his policies in Vietnam.
Reacting, Vice President Agnew, with Nixon’s blessing, went on the offensive in 1969. In a series of speeches, he skewered the media. The author of the speeches, Pat Buchanan, summed up the administration’s indictment thusly, "A tiny group of men, elected by no one, living in New York and Washington, had achieved monopoly control of the most powerful means of communication known to man.
"They were exploiting this power to shape national opinion to advance their own ideological agenda. . . . These men were an unrepresentative elite, outside the American mainstream."
Conservatives like myself, who were activists during that era, thought the media’s bias could not get any worse. Well, we were wrong. The media’s hostility toward the Trump administration takes the cake.
To understand this phenomenon, I recommend Howard Kurtz’s new book, "Media Madness: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War Over the Truth."
Kurtz, a media ombudsman known for being eminently fair, exposes "how supposedly objective journalists, alarmed by Trump’s success, have moved into the opposing camp."
Before proceeding, readers should know that I am one of those conservatives who did not vote for Trump. Nevertheless, when he and his administration pursue policies that I believe are right for America, I have been supportive. I also believe that President Trump has been ill-informed on important issues, has made serious blunders, and has often been his own worst enemy when Tweeting from the hip.
However, despite my misgivings about the president, I’m still appalled that many journalists have abandoned any sense of fairness and by their "unprecedented barrage of negative stories, with some no longer making much attempt to hide their contempt."
Kurtz tells the inside story of the Trump administration’s first year. Unlike Michael Wolff’s "Fire and Fury," which contains numerous inexcusable errors, Kurtz describes accurately the administration’s trials and tribulations, the infighting and the purges.
But, the focus of the book is on the media. Kurtz confesses that the words were not easy to write, "I am a lifelong journalist with ink in my veins" and "I have always believed in the mission of aggressive reporting and holding politicians accountable. . . . But the past two years have radicalized me. I am increasingly troubled by how many of my colleagues have decided to abandon any semblance of fairness out of a conviction that they must save the country from Trump."
All Americans have heard ugly depictions of Trump by the media. But reading them assembled in one work, is mind-boggling.
In addition to false narratives fueled by "unnamed unaccountable sources" there has been "relentless ridicule, caustic commentary, and insulting invective" from news writers who are supposed to be objective.
Here’s a small sampling of comments that are not X-rated:
- New Yorker editor, David Remnick, wrote, "The election of Donald Trump to the presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny and racism."
- New York Times political reporter, Jonathan Martin, told an RNC staff member, "You’re a racist and a fascist; Donald Trump is a racist and a fascist, we all know it, and you are complicit. By supporting him you’re all culpable."
- The Washington Post after Trump’s election emblazoned a slogan under its masthead, "Democracy Dies in Darkness" and sought new subscribers with the slogan "Help Us Hold Trump Accountable."
- The media journalist at The New York Times, Jim Rutenberg, declared, if "you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalist tendencies . . . you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using . . . If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that." He also acknowledged "Balance has been on vacation since Trump . . . announce[d] his candidacy."
Kurtz reports that Trump’s detractors are even beyond the pale for the leftist journalist Tom Frank, author of "What’s the Matter with Kansas?" Echoing Pat Buchanan in 1969, he candidly declared that "the people of the respectable East Coast press loathe the president with an amazing unanimity . . . They had overwhelming contempt for Dumb Donald," and were determined to "outwit the simple-minded billionaire" simply because “so many of them are part of the same class — an exalted and privileged class."
Howard Kurtz rightly concludes that too many journalists and media executives have abandoned "as a relic of a calmer time," the normal rules of balance and objectivity.
And while "Donald Trump will not be president forever," Kurtz rightly fears, "the media’s reputation, badly scarred during these polarizing years, might never recover."
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." He is chairman of Aid to the Church in Need-USA. Mr. Marlin also writes for TheCatholicThing.org and the Long Island Business News. To read more George J. Marlin — Click Here Now.
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