Fact-Checking the Leftmedia
Media outlets already don't separate news from opinion, and "fact-checkers" are the worst offenders.
One of the primary responsibilities of the news media in our republic is to keep elected officials honest — to investigate and expose malfeasance and corruption and shine the light of truth on those who would abuse their power and betray the public trust. To carry out this charge, though, journalists need to be nonpartisan and dispassionate of everything except the welfare of the citizenry. They also need to be informed, curious, and willing to go the extra mile for the truth.
Our modern news media has failed spectacularly in this regard.
There is debate about why the media today is one of the most distrusted establishments in America. Some blame the corporatization of the news media. Others fault academia for churning out brainwashed leftist mouthpieces disguised as journalists. Everyone seems to blame social media to some degree.
Whatever the cause, and all the above reasons surely play some role, today’s news media has proven itself to be out of synch with the needs of the American public and totally incapable of doing the job the public expects. To be sure, there are some individual reporters and some news outlets that are doing good, or at least better, journalistic work. Unfortunately, these are too few and far between to save the downward spiral of American journalism as an institution.
The liberal bent of the news media was an open secret for decades, becoming more pronounced in the 1990s when acolytes of Bill and Hillary Clinton repeatedly turned a blind eye to his sexual indiscretions and their downright illegal dealings. The sheer leftward tilt of the media grew worse, to the point that Barack Obama was treated like a leftist messiah in the news while his “scandal free” administration committed untold numerous unconstitutional actions.
Now that Donald Trump is president, the news media has completely, and in some cases admittedly, jettisoned any pretense of impartiality. Over the last 15 years, we’ve seen the rise of “fact-checkers,” stand-alone websites or bureaus within existing news outlets that “check” statements made by public figures for falsehoods. They’ve gone into hyperdrive with Trump.
But these fact-checking sites are a complete fraud. Many of those that claim to be independent are backed by Leftmedia organizations, and for some reason, rarely seem to get around to fact-checking statements made by Democrats. When they do, Democrats mysteriously rank higher with the truth in their view. Gee, who’d have thunk it?
Rest assured that Trump’s State of the Union Address was given the full “fact-check” treatment. The problem that the Leftmedia had to get around was that Trump gave a good speech that was well received by the overwhelming majority of the public. It was also relatively free of Trump’s typical hyperbole and misleading details. Media propagandists had to find new ways to bend the outcome to their will.
Trump was attacked by Politico for claiming that one in three women, or 33%, are sexually assaulted while trying to come to the U.S. illegally. The actual figure was 31%. The New York Times claimed that Trump’s statement that illegal border crossings presented an urgent national crisis was false because illegal border crossings have decreased. This basically means that because the Times does not agree with Trump’s assessment of the situation, then he is “wrong.” NPR also went out of its way to state that Trump’s praise of the high number of women in Congress was thanks to Democrats, not Trump or the Republicans. Trump never took credit for the fact; NPR just wanted to make sure that the public was aware of it.
The media’s long and twisted lists of fact-checks of Trump’s speech did not sway public opinion. That’s supposed to be the job of opinion columnists, not reporters. But with major newspapers like The New York Times and The Washington Post, it’s virtually impossible these days to tell what’s an op-ed and what’s supposed to be news.
Today’s news media doesn’t much care about that, though. Outlets are so eager to print stories that demean Trump and anyone who supports him that they will publish anything. Corroborating facts, confirming statements, and using reliable sources are techniques for squares in today’s world. The media repeatedly pushes stories with great fanfare that soon die quiet deaths because they were nothingburgers that didn’t hold up to greater scrutiny.
Michael Cohen’s lie to Congress about a deal to build a Trump Tower in Moscow? Nope. That man who was stalking Stormy Daniels? Zilch. All those women that Brett Kavanaugh supposedly assaulted in college? Nada.
But the headlines took hold in the public consciousness, even if they had to later be retracted. Well, retraction and correction is another journalistic tool that went the way of the typewriter. Nowadays, the media just stops talking about screw ups and hopes that they go away.
Fortunately, things might be changing. Parents of the unjustly maligned Covington students are preparing a major lawsuit against media outlets and celebrities who made horrible accusations against Nicholas Sandmann and his fellow classmates. The parents are also accusing Google and Facebook of playing a role in the defamation of their children.
Social-media outlets have tried to steer clear of being considered news organizations, claiming that they merely share information from point to point. While they sure don’t mind censoring that information to make sure only leftist points of view get good play, they don’t want to be legally responsible for the content they spread. So far, Facebook, Google, Twitter, and other platforms have been able to have it both ways.
The media claims repeatedly that it’s under attack by Trump, but the trouble started long before he entered the Oval Office. Things started going downhill when news outlets stopped caring about the truth and started focusing on results — the chief result being supporting the leftist agenda. Any dangers that the media faces today are of its own making.