Erick Erickson / January 25, 2019

Confession and Apology

I must confess I have a harder and harder time resisting the temptation to believe the American political press corps has become the enemy of the people.

For the past two years, I have defended the press from President Donald Trump’s criticism. Having worked at both CNN and Fox News, I know the good hard work so many reporters do to provide us with the news. We have a president who found a way out of going to Vietnam, and we have reporters who rush into war zones, risking their lives to provide accurate coverage of dangerous events.

But I must confess I have a harder and harder time resisting the temptation to believe the American political press corps has become the enemy of the people. Increasingly, it seems that the political press is becoming the enemy of half the country. I try to pull myself back from thinking they are the enemy. But I fully understand why so many Americans believe they are.

The press reaction to the news of Covington Catholic is one of a long series of stories of reporters dripping with contempt and being quick to come to conclusions about people the press thinks need to be taken down. Right now, the media coverage is all about how the press was just trying to keep up with the story. The media is actually blaming Trump supporters. They cannot admit they judged a boy by his hat. There have been supposedly legitimate news stories about whether the boy was smirking at the drummer and what that smirk was supposed to mean. This is not journalism.

NBC News is running a story about a gay Covington high school student who graduated valedictorian and the school refused to allow him to give his valedictory speech. Only a careful reading of the story would make clear the student did not even go to the same high school and he was denied the ability to give his speech because he did not turn it in on time and violated school rules about political statements.

The American political press has become increasingly isolated in the security of its own liberal bubble of privilege. Reporters’ skin colors and sexes may be varied, but their groupthink and herd mentality is all the same. The political press, like so much of the political left, has decided to build narratives instead of report facts.

Before the story about the Covington students at the March for Life, reporters attacked Karen Pence, the second lady of the United States, for teaching art to students. Karen Pence had worked at the same school for 12 years. It is a small Christian school in Springfield, Virginia. The students’ families sign Christian confessional statements acknowledging they will adhere to a Biblical worldview and moral behavior.

I take this one personally because my kids go to a Christian school with a moral code reflecting my faith. The contempt and belittling reporting on Karen Pence was an attack on my faith and family, too.

There are many great and fair reporters in this country at both the local and national level. I have vocally rejected the idea the press is the enemy of the people. But I increasingly understand why they are so hated by so many and why so many cheer on their bankruptcies and layoffs. Too many members of the media do not understand or do not care why people feel that way.

I said this is an apology, too, and not just a confession. It is.

I must apologize for the growing belief that it is no longer worth defending our press corps. I increasingly feel, as a Christian and a conservative, that the press is not interested in telling the truth and facts, but is heavily invested in ruining people like me. Intellectually, I know better. But it is hard not to get emotional when I see so many vile press-led attacks on people of faith and so much willful misreporting because someone has on a red cap or is a Christian or a conservative. Within the media as a whole, I do not see a will to improve. Increasingly, the good, responsible journalists are getting overshadowed by clickbait and ratings that cater to people who look and think like the reporters ruining the industry. It makes me sad.

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