Trust No More: The Death Of The Free Press
In the wake of a week of media meltdowns over the much heralded and now much maligned Mueller Report comes this Twitter thread from freelance journalist Yashar Ali:
The thread goes on to detail a telephone exchange between Yashar Ali and Ms Linzer regarding her request for him to delay publication of a news scoop regarding the debates for the upcoming Democratic 2020 primaries. Suffice it to say, Yashar Ali's assertion that Ms Linzer tried to intimidate him is an accurate summary of the thread.
More disturbingly, Yashar Ali amplifies a major criticism made throughout Rolling Stone editor Matt Tabibi's deconstruction of how the media handled "Russiagate" and the subsequent Mueller Investigation--the unholy (and in many cases unethical) allegiance between legacy news operations and the major political parties.
Matt Tabibi does a deep dive on the thrust of my last posting, which was to reiterate how the verifiable objective facts surrounding the Russia Collusion Hoax (also known as the Great Russia Hacking Hoax) told a vastly different story than the narrative being pushed by the legacy media.
Ali, Tabibi, and myself are all speaking to the same larger problem within this nation's political culture: the blatant allegiance and explicit subservience of erstwhile "objective" news agencies to political parties, figures, and agendas. Presentation of fact has been supplanted by promotion of narrative.
Welcome to the "post-factual" world.
Except there is no such world. From the evidences of our five senses to the reporting we see in both the legacy and alternative media, both our world and our understanding of it are defined by facts (or at least by our perception of facts). Facts are the only thing to tell us where we have been and the only aid we have to guide our future.
All facts matter.
News media outlets are our main source of facts. We rely on the media to know what our politicians our doing, we rely on the media to explain the reality (or unreality) of climate change, we rely on the media to know whether the Red Sox have beaten the Yankees.
What are we to do when we find the media is prepared to lie to us? How should we respond when we learn the media is prepared to suppress facts? Consider the following:
Reuters reporter Joseph Menn buried a potentially explosive story about former Texas Senatorial candidate and current Democratic presidential hopeful Robert Francis "Beto" O' Rourke.
ABC, CBS and NBC evening news devoted some 2,284 minutes covering the Russia "collusion" story. From the conclusions reached by Robert Mueller, very little of that reporting qualifies as "fact based".
In the wake of the hysteria over the confrontation between Covington Catholic High School Student Nick Sandman and Native American activist Nathan Phillips, CNN news analyst Kirsten Powers claimed in a tweet the Covington students used a racial slur to refer to one of their classmates. The accusation was blatantly false, and Kirsten Powers has not only deleted the slanderous tweet, she has since apologized for her "judgemental and condemning tweets" regarding Covington Catholic. (Note: CNN has largely scrubbed its initial reporting of the Covington Catholic controversy from its website). CNN and the Washington Post have since been sued by Nick Sandman for their demonstrably false reporting on the event.
These are but a few examples of the legacy media not reporting the facts. With respect to the Russia Collusion Hoax, I have commented on multiple occasions how the media narratives simply ignore the facts, even when they are the ones presenting them:
January 7, 2017, I pointed out how the ICA Report on Russian "meddling" in the 2016 election had no factual grounding.
May 11, 2017, I documented the conspicuous lack of any actual evidence, AKA "facts" to support the "Russia meddling" narrative, highlighting factual statements by people purported to have direct knowledge and expertise on the topic which directly contradicted the legacy media narrative.
July 17, 2018, I outlined how Mueller's investigation and indictments to that point had failed to disclose any factual basis for the legacy media narrative that Candidate Donald Trump "colluded" with the Russian government to win the 2016 election.
As Matt Tabibi describes quite powerfully, these journalistic failures are devastating to the credibility of the legacy media. Even more devastating is how these failures came about -- the willing, deliberate, intentional choice by the legacy media to adopt pro-Democratic narratives, ignoring objective reporting which did not conform official party propaganda, and even making up stories simply to further the official party line.
Most devastating of all is the legacy media's frank admissions of this choice. As early as August of 2015, the New York Times, lofty "Gray Lady" herself, bluntly acknowledged that many media outlets no longer pretended to cover then-Candidate Donald Trump objectively. The New York Times doubled down on that choice just a year later when it proudly promoted the case for abandoning fact-based reporting in favor of an all out assault on the Republican nominee for President.
If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?
Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.
But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place?
The free press is clearly dead in this country. To the extent that objective reporting ever existed, among the legacy media it no longer exists. When the Twitterverse describes CNN as "The Most Busted Name In Fake News", we must accept that description is now factual. And we must accept that the New York Times, the Washington Post, and MSNBC are little better. The legacy media now lie. They lie routinely. They lie brazenly. They lie carelessly.
Will the alternative media rise to take the place of the legacy media as the primary source for facts about the world in which we live? That is the hope. There are small and growing news outlets that at least for now are still wedded to the idea of reporting the facts. And there are a growing number of so-called "citizen journalists" and "citizen commentators" who, armed with little more than a blog or a YouTube channel take pride in presenting the facts to a credulous world. I am coming to take a certain pride in counting myself among their number.
Yet what the alternative media will never be able to provide is an abiding sense of trust. The legacy media has destroyed that trust for all media and for all time. If CNN can brazenly lie, then so can One America News Network. If Don Lemon and Rachel Maddow can promote factually false and clearly debunked narratives, then so can alternative media icon Tim Poole--and clearly, so can I. No protestation nor promise to remain objective will provide the media audience with any assurance that, in fact, objectivity will be preserved.
What you, the audience, must therefore do is abandon trust. Do not accept a narrative merely because it appears on a favored outlet. Do not presume even my interpretation of events is sound, or my recitation of facts is correct. Follow the links within my posts and read my source materials for yourself. Take the time to do your own research. Form your own conclusions--and challenge interpretation with which you disagree.
Do not trust. Verify instead.