For A Respected Newspaper And Its Journalists, Denial Is Unethical

..and so is deceiving readers by 'burying the lede'...

…and so is deceiving readers by ‘burying the lede’…

Nah, there’s no mainstream media bias!

In a spectacular example of doing everything possible to hide bad news (in its view and those of most readers…and me too), the Washington Post this weekend made it difficult to learn the results of its own poll, which showed the horrible result–in the Post’s eyes—that Donald Trump now leads Hillary Clinton 46% to 44%…not a lot, but considering that the margin was 11% just a little while ago, big news. Apocalyptic news.

The Post headline? I have the print edition before me now: “Voters accentuate the negative in poll,” with the section of the story (by Dan Balz and Scott Clement) visible on the front page describing how more voters dislike Clinton and Trump that like them. How is that news? Didn’t everybody know that months ago? It also teases that the candidates are in a “virtual dead heat,” but it takes (Mediaite’s Joe Concha actually counted: Thanks, Joe!) five paragraphs and 219 words to timidly admit what the public has a right to know: Trump is now leading Hillary in the Post’s poll (with ABC).

This is more than burying the lede; this is denial, and competent, responsible, objective journalists cannot ethically engage in denial. Bad or good, the news belongs up-front and headlined, because most people don’t read entire articles. Why did the Post do this? It’s emotional and juvenile, and that’s all it is. This is anti-Trump, pro-Hillary bias crippling news judgment and competent reporting. Balz and Clement can’t help themselves from spinning the poll story to make it sound like it’s really good news for Hillary, writing:

“Nonetheless, Clinton is rated ahead of Trump across a range of attributes and issues, and she is seen as having superior experience, temperament and personality to be president. Trump is viewed as unqualified by a majority of adults, but he has strong appeal to voters as the ­anti-Clinton candidate who can bring change to Washington in an election year in which outsiders have thrived.”

A competent, unbiased editor would have sent this back for a rewrite. What matters, in Hillary’s case, is that she is, quite fairly and correctly, regarded as an untrustworthy liar. The Post just can’t handle the truth in this case. Ruth Marcus, a Post op-ed writer and a long-time editor, tried to make the argument in the same day’s Post that Trump is a worse liar than Hillary. Protesting too much, as Willie would say, Marcus begins by writing,

“Some will conclude that I am simply in the tank for Clinton, willfully blind to her faults. (On that score, full disclosure: My college-age daughter has volunteered for the Clinton campaign as an unpaid intern this summer.)”

Why yes, Ruth, we do think that, because she has proved it again and again. Marcus digs her hole ever deeper…

“But I’d make two countervailing points. First, I have been a tough critic of Clinton where it was merited: on her bone-headed decision to use a private email account and her clumsy handling of its aftermath, on her relentless speechifying and her refusal to disclose the transcripts of these remarks, on her about-face on trade”

Thus do biased journalists reveal their denial. It wasn’t a private e-mail account–that’s  part of Hillary’s cover-up deception. It was a private e-mail server. I have a private account: I don’t have a private server because I’m not hiding my machinations from the Freedom of Information Act. It wasn’t “bone-headed,” it was very deliberate: Marcus’s “boneheaded” description just enables Clinton’s “Oopsie! Silly me! Well, it wasn’t the best choice!” deceit. (Maybe it fools Marcus, but if so it’s only because she wants to be fooled.)

Clinton’s handling of the aftermath wasn’t “clumsy,” it was and continues to be a pack of lies. She never sent or received classified material (lie); she never knowingly sent or received classified material (lie); she turned all her e-mails over to State (lie, and this one was under oath); she did nothing differently than previous Secretaries of States (lie). Marcus is now just part of the Clinton disinformation machine.

Clinton’s refusal to disclose her speeches was accompanied by a lie: She said that Wall Street firms support her because she was supportive of efforts to help New York City after 9/11. Then she said Goldman Sachs offered to pay her over $600,000 for her speeches, when they just paid her asking price. A ridiculous lie. Her argument that she won’t reveal the speech transcripts until “every candidate” reveals them was a cynical and transparent dishonest stalling tactic: Neither Trump nor Sanders have made such speeches.

Marcus enables Clinton’s lying by listing these as if they were her only lies of note. Cinton lied under oath about the Clinton Foundation’s fundraising with foreign countries. She lied about the reason for her husband’s support of the Defense of Marriage Act: Bill contradicted her almost immediately. She lied about her history of being a champion for the victims of sexual abuse; she lied about being under fire in Bosnia; she lied to the nation and the families of those killed in Benghazi, telling them that a video sparked the violence after informing her daughter that it was a planned terrorist attack.

Hillary lied about the “vast right wing conspiracy;” she lied about being a lifetime New York Yankee fan; she even lied about never lying! PolitiFact, a dedicated left-biased fact-check feature, recently listed 24 whoppers of substance by Clinton that don’t even include what I’ve already mentioned.

Marcus is in denial, and like her paper, is misleading and misinforming the public because she can’t handle the truth.

The truth is that Democrats, by rigging their nomination to grease the way for a blatantly unethical, dishonest, unlikable and untrustworthy candidate with atrocious campaigning skills, has made it possible for the national catastrophe of a Donald Trump presidency to occur. In my experience, Democrats just can’t admit or accept this. My sister, whose daughter is working for Hillary, mocked the first polls last week showing Hillary falling behind. They were just “conservative” polls, she said. Denial. But my sister isn’t a journalist or a newspaper. She can be forgiven.

For the news media to mislead the public about the real weakness of Hillary Clinton and the real threat of Donald Trump is not forgivable.

7 thoughts on “For A Respected Newspaper And Its Journalists, Denial Is Unethical

  1. I’ve long thought that an overtly partisan press is preferable to one that professes objectivity, because even if one assumes the best intentions, people are just too fallible and there are too many unknowns in what has to be covered for such fallible people to resist shading things here and there. It seems that we’ve come to a point now where an objective press has become even more unworkable: it should have been foreseen that by placing the label of “objectivity” on a field, ideologues would flock to it and operate without conscience in it, taking full partisan advantage of the presumption of disinterest the label implied.

  2. I heard about this for the first time today on NPR. I would like to say that I was surprised, but I wasn’t. We should never underestimate the stupidity of the American people. My only hope is that Clinton’s numbers will shoot up again after Sanders drops — or if he becomes the VP nod. (I think there is little chance of that though, inside scoop says that it will Castro from HUD.)

    And shame on the Washington Post. Actually — shame on the entire media establishment for allowing Trump to get to this point.

    • You know I wasn’t surprised, because I’ve been arguing here for—what, months? Years?—that it is impossible to over-estimate Hillary’s power to make anyone else seem good by comparison.

      • As I’ve said before, HC is the only candidate who could seriously make me consider voting for Donald Trump, and Vice Versa. Somehow the worst 2 candidates have done the best in making it past the primaries.

        • The somehow is, ironically, that one party made sure there weren’t any credible candidates to challenge their horrible choice, and the other allowed too many candidates to knock off each other while ignoring its worst candidate in the mistaken belief that he could never prevail.

    • Beth are you really that blind to your own bias? The stupidity of the American brought us both Trump and Clinton. While your heaping scorn on the media you may want to add some for their promotion of Clinton. Most media was covering Trump, mostly negative, while positively covering Hillary, one of the most corrupt and self-serving people to ever run for president.

  3. A minor point of semantic disagreement: You say HRC is an “untrustworthy liar.” I’d say she’s a thoroughly trustworthy liar. If she can be trusted to do anything, she can be trusted to lie.

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