An Ethics Quote Of The Day From The Washington Examiner and A Jumbo From The Editor Of The Washington Post


“[T]he mainstream media has dropped its standards since President Trump was sworn in. Rather then adjusting adeptly to Trump’s easy relationship with the truth and his tendency to abuse members of media, by dialing up their standards, a significant number of journalists have tripped over themselves recently to repeat every bit of gossip and half-cocked rumor involving Trump and his administration….Now this isn’t to say that all coverage of this new administration has been slipshod. Rather, it’s to say that there has been a disturbing and unusually large number of stories that have turned out either to be overhyped, inconclusive, half-true or flat-out incorrect. There have also been a number of reports whose sourcing is so thin, that to believe them would be to take a major leap of faith.The one thing that these reports have in common is that they fail to provide readers with a clear and indisputably accurate picture of what is really going on at White House. The press’s most important role is to shine a light on those in power. Bad reporting only muddies the waters, and it gives powerful people more room to do as they please. After all, whom are you going to believe: the guy at the top or the newsroom with a recent track record of botched reporting? We didn’t get to the point where people find the press less credible than the Trump administration by some freak accident.”

—-The Washington Examiner, in a story today called “Mainstream media errors in the Trump era: Your catalogue of the media’s bias-fueled failure-fest.”

What the Examiner calls its database of biased and incompetent reporting since January 2o can be found here.

It’s a fair list, and I will quote the exactly accurate point above when I get another comment that says, “Why do you think the mainstream media reporting is more important than Trump’s outrageous conduct?”  and “How can you say the news media is untrustworthy when the Times, Post and Wall Street Journal do excellent investigative reporting?”

President Trump is trying to do his job, as he promised he would, as well as he can. To have any chance of doing it successfully, he will require more than the usual amount of patience, support, and responsible criticism from the nation. He may well fail, but no respectable and patriotic American or organization, news or otherwise, should be trying to make him fail. ( I refer you to this post, For The Last Time: This Is Why The Post-Election Attacks On Trump And His Election Are Unethical)

(Yes, in case I haven’t made this clear before: The so-called “resistance” is undemocratic, unethical, and thoroughly despicable.)

Journalists, in contrast, are not doing their jobs, and indeed are doing the opposite of their job, which is properly and ethically to convey facts, not to distort them for their own political purposes. At this point in the post-election left-wing freak-out, the news media doesn’t even see its own obvious bias, just as  fish aren’t aware that they are in water.

Also from the Examiner, a conservative publication that is enjoying shining some harsh light on the media giants in power,

“The editor of the Washington Post, which staffed up its White House team to cover the new administration, said the paper would have covered a Hillary Rodham Clinton presidency with the same intensity as it has President Trump. Cheered by journalists at a media roundtable in California late Tuesday, Marty Baron also said that despite some criticism, the Post is doing its job, not acting as the opposition.”

This jaw-drooping statement earns a Jumbo Award, as it is a bald-faced false assertion that what is there for all to see doesn’t exist. Really, now: who believes that the Post would cover Hillary like it would be covering Trump? Is the Post covering the first 100 days of Trump the way it covered the stumbling beginnings of the Clinton or Obama administrations? President Bill Clinton had to nominate three attorney generals before finding one that didn’t have to withdraw because they facilitated law-breaking; was this fiasco represented by the news media as proof that the entire administration was on the verge of collapse? No, in fact when nominee #2, Judge Kimba Wood, withdrew after it was found that she employed an illegal alien as a nanny, the Post was filled with stories, op-eds and protests about how this represented discrimination against women in politics and the workplace.

Prof. Glenn Reynolds’  wry reaction to the Post editor’s claim is “WELL, THAT’S PRETTY OBVIOUS BULLSHIT, ISN’T IT?”

It is, but the frightening thing is that Baron is so far absorbed in righteous anti-Trump hysteria that he no longer can distinguish truth from bullshit. And thanks to biased journalists  like him, neither can the public.


16 thoughts on “An Ethics Quote Of The Day From The Washington Examiner and A Jumbo From The Editor Of The Washington Post

  1. This presents a great opportunity for the Examiner to replace the WAPO as the primary newspaper. However, the Examiner must be objective, it cannot just push conservative slants.

    I say get rid of all slants and stick to the who, what, when, where, and how. Or, as Joe Friday used to say. JUST THE FACTS MA’AM.

  2. I missed some of the mistakes/lies listed there, so long as they keep it honest and fair, as I think it is now, it can become the primary resource in fact checking media reports on POTUS.

  3. I may disagree about the importance (and universality) of journalistic bias relative to the alarming signs of incompetence emanating from the executive branch, but after shooting a bit from the hip yesterday in one of my comments, I feel I must say that I find the quote from the Examiner accurate and compelling. Moreover, only a fool would believe that the Post’s beefing up of its newsroom isn’t a direct result of Trump’s election. Baron is being disingenuous to say otherwise. Where I part ways a little with this post is the overly broad conclusion that Trump is trying to do his job and journalists are not. If we grant that Trump’s bumbling, mendacious, and petty approach to the presidency represents a good faith effort to “do his job” (I’m not sure I would extend such a courteous interpretation to him, but for the sake of argument I will), then I’d assume that the news media, which is comprised of innumerable individuals with various levels of skill and varieties of bias as numerous and various as there are accredited reporters, would merit a similarly generous assumption — if only because, however biased they might be in aggregate, there will, on any given day, be any number of dispatches from the fourth estate that were well-reported, even-handed, and essential. But this is comparing one bad apple to multiple oranges of various quality. Trump is one man who is in over his head and inclined to lash out and lie and act according to whim. The media is thousands of people who cannot reasonably be categorized as having a single, unified agenda; some of them are doing their job and doing it quite well; some of them are not. But I do hope that those who are letting bias infect their reporting will take admonishments like the one articulated by the Examiner to heart: it is well-said and timely.

    • The problem is culture.Culture eliminated the need for collusion. Two factors, and then a third, have gutted journalism ethics:

      1. The culture of the profession has become ideologically monolithic as diversity of view has declined to the vanishing point..

      2. Since Watergate, reporters have begun to believe that their role is to affect politics and public opinion, and not to inform objectively.

      3. The speed of the internet and the new media has raised speed and clickbait above accuracy and trust.

  4. I’m reading through the list, and while some are genuine examples of bad mainstream journalism, there are also a few examples where the only source listed is something like TMZ or the Daily Mail, which are not mainstream publications; the Daily Mail, in fact, typically has a right-wing bias. They also include news stories that were based on misunderstandings that were quickly updated along with news stories that were never updated when new information came to light. At least one, the Devos story, is a matter of interpretation and I don’t agree with their conclusion of what her words meant.

    I also disagree with the Examiner’s stance on anonymous sources. This is not a transparent administration; they lie about everything, even things they don’t have to lie about. The press needs to rely on anonymous sources for some information. And things like Trump being briefed on the Russia dossier are news whether or not the facts within them can be verified.

    I don’t think everyone is ever going to agree on what does and does not need to be covered, what stories are biased, and what is being over-hyped. I agree that there have been times the media has let their anti-Trump bias get in the way of honest reporting. I also think that the far bigger threat is the Trump administration, and that it is a public good to ensure that his presidency is as short as possible. But the media should rely on facts, and any time it gets sloppy, it just gives Trump more power.

    • Anonymous sources can’t be checked for bias and reliability, and for that reason are disfavored in all journalism ethics codes, and rightly so. This is per se wrong, and the argument that this administration suddenly makes it right embraces multiple rationalizations. Obama’s administration was infamously UN-transparent, despite having sworn to be otherwise.

      I agree that several of the examples on the list are weak, but the list also didn’t cite all of the outlets that picked up stories and ran with it. The TMZ story, for example, was cited in other news sources.

  5. Being a bit of a history buff, it’s my opinion that we’ve been hoodwinked about the “free press”. If you do some reading, you’ll find that prior to WW2 the “press” was unfailingly partisan and unabashed about saying so. Often the competing newspapers (and radio) stations in the US were flacking for either GOP or Democrat parties. Muckraking was mostly a “press invention”. Sensationalism was the normal modus operandi of the US Press. Then after WW2 and when the TV “press” came along, they tried to present themselves as unbiased purveyors of the news. Certainly good, old Uncle Walter Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley and others created this aura, beginning mostly with the McCarthy era, of them being the “watchdogs” and, yes saviors of the US with their “fair and unbiased” reporting. That was never true, but it was nice of them to tell us it was. Now they’ve morphed into a mostly one-sided Liberal industry, with a few markedly Conservative companies. I guess my point is that the “press” really has never been ethical, honest or unbiased – not in the entire history of the US Free Press. While we would like to see that occur, given human nature, it’s not likely to ever happen, although that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t not call them out on it.

    • I know that newspapers in earlier times were partisan. The difference is that they didn’t profess to be otherwise. If the MSM outlets would quit trying to pretend they are nonpartisan and simply admit the obvious fact that they shilling for one side or the other, then I could at least give them credit for their honesty and evaluate what they say in that light. Or, as an alternative, they could actually make a sincere attempt to report the news in as near an unbiased manner as possible and confine their editorials to the editorial page. Wouldn’t that be a breath of fresh air?

  6. ” President Bill Clinton had to nominate three attorney generals before finding one that didn’t have to withdraw because they facilitated law-breaking…” Yep, and the one we got was Einsatzgruppenfuhrer Reno, or as we Untermenschen Christians in flyover country like to call her, “Reinhard Heidrich in drag.” Hope they buried her face down, so she could get a better view of her next destination.

  7. On this post, I just got the following comment:
    “I’m dropping out of Ethics Alarms. It’s not much about ethics, and many of the people who post are not seriously discussing ethics, just arguing.”

    I want to throw up my hands when these come through. This post “isn’t much about ethics?” Let’s see; beginning with the quote, I see honesty, integrity, professional ethics, bias, conflicts of interest…yeah, we don’t much discuss “Plato’s Cave or debate the slices of untiitarianism, because THAT has little to do with ethics, and more to do with scholarship and navel-gazing, and no, EA will NEVER be about that approach to ethics, and never was.

    The comments are generally excellent, and there are very few blogs that sustain as many substantive debates among readers.

    • “The comments are generally excellent, and there are very few blogs that sustain as many substantive debates among readers.”



      P.S. Admittedly, THIS comment could qualify as a counter-example.

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