Part I in this series began with a random choice of a New York Times anti-President hit piece of the day. This is the one of truths that the mainstream media wants to pretend doesn’t exist: the intentionally, relentlessly negative, innuendo-filled reporting regarding the Trump administration, with the goal of alarming the public, undermining its trust in the government, weakening his Presidency, or bringing it down entirely. Just to be up to date, let’s look at today’s front page…and what do we find? “A Back-Channel Plan for Ukraine and Russia, Courtesy of Trump Associates.” The article includes a prominent graphic titled “Donald Trump’s Connections in the Ukraine.” But the article itself, and any research into the individuals shown in the graphic, show no association between Donald Trump and the Ukraine whatsoever. We see…
Andrii V. Artemenko: Ukrainian politician with a peace plan for Ukraine and a file alleging that its president is corrupt.
Felix H. Sater: Russian-American businessman with longstanding ties to the Trump Organization.
Michael D. Cohen: Trump’s personal attorney, under scrutiny from F.B.I. over links with Russia.
Paul Manafort: Former Trump campaign manager with pro-Russian political ties in Ukraine now under investigation by the F.B.I.
There is no evidence or even allegation that Artemenko has even spoken to Trump. Sater was involved in helping businessman Trump seek deals in Russia, and that is all the article tells us about him. Cohen is Trump’s lawyer, and a lawyer’s clients are not “linked” to other clients, unless you think Patty Hearst was “linked” to O.J. Simpson through their mutual lawyer, F. Lee Bailey.
Then there is Manafort, who is not in the Trump Administration, and was fired from the campaign before the election. Back when he was the campaign manager, Politifact did a “check” on him, and found that he had done political consulting work for Ukrainian politicians. Among the international clients Clinton consultant James Carville lists on his website are politicians in Argentina (lots), Columbia, Bolivia, and yes, the Ukraine, that’s just “some” of the them, meaning that some of the others either don’t want to be known or wouldn’t make Carville look good if they were known. Was Hillary Clinton “associated” with everyone on Carville’s client list? (Also a Carville client: the late Senator Ted Kennedy, serial pussy-grabber and un-prosecuted negligent homicide suspect). Of course not, but that’s the degree of “association” with the Ukraine that the Times article pins on the President, once you get past the front page headline and graphic. The photo over the online version of the article even shows President Trump, who is barely mentioned in the substance of the piece at all, except in such references as “Mr. Trump’s lawyer.”
Might all of these “associations”—this use of guilt by association would be too attenuated even for Joe McCarthy–eventually add up to something sinister, and a scandal that involves the Trump administration? Sure, anything is possible. THAT would be news. THAT would belong on the front page. THIS story, however, is a dog’s breakfast of innuendo, speculation, “hmmmm..” and nothing. It is fake news…not fraudulent in its facts, fraudulent in its presentation, placement in the paper and intentional suggestion that what is known justifies suspicion of the President. The defenders of the ongoing journalist attacks on the President continue to argue that fact-based smears and rumor-mongering stories published in major news sources are not “fake news,” and after a story like this, I have to wonder about their honesty too. There is only one way this kind of smoky article makes a front page above the fold.
Now on to the Tweet Heard ‘Round The World. As discussed in Part II, the President was performing a public service when he told the newsmedia to its reporters’ smug faces that they were biased, hateful, incompetent and dishonest. Somebody had to do it. Their supposed “watchdogs” like CNN’s Brian Stelter won’t do it, because he is too busy bashing the President himself while defending his pals.
It would be much better if someone in academia, or a prominent journalist pointed out how terrible a biased and untrustworthy news media is for the nation, but this is the Left’s attempted coup, after all. Try finding an objective authority in academia or journalism. So the leader of the nation, on national television, has to tell the self-congratulatory journalists that they are failing their duty to the nation, which is to inform the public. They see their duty as bringing down a President their Progressive Masters hate. In other words, the President is saying, essentially..
The follow-up tweet elaborated by specifying just how much of a betrayal this is, saying,
The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!
Look at this as the second slap. Better yet, look at it as the journalism version of Ronald Reagan slapping the Soviet Union with the well-deserved label, “The Evil Empire.” Many commentators, including former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, traced the beginning of the unraveling of the Iron Curtain to Reagan’s brutal frankness.
The National Association of Evangelicals invited President Reagan to speak at its annual convention, and explain his position on the Nuclear Freeze issue. On March 8 of 1983, he concluded his remarks by saying,
“So, in your discussions of the nuclear freeze proposals, I urge you to beware the temptation of pride — the temptation of blithely declaring yourselves above it all and label both sides equally at fault, to ignore the facts of history and the aggressive impulses of an evil empire, to simply call the arms race a giant misunderstanding and thereby remove yourself from the struggle between right and wrong and good and evil.”
Democrats, scholars, and the news media erupted with outrage: what incompetent, bellicose and arrogant diplomacy! The Soviets weren’t too happy either, but they were listening. Vladimir Bukovsky, a political prisoner in the Soviet Union at the time of the speech, has said that Reagan’s words of the speech became “incredibly popular” behind the Iron Curtain, and struck at its heart by forcing the Soviet Union to confront what it had become.
The spin is that Trump’s tweet attacks “freedom the press.” It does not, any more than Reagan’s words attacked the people of the Soviet Union. The “Fake News media,” by which Trump means the biased and partisan news media that place its political preferences and the agendas of its journalists above the ethical duty to accurately and objectively inform the public so it can competently discharge the obligations of citizenship in a constitutional democracy. The descent of the news media into untrustworthiness is the real threat to freedom of the press, because it renders it worthless. The purpose of that First Amendment guarantee is to ensure that the government doesn’t try to manipulate the public by controlling what the public knows. What good is that guarantee, if journalists, using the First Amendment as cover, set out to distort the truth for their own agendas?
That is what the mainstream news media is doing now, in an order of magnitude escalation of what it has been doing for decades. That is a betrayal of the public trust. It makes competent democracy impossible. It risks Soviet, Big Brother-style totalitarian government. It destroys the ability of the public to know what sources to trust, and how to find the truth. It divides the nation, and creates separate “facts” that make consensus and even civil conversation impossible.
One cannot credibly argue that the news media has not been engaged in this conduct. At moments of candor, journalists admit it, and show pride in it. Chuck Todd, NBC’s “Meet the Press” host, described the role of journalists as “the referees of politics,” and no fellow journalists disagreed. What qualifies Todd or any reporter to be a referee? Sean Davis nailed the flaw in the news media’s arrogant misconception of its own role:
In politics, once you get beyond the narrow legal areas where there are very clear rules and very clear authorities who can judge compliance or non-compliance, the real referees are voters. Not reporters. Not candidates. Not judges. The real referees, the individuals tasked with determining what gets put on the scoreboard, are voters. It is, after all, their votes that determine the winner at the end of the contest.
And that fact is exactly why Chuck Todd so desperately wants to be viewed as a referee, rather than an observer who just happens to have a camera in front of him and a media operation behind him. He wants you to think he’s the one calling balls and strikes. He wants you to think he’s the expert on the rules. He wants to be the one to tell you what’s out of bounds and what isn’t. And the reason he wants that is because he, like so many other reporters (he is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the only political reporter to have significant ties to the Democratic Party), has skin in the game.
It is also impossible to credibly argue, except from the perspective that deceiving the public is necessary for “the greater good,” the totalitarian argument, that this conduct is anything but harmful and dangerous. It is impossible to credibly argue that the American public isn’t being grievously harmed.
Is the term “enemy” too strong for an institution and a profession that causes such harm to the public? In a way it is: enemy properly means a party that intends harm, and journalists do not intend to harm the nation or the public. Neither, however, were the leaders of the Soviet Union “evil.” In both cases the effects of the conduct being criticized by a President were indistinguishable from the effects if the intent were malign. That justifies the shocking language, because it is a catalyst to self-realization.
To preserve the essence of a free press, that free press must be responsible, honest, fair and trustworthy. Senator McCain to the contrary, it is not the President who is undermining the First Amendment, but the news media that is abusing it.
In “Falling Down,” the shattering climax occurs when Michael Douglas’s character, a simple man who snaps after one indignity too many and goes on a murderous rampage, is finally cornered by police…
That is the harsh moment the mainstream news media must face, and soon. The President’s tweet should help them face it, but make no mistake. Right now, the journalists are the bad guys, and that’s terrible for America.