I Almost Forgot: A Final Observation Regarding The President’s Fake News Awards

I intended to end this post regarding President Trump’s Fake News Awards with what I felt was an important observation, and when the post became longer than I intended, I forgot to add it.

So I will add it now:

Presidents shouldn’t hand out compendiums of fake news and poor journalism at year’s end. Journalists should. Newspapers, like the Times, Post, and Wall Street Journal. Broadcast news organizations, like the major networks and CNN. They should do it because it’s important, and because it’s news.

They should do it because they should want their readers and viewers to know that they care about biased, incompetent news reporting, and recognize how damaging it is to the public and our democracy.

They should do it to prove that they know what unethical journalism is. They should do it because true professions are capable of self-policing, and maintaining ethical standards by pointing out serious breaches. Bar associations publish the names of lawyers who have been disciplined and what they did to violate the profession’s rules. Professions that try to protect their worst members have sided with them and against the public they are pledged to serve.

If news organizations treated unethical journalism as newsworthy, reporters and editors would know that someone was watching who knew when they were cutting corners and crossing lines. The public would know that when  the news media betrayed the public trust, the profession wouldn’t circle the wagons, make excuses, or deny anything was wrong, but instead publicize the misconduct, explain why it was unacceptable, and admonish the miscreant.

News organizations don’t do this, do they? Oh, CNN will attack Fox News, and Fox News will criticize MSNBC, but that has nothing to do with ethics, and everything to do with partisanship and competition. If the New York Times were trustworthy, it would regularly report on its own biased stories and fake news, as well as those of  CNN and Fox News. If CNN were ethical, it would treat the disgraceful bias and incompetence of its colleagues—and itself—in 2017 as the vitally important news story that it is.

That none of the news organizations have the integrity and courage to cover this story tells us everything we need to know about the current state of journalism in the United States of America.

31 thoughts on “I Almost Forgot: A Final Observation Regarding The President’s Fake News Awards

    • Was I not clear? Of course they covered that. I wrote that they should have done their own audit and called out their own bad reporting.

      Let’s see…yes, I wrote: Presidents shouldn’t hand out compendiums of fake news and poor journalism at year’s end. Journalists should.

      If I wrote, “The Academy of Motion Picture Science shouldn’t hand out the best acting awards, newspapers should,” would you say the fact that the Times covered the Oscars countered my statement?


  1. An annual “News Media Hall of Shame” awards show? Who could resist watching? Everyone in news would attend. Their hubris would prevent them from thinking that they might be singled out, and they would want to be there to see rivals humiliated.

    • “News Media Hall of Shame”

      Interesting concept. One of the walls in our Red Room/my office is covered with pictures depicting an…um…earlier stage of my personal development.

      My lovely and long-suffering wife has, with blatantly unflattering intent, dubbed it The Wall Of Shame.

  2. Ratings. Advertising. Money. Profit. All else be damned; bias sells and it sells bigly. I think there are many journalists, reporters, and writers (and maybe even a few commentators) who genuinely care about truth and facts. Unfortunately, good souls self-selling to corporate widget machines produce widgets, not truth. Selling those widgets to information saturated brains and finding and exploiting the sweetest spots on the bias spectrum is the point. As for-profit interests, these “news” organizations – regardless of political bent – do precisely what they’re supposed to do which is to make money. No award, regardless of who issues it, will get us out of that swamp.

    • As I wrote, though, even one news outlet announcing that media reporting malpractice itself is newsworthy would go a long way to sparking reform. Or do you think journalism will just sink lower and lower, with no stops in sight?

    • Mark:
      The layoffs at many of the mainstream media outlets, though newspapers are struggling regardless, and those on the resistance bandwagon (ESPN) seem to indicate they are not profiting from their current stance. What do you see that I don’t?

      • Let’s face it it’s about money and how much these channels can get for a commercial. The Print Media and the 4 Entertainment channels operate on a Capitalist model, hence they are struggling to find viewers and subscribers. However the Cable Channels are primarily funded & supported by Cable Subscribers. When you pay your cable each month these channels get a payment. If Cable was “unbundled” and you got to just pick the channels you want, a great number would shut down immediately. So they can successfully report fake news, and face no fear that their funding would be cut in today’s model. In my opinion that is why channels like CNN, HLN, MSNBC can be ethics free, even when like CNN your viewers are minuscule because they don’t count. Younger folks are already “cutting the Cable” and just watching the broadcast networks and “apps” like Netflix, etc. When more senior citizens learn how to this, the news channel business will get a course correction and fewer will survive. Until then these Cable News Channels will continue to engage in a low ethics, high partisan model. Awards? They don’t need no stinking awards.

  3. Unfortunately this is just wishful thinking. The mainstream media is run by one side, is one-sided, and treats the other side like it’s just a nuisance to be swept aside. Some of it, like the NYT, sort of apologized at the beginning of last year, because their clear bias in the election was exposed, but they haven’t changed their behavior one smidgin.

  4. Jack:
    Your post presumes what currently passes for journalism cares about the fabric of our republic and its democratic underpinnings. By its behavior, it seems obvious the kind of society they want is little like the one we do.

    The fact we have a street fighting buffoon like Trump as President is a direct result of these journalistic tactics and the desire by roughly half the people for someone who is willing to stoop to their level to fight back.

    • Oh, I assume they should, and in many cases, think being unethical journalists is the means to an end. Of course, they are wrong, but as I’ve been saying since I was first interviewed by one, a lot of them aren’t very bright, but almost all of them think they are.

      • More than stupidity, I think it’s unshakable bias. My college buddy who went on to get a degree from the vaunted (like the Iraqi Republican Guard was vaunted) Columbia School of Journalism is pretty darned smart, but he’s just virulently biased. He absolutely loathes Republicans. He thinks they’re the Devil incarnate. It’s really bizarre. Irrational. To him, the only thing between the world and peace and harmony in our time is Republicans.

      • In their echo chamber, they are quite brilliant. Not much beyond it, though.

        You have been highlighting ethics train wrecks quite awhile. If this wildly biased journalism continues unabated, we’re looking at a tragic national train wreck.

    • The fact we have a street fighting buffoon like Trump as President is a direct result of these journalistic tactics and the desire by roughly half the people for someone who is willing to stoop to their level to fight back.

      (sigh) The table was set my entire life, one fork and napkin at a time, by the media slowly becoming the propaganda are of progressives. Trump uses their tactics against them, and the very effectiveness of that infuriates those who created the playing field.

  5. Maybe if no one else will call out fake news, it’s not such a bad thing to have a president who will do it. Trump’s a TV show/media guy. The news outlets are media people. Maybe a president needs to operate in the media world and fight fire with fire rather than play rope-a-dope and be savaged by it, a la the gentlemen Bushes. I suspect many voters find it appealing rather than off-putting.

    • A large part of me does.

      And thanks for the Columbo reminder. Peter Falk. Famous Hamilton College alum. Much more likable than Ezra Pound, certainly. That was such a great shtick at the end of those shows. I wish interviewers would use it these days instead of sitting there like a bump on a log while people spout preposterous talking points.

      • I have lately been re-watching Columbo–the original run, not the late, inferior revival (older Falk was good; the newer scripts were not). It almost uniquely stands up among the mystery shows from that era, most of which, like MacMillan and wife, or the later “Murder She Wrote,” are almost embarrassingly lame. But Columbo was a master of psychological warfare, taunting the suspect that he knew was guilty but never let on, playing the fool, counting on usually rich, famous or elitely educated sociopaths to hang themselves. Falk’s portayal got more nuanced and sharp as the series went on, and I loved the reactions of the killers when they were caught. With some, the dawning realization that they had been played was hilarious. Others displayed genuine admiration and sudden respect, and saluted the rumpled detective. The series was a powerful lesson in the danger of underestimating an opponent.

        I wonder if any Democrats watched it. It’s not too late.

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