Death By Hypocrisy

Fake Newseum…

Johns Hopkins is buying the Newseum building in Washington, D.C., ending a depressing saga. The Freedom Forum, which ran the failed institution, made predictable brave statements about soldiering on, but the Newseum is dead, and deserved to die.

It is tragic, however. There should be a museum in the nation’s Capital chronicling the history of Freedom of the Press in America: John Peter Zenger, Nellie Bly, Horace Greeley, Hearst, Woodward and Bernstein, New York Times v. Sullivan, the Pentagon papers, the Boston Globe’s exposure of the Catholic Church child molestation cover-up and so much more. The problem is that today’s journalists no longer believe in or can be trusted to practice the kind of journalism that the Newseum celebrated, but had to pretend they did or the place would be more of a memorial than a museum.

Here , for example, was a laughable section, since removed, from 2009—you know, after the news media mugged John McCain, attacked Sarah Palin relentlessly for lacking “qualifications” to be Vice President while coronating Barack Obama, whose qualifications for the Presidency were far fewer, and generally acted as part of the Democratic Party’s campaign organization because electing a black President justified abandoning all objectivity and independence:

News Sometimes Gets a Partisan Slant

Patriot journalists in Colonial America didn’t always tell all sides of the story. They mostly told one side- their side. They were far from “objective” -a word that journalists would not use to describe their work until the late 19th century. Anyone and anything were fair game for the “scandalmongers” of the Colonial era. Their mixture of news and opinion was the forerunner of advocacy journalism in the United States- a style of partisan commentary that eventually found its way into editorial pages, which were introduced in the 1850s, and then into talk radio and internet blogs.

Sometimes. Right.

The museum about our vital democratic institution of a free and independent pressthus  became one more tool of propaganda to ensure the continued abuse of power and influence by the news media for partisan objectives.  The hypocrisy was palpable. In 2018, journalists pressured the Newseum to pull “fake news” T-shirts from the gift shop.That critical if disturbing part of the history of Freedom of the Press had to be ignored, censored, hidden away, denied….like so many other stories and facts that an ethical news media would feel it had an obligation to the public to cover.

Speaking of gifts shops, the Newseum’s was larger than its exhibit on journalism ethics. One could say , I guess, that the entire building was an exhibit about ethics: the absence of them.

The Newseum had become a monument to the corruption and abandonment of professional ethics by a core democratic safeguard in the throes of its own accelerating institutional rot. If its screaming hypocrisy had embarrassed journalists into correcting the doomed course of their once-honorable profession and doing their jobs, the place might have justified its existence. As anyone can see who opens an edition of the New York Times—the best of our papers, remember—can see, however, their arrogance and hypocrisy is beyond correction.

_____________________

Sources: Baltimore Sun, Newsbusters

 

10 thoughts on “Death By Hypocrisy

  1. Two words: Yellow journalism. Newspapers have always been whores (and gigolos [don’t want to be called sexist]). The veneer of legitimacy was only intact for a few years in the ’50s and maybe the ’60s, but it was quickly torn to shreds. William Randolph Hearst good?

  2. Sometimes. Right.

    I would be tempted to express the same sardonic reply, except after reading American Lion and Alan Taylor’s American Revolutions, I was surprised to learn that the newsmongers of the colonial days and early days of the Republic were essentially shills for one partisan viewpoint or another. Couple that with the media outlets all turning to play propaganda machines during the world wars, censoring information it, and even the government, did not want the public to learn about, and I’m no longer convinced there has ever been an honest, objective media.

    In addition, I’m also speculating that personal bias is inextricably linked with how one reports news, just as religious beliefs are inextricably intertwined with politics, because one’s bias, just like one’s religion, provides the interpretive lens through which one sees the world.

    Of course, this does not in any way excuse directly lying, or not performing due diligence in vetting the story to make sure the details are true. But at the same time, I knew people in college who disliked facts because facts tended to favor the opposite viewpoint, not theirs. Their bias was seeing what the world ought to be, in their minds, and if facts got in the way of that world, then facts had to be overcome, overthrown, eradicated in some way, shape, or form. When I try to understand that viewpoint, the best I can conclude is that, if our minds truly shape reality as the Left seems to think, then it must be that facts are actually mutable, transitory, ephemeral, even.

    If facts are just a matter of personal opinion, then isn’t “fake news” impossible, or at best an epithet used merely to dismiss opinions you don’t like? Isn’t the purpose of news, then, to make everyone believe the right “facts”, so that what wasn’t real before will eventually be real?

    Ugh. If I think much harder in that direction, I might just go insane.

    • I don’t think it should be the case that “personal bias is inextricably linked with how one reports news,” Ryan, but that’s almost verbatim what a college buddy of mine who went on to graduate from Columbia School of Journalism said to me. Of course, he’s a total lefty, so he’s content with it and I bet most professors at CSJ feel exactly the same way. Why people need to go to an Ivy League school to learn such a seedy profession is beyond me.

    • I would be tempted to express the same sardonic reply, except after reading American Lion and Alan Taylor’s American Revolutions, I was surprised to learn that the newsmongers of the colonial days and early days of the Republic were essentially shills for one partisan viewpoint or another. Couple that with the media outlets all turning to play propaganda machines during the world wars, censoring information it, and even the government, did not want the public to learn about, and I’m no longer convinced there has ever been an honest, objective media.

      If the existence of ‘objective media’ is in doubt, what about an ‘objective intellectual class’?

      If the media outlets had not become ‘propaganda machines’ during the world wars, what would they have reported that they didn’t? And if they had reported what I assume was omitted, how would that have changed things? or would it have?

      If there has never been an ‘objective media’ it implies that no one — would you include the intellectual class? — has access to a truthful picture of things or a truthful story.

      The next questions are inevitable: if news is controlled, what exactly are the interests that control it? If you would agree that it is ‘business interests’ that control news and perception, then there are a dozen questions that flow from that one. How could ‘objective media’ be reestablished and what would they report on when they became ‘objective’? What would it mean, and what would it entail, to confront the implied situation that ‘business interests’ have intruded into the information-dissemination process and, the implication is plain, into the function of government? (I assume this is what ‘the swamp’ refers to).

      In addition, I’m also speculating that personal bias is inextricably linked with how one reports news, just as religious beliefs are inextricably intertwined with politics, because one’s bias, just like one’s religion, provides the interpretive lens through which one sees the world.

      Then according to your definition it is our ‘interpretive lens’ that, ultimately, is what much of this hinges on. That is a pretty large issue! But if the reader of newspapers is only the receiver of established ideas, notions, impressions and conclusions, it does point to a ‘benighted mass’ that is incapable (or tremendously hindered) in free thought. Obviously, many take the analysis further and propose that an entire education system colludes with ‘the reigning powers’ to inhibit the formation of a free individual. But if this is true that will produce a whole other set of observations and then questions. But if all this is true, and not merely paranoid exaggeration, it points to a ‘regime of control’ and to other, even more troubling, suggestions.

      Of course, this does not in any way excuse directly lying, or not performing due diligence in vetting the story to make sure the details are true. But at the same time, I knew people in college who disliked facts because facts tended to favor the opposite viewpoint, not theirs. Their bias was seeing what the world ought to be, in their minds, and if facts got in the way of that world, then facts had to be overcome, overthrown, eradicated in some way, shape, or form. When I try to understand that viewpoint, the best I can conclude is that, if our minds truly shape reality as the Left seems to think, then it must be that facts are actually mutable, transitory, ephemeral, even.

      Who ‘directly lies’? Who consciously lies? I have noticed that when it comes to persons that they do not lie. No one can lie and remain in integrity with themselves. No, the people who oppose us tell the truth as best they can, and we do the same, and yet we differ. ‘Interpretive lens’? ‘Metaphysical underpinning’?

      But propaganda offices and also PR offices — these lie. Their business is to lie. So, when it comes to ‘business interests’ — it seems — this is where the incentive is. I would say that a basic statement is possible:

      Our present is one in which competing factions engage is fabulous lying. They are like *Titans* who careen over the landscape (like Godzillas) and confuse everything.

      Isn’t the purpose of news, then, to make everyone believe the right “facts”, so that what wasn’t real before will eventually be real?

      That would be so in a totalitarian system and one that did not have a vibrant and permitted intellectual class that was empowered to ‘speak truth to power’. I think everywhere else but in the United States of America we can safely assume — indeed know beyond doubt — that this is how they conduct their business. But we are different!

      Ugh. If I think much harder in that direction, I might just go insane.

      I know that I have a pretentious streak, please forgive me, but when you say insane you mean that the force of the realization will cause your faith in the *structures of things* to weaken. And also that when a questioning process begins it means not only analyzing what is going on *out there* and separate from ourselves, but also considering our own *complicity* with the structures of thought that are formed for us (by media, by intellectuals), as well as the historical narratives and such, with which we *agree*, and which are employed to control us.

      Technically though, you are defining sanity not insanity! 🙂

      • Alizia,

        There’s a lot in your reply to dissect, so I’m going to throw out a couple of thoughts and try to get around to some more detail points later. (I had started to write something over the weekend, but children are quite distracting!)

        I believe firmly in an objective, knowable reality. I take the definition of sanity as conformity with reality, and insanity therefore is the obdurate denial of reality in the face of evidence.

        While I struggle with the concept of whether or not there was ever an objective media, and whether one could exist even if one never had, I doubt there has ever been or ever will be an objective intellectual class. Certainly I do not see one existing in the United States, but maybe that is because I am influenced by the people who would like to break us apart into the “Smarts” and the “Dumbs”, with the inevitable expression that the Smarts either control the Dumbs or eradicate them.

        Consider the topic of anthropogenic global warming. Those who are in the know about what they dub “climate change” are increasingly agitating to silence, persecuted, and even imprison those who doubt human impacts on the environment could possible have that dramatic of influence on global climate. I see the same tactics there that are used in other spheres. Instead of racist, the opposition is dubbed “climate deniers”, linking them on the cognitive dissonance scale with “Holocaust deniers”. Instead of linking skeptics with the KKK, they link them with Donald Trump, even though Trump has only been present for two years, and the skepticism about anthropogenic causes of global warming has existed for decades. Then there’s oft touted, and thoroughly debunked, 97% consensus, which is that same method of repeating the lie until everyone believes it is true. I believe that good science can convince me (I land in the skeptic category, in case it wasn’t blatantly obvious by now), but actual climate fails to fulfill the doomsday models that have been made and revamped countless times over the past twenty years or more. More, the behavior of those touting climate alarmism certainly don’t appear to be modifying their behaviors to walk the walk, and the solutions they pose are objectively terrible.

        Moving on, I do believe people lie, and I believe people do so deliberately, in full awareness they are not telling the truth. Fear is a motivator, as is greed, as is pride, and we can probably add the rest of the deadly sins and still find more reasons to lie. I don’t agree with your maxim that people will always tell the truth as they know it, even if that truth is horribly in conflict with reality. I hold the maxim that people are always seeking to attain an objective good, but that we all at times will use wrongful means to acquire what we desire. (Credit St. Thomas Aquinas with this, and if I have time later, I’ll see if I can’t find the exact reference.)

        Finally, when I say that the line of thinking was driving me insane, I mean that I was forcing myself to apprehend a way of thinking that denies objective reality, that does not seek to conform oneself with reality, but seeks to conform (however futilely) reality to oneself. There’s no weakening of my faith in the structure of things, though I would say that contemplating the possibility that there has never been an objective media can be somewhat disturbing. But the failure of the media would merely fit in with another maxim I’ve held to for some years now: “Put not your trust in princes, in the sons of men in whom there is no salvation (Ps 146:3).”

        • I believe firmly in an objective, knowable reality. I take the definition of sanity as conformity with reality, and insanity therefore is the obdurate denial of reality in the face of evidence.

          Thank you for your comments. I think there is an interesting discussion that would open about the idea of ‘objective reality’ vis-à-vis what you called one’s ‘interpretive lens’. One might suppose that the interpretive lens of a scientist, or taking this to an extreme for purposes of illustration, a scientist-cyborg (a person meshed with machine analytic), would be a truly ‘objective’ one. Thus sane.

          I think I do grasp what people mean when we use the term ‘objective’ in comparison to ‘prejudiced’, and though I must admit that there indeed is an ‘objective reality’ surrounding me, I cannot say that my (or anyone’s) interpretive lens is or ever could be truly objective.

          It has even occurred to me that certain idea-systems, certain modes of thinking and seeing, and ways of being and acting that arise from them, are *impositions* that insert themselves into our reality and *oppose* that reality. I tend to think that the essence of Christian praxis (excuse the pretentious term but it is a good one) directly opposes *the world* (and so ‘the world’ could not recognize the Light, as it says in that multi-tiered segment of John).

          What opposes the descent of the logos then is ‘the very nature of the world’. But it is that world, and that world precisely and without embellishment, that science describes. Science and pure objective thought and perception could not (and do not?) conceive of an agent that enters the system from outside the domain that it recognizes as *real* and thus *objective*.

          While I struggle with the concept of whether or not there was ever an objective media, and whether one could exist even if one never had, I doubt there has ever been or ever will be an objective intellectual class.

          Getting to the core, the non-objective media you refer to has been, in America, a media with business interests behind it. Thinking of course of the Hearst media empire. But it is only that much more amplified in our present, isn’t it? ‘The Media’ then become the mediators of perception. But more, the molders. The more powerful and extensive the business interests, the more *necessary* to control the media and influence the consumer of information.

          If you say that there has never been an ‘objective intellectual class’, are you also saying that ‘objectivity’ is impossible (or very difficult?) Is there a contradiction then to what you previously said about ‘an objective world’?

          (Do not feel obligated to answer these rather knotty questions! They are just what I thought about when I read your post.)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.