Over at the American Conservative, a veteran State Department employee and author Peter Van Buren makes his case that Rachel Maddow is the symbol of the catastrophic deterioration of America journalism over the past three years, as it openly joined the “resistance.” I disagree with his central thesis: nobody who works for MSNBC can symbolize journalism’s rot, since MSNBC has never been objective, competent, or trustworthy, not three years ago, not ever. I would choose the New York Times for that honor. Nevertheless, Van Buren’s description of what journalism has become in the rush to “Get Trump!” is well-argued, and should be persuasive to anyone not incapable of accepting the truth, that being that honest, independent journalism has all but vanished, and the viability of our system of government is imperiled as a result.
Do our progressive friends and relatives deny this because they are corrupt, because the news media’s slant bolsters their desires so they accept it, because they are dim, or because, as Van Buren writes of Maddow, they are “people who refuse to accept facts and insist they alone understand a world you can’t even see. Delusion. Denial. Psychosis. Obsession. Paranoia”?
I’m not sure. It has been obvious here that journalism now tries to manipulate our politics rather than report it since well before the 2016 campaign, and I’ve been listening to and reading denials all along.
Van Buren writes in part,
…They treated gossip as fact because it came from a “source” and told us to just trust them. They blurred the lines between first-hand knowledge, second- and third-hand hearsay, and “people familiar with the matter” to build breaking news out of manure. They marginalized skeptics as “useful idiots.” (Glenn Greenwald, who called bull on Russiagate from the beginning, says MSNBC banned him after he criticized Maddow. He’d been a regular during the Bush and Obama years.)
They accepted negative information at face value and discarded information that did not fit their pre-written narrative of collusion. The Washington Post never even ran a story about how its reporters came up empty after working for months to prove that Michael Cohen met with Russian agents in Prague.
They went all in with salacious headlines, every story a sugar high. They purposefully muddled the impact of an indictment versus an actual conviction. They conflated anyone from Russia with the Russian government. They never paused to ask why there weren’t “Sources: Trump is Innocent” stories that later needed to be walked back; the errors were somehow all on one side. They became a machine as trustworthy as the politicians they relied on.
… With Maddow in the lead, journalists went a step further than just shoddy reporting, proudly declaring their partisanship (once the cardinal sin of journalism) and placing themselves at the center of the story. In one critic’s words, “In purely journalistic terms, this is an epic disaster.”
..[T]here was Maddow, night after night in front of her serial killer burlap board, Trump and Putin surrounded by blurry images of Carter Page and George Papadopoulos, she running twine between pins so her viewers could keep up with her racing intellect. Anyone with a Russian-y surname “had ties to Putin,” “connections to Russian intelligence,” or was at least an oligarch. She nurtured an unashamed crush on deep state clowns that the Rachel Maddow of a few years back would have smirked at—Brennan, Clapper, Comey.
She ignored or downplayed other news, devoting over 50 percent of her airtime to Russiagate alone…She worked to convince Americans that the cornerstone of justice was not “innocent until proven guilty” but “if there’s smoke there’s fire.” She joined journalists in knowingly publishing material whose veracity they doubted, centering on the Steele dossier.
…She moved beyond the simpleton advocacy journalism of Bush lie peddling journo tools. She was going to save the country. So she created a story out of whole cloth that reinforced her political beliefs and convinced people it was true. And it was all justified because the fate of the republic itself hung in the balance. Any day now, Trump would peel off a rubber mask Scooby Doo-style to reveal that he was Putin all along.
And then, after years of being held together by the incantation “just wait for Mueller Time,” one day it all fell apart…The great progressive hope—America was run by a Russian stooge—was over and done. Maddow’s response? … Okay, sure, Bill Barr says Mueller didn’t find collusion if you wanna believe that, but what matters now is that, even after Robert Mueller did not find evidence of obstruction he could charge, and the FBI before him did not find any, and Bill Barr confirmed he did not find it, Maddow still knows obstruction took place…
…At some point with Russiagate, many people will come to understand that there aren’t more questions than answers. They’ll abandon the straw man of waiting for prosecutors to issue a magic Certificate of Exoneration because they’ll understand that prosecutors end things by deciding not to prosecute.
…Maddow is a sad story. Others playing the cable news game never had her intellect (looking at you, Don Lemon and Chris Cuomo). They were weekend Vichy, showbiz grifters. But Maddow believed. Her goal was to end the Trump presidency on her own. And to do so, she devolved from what Glenn Greenwald called “this really smart, independent thinker into this utterly scripted, intellectually dishonest, partisan hack.”
There’s a difference between being wrong once in a while (and issuing corrections) and being wrong for two years on both the core point as well as the evidence. There is even more wrong with purposefully manipulating information to drive a specific narrative, believing that the ends justify the means.
In journalism school, the first is called making a mistake. The second, Maddow’s offense, is called propaganda.
Read the whole thing.