It’s my own fault. I’ve written so many essays here since 2009 about the disgraceful descent of the news media into partisan propaganda that I can’t find the relevant post I was looking for on my own blog. That would be the one during the Obama administration in which I pointed out that being assured that no reporters and virtually no pundits would have the guts or integrity to criticize Obama’s performance as President had made him lazy, arrogant, and reckless. If you know anything you do will be extolled whether it deserves praise of not, and any mistakes and blunders will be covered up or spun, why be careful, especially if you’re an arrogant narcissistic like Barack? The same principle operated on President Trump, but in reverse (I honestly don’t recall if I noted this, but I noticed it). If a President is certain that whatever he does will be attacked by the news media, there is no reason for him to consider the press in his policy considerations. Summary: bad journalism makes bad Presidents.
Several commentators are finally waking up to this phenomenon now, as they try to find some other than Joe Biden to blame for Joe Biden’s incompetence. I have now read several pieces opining that the President was certain that the press would have his back no matter what happened in Afghanistan.
That was really foolish on Biden’s part (but then…Biden) for two reasons. First, he is not nearly as popular as Obama, and nobody was going to call a reporter “racist” for criticizing him. Second, and more importantly, journalists destroyed their influence and credibility during their four year campaign of fake news and glorified rumors to bring down Donald Trump. Most of the public doesn’t trust the mainstream media—good!—because it is untrustworthy. The days when it could cover a President’s botches effectively have passed.
One would think that this would spur the news media to be more careful about the lies they present to the public as truth, and one would be tragically wrong. Two recent examples from last week demonstrate that no “Oh-oh, we better start practicing honest journalism!” alarms are ringing yet.
USA Today performed a classic partisan “fact check” looking into the deserved backlash President Biden received for looking at his watch during the solemn transfer ceremony in honor of the 13 U.S. service members who were killed in a terrorist attack outside the Kabul airport as a direct result of Biden’s “Run away!!” misadventure. The same gesture in 1992 during a town hall Presidential debate helped lose George H.W. Bush his reelection quest, when the news media, including USA Today, savaged him for showing that he regarded having to take questions from the public as a waste of his time and attention. Like Bush’s gaffe, Biden’s read loud and clear as, “God, when will this crap be over with so I can take a nap?”
USA Today’s Daniel Funke, a progressive and a Democrat, authored a fact check examining whether or not Biden actually kept checking the time on his wrist as the caskets of the fallen were rolled onto the tarmac at Dover Air Force Base last weekend. He ruled the claim “partly false,” writing that the image of Biden that circulated on social media did not “accurately summarize” what occurred “[Biden] did appear to check his watch during his visit to Dover Air Force Base. But he did so after the dignified transfer ceremony was over,” Funke wrote. “Footage leading up to the moment shows Biden with his hand over his heart for about 30 seconds as vans carry the service members’ remains off the tarmac. After the vans had left, Biden closes his eyes briefly before dropping his arms and glancing down at his watch.”
Sounds convincing…but it wasn’t true. The Gold Star families stated that they saw Biden check his watch multiple times during the ceremony, but what’s wrong with false implying that they were lying when the objective is to protect a Democratic President and the public from “cruel” Republicans?
USA Today was forced to issue a correction the next day, admitting that contrary to the “factcheck” the paper published, Biden had indeed checked his watch multiple times. Funke used Twitter one day later to express his “regret,” while somehow making himself the victim, writing,
“Journalists and fact-checkers are human (yes, even me!) We make mistakes. When we do, we correct them and try to make it right. It’s easy to dunk on journalists when we get things wrong. I get it – to many, we’re just another name on a screen. But behind that screen is a person trying to do their best.”
Sorry, but this doesn’t wash. Journalists like Funke “do their best” to manipulate public opinion to advance their partisan agenda. An unbiased reporter doesn’t make a “mistake” exonerating a politician from doing what he actually did when the facts were easily verified unless the reporter wants the “factcheck” to yield a particular result. He brings to mind a line in the movie “Denial,” when Tom Wilkinson as Barrister Richard Rampton explains why a Holocaust denying historian didn’t just make an honest mistake: “He is, to use an analogy, like the waiter who always gives the wrong change. If he is honest, we may expect sometimes his mistakes to favor the customers, sometimes himself. But [he] is the dishonest waiter. All his mistakes work in his favor.”
That’s not just Funke being described there, it’s the mainstream media itself, the ultimate “dishonest waiter.”
Then we have the other Unethical Media Trick, misrepresenting facts to show how “cruel” and destructive conservatives are. Some Wuhan virus vaccination skeptics have been promoting ivermectin, an anti-parasitic drug usually reserved for deworming horses or livestock, as a treatment or preventative for the pandemic. This week, “Rolling Stone” reported that an Oklahoma emergency room doctor, Dr. Jason McElyea, had reported that invectin overdoses were causing backlogs in rural hospitals, leaving both beds and ambulance services scarce.
“The ERs are so backed up that gunshot victims were having hard times getting to facilities where they can get definitive care and be treated,” the magazine quoted the doctor as saying. All of their ambulances are stuck at the hospital waiting for a bed to open so they can take the patient in and they don’t have any, that’s it. If there’s no ambulance to take the call, there’s no ambulance to come to the call.”
None of this was true. Northeastern Hospital System Sequoyah issued a statement debunking the whole report:
“Although Dr. Jason McElyea is not an employee of NHS Sequoyah, he is affiliated with a medical staffing group that provides coverage for our emergency room. With that said, Dr. McElyea has not worked at our Sallisaw location in over 2 months. NHS Sequoyah has not treated any patients due to complications related to taking ivermectin. This includes not treating any patients for ivermectin overdose. All patients who have visited our emergency room have received medical attention as appropriate. Our hospital has not had to turn away any patients seeking emergency care. We want to reassure our community that our staff is working hard to provide quality healthcare to all patients. We appreciate the opportunity to clarify this issue and as always, we value our community’s support.”
But it was so darn tempting to publish a claim that the reporters never bothered to verify since it reflected badly on the (mostly) conservative vaccine resisters, that Rolling Stone went ahead with the fake news.
Nobody should trust these people. Not any of them.
30 thoughts on “Why American Presidents Need A Fair News Media To Be Competent, And More Evidence That They Won’t Get One Anytime Soon, If Ever…”
Holy livestock. Thanks for the rest of the ivermectin killing gunshot victims story. It was indeed entirely made up. Unbelievable. Too cute by half.
At this point, I think it is best to assume that anything and everything the media says is a completely fabricated lie.
And these “an exhausted nurse in Des Moines says…” stories have to stop.
Well, I would modify that thought slightly to say that everything the media does is in service of their agenda to promote those they agree with and harm those they disagree with. Often, accurate reporting is used in the service of that agenda, and facts that oppose or call that agenda into question are ignored or minimized.
The common denominator is that every bit of reporting we read today from the major media outlets is biased, and therefore untrustworthy. Calling it a “completely fabricated lie” is a bit of hyperbole; that’s not to say that they don’t fabricate things, as Jack’s commentary illustrates, but it isn’t as simple as that.
That’s why it’s so insidious. If everything they did was completely fabricated, nobody would believe them. It’s because so much of it is true, but perverted with a biased slant, that makes it dangerous to our republic.
I agree that not everything is fabricated, but some of it quite clearly is. In that situation, how do you know which things are the truth, and which things are completely fabricated? Guess? Disregard the things you don’t like and run with the things you do?
This is why I say it is best to start from the assumption that everything they say is fabricated. There isn’t any way to know when a known liar is lying and when they are telling the truth. Once a person or organization has been proven to be untrustworthy, you cannot trust them. The media would need to make significant changes to earn the trust back that they have lost, and as of now they have made absolutely no changes whatsoever. On the contrary, the media has shown not even the slightest modicum of interest in reforming themselves to be a trustworthy source of information. They double down on their untrustworthiness constantly, announcing their view that the media should be political advocates and push the correct narratives with no concern for objectivity. Anyone who continues to believe them is a willing dupe.
It is a common tactic of deceivers to weave their fabrications with true threads. Yet, what results is made up of whole cloth.
OB, this validates your and my concerns in the earlier conversation you started on this issue. Also supports that the idea that it was fabricated like the “Trump said to drink bleach” meme, to smear those from demographics likely to be politically on the right.
It’s just an incredible combination of ineptitude on the reporter’s part and brazenness on that doctor’s part, Wim. Shocking, really.
Yet we trust them on vaccines? On deaths?
I guess the question is what AM I CURRENTLY BELIEVING that I heard from them?????
A dear friend who works closely with the government said to me when I was expressing my disbelief that things like this were true… “look, ANY HEADLINE is meant to distract you from something else you should know. That’s really it in a nutshell.”
Then he went on to tell me things happening currently and things in the past where we were busy talking about one BIG story when another was quietly happening that we SHOULD have been informed about.
He too has similar feelings about the press.
In spam again…. Why???????????? Cries
I wonder what it is about your posts that causes them to always go to spam. It is strange. Whenever Jack unspams them they always look like perfectly normal posts. I’m baffled. Could there some kind of IP blocking issue? Are you using a VPN or something?
Weird. It’s up now.
Because mermaids can’t speak?
I dunno, I was talking to a few on Saturday. No, I have not gone slap-happy, I went to the Renaissance Faire in Lancaster, PA, and they hosted a group of performers called the Circus Siren Pod. They’re basically Weeki Wachee types, although the “tails” they wear are made of silicon rather than fabric. They are very interesting people, at least these were.
July 22, 2014: Jack said, “I would argue that the absence of proper press oversight and objective criticism has made Obama and the administration arrogant, lazy and more inefficient … .” [Deconstructing The Unethical “It’s Impossible To Be President Today!” Excuse For President Obama]
The black major I worked for many years ago would occasionally use the phrase ‘a little slack for a black’. We all knew he was kidding, just poking fun at affirmative action and the concept that later was expressed as the ‘soft racism of low expectations’.
I suspect that some of the press adulation of Obama was that kind of slack, out of a desire to see our first black president be successful, or at least appear to be. Some of it was the leftist tendency of much of the media which has become more pronounced. As noted, it was and is harmful to democracy.
THANK-YOU! That was one of the posts I was looking for!!!
You’re welcome, Jack, and I apologize for the delay in responding.
The technique I use is to put a few key terms in quotes and turn Google search loose. I may have to add or change search terms, but it usually works. In this case, that 2014 post showed up as the second item, based on this: “Ethics alarms” “Obama” “press” “fail”
Don’t be too hard on Joe; we don’t even know if he can still tell time. He could be looking down every couple of minutes and thinking What’s this on my wrist? How did it get there?
And how much do you suppose I could get for if I had I had Hunter hock it?
I used to believe that news was unbiased and the news constant reminded me that it was the case. Recently I learned about Joseph Pulitzer and how the Pulitzer Prize was created. After learning how super biased his coverage was and that the prize and everything associated with it was image repair I looked further into the history of the news media.
We’ve only had an “objective” media for about 100 years. During that 100 years reporters quickly learned that stretching things a bit makes the story more interesting and popular or in today’s terms more clickable with clickbait.
It won’t be pretty, fun, or pleasant, but going back to unabashed biased media from all perspectives we will be better served in the long run.
I am not sure the press has ever been objective. Every story has a slant and a political viewpoint. Fox News is just as biased but in favor if right-wing reporting. By the way, I hate that moniker of ” right-wing” and “left-wing” bias. Bias is bias.
Why would we trust the media, anyway? They prove time and again to be incompetent or agenda driven. They covered up JFK’s dalliances with numerous women and bumbling almost starting a war with the Soviet Union. They covered for Robert Kennedy’s actions with the House Unamerican Committee, and LBJ’s blatant racist behavior. They covered for Clinton, and worked their best magic to make Obama look good. They misreported Bush the Younger’s stint with the National Guard and made George the Elder look out of touch with grocery store scanners.
Now, they are covering for Biden and his blatantly obvious incompetence. That idiot Don Lemon told the only slightly less/more idiotic Chris Cuomo that the media shouldn’t pile on Biden and his disastrous Afghanistan crisis handling because it was inevitably going to be a disaster.
It’s the Liars Paradox, ¿no? If they lie all the time, you just assume that what they tell you is a lie, even though it might be true.
I agree that they’ve never been objective. The only way to truly be objective is to write articles that the author has no stake in and no base knowledge of. Seems like an impossibly to me.
If I wrote an article about ice cream it would have a baked in bias based on my previous knowledge and experiences even if I worked diligently to suppress my love for fudge ripple and my utter disgust that some ice creams have nuts or marshmallows deliberately mixed in.
All they actually did was claim that they were objective and the public, for the most part until recently, just went along with it.
Still today, if you do a web search, there are numerous uncorrected USA Today articles preserving the alternate history that Brian Sicknick was “killed by rioters”, “hit in the head with a fire extinguisher”, etc.
They foul the waters, and often don’t even make a minimal effort to clean up or acknowledge their errors like Funke sort of did. They put the lie to his “We make mistakes. When we do, we correct them and try to make it right.” claim.
The evil they do lives after them.
Here’s some SF newspaper history via my father. In the early 1900s there were at least 12 daily newspapers in SF. Each paper had it’s own slant/bias but the slant was perfectly clear if you read the editorial page even once. So, to find out what was really happening, people read all of the newspapers, weighed the facts presented in each of the accounts and then judged for themselves relying on their understanding of human nature. Without radio or TV, that’s how people occupied their day. It wasn’t until newspapers starting taking advertising that this system fell apart because the newspaper owners didn’t want to offend their advertisers. Thus, newspapers starting reading a lot alike and the formerly 12 newspapers reduced to 8 then 6, then 3 and then 2. And then the internet came and the remaining 2 might as well be Twitter . . .
As far as news reporting goes, looking at foreign websites, there are numerous reports of significant public demonstrations against masking and covid restrictions, particularly in France & Britain, and even in Australia. One such report in linked article below includes video of two women being chased down by a mob of cops and beaten.
Is this news true? If so, why haven’t we been hearing anything about it here? Seems a trifle more important than an unverified fantasy from one guy in Oklahoma.
Here? The ethics issue would be the dearth of reporting, not the protests themselves. And international events are not priority on EA…it’s predominantly and by design a blog about US culture and those outside events that have significant influences on it
Sorry I wasn’t clear; I meant the lack of coverage in the US media. Maybe they’re not interested in reporting that people (especially their beloved Europeans), other than ignorant red-staters, are opposed to heavy-handed government dictates and enforcement methods “because covid!”.
Topical, or what? Seems the read Ethics Alarms:
Thanks for that, John. While there I ran across this tears of laughter inducing piece: