Was 2021 a more ethical year than 2020? The question reminds me of the debate in “Stand By Me” over whether Superman could beat Might Mouse in a fight. I’d name 2020 as more unethical because of the George Floyd freak-out, the media support of rioting, the manipulation of the pandemic for political gain, the irresponsible closing of the schools, the unethical 2020 election, the defund the police movement, the corporate pandering (especially by the sports leagues) to Black Lives Matter, and the incompetent Trump legal team’s efforts to challenge the 2020 election as sufficient to give 2020 the nod, but not by much, and at this level of cultural rot, who cares? Both years were terrible, destructive, and likely to leave permanent scars.
Unless we are very, very lucky, I do not expect 2022 to break the trend.
1. About those “democratic norms” progressives are so concerned about…Chief Justice John Roberts delivered his year-end report on the state of the judiciary which almost nobody will read, but it was notable, other than for a long section singing the praises of his predecessor William Howard Taft, for this passage, buried deep in the nine-page document:
“Decisional independence is essential to due process, promoting impartial decision-making, free from political or other extraneous influence. The Judiciary’s power to manage its internal affairs insulates courts from inappropriate political influence and is crucial to preserving public trust in its work as a separate and co-equal branch of government.”
Perhaps he should have said more on the topic, but that easily could have crossed the line into partisan debate. For the main attacks on judicial independence have come against his own court, and onlt from one side of the political divide. Prof. Turley regarded Roberts words as a “denunciation,” which is an example of the professor seeing what he wants to see, but Turley does a good job of pointing out where the threat is coming from, writing in part,
We have been discussing the ramped up threats from Democratic leaders that the Court will either vote with the liberal justices on key issues or face “consequences,” including court packing….What Democratic members are demanding is raw court packing to add four members to the Court to give liberals an instant majority — a movement denounced by figures like the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Justice Stephen Breyer.
Last year, House Judiciary Committee Chair Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass, and others stood in front of the Supreme Court to announce a court packing bill to give liberals a one-justice majority. This follows threats from various Democratic members that conservative justices had better vote with liberal colleagues . . . or else.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., recently issued a warning to the Supreme Court: reaffirm Roe v. Wade or face a “revolution.” Sen. Richard Blumenthal previously warned the Supreme Court that, if it continued to issue conservative rulings or “chip away at Roe v Wade,” it would trigger “a seismic movement to reform the Supreme Court. It may not be expanding the Supreme Court, it may be making changes to its jurisdiction, or requiring a certain numbers of votes to strike down certain past precedents.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer also declared in front of the Supreme Court “I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh, you have released the whirlwind, and you will pay the price.”
For her part, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. questioned the whole institution’s value if it is not going to vote consistently with her views and those of the Democratic Party: “How much does the current structure benefit us? And I don’t think it does.” [Sen. Elizabeth] Warren seems to be channeling more AOC than FDR. Roosevelt at least tried to hide his reckless desire to pack the Court by pushing an age-based rule. It was uniquely stupid. The bill would have allowed Roosevelt to add up to six justices for every member who is over 70 years old. Warren, like AOC, wants the Democratic base to know that she is pushing a pure, outcome-changing court packing scheme without even the pretense of a neutral rule.
Despite the fact that the Court has more often voted on non-ideological lines (and regularly issued unanimous decisions), Warren denounced the Court as an “extremist” body that has “threatened, or outright dismantled, fundamental rights in this country.” Those “fundamental” values do not apparently include judicial independence.
Did you know that Donald Trump and Republicans are a threat to democracy?
2. Then there is the news media, and your totalitarian-tilting friends who defend its deadly bias. The Associated Press reported, “Outlets hurt by dwindling public interest in news in 2021.” Now that’s an excellent development, or would be if the news media acknowledged why this occurred. The Washington Post’s online traffic is down 44%. since this time last year. The New York Times is down 34%. Prime-time viewership is down 38% at CNN, 34% at Fox, and 25% at MSNBC. Nightly news viewership is down 14% at NBC, and down 12% at both ABC and CBS. AP is satisfied to attribute the drop to the fall-off in interest after a national election. But a survey by the Trafalgar Group last month found that 76.3% of respondents from all political affiliations said that “the primary focus of the mainstream media’s coverage of current events is to advance their own opinions or political agendas.”Only 23.7% who said news media was interested in “finding and reporting the facts”—hey, that’s the same percentage as those among the American public who believed the deadly comet hurtling toward Earth didn’t exist in “Don’t Look Up”!
Pollster Robert Cahaly concluded, “Voters on both sides of the aisle have grown frustrated with the inability of national television and print media to give them the undisputed facts of what’s happening in the world rather than political spin.” Other polls and surveys agree that the public’s level of trust in the news media has hit an all-time low.
So are journalists going to do anything to reverse the trend? Nah, unless you count denying that they are doing what they are doing as “doing something.” On last week’s “Reliable Sources” on CNN, Brian Stelter’s guest, journalist Mara Schiavocampo protested, “The single biggest misconception is that we are lying…I hear this all the time. And here’s what I would love to correct about that misperception: We are human. We make mistakes…“[m]ost often what they’re pointing to is an example of a mistake, not an intentional lie.” This is called “pleading Hanlon’s Razor”: “We’re not dishonest, we’re incompetent!” To be fair, they are both. Here is the bottom of the barrel Joy Reid of MSNBC tweeting about Gov. Ron DeSantis, who doesn’t deserve accurate reporting because he’s a conservative: “A governor, not governing during a crisis; and sunning his belly on vacation instead. @GovRonDeSantis is the Nero of Ted Cruzes.”
DeSantis was accompanying his wife to the locale of her cancer treatment. Meanwhile, when Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg indulged himself in nearly two months off in the middle of the supply chain crisis, there was no criticism coming from Reid or anyone at MSNBC. A mistake, I’m sure.
3. And yet...Joy Reid was not the Most Unethical Journalist of 2021! It was Chris Cuomo, whose brother was the most unethical elected official of 2021. 2022 will have a hard time topping that family achievement.
4. Wait, how could they miss these? Speaking of Chris, he makes the Washington Examiner’s list of “The Top Nine Worst media Moments of 2021,” and no one can argue with that. But how could they forget…
- The New York Times falsely stating the Officer Brian Sicknick was killed in the January 6 rioting, a lie leading to repeated false allegations by Joe Biden and others, cited as evidence in the second impeachment trial in the Senate, and leading to Sicknick’s body lying in state in the Capitol Rotunda?
- The media’s constant and continuing use of the term “insurrection” to describe the riot?
- The apparently scripted propaganda that President Trump’s statements about the election being “stolen” were “baseless”? He may be wrong, but his position is definitely not baseless. the use of mail-in ballots alone created a potential hole in election security that was ripe for exploitation by Democrats. The way waves of Biden votes appeared in Wisconsin, Georgia and Michigan in the dead of night on election eve was and is a legitimate basis for suspicion. The new media’s burying of the hunter Biden laptop story even as it hyped the sale “Russian bounties” story in the closing days of the campaign is a basis for legitimate suspicion. heck, even the constant media insistence that there is no basis to question the election using identical words is a basis itself. “Protesting too much” has never been more blatant.
5. And now for something completely stupid...Some people are blaming this cover…
…for killing Betty White. Jinxing her, you know. That’s ridiculous, but it was certainly incompetent for People to announce weeks in advance that White was turning 100. When my Dad turned 80, he announced to me that he was in the “red zone,” meaning that he could drop dead at any time without warning. (Which, in fact, he did, at 89.) I’m sure he would have regarded the 90s as the flashing red zone, and by 99, you don’t make any bets on waking up the next day.