“I believe President Trump is engaged in the most direct, sustained assault on freedom of the press in our history,” Fox anchor Chis Wallace told the audience at an event honoring the First Amendment. “The president’s attacks have done some damage..A Freedom Forum Institute poll this year found 29 percent of Americans think the First Amendment goes ‘too far.’ And 77 percent say ‘fake news’ is a serious threat to our democracy,” Wallace continued.
“Ours is a great profession — maybe the best way to make a living anyone ever came up with. Think of it. We are paid to tell the truth—to cut through all the spin—all the distractions — and tell the American people what is really going on.”
Chris Wallace is a smart guy; I knew him a little when I was a sophomore and he was a senior in the same residential House in college. He’s also a journalist with integrity, the antithesis of stereotypes and smears that are routinely used to delegitimize Fox News reporting, often the only broadcast news source to counter the Left’s propaganda. It would be weird if Wallace didn’t believe the myth about journalism, given his pedigree (icon Mike Wallace was Chris’s father) and the fact that he was immersed in his father’s world virtually from birth.
So I sympathize, but what an obviously ridiculous statement to make in public, literally from beginning to end! This might be the best example of how “Bias makes you stupid” of all time; I can’t think of a better one. Imagine: Wallace asserts one false position after another, then says “We are paid to tell the truth.” He would be lying, except I’m sure he believes it all. Chris, I’m sure, does try to tell the truth. He is apparently incapable of telling the truth about his friends and colleagues, because he is incapable of seeing it.
- The President isn’t assaulting freedom of the press by accurately pointing out that the news media routinely lies, distorts facts, and tries to manipulate public opinion. Wallace is promoting Rationalization #24. Juror 3’s Stand (“It’s My Right!”):
We all have a right to do many terrible, unfair, wrongful and harmful things. People have a right to have children they can’t take care of, for example. They have a right to be unfaithful to their spouses, to misrepresent their affections to partners who think they are loved. Parents have a right to warp the values and education of their children. People have a right to accept jobs that they are unqualified to do well; they have a right not to retire long after they know they have become incompetent. We have a right to be biased, to be prejudiced, and to hate irrationally. We have a right to vote, even if we vote ignorantly and without meeting our duty to be informed citizens. The issue in which this rationalization was raised on Ethics Alarms was a news story about a grandmother who killed her cat and kittens to punish her grandchildren. Yes, she had a right to kill them, for they were her property. A billionaire could buy a great work of art and destroy it on a whim, too. Gratuitous, wanton or cruel destruction of property that others derive joy or practical use from, however, is still unethical.
Yes, we often have a right to do something wrong. Using rights that way, however, is to abuse them.
Wallace is really and truly saying that criticizing how a right is exercised poses a threat to the existence of that right. This is now a reflex defense by journalists, which is itself, ironically, a tactic designed to suppress speech. They want to criticize those they oppose, but criticizing the manner in which they frequently do it—incompetently, recklessly, dishonesty and with bias—is deemed an attack on their right to do it. Chris Wallace is smart enough to understand the distinction, or was, before his bias softened his brain. Continue reading