In the original Planet of the Apes movie (1968), the most-fascinating character is Dr. Zaius, the elitist, orangutan in chief who alone possessed the secret knowledge that (spoiler alert!) apes descended from humans. Toward the end of the film—shortly before he warns Charlton Heston’s character not to search for the truth “because you may not like what you find!”—he monologues that the hoi polloi (chimps and gorillas in this case) must be shielded from certain realities lest they be driven to insanity and nihilism.
The legacy media are having their Dr. Zaius moment, paternalistically shielding their infantile audience (read: you and me) from ugly images and realities. This is not simply a revolting development but a deeply troubling one that will only accelerate the ongoing loss of confidence and trust the public has in media. According to polling done for the Columbia Journalism Review, fewer than 20 percent of us have a “great deal of confidence” in the press. The only institution held in lower esteem is Congress.
Yet the media seem happy to keep digging their own grave. Yesterday, for instance, The New York Times reported on what it called a “macabre video of [a] fake Trump shooting media and critics” that was shown at a conference held at one of the president’s own properties (Trump had nothing to do with the conference or the video, which the White House has condemned). You’d assume the paper would link to or embed the video in support of its characterization. But it refused to, even as it’s safe to say that it was the Times‘ coverage that helped bring the video to a large viewing audience (that’s how I learned about it). Instead, it described the video, which was included in an exhibition of videos associated with pro-Trump “memesmith” Carpe Donktum, thus:
The video, which includes the logo for Mr. Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign, comprises a series of internet memes. The most violent clip shows Mr. Trump’s head superimposed on the body of a man opening fire inside the “Church of Fake News” on parishioners who have the faces of his critics or the logos of media organizations superimposed on their bodies. It appears to be an edited scene of a church massacre from the 2014 dark comedy film “Kingsman: The Secret Service.”
Here’s the video that the Times was quick to write about but refused to link to in its online coverage (forget about embedding!). Decide for yourself is this is too much for regular folks to handle:
The video, which was originally posted to YouTube over a year ago, had virtually no views until the Times‘ coverage; as of this writing, it had more than 136,000 views on the channel above and has been viewed millions more times in various YouTube and Twitter iterations. The Times‘ leadership seems more than willing to grab readers’ eyeballs by talking about the video, but they are not willing to provide readers with easy access to the offending material.
A similar mindset seems at work behind the producers of Meet the Press, who “in good conscience” refused to show footage from a recent presidential rally that they nonetheless had no qualms about condemning from a moral point of view:
WATCH: The president held a campaign rally last night and attacked Hunter Biden. We cannot in good conscience show it to you @chucktodd: "Politics ain’t beanbag, but it isn’t supposed to be this either. We all need to play a role in not rewarding this kind of politics" pic.twitter.com/ERPk4SJ0Yf
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) October 11, 2019
Here’s one version of relevant passages from the rally, in which the president lays into former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter (this starts around the two-minute mark). Trump’s rhetorical question, “Where’s Hunter?” even started trending on Twitter in the wake of this.
It’s ugly stuff, to be sure, but that’s exactly why the press should not be reticent both in covering controversial speech and providing access to it. That’s the best way for the audience to agree with any given outlet’s analysis, assuming it is accurate and truly persuasive. Instead, the press is choosing to become passive-aggressive, effectively saying, “Here’s a really disturbing important thing that X just did, but we’re not going to let you judge for yourself.” That’s what the New Zealand media did after the Christchurch mass shooting this year. In the name of fighting “extremism,” the government banned owning or sharing the shooter’s manifesto, which was a disgusting piece of incoherent white supremacist garbage. Amazingly, the New Zealand media voluntarily censored its own coverage of the event, the shooter, and judicial procedures—and drew praise from American journalists for such actions.
Well, it’s more like this:
THIS IS MY SHOCKED FACE: CNN Whistleblower Reveals Network ‘Vendetta’ Against Trump, Obsession With Impeachment.
BREAKING: New leaked video from inside CNN:
President Jeff Zucker tells employees to push "impeachment" and that all of CNN's stories should be about "moves towards impeachment"
One of CNN's employees says Zucker has a "personal vendetta against Trump"pic.twitter.com/nu8fkfsXDk
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) October 14, 2019
THE ONLY COLLUSION EVIDENT HAS BEEN BETWEEN THE GASLIGHT MEDIA AND THE DEEP STATE OPERATIVES: Inside the media’s relentless crusade to destroy President Trump.
Since Donald Trump’s election in 2016, the mainstream media has shed its once-noble mission — the pursuit of the truth — and instead adopted a new purpose: to take down the president. In an excerpt from her new book, “Resistance at All Costs: How Trump Haters are Breaking America,” out Tuesday, KIMBERLEY STRASSEL examines how far the press will go in its relentless crusade . . .
Last week The Washington Post revealed the alarming news that House Democrats were considering having their anonymous “whistleblower” testify from a remote location, and in disguise. Just as shocking as the details of this plan was the justification the Post ladled on this Democratic effort to hide impeachment information from the public.
It explained, high up in the story, that the cloak-and-dagger approach was merely Democrats expressing “distrust of their GOP colleagues, whom they see as fully invested in defending a president who has attacked the whistleblower’s credibility and demanded absolute loyalty from Republicans.”
This, from a newspaper with a tagline of “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”
Maybe the better journalistic epitaph is: Democracy dies in bias. How did journalism get here?
I’ve never engaged much in media criticism, because it’s almost too obvious. Yes, the mainstream media is liberal and biased. But at least in the past, that bias was largely a function of insularity. Most reporters weren’t even fully aware they were prejudiced politically; everyone they worked and socialized with held the same left-of-center views.
That’s changed in the age of Trump. The press has embraced its bias, joined the Resistance and declared its allegiance to one side of a partisan war. It now openly declares those who offer any fair defense of this administration as Trump “enablers.” It writes off those who question the FBI or Department of Justice actions in 2016 as “conspiracy” theorists. It acts as willing scribes for Democrats and former Obama officials; peddles evidence-free accusations; sources stories from people with clear political axes to grind; and closes its eyes to clear evidence of government abuse.
This media war is extraordinary, overt and increasingly damaging to the country.
WELL, ESTABLISHED MEDIA: Democrats Are Making Girls’ Sports A 2020 Campaign Issue. Establishment Media Aren’t Telling You. ” 2020 Democratic candidates’ support for the Equality Act has made girls’ sports a 2020 campaign issue. The bill would force public schools to let male athletes who identify as transgender into girls’ sports. Establishment media outlets have largely left out the bill’s impact on girls’ sports when covering Democratic candidates’ support for it.”