Ever since Donald Trump declared for the presidency, the mainstream media—apparently to protect us and themselves from the dreaded Donald (even though his candidacy and presidency were enriching many of them as never before)—have given themselves permission to lie about and/or distort and/or exaggerate almost everything they say about the president.
We all know why this has happened, but how does it work? It’s not that complicated. Shakespeare spoke of the “lie circumstantial” and the “lie direct” in Touchstone’s magnificent speech in “As You Like It,” but a more contemporary version might be the “lie iPhoned” or more simply “the leak.”
The leak is the mother of most of today’s journalistic malfeasance, especially for anything political, and why the public, according to so many polls, has little respect for the press.
It’s been a pattern for years. Someone on the inside of wherever (the State Department, the FBI, the CIA, the Pentagon, the White House…) or someone who knows someone inside or knows someone who knows someone inside or…well, you get the picture… calls their favorite reporter—someone who has been cultivated sometimes for years in a symbiotic relationship—to convey information he/she (the leaker) deems important.
What is the reporter then thinking? Is the info true? Well, maybe in some cases. More likely, is it true enough? Can I sell it? Can I make it sound true? And is it a scoop and if so, more importantly, what side is it on? Whose ox will be gored? Will it satisfy my reader/viewership and will my boss approve? (Or, as Dean Baquet, executive editor of the New York Times, put it, “We wrote a lot about Russia and I have no regrets. It’s not our job to determine whether or not there was illegality.”) And, best of all, is there a Pulitzer in it for moi? (No matter several recent Pulitzers were shown to be premised on lies that undoubtedly arrived via leaks. They’re not taken back.)
If all these boxes are checked, and especially if the ox that gets gored is Donald Trump or someone close to him, even remotely, step two occurs. Corroborating evidence is sought from other sources.
Like the first one, these sources will almost always be anonymous and referred in the text as “a source close to…” (whatever or whoever it is) or “someone in a position to know…” and so forth.
Most newspapers supposedly require a certain number of these corroborating sources before they run an article, but who knows if they really do because they are…. anonymous?
This leaking—whether factual, a lie or, as is often the case, a combination of the two— is of course illegal, but the leakers are rarely if ever prosecuted, despite promises from the Justice Department and others. The journalists who rely on the leakers are a protected class of their own and are in little risk for printing what they wish. They rarely, with only a handful of exceptions, pay a penalty for promulgating lies or half-truths, creating a perfect pas de deux of corruption.
Nevertheless, this is the essence of the bulk of modern political journalism—a far cry from the police blotter of yore or the “who, what, why, when, where, and how” of the pre-Watergate days. Journalism then was not so high and mighty, and you could still pick up a newspaper with at least some certainty you weren’t about to be propagandized.
Isn’t it time we went back to those old days for the new year?
They’ll take Roger up on his modest proposal any day now
THE PERILS OF SOCIAL MEDIA FACT-CHECKING. “Fact checking, unfortunately, isn’t what we think it is. Despite the superficial appearance, fact checking isn’t a helpful tool for determining the truth and for forming an accurate opinion. Instead, it’s actually an in/out group filter which segregates people by belief and value.”
THIS IS CNN: Anderson Cooper turns the air blue with risque line about male Hollywood stars while downing tequila shots with Andy Cohen on live CNN coverage of New Year’s Eve in Times Square. Both Cooper and co-host Andy Cohen were “downing tequila, loosening up their commentary and spicing up the evening’s festivities…Cooper, who is listening to someone on an ear piece and appears to ask if the manhood reference can be said on live television verbatim, decided to clarify with the exact quote…’She [Cooper’s mom, the late Gloria Vanderbilt], turns to me out of the blue and goes, ‘He’s not going to ask me who’s got the biggest c–k in Hollywood, is he?’ That’s what she said’. Cohen waves his hands and responds, ‘Anderson just said it, ok.’”
I’m so old, I can remember September of 2017, when CNN’s Brooke Burke channeled her inner Margaret Dumont, and pretended to get the vapors over sportswriter Clay Travis saying that he believes in “the First Amendment and boobs.”
ANNALS OF OIKOPHOBIA: Media Continues With Awful Hot Takes About Armed Churchgoers in Texas Shooting. Stephen Kruiser writes:
Almost immediately after it was discovered that several armed churchgoers drew their weapons to stop a gunman at a church in Texas last week, the anti-gun mainstream media types have been trying to tell the public that armed, law-abiding citizens are a bad thing.
The New Year’s Day installment of media malpractice hyperbole arrives courtesy of the nauseatingly leftist USA Today:
That’s quite a well-earned ratio that USA Today received for being “terrified” of everyday Texas parishioners. Read the whole thing.