Thursday, June 26, 2014

Obama and the Death of Honest Journalism

Not even the left tries too hard to argue that the mainstream media is ideologically impartial, not anymore. That reporters are overwhelmingly liberal is nothing new, of course. They vote that way and they cover news that way. Even Harvard, studying coverage of the 2008 election, was forced to conclude there was considerable bias in favor of Obama. (How it must have pained them to reach that conclusion.) 

But the problem is reaching farcical proportions.

Sure, there's Fox News and talk radio, but they mostly preach to their own choirs. They don't have the ability to create what one observer calls the "drumbeat." Without the drumbeat, scandals soon whither and die. More on that in a moment.

What most don't realize is that media bias is most pernicious in what they don't report. Stories that don't advance their world view are simply ignored, or relegated to page A17. It's clever, really, because it's harder to be accused of malfeasance for something you didn't do.

Which brings us to the Obama administration and its incestuous relationship with the Fourth Estate. There certainly has been lots to write about. In fact, sometimes it's hard to keep track of all the scandals surrounding this White House. Here's a list that is by no means complete, and you'd be forgiven if you've forgotten some:

  • IRS used as a political tool and subsequent cover up
  • Benghazi and false story about an internet video
  • Spying on the AP
  • Spying on reporter James Rosen 
  • Fast and Furious
  • Obamacare roll-out
  • HHS Secretary Sebelius soliciting money from companies HHS regulated
  • Eric Holder (likely) committing perjury in front of Congress (see James Rosen, Fast and Furious)
  • GSA spending on wild parties and Vegas boondoggles
  • VA mismanagement and neglect of veterans
  • Opining on local criminal matters before they are settled (Robert Gates, Treyvon Martin)
  • Solyndra
  • EPA chief Lisa Jackson using a fake email personality to avoid scrutiny
  • Violation of War Powers Act invading Libya without Congressional advise and consent
  • Swapping al Qaeda thugs for U.S. deserter without Congressional advise and consent
  • Release of identity of CIA station chief in Kabul
  • Flood of illegal immigrants across southern boarder
  • Refusal by Justice Department to enforce laws it doesn't like
  • Use of executive orders to make law

I submit that maybe a third of these would have ended the presidency of a Republican. The media would have created the drumbeat. The New York Times would have found some angle to keep these stories on the front page until special prosecutors were hired and the presidential scalp was acquired. This is how the drumbeat works. Remember how the death of every single U.S. soldier in Afghanistan or Iraq was always the first item on the nightly news. It was relentless, and incredibly effective at driving down poll numbers for Bush. Arguably, the war fatigue that the coverage created got Obama elected. The drumbeat did its job.

But the absence of a drumbeat can be even more effective. Did you know that three times as many servicemen have been killed in Afghanistan under Obama as under Bush? Well, you wouldn't, would you, because it's never reported. No drumbeat.

Remember Valerie Plame? She was a mid-level CIA office worker at Langley. Her name was leaked and it was front page news for weeks. Most Americans learned her name. She and her husband were featured in a glamorous photo shoot in Vanity Fair. A total non-issue, but major drumbeat. Damage was done to the Bush white House.

Have you ever heard the name of the CIA station chief in Kabul? Now, there's a real spy, and that's a name that needs to be a secret, except that the White House leaked the name just last week. Haven't heard the story? That is exactly my point. No drumbeat.

Oh, when a story that breaks that liberal reporters find inconvenient, they will dutifully write about it, but one or two perfunctory efforts on A17 and they're good, and likely the angle is about Republican overreach and scandal-mongering.

The IRS scandal is a perfect example. The New York Times, and others, should be ashamed of the way they have handled this incredibly important story. Paul Wehner of Commentary sums it up perfectly:

Here’s a thought experiment. Assume during the George W. Bush administration the IRS had targeted, Planned Parenthood, the Center for American Progress, and a slew of other liberal groups. Assume, too, that no conservative groups were the subject of harassment and intimidation. And just for the fun of it, assume that press secretary Ari Fleischer had misled the press and the public by saying the scandal was confined to two rogue IRS agents in Cincinnati and that President Bush had declared that there was “not even a smidgen of corruption” that had occurred.

Let’s go a step further. Assume that the IRS Commissioner, in testifying before Congress, admitted that the emails of the person at the heart of the abuse of power scandal were gone, that the backup tapes have been erased and that her hard drive was destroyed. For good measure, assume that the person who was intimately involved in targeting liberal groups took the Fifth Amendment.

Given all this, boys and girls, do you think the elite media–the New York Times, Washington Post, The News Hour, and the news networks for ABC, CBS, NBC, and CNN–would pay much attention to it?

Answer: They wouldn’t just cover the story; they would fixate on it. It would be a crazed obsession. Journalists up and down the Acela Corridor would be experiencing dangerously rapid pulse rates. The gleam in their eye and the spring in their step would be impossible to miss. You couldn’t escape the coverage even if you wanted to. The story would sear itself into your imagination.

Bingo, my friends.

Did you know that one of the articles of impeachment for Richard Nixon was his trying to use the IRS as a weapon against political enemies? The IRS wouldn't do it, but just the trying was deemed an impeachable offense; and damn straight it was.

But Obama didn't just try, he did it. We don't yet have a smoking gun, but that's because the IRS and the White House are in full cover-up/obstruction mode. This is where the media - the mainstream media - is supposed to get busy. Just yesterday we learned that the IRS violated the law by not reporting the "lost" emails to the National Archivist. Front page news, right? Not at the Times, but they did find room for their 1,498th story on gay rights so far this year.

This is despicable behavior, but worse, it's dangerous for our democracy. When a president - any president - is conditioned to believe that he can get away whatever he wants because the media will have his back, then he will keep pushing the envelope in every way. We see this happening as we speak.

Sorry, you must stop paying for this:

It is no longer acceptable for conservatives to subscribe to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, or any of the other apologists for a presidency that has left the rails. If you are subscribing just to "see what the other side thinks," I submit you couldn't avoid finding out what they think shy of holing up in a Unabomber shack for a few years. If you have to, go online so you don't have to pay. If you like the crosswords, I don't care. There are lots of crosswords out there.

We must stop feeding our enemies.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent! At the same time, I continue to believe that newspapers and internet sources are largely irrelevant in terms of defining the news/drumbeat, such that I don't care what idiots continue to buy the Times.

    For me, the 3 major TV networks are the key. They comprise the most effective propaganda machine in world history, with their incessant daily line-up of: morning shows determining what is "news" and planting the seeds across the impressionable masses [and it's really just a few anonymous/unaccountable producers doing this, all of whom are unabashedly fashionable/progressive (i.e., flaming liberal)]; nightly news broadcasts reinforcing the same stories; and late night comedians then securing what the public should think, each of whom reviews the daily news, mocking any conservative view in a manner that doesn't allow the audience to think for themselves. For anyone missing the late night reinforcement, the morning shows extend the cycle by showing clips of the prior night's jokes (after all, if Hollywood is weighing in, it must be news). Especially during voting season, the networks supplement the machine with effective tools like [purported] public opinion polls - only asking and report things that serve their interests - further assuring that the sheepish masses tow the line.

    As you touch upon, the very concept of "public opinion" is little more than what the networks decide it to be. The public would never have known or cared about the likes of Trayvon Martin, Christie's Bridgegate, Romney's fundraiser comments, or most other partisan "stories" without the networks doing what they do so well. In contrast, the networks assure that the public never thinks or cares about things like why BO never released his academic records.

    No joke, I continue to think that the anonymous network producers are more powerful than any politician, and that the world would be a far better place if someone acquired a network and installed objective standards and controls (such as transparency, accountability, objectivity, independence, ...). But wealthy conservatives will instead continue to throw money down the political drain.