Chris Reed: How mainstream and conservative media ‘sting’ stories that go against their values

In 1980, conservative journalists Arnaud De Borchgrave and Robert Moss published an extremely controversial novel – “The point” – which postulated that many American publications prevented journalists from working on stories that focused on the extent of Soviet perfidy around the world – “increasing” them, in newsroom jargon. It was soon rendered moot by events. Later that year, the United States refused to participate in the Moscow Summer Olympics, with President Jimmy Carter citing, yes, Soviet perfidy in the world. Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, escalated the Cold War and won a massive re-election in 1984. Reagan was not the cup of tea of ​​many journalists, but he got respectful coverage of his conservative foreign policy. The premise of “The Spike” has lost all credibility.

But I’ve been thinking about “The Spike” a lot over the past few days, looking at the cover of four different huge stories.

Explosive New Book ‘Peril’ by Bob Woodward and Robert Costa presents the most convincing argument to date that then President Donald Trump and a handful of aides engaged in sedition after the November elections. It also shows for the first time that his actions have so alarmed some of its senior executives and nations around the world that, unbeknownst to 330 million Americans, the United States has faced a true security emergency. national.

It is well known that Trump and his lawyers hatched a plan under which Vice President Mike Pence would refuse to uphold the January 6 vote in Congress to ratify the Electoral College results. The same is true of Trump’s role in inciting the insurgency that day that led his supporters to storm the Capitol and delay certification of the results.

But “Peril” made headlines for its revelation that General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was so alarmed at the possibility of Trump starting a war as a pretext to cling to power – even nuclear – that on Jan. 8, he contacted his Chinese counterpart to tell him that he was determined to prevent such a catastrophe. What gets less attention is that the director of the CIA Gina Haspel shared Milley’s fear, saying, “We are on the path to a right-wing coup.

So what have we learned from “Peril” in media like Fox News and Breitbart which do little to hide their conservative populist orientation? That Milley was a bad person for acting to make sure Trump can’t start a war to help him keep his job!

The same outlets continue to be staggering irresponsible in their coverage of the pandemic. Even though COVID-19 deaths are on the rise in Texas and Florida due to their vaccination and mask-bashing governors (Greg Abbott and Ron DeSantis, respectively), Fox News and Breitbart somehow portray the men as heroes. .

Meanwhile, influential members of the national media who consider themselves neutral are increasing coverage of President Joe Biden’s absurd claim that the cost of his $ 3.5 trillion bill to meet social needs will be “zero” because he will be paid for by tax hikes on the rich and on corporations. No, the cost will be $ 3.5 trillion.

Yet a word of 1,300 analysis in the Washington Post offered Republicans (or economists) no chance to comment on the absurdity of the claim – or the idea that setting all-time budget deficit records is dangerous. The Associated Press was a little more skeptical of Biden’s framing but did not challenge it directly. Yet even if one buys the semantic ploy that if something gets paid it’s free, dozens of moderate Democratic lawmakers have long made it known that they would not support massive tax hikes. The coverage of Biden’s proposal has often been surprisingly superficial.

But at least he’s covered. A new book by a respected veteran Politico journalist Ben schreckinger – “The Bidens: Inside the First Family’s Fifty Year’s Rise to Power” – finds evidence to support some of the explosive claims that Hunter Biden directly uses his father to grease foreign trade deals. When the New York Post reported on this issue in October 2020 – including noting an email about a Chinese energy project that showed Hunter Biden was planning to cut his father off on potential profits – much of the media treated this as an obvious lie based on Russian propaganda. Facebook and Twitter deleted distribution of postal reports.

Now that Politico is proposing report, he has too much credibility to suppress. But where is the media coverage that would normally result from a bombshell from a credible news organization?

The peak is all too real. The old idea that journalism is all about neutrality and objectivity has given way in most conservative media and part of mainstream media to the idea that advocacy, disguised or not, is fine.

How I regret the days when the Washington Post made no effort to cover Democratic President Bill Clinton – both the Clinton-Monica Lewinsky scandal and his screening first year in office. How I miss the days when conservative publications went after Republican President George HW Bush for agreeing to raise taxes.

The cheerleading we are seeing now is not just depressing. It is bad for democracy.

Reed is associate editor of the editorial and opinion section. Column archive: Twitter: @calwhine. Email: [email protected]

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