Journalists have become the thing they profess to hate — closed-minded censors who want to stifle free expression.
The American media — long stalwart defenders of the First Amendment — are now having second thoughts.
For decades, it was a commonplace sentiment among journalists that freedom of the press was one of the glories of our system. It helped to make the government accountable and to air diverse points of view — even unpopular ones — to be tested in the marketplace of ideas.
Media organizations were at the forefront of the fight to vindicate First Amendment rights, with the New York Times involved in two landmark Supreme Court decisions (New York Times Co. v. Sullivan and the Pentagon Papers case), and tended to rise as one against any perceived threat to their prerogatives and freedoms.
This advocacy has been sincere, although, if nothing else, journalists should be First Amendment purists out of a sense of self-interest. In a 2018 essay in The Atlantic representing the bygone conventional wisdom, titled “Why a Free Press Matters,” the longtime newscaster Dan Rather noted, “As a working journalist, I know I have a stake in this concept.”
One would think so.
Yet now journalists have lurched from finding a threat to freedom of the press in every criticism of reporters and news outlets by former President Donald Trump to themselves calling for unwelcome media organizations to be shut down.
They’ve become the thing they profess to hate — closed-minded censors who want to stifle free expression, First Amendment be damned.
Perversely, the TV program and email newsletter of the top media analyst at CNN, Brian Stelter, have been clearinghouses for such advocacy, whether it is demands to get right-wingers removed from social media or — more astonishingly — to keep conservative cable networks off the airwaves.
Stelter’s colleague, media reporter Oliver Darcy, tweeted about his effort to get cable companies to answer why they carry pro-Trump channels such Newsmax and One America News Network. “Do they have any second thoughts about distributing these channels given their election denialism content?” he asked on Twitter. “They won’t say.”
In the same vein, Washington Post columnist Max Boot drew a direct line between how we deal with foreign terror groups and how we should treat right-wing media organizations. “We need,” he wrote, “to shut down the influencers who radicalize people and set them on the path toward violence and sedition.”
Boot noted, approvingly, that the U.K. doesn’t have the equivalent of Fox News because regulators won’t allow it. The U.K. also doesn’t have a First Amendment, a small detail that might be worth considering if the point is to protect our freedoms rather than to destroy them in a fit of ideological vengeance.
A writer at the progressive publication Mother Jones argued for an advertiser boycott instead of regulatory action in a post called, charmingly, “It’s Time to Crush Fox News.”
A boycott wouldn’t violate the First Amendment like a direct crackdown on Fox and others. Still, it would be private action undertaken in the service of a profoundly illiberal goal, running counter to the country’s culture of free speech.
All of this would be bad enough if it weren’t people who write and comment on TV for a living advocating it. But journalists have been moving in this direction for a while now, as Armin Rosen catalogues in a disturbing report for Tablet magazine.
The author Steve Coll, who is no less than the dean of the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, said last December, “Those of us in journalism have to come to terms with the fact that free speech, a principle that we hold sacred, is being weaponized against the principles of journalism.” The former managing editor of Time magazine, Richard Stengel, has written: “All speech is not equal. And where truth cannot drive out lies, we must add new guardrails.”
And so its erstwhile champions are ready to retreat from strict adherence to the First Amendment to a new rule of “free speech for me, but not for thee.”
By Craig Bannister • CNSNews.com
Media Research Center (MRC) President Brent Bozell is among a host of conservative leaders calling on media to apologize to the students of Covington Catholic High School who falsely accused of racism and bigotry based on a deceptively edited video.
In a joint statement issued Tuesday, the conservative leaders condemned the harm done to the students by false reports fueled by liberal media hatred for both President Donald Trump and all pro-life Americans:
Over the past week, the liberal media and leftist activists viciously attacked Covington Catholic High School, falsely labeling the group of teenagers racists and bigots based on a deceptively edited viral video. The liberal media’s promotion of this false narrative incited death threats to these kids and their families. If not for the leftist media’s contempt for pro-lifers and President Trump, this “story” would have never reached the magnitude that it did.
We now know the kids of Covington Catholic were the real victims of the altercation in front of the Lincoln Memorial. Despite the truth, despite an apology from the Bishop, despite some apologies from some journalists, despite media retractions, despite the deletion of tweets, some leftists in the press and other liberal elites are still perpetuating the lies about the innocent Covington kids. This is bigotry and its own brand of hatred. It is an ongoing display of anti-Trump, anti-life, anti-Catholic, and anti-Christian bias. These are blatant bullying tactics designed to make conservatives and people of faith think twice before standing up for their beliefs or even having the audacity to wear a “MAGA” hat in public, let alone smile while doing it.
We denounce any media outlet that continues to so dishonestly attack the Covington Catholic kids and we call on them to apologize for the bullying behavior that continues to result in threats of violence against the kids, their school and their community.
By Nolan Finley • The Detroit News
Our feelings are hurt in the news media. The president of the United States is calling us the Enemy of the People and we don’t like it.
So across the nation today, newspapers are publishing editorials telling Donald Trump, “We are not, you are!” and reminding readers of our own importance.
Let me join them: The free press is not the people’s enemy. It is a vital pillar of our democracy and was assigned by the Founders the role of watch-dogging the nation’s institutions. It’s a mission we usually carry out quite well, even in this era of technological disruptions, changing consumer tastes and eroding resources.
But who really cares if Donald Trump is using us as a whipping boy to mask his many deficiencies? Presidents have done that before, and often.
Trump may be Continue reading
by Mark Hemingway • Weekly Standard
Covering the Trump presidency has not always been the media’s finest hour, but even grading on that curve, the month of December has brought astonishing screwups. Professor and venerable political observer Walter Russell Mead tweeted on December 8, “I remember Watergate pretty well, and I don’t remember anything like this level of journalistic carelessness back then. The constant stream of ‘bombshells’ that turn into duds is doing much more to damage the media than anything Trump could manage.”
On December 1, ABC News correspondent Brian Ross went on air and made a remarkable claim. For months, the media have been furiously trying to prove collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Ross reported that former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who had just pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, was prepared to testify that President Trump had instructed him to contact Russian officials before the 2016 election, while Trump was still a candidate. If true, it would have been a gamechanger. But Ross’s claim was inaccurate. Flynn’s documented attempts to contact the Russians came after Trump was president-elect, allegedly trying to lay diplomatic groundwork for the new administration. Ross was suspended by ABC for four weeks without pay for the error.
Later that same weekend, the New York Times ran a story about Trump transition official K. T. McFarland, charging that she had lied to congressional investigators about knowledge of the Trump transition team’s contacts with Russia. The article went through four headline changes and extensive edits after it was first published, substantially softening and backing away from claims made in the original version. The first headline made a definitive claim: Continue reading
by Ed Morrissey • HotAir.com
Readers can thank Judicial Watch for prying the latest embarrassing documents out of the Obama administration, as part of its effort to uncover the full story behind Operation Fast & Furious. Last night’s document dump deals with a related matter — the attempt to keep the media at bay and spin the news to the best advantage of Barack Obama and outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder. The DoJ provided another set of documents, totaling more than 42,000 pages, under court order to JW on November 18th, and they make it clear that the White House took it upon themselves to pressure CBS into silencing Sharyl Attkisson:
One of the documents provides smoking gun proof that the Obama White House and the Eric Holder Justice Department colluded to get CBS News to block reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Attkisson was one of the few mainstream media reporters who paid any attention to the deadly gun-running scandal.
In an email dated October 4, 2011, Attorney General Holder’s top press aide, Tracy Schmaler, called Attkisson “out of control.” Schmaler told White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz that he intended to call CBS news anchor Bob Schieffer to get the network to stop Attkisson. Continue reading
by Kyle Smith • New York Post
When the longtime CBS reporter asked for details about reinforcements sent to the Benghazi compound during the Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack, White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor replied, “I give up, Sharyl . . . I’ll work with more reasonable folks that follow up, I guess.”
Another White House flack, Eric Schultz, didn’t like being pressed for answers about the Fast and Furious scandal in which American agents directed guns into the arms of Mexican drug lords. “Goddammit, Sharyl!” he screamed at her. “The Washington Post is reasonable, the LA Times is reasonable, The New York Times is reasonable. You’re the only one who’s not reasonable!”
Two of her former bosses, CBS Evening News executive producers Jim Murphy and Rick Kaplan, called her a “pit bull.”
That was when Sharyl was being nice.
Now that she’s no longer on the CBS payroll, this pit bull is off the leash and tearing flesh off the behinds of senior media and government officials. In her new memoir/exposé “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington” (Harper), Attkisson unloads on her colleagues in big-time TV news for their cowardice and cheerleading for the Obama administration while unmasking the corruption, misdirection and outright lying of today’s Washington political machine. Continue reading
by Paul Farhi • Washington Post
White House journalists are creating an alternative system for distributing their media “pool” reports in response to the Obama administration’s involvement in approving and disapproving certain content in official reports.
A small group of reporters initiated an online forum this month in which they shared “pool” information among themselves, without White House involvement. The forum was set up by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), which negotiates with the White House’s press staff over access for journalists.
Pool reports — those summaries of the president’s public appearances that go to the news media at large and are used in countless news stories — are filed by a rotating group of journalists whose work is intended to be free of content changes by the White House.
The pool journalists, however, must submit their reports to the White House press office, which distributes them via e-mail to hundreds of news organizations and others. The White House maintains the list of recipients.
Reporters have complained that the Obama White House exploits its role as distributor to demand changes in pool reports and that the press office has delayed or refused to distribute some reports until they are amended to officials’ satisfaction. Continue reading
The Obama administration has tarnished nearly every major federal agency.
by Victor Davis Hanson • National Review
Many have described the Obama departure from the 70-year-old bipartisan postwar foreign policy of the United States as reminiscent of Jimmy Carter’s failed 1977–81 tenure. There is certainly the same messianic sense of self, the same naïveté, and the same boasts of changing the nature of America, as each of these presidents was defining himself as against supposedly unpopular predecessors. But the proper Obama comparison is not Carter, but rather Warren G. Harding. By that I mean not that Obama’s scandals have matched Harding’s, but rather that by any fair standard they have now far exceeded them and done far more lasting damage — and without Obama’s offering achievements commensurate with those that occasionally characterized Harding’s brief, failed presidency.
The lasting legacy of Obama will be that he has largely discredited the idea of big government, of which he was so passionate an advocate. Almost every major agency of the federal government, many of them with a hallowed tradition of bipartisan competence, have now been rendered either dysfunctional or politicized — or both — largely because of politically driven appointments of unqualified people, or ideological agendas that were incompatible with the agency’s mission.
The list of scandals is quite staggering. In aggregate, it makes Harding’s Teapot Dome mess seem minor in comparison. Continue reading
The rigid tone, blind appeal to authority and constant use of the terms “denier” and “settled debate” do not reflect true scientific thought or serve the public well.
President Barack Obama recently warned the country about climate change, referencing the recently released National Climate Assessment, mandated by Congress and published every four years as a guide to policymakers. In doing so, he called out skeptics: “Unfortunately, inside of Washington, we’ve still got some climate deniers who shout loud, but they’re wasting everybody’s time on a settled debate. … Climate change is a fact. … Rising sea levels, drought, more wildfires, more severe storms — those are bad for the economy. … Climate change is not some far-off problem in the future. It’s happening now.”
Global warming and its dire consequences may very well come to pass. But with due respect to the president, his experts and everyone complaining about wasted time: The rigid tone, blind appeal to authority and constant use of the terms “denier” and “settled debate” do not reflect true scientific thought or serve the public well.
Science is about explaining nature. The scientist’s role is not to tell the public what to believe. It is to clarify ideas, as efficiently as possible, so the public can understand the questions at hand. Continue reading
The case for skepticism about climate scientists.
Florida’s Sen. Marco Rubio came under attack this week for refusing to submit to scientific authority. “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” he said in an interview with Jonathan Karl.
Nonscientist Ruth Marcus, writing for the Washington Post, declared that Rubio’s words “undermine his other assertion,” namely “that he is prepared to be president.” Juliet Lapidos, also lacking in scientific expertise, went so far as to assert, in a New York Times blog post, that Rubio had “disqualified himself” from the presidency.
Of all the silly things written on the subject of global warming, Marcus’s and Lapidos’s offerings are surely among the most recent. Apart from that they’re entirely typical of the genre of global-warmist opinion journalism, in which ignorant journalists taunt politicians for their ignorance but have no argument beyond an appeal to authority. Lapidos: “Does Mr. Rubio think scientists are lying? Or that they don’t know what they’re talking about? Either way, what leads him to believe that the ‘portrait’ of climate change offered by scientists is inaccurate?” Continue reading
Each week seems to bring another incident. Who will the thought police come for next?
Welcome to the Dark Ages, Part II. We have slipped into an age of un-enlightenment where you fall in line behind the mob or face the consequences.
How ironic that the persecutors this time around are the so-called intellectuals. They claim to be liberal while behaving as anything but. The touchstone of liberalism is tolerance of differing ideas. Yet this mob exists to enforce conformity of thought and to delegitimize any dissent from its sanctioned worldview. Intolerance is its calling card.
Each week seems to bring another incident. Last week it was David and Jason Benham, whose pending HGTV show was canceled after the mob unearthed old remarks the brothers made about their Christian beliefs on homosexuality. People can’t have a house-flipping show unless they believe and say the “right” things in their life off the set? In this world, the conservative Tom Selleck never would have been Magnum, P.I. Continue reading
Fox News Channel’s Greta Van Susteren claims someone in the Obama administration told her to direct colleague Jennifer Griffin to stop investigating and reporting on the deadly September 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. compound and CIA annex in Benghazi.
Van Susteren wrote:
I remembered a disturbing phone call from a good friend in the Obama Administration. I have known this friend for years. The call was a short time after 9/11 (maybe Oct. 2012?) In the call, my friend told me that my colleague Jennifer Griffin, who was aggressively reporting on Benghazi, was wrong and that, as a favor to me, my friend in the Administration was telling me so that I could tell Jennifer so that she did not ruin her career. My friend was telling me to tell Jennifer to stop her reporting. Ruin her career? Continue reading
by Ken Allard
CNN spent an hour of prime time Tuesday night to air a special anchored by Erin Burnett, “The Truth about Benghazi.” They claimed to have learned two vital lessons from their supposedly extensive investigation of that tragedy: It must never happen again, and politics trumped patriotism.
Really? That’s it? Are you kidding? The smiling, earnest naivete of Ms. Burnett suggested a graduate student who worked, you know, like really hard at the library all weekend — but apparently didn’t get within spitting distance of a reasonable conclusion.
First of all, Ms. Burnett may have noticed that her program aired just as American embassies in the Mideast were shuttered against a resurgent terrorist threat that Susan E. (Second Time’s the Charm) Rice is crisis-managing in her debut as national security adviser. Or that Vice President Joe Biden’s election-year litany — al Qaeda is dead and General Motors is alive — has been updated. Now it seems that al Qaeda is alive, and Detroit has gone belly-up. Continue reading