RedState has an interesting post up about recent work by Dr. Eoin Lenihan to establish that a scattered collection of journalists have multiple ties to Antifa.
Antifa, yeah, those guys. The violent mask-wearing thugs who roughed up Trump fans and shut down some free speech rallies. Real terrorists.
What the good professor did was to start with a handful of known Antifa Twitter accounts. Then he collected a long list of associated Twitter accounts and screened for Twitter accounts with multiple associations to the known Antifa accounts. Then he searched that list for journalists, and, sure enough, found plenty.
It is good to have a little sunlight into the dark world of journalism.
I put up a couple of recent posts to observe on a surge of obituaries on the news business. But all y’all internet denizens are still reading news. You just don’t take daily newspapers anymore, and only a very tiny share of y’all subscribe to any kind of news provider. That is the way most of us operate any more. But information flow, especially the flow of recent events information, aka ‘news,’ is now screened for most receivers of news by evil Google.
Yeah, I know; some Ratburghers are boycotting Google by using DuckDuckGo and a couple of other search engine alternatives. But the problem remains. Over half of all news articles that are accessed on the internet were landed on through an evil-Google search, which means that evil Google gets a shot at screening the news for over half of all internet news consumption. This finding comes from a Northwestern University study that was recently presented at the “2019 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems” that was held in Glasgow.
I posted a few months ago with a story that was broken by LifeSiteNews.com. That is a small Catholic pro-life news aggregator and blog based in Toronto. They are very well-known in pro-life activist circles, and were otherwise unknown until they published the famous letter from Archbishop Viganò. Archbishop Viganò said that the Vatican had known about Cardinal McCarrick for several years, but that Pope Francis had rehabilitated him anyhow. The reason the letter was published by LifeSiteNews is that they are the only English-language journalists that Archbishop Viganò trusted with his letter. I bring this up as an introduction to a new story from LifeSiteNews that you do not see in mass media journalism, this time from Houston:
Now, it turns out that a second Houston Public Library Drag Queen was convicted of multiple sexual assaults against young children, according to records uncovered by Houston MassResistance activists. The man has also written a lurid article describing his work as a transgender prostitute. And he was photographed at a Drag Queen Story Hour (DQSH) event carrying a rubber chicken — a symbol used by homosexuals to indicate a sexual preference for young boys. …
It’s becoming clear that the outrages we’re exposing are not an anomaly, but more likely the norm — not only in Houston, but probably around the country.
Yes. LifeSiteNews ran an article back in March that was investigated by Catholic activists MassResistance, in which they broke the story about a drag queen from Drag Queen Story Time who had a record of sexual abuse of minor boys. Houston brushed it off as a one-time thing, of course; an anomaly.
So here we are with a second DQST drag queen from the Houston library program with a record of sexual abuse of minor boys. I searched evil Google News for the name of this second drag queen. Google News did not turn up the LifeSiteNews article at all, because evil Google is suppressing everything by them. But it did turn up a media criticism article by my favorite media critics, whose angle is that this is yet another instance of a story that would be considered newsworthy but got suppressed by all the journalists because it goes against the Leftist narrative.
This is the sort of thing that is only known by those of us who follow Christian niche media. It might or might not get picked up in conservative niche media. Then, if it stirs up enough social media outragey quarrels, it might, just might, get a footnote in legacy media. A more likely way for an item like this to make it into Big Media coverage would be if President Trump mentions it in a tweet. Otherwise, this story will remain buried.
Fake News, you say? Indeed, this is to discuss the turmoil in the field of journalism, which is both a cause and a consequence of the Leftist tilt of the entire field. Journalism is in crisis, you see, and Leftist media watchers are looking for scapegoats. President Trump figures high on their enemies list, with his “fake news!,” “Enemy of the People,” and Sarah Huckabee Sanders. See my previous post on this topic. In that post I reacted to a journalist who blamed the end of professionalism in journalism on President Trump. In this post I will discuss the reasons for the collapse of journalism as we knew it.
I am happy to see the recent obituaries for Big Journalism. But before we discuss the real problems with journalism, please consider what the crisis looks like to the journalists. There have been a rash of articles and editorials from journalists that have expressed fear and frustration. This is an excerpt from an article that appeared in the New Yorker back in January:
Conglomeration can be good for business, but it has generally been bad for journalism. Media companies that want to get bigger tend to swallow up other media companies, suppressing competition and taking on debt, which makes publishers cowards. … Craigslist went online in the Bay Area in 1996 and spread across the continent like a weed, choking off local newspapers’ most reliable source of revenue: classified ads. … By 2000, only three hundred and fifty of the fifteen hundred daily newspapers left in the United States were independently owned. … Then came the fall, when papers all over the country, shackled to mammoth corporations and a lumbering, century-old business model, found themselves unable to compete with the upstarts—online news aggregators like the Huffington Post (est. 2005) and Breitbart News (est. 2007), which were, to readers, free. News aggregators also drew display advertisers away from print; Facebook and Google swallowed advertising accounts whole. Big papers found ways to adapt; smaller papers mainly folded.
(When researching for this post, I saw an article from 2016 that said local newspapers had shed 60 percent of their workforce over the previous 26 years.)
In January of this year they had a particularly tough day, in which 1,000 journalism jobs were chopped in one day.
Now, I have been part of several Ratburgher discussions in which we generally agreed that mass media journalism is the Enemy of the People, so I don’t expect to hear a lot of sympathy for the journalists here. But there is a problem that I want to address.
Where does news come from?
Yes, there are some intrepid conservative organizations that do great investigative journalism. But they are few in number and are concentrated on political matters. When your local paper dies, how do you get local news about the ordinary life of your community? You would have to join a dozen local blog sites to be able to continue to be aware of the shenanigans at City Hall, or the hoo-rah at the School Board, or the embezzler in the suburbs, or the police blotter, or area high school sports, or any of a number of local matters. You might not be very much interested in any of those matters, but it used to be that you could be generally well-informed about the community you live in by just skimming the headlines in the local paper on a regular basis.
Those days are gone. My local Memphis paper is now owned by the USA Today Network, which is part of Gannett. The people who lay out the paper work in a rival city in another state (Louisville). Shortly before I canceled my subscription last year they ran an article in the “Local News” section about an industrial park. That industrial park is in my state, but it is a seven-hour drive from my city. So much for “local news.” It was fine in two other papers that are owned by the USA Today Network, so it was just too easy to pretend that it belonged in our paper, too. Their “customer support” is in the Philippines, Sales is in Phoenix, and the payment processing center is in Cincinnati.
So, what now? There are the local TV stations, but they just pretend to do news. They only have “reporters” who are transcribers. They look into stories after they are alerted by citizens who call, or mostly they just pass along the police blotter and the stuff that comes to them in press releases. After they learn that something is going on, they scramble a camera guy (no longer a camera crew) to race out and act like they covered the event for hours. Also we have a couple of local blog sites that are attempting to make a name for themselves as the go-to place for local news. But they are the same old Leftist journalists who recently lost their jobs due to downsizing at the newspaper, and so their political coverage is the same old Leftist bilge through and through.
Killed by the Internet
Local papers were killed by the internet. On the internet, “information wants to be free.” Local stories get picked up by aggregator services, and it became really easy to check out Google News for local news. Facebook tried to provide local news links for a while, but the way they promoted Leftist news and suppressed conservative news caused such a backlash that they dropped that effort.
What gets blamed a lot for killing local papers is Craigslist, which is where all the classified ads went. But the real culprits are Google and Facebook, which now have all the ads by the big chain retailers.
But if there is no local paper, then Google cannot steal their news any more. Nor can Facebook or any conservative alternative aggregator.
Follow the Money
There was about 129 billion dollars in digital advertising in America last year. Google slurped up about half. Facebook took in about 25%. Youtube, Instagram, Microsoft, Verizon and Amazon combined for about 22%. All newspapers combined brought in about one percent. All magazines combined brought in about one percent. Craigslist brought in about one percent.
Facebook and Google to the rescue?
So I was sort of amused to see that both Facebook and Google have new initiatives to muscle in on the local news business. Now that they have killed off the newspapers, they want to take over. The trend going forward looks like our people becoming even more dependent on Google and Facebook. This is not good.
There have been several recent articles advocating “slow news.” They come from journalists who are observing that the field of journalism has been overtaken by a rush to clickbait. The Editor of NewYorker.com quoted Pablo Boczkowski, a professor of communications at Northwestern University:
“If you’re an average site, you have five to seven seconds to tell your story.”
The solution preferred by journalism ‘leading lights’ is the digital subscription model. Only a handful of outlets are likely to survive via that model. Journalists are hungry for readers who will read a full slate of news articles at one site, the way we used to read the morning newspaper over breakfast. But, as Professor Boczkowski observed, contemporary consumers of news learn the news one click at a time from dozens of sources, mostly those that are shared on social media by their circle of Facebook friends or the people they follow on Twitter.
A “news desert” is a place that does not have any source for local news. Lots of America is heading into news desert status.
As happy as I am to see the obituaries for Big Journalism, we still need news. How do we get real information about our community and our state? Conservative and Christian niche media seem to me to do somewhat well on the national scene. But I really hate the thought of being dependent on evil Google for information from my state capitol.
I don’t have any answers. I suppose we will have to hope for a cadre of citizen journalists to blog the news of the day. The problem is finding them amidst all the competing noise on the internet. And, if they also blog with conservative opinions, then their posts will be suppressed when you try to search for them.
Perhaps all you Ratburghers could start posting local news here. Ratburger.org could become a rival for Google and Facebook, right up until Google or Facebook noticed us and took us out.
“It’s almost as if the effort to undo Trump has had an unexpected effect — that Trump has somehow broken the news media.”
That is a quote from a long essay at Esquire last month by Peter Boyer. Boyer wrote about changes to news coverage of the President of the United States because of Donald J. Trump. He, of course, blames Trump. But he is clearly distressed at the current state of affairs. His essay concentrates on the New York Times, with a long section about the Washington Post and a couple of asides about CNN. I bookmarked the link to Boyer’s essay. It is an interesting read. I think it will make a helpful addition to the obituary for the national press.
Elite newsrooms jettisoned everything they learned in that required Sophomore class “Ethics of Journalism.” They tossed the New York Times Manual of Style right out with the trash, at least the parts about “neutral voice” and “counterbalance” and context and completeness and anonymous sources and several other picky matters that used to be important to them.
Further from Boyer:
Back in the early months of the Trump presidency, I had asked Liz Spayd, the public editor, if the Times’s new business model was to become a sort of high-end Huffington Post.
“I hope that is not the case,” she said. “I think that would be a sad place for this country to find itself, that one of the strongest and most powerful and well-financed newsrooms in the country would speak and have an audience only on one side of the political aisle. It’s very, very dangerous, I think.” Spayd had become the voice of the old traditions at the Times, a position that earned her the opprobrium of progressive critics outside the paper (“This editor appears to be from 1987 or earlier,” Keith Olbermann tweeted. “Sorry—get in the game or get out”) as well as inside the newsroom. Five months into the Trump presidency, her job was eliminated; she now consults for Facebook.
The very thing Ms. Spayd warned about had come to pass. The New York Times subscriber base consists entirely of Leftists and hotels and libraries. Nobody reads the New York Times except the white woke Leftist elites who control the Democrat Party, and then the rest of us read the things that make the top of the Google News feed, or we read them if they are cited for some particular outrage in the conservative niche media. They have become profitable again as the Opposition Party. Nobody expects the NYT to be anything else besides the PR of the far Left.
How sad. This is what prompted P. Boyer to write that essay. The theme is despondency over the death of the old “American model of Journalism.”
We have now fully transformed America into the “European model of Journalism.” The Europeans have parliamentary governments. This led to a multiplicity of parties. The newspapers generally all serve as the PR mouthpiece of one or another of the dozens of parties. With the legacy media now champions of open borders, Communism, and hostile to traditionalist religions, we can comfortably call them the “Enemy of the People.”
We have been a long time in making this transformation. Looking back, it is easy to see how the press always leaned left, how the leftward tilt got a huge push when the universities started up degree programs in journalism in the late 50s and 1960s. Mass media news in America slid further and further leftward until they went into full-on campaign mode in 1992 to boost Bill Clinton past G.H.W. Bush. It was the campaign of 1992 that turned Rush Limbaugh into a household name. He single-handedly saved AM radio by turning it into the media refuge for conservative thought.
The internet completed the transformation. Now the NYT is just a bigger, badder HuffPo. But the demise of mass media journalism is not because of President Trump. It is only partly because they lurched even further Left than they previously were during the Obama Administration. The internet brought them down. More on that in my next post. First, another couple of points about Boyer’s essay.
My favorite media critics are liberals (pro-life Democrats). They noticed P. Boyer’s essay. They have been saying the same thing pretty much ever since the campaign of 1996, which is when they became frightened at the excesses of supposedly ethical journalists at elite publications. They connected the adoption of full Leftist advocacy “journalism” to the decades-old tradition in elite media for full Leftist advocacy “journalism” in culture war issues.
As a Social Conservative, I have noticed that elite newsrooms think that people who share my views on matters such as abortion, sex, sin, privacy and personal responsibility are people who are not worth covering accurately. This was revealed anew earlier this month by the fawning coverage that Mayor Pete Buttigieg received when he launched a religious attack on Mike Pence.
Terry Mattingly of GetReligion concluded:
Thus, elite newsrooms were no longer interested in doing accurate, fair, objective coverage of about half of the United States of America.
I am actually happy to see the obituaries begin. Leftist mass media helped put Obama in office and keep him there. They nearly delivered the White House to Hillary. They have opposed President Trump in every particular, revealing that they only care about scoring political points. They do not care about what is good for America or the American people, nor do they particularly care about the accuracy of the information that they sell as “news.” As Leftists, they are anti-American and anti-Christian. They oppose everything I value. They are the Opposition Party.
Today we were treated to a burst of collusion by the lamestream media. For the past week, the Boston Globe has been encouraging journalists to publish editorials today that would condemn President Trump for calling the “fake news media” the “enemy of the people.” Somewhere around 350 editorials were published today in answer to the Boston Globe’s call. There were also a handful of editorials that opined that this collective effort would surely backfire and only prove Trump’s allegation that the journalists are partisan Leftists and “the Opposition Party.”
So, Ratburghers, did you bother to read any of these editorials?
Did you see any new points that you had not already heard many times?
Did you see any really good examples of arguments against President Trump? Any criticisms that seemed to be helpful or useful to the public discourse over the battles between Team Trump and mass media?
Have you heard any conversations triggered by this effort at a collective rebuke of President Trump?
My thinking is that this is a really small deal. Nobody will be persuaded to think differently than they already did.
I recently posted about events in the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting. This was not a media-generated thing; it was a genuine grass-roots uprising that gained strength after the Washington Post took it up. It cannot be considered a media-fueled problem. However, it is worth noting that Baptist media lean left and helped push a Progressive into the office of President of the Southern Baptist Convention.
I suppose the lesson there is that journalists lean left, even when they work for theologically conservative publications.
And now to continue my periodic reviews of the ongoing media campaign against theologically conservative Christians. The Trump era has seen the media focus on Evangelicals. Well, these things go in cycles, I suppose. I am not alleging any conspiracy; it is just that journalists think alike and are prone to groupthink and herd mentality. Also, they swarm like piranha when they think they smell blood in the water, so if there is any appearance of a potential issue that could be used to wedge President Trump away from his Evangelicals base, they dive in and start muckraking with great energy.
The New York Times published a feature/ exposé/ hit piece that focused on David Brody and the Christian Broadcasting Network. Their article is one of those anthropological looks at the primitives who voted for President Trump. Rather than give a link to their execrable site, you can learn stuff you didn’t already know by checking out the review by my favorite media critics:
The New York Times thinks of David Brody as a special “kind of PR man,” as Terry Mattingly put it in his review of their article. But Brody is just a good reporter, doing good reporting, who happens to enjoy great access to the Trump White House because his reporting is favorable instead of hostile. Mostly his reporting is neutral, but the mass media “Opposition Party” coverage of Trump and the Trump Administration has been so hostile that neutral looks like favorable to both them and President Trump.
Well, gee whiz, of course Christians are tuned into Christian niche media. That is because mass media is an anti-Christian swamp of Leftism.
Pro-Trump Evangelicals only get traction in Christian niche media. Here is an example that is worth your while:
You can contrast that with another hit piece. This one is an LA Times op ed about Evangelical churches are leaner and meaner, bloc voting in ways that overmatch the “nones”; The LA Times is distressed that the “none of the above religion” crowd doesn’t pull more weight at the ballot box.
Also, Leftist mass media continued to promote and celebrate liberal “Christians” who whine and complain about traditionalists who actually believe the Bible and try to live accordingly. Last month I wrote about the coverage of an anti-traditionalist group of liberal “Red Letter Christians” and their “Reclaiming Jesus” manifesto. Coverage continued, fueled partly because several of the signers went on tours to promote their latest books.
Every now and then we remark about how Leftism is a religion. Journalists have polled as 85 percent or so “no religion” or Atheist in surveys. But they are not irreligious. They are Leftists. It should not be surprising that, once the fig leaf of neutrality is pulled away, their naked hostility to traditionalist religions is on display.
I have been reading a rash of stories about disarray and infighting among Evangelicals. These stories are mostly written by journalists who are not Evangelical, and who can generally be considered hostile to traditionalist religion. They focus on disagreement over President Trump, and then fail as they try to relate a position regarding President Trump to issues in the church.
Remember how the NeverTrumps preached at us? During the 2016 campaign, they said that support for Donald Trump amounted to “sacrificing conservative values.” But as they realized that their erstwhile followers were not dissuaded from Trump’s candidacy, they went further. They began to tell us that it would be “immoral” to vote for Trump. There were some who said that a vote for Trump was “unChristian.”
Anti-Trump sentiment dominates Leftist mass media. They keep recycling the anti-Trump remarks of the Nevers, who for the past 1-1/2 years have been getting greater distribution than ever before, even while their readership has declined. Leftist journalists also like quoting Christian pastors who criticize President Trump. These journalists are typically so unacquainted with religion that they assume that all Christians must be Conservatives. I saw a number of year-end editorials that cited divisions within Evangelical Christianity that quoted the most politically liberal Christians and mistook them for political conservatives because they had Christian credentials.
Journalists seem unable to understand that there is a difference between political right and left and theological right and left.
This editorial is typical. It is featured in the Google News spotlight today. It is by Rachel Zoll of Associated Press. It gets circulated as if it were a news article, but it is an editorial.
Ms. Zoll quoted four politically conservative Christians who offered weak criticism of President Trump, mixed with lukewarm brushoffs that the “shithole” remark was unfortunate but not inaccurate. Then she pivots with this:
“Yet anger spread among other conservative Christians.”
Following which, she quoted two moderates and two liberals. The only thing that would make these four men qualify as “conservative Christians” is that they all believe that the Resurrection actually happened. Otherwise, nobody would call these guys “conservatives” in either the theological sense or the political sense.
What is actually going on is that journalists get praise from other journalists whenever they can wedge liberal Evangelicals away from conservative Evangelicals. This has been going on for a long time. They think that they can boost the Leftists in the Evangelical churches same way that media boosted the Leftists in the old mainline churches, until they destroyed them.
This battle is part of a fight that has its roots in the Enlightenment. It is a continuation of the ongoing fight of the Left against the authority of G-d, by tearing down the churches.