Killing Journalism

“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.

They needed killin’.

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Changing their tune

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation held their annual awards dinner. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was not there. Instead, he was the interviewee at Fox and Friends, where he revealed that he had been notified that he would be the recipient of their signature award and had been invited to the Foundation’s annual banquet, but then he was notified that they were rescinding the award and he was dis-invited.

The return of hostages isn’t partisan. It’s not political. This is an American activity,” he said.

We worked with Democrat members of Congress on this. This is not partisan.

And yet, it sounds like some in the media, who were underwriting this event – sponsors for the event said ‘if Pompeo is there, we won’t be.’”

In January, he had received an apologetic note from Mr. Foley’s widow, who was sorry that the Foundation had decided to make the change. The change they had made was that they decided to give their premier award to someone else instead of Secretary Pompeo, after they had originally sent him a notice that he would be the recipient. Evidently she revealed that it was pressure from the keynote speaker and some of her friends that caused the Foundation to drop Secretary Pompeo.

The keynote speaker was Christiane Amanpour of CNN, and her pals were all media people.

Mike Pompeo wrote a gracious response to Mrs. Foley and did not say anything in public about the disinvitation until the week of the dinner.

Since James W. Foley had been a journalist, and since the Foundation has promoted journalism about Americans that are held as political prisoners around the world, the Foundation has a lot of connections to media and gets a lot of support from media. James W. Foley had been held hostage and ultimately was the subject of an ISIS beheading video.

Rather than honor the Trump Administration for diligent work to free political prisoners and hostages, the Foundation instead slammed the Trump Administration.  The Foundation denied Secretary Pompeo’s account. They are saying that they rescinded the award because of Administration indifference to the murder of Jamal Kashoggi:

The decision with respect to the James W. Foley Hostage Advocate award is being mischaracterized by some media outlets. While it is accurate that our foundation intended to present our hostage freedom award to Secretary Pompeo, and we extended the invitation to him on November 19, we ultimately decided we could not present the award as planned due to the dramatic change in circumstances when the Administration did not press for genuine accountability from the Saudi government for the brutal murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. 

We communicated the reason for this decision to the Secretary’s team on January 11. Our decision had nothing to do with whether we received media pressure. In addition to advocating for the safe return of American hostages abroad, the protection of free speech and promotion of journalists’ safety is a key pillar of our foundation and this award would have been in conflict with that key principle.

We thank Secretary Pompeo for his extraordinary efforts to bring Americans home and are grateful for all that he and this administration have accomplished to prioritize the return of our citizens. In particular we are thankful for the time he recently dedicated to meeting with families of American hostages. We look forward to working closely with Secretary Pompeo and this administration on these efforts to bring Americans safely home.

Of course, it is not “some media outlets” that characterized the rescission as due to media pressure. That was what Secretary Pompeo said.

Secretary Pompeo is entirely deserving of the award. Kashoggi is just an excuse. Kashoggi was employed by the Washington Post, but he was being paid for by a grant from Qatar and had been putting out a series of hit pieces against the Saudi ruling family. Now it is sort of a complicated mess that Prince Salman chose to go full Bond Villain and commission the gruesome assassination on Turkish soil. He managed to poke Turkey, Qatar, the Trump Administration and western journalism all at the same time, plus put all his enemies on notice to lie low.

Kashoggi is just an excuse, however. Consider the record that prompted the Foundation to select Pompeo in the first place. The Trump Administration has obtained releases for as many political prisoners in two years as the Obama Administration managed in eight years, and without paying huge ransoms or releasing terrorists from Guantanamo. The Washington Examiner provided a copy of Secretary Pompeo’s letter to Mrs. Foley, with this excerpt:

This work has been accomplished without the concessions that only encourage more hostage taking by the kidnappers and terrorists.”

Here is another quote from Secretary Pompeo’s letter, via the Washington Examiner:

I understand that the Foundation decided to rescind the Freedom Award and my invitation to attend the 2019 James W. Foley Freedom Awards due to pressure from its media partners and your fear, stated in your letter, that some guests at the dinner would not show my office proper respect if I attended,” wrote Pompeo.

How sad is it that base politics and hatred have been allowed to creep into even this sphere of our national activity? The safe recovery of Americans held hostage overseas should be beyond politics and must enjoy the support of all Americans. I regret that pressure of such a cynical and abominable nature was brought to bear on you and John,” he added in a reference also to James Foley’s father.

I absolutely expect “cynical and abominable” from CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times. They are the Enemy of the People.

Secretary Pompeo and President Trump deserve accolades for their work on this front.   The Washington Examiner reports that President Trump takes an active interest and gets twice-weekly updates on political prisoners.   We saw President Trump looking fresh and excited at 1:00 am when he went to greet the plane arriving with hostages released from North Korea.

MAGA

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Media v Evangelicals –2018 part 9

Tribalism.

Yes, that stale accusation is making the rounds once again. After a diversion of several weeks, Big Media is now in panic mode since early voting has started. Big Media was distracted by Kavanaugh confirmation hearings, and used that as the launch pad for attacks on white women, in an attempt to shame and bully white women who were leaning towards Republican candidates. They showed how desperate they are to wedge voters away from the GOP and President Trump. Now they are returning to more familiar ground, which is continued attacks on white Evangelicals in an attempt to wedge them away from President Trump’s GOP.

Of course the New York Times is leading the charge. They ran an article that purported to provide a political history of Evangelicals: “Religion and Right Wing Politics: How Evangelicals Reshaped Elections.” It is mostly forgettable. It contains several howlers, such as “American evangelicals had long steered clear of politics,” which is silly. It would be better to say that American evangelicals had long been politically divided. This article incorrectly cites the Moral Majority as the beginning of political realignment of Evangelicals. I think that is really clueless. The Moral Majority got its start and gained traction because the Democrat Party started kicking traditionalists and conservatives out and embraced moral confusion. Along the way, the NYT quotes Michael Gerson as part of the “Religious Right.” Ha.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/28/us/religion-politics-evangelicals.html?action=click&module=RelatedLinks&pgtype=Article

The New York Times also did a feature where they invited young Evangelicals to comment on their personal politics. They said they received 1500 comments. They printed ten or so. It was pretty much what you would expect. The New York Times’s favorite Evangelicals are actually ex-Evangelicals. The young Evangelicals the NYT chose to quote expressed quite a lot of confusion and dissatisfaction with their Christianity.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/01/us/young-evangelicals-politics-midterms.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

NeverTrumper David French wrote a column at National Review in which he riffed on the NYT comments from young Evangelicals and blamed this youthful religious confusion on Donald Trump. He charged “tribalism.” How tedious.

https://www.nationalreview.com/2018/11/the-two-different-temptations-facing-young-evangelicals/?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=NR%20Daily%20Monday%20through%20Friday%202018-11-01&utm_term=NR5PM%20Actives

My favorite media critics noticed all this, but in this case they are very clever but ultimately less than helpful. They are pro-life Democrats, though, so it is not surprising that they are not up to the challenge of giving this mess the thorough mocking that it all deserves.

https://www.getreligion.org/getreligion/2018/11/2/thinking-about-donald-trump-young-evangelicals-the-new-york-times-and-screwtape

They did manage to pass along this nice observation:

it’s amazing the degree to which the voices in this unscientific survey that ended up in print — in the world’s most powerful newspaper — sound exactly like you would expect young evangelical Times readers to sound.”

Exactly.

Elsewhere, NPR is rooting for liberal Evangelicals, hoping that they will persuade some traditionalist Evangelicals that Trump is so immoral that they should not vote for him.

https://www.npr.org/2018/10/25/660375278/finding-common-good-among-evangelicals-in-the-political-season

So, as you might expect, a last-minute flurry of attempts to wedge Evangelicals away from President Trump. All of this is oriented towards the midterm elections.

Nothing new; I just thought I ought to put out an update before election day.

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Media v Evangelicals 2018 part 8

Mass media, the legacy media, you know, those “Lamestream” guys, are keeping me busy tracking their continued attempts to wedge Evangelical voters away from President Trump. One way they do this is to pound on the hypocrisy angle at every opportunity. Of course, Evangelicals continue to provide lots of opportunities.

Hence the #MeTooForChurch series of exposes to detail those Evangelical pastors who have been caught in sin. Particularly notable this summer was the philandering scandal at Willow Creek, which is an Evangelical megachurch with a network of associated churches. Pastor Bill Hybels and his leadership team are out and the church is reeling. Almost every mass media outlet covered it, but all the articles seemed to be derivative of reporting by the Chicago Tribune and Religion News Service. There wasn’t an anti-Trump hook to this story, so it played out in the press the way most church scandals do.

Russkies at the Prayer Breakfast

The New York Times wins the prize for this latest reporting period for an article about the National Prayer Breakfast. The article ran on July 27. The National Prayer Breakfast happened back in February. Why such a late-breaking article? Well, the obvious answer is Russians.

Yes, the NYT ran a hatchet job about the National Prayer Breakfast in which they noted that a couple of Russians were in attendance, including Maria Butina, which, according to them, taints the whole affair and confirms Trump colluded with the Russkies to derail her highness’s path to victory. Now, I would have been content to scoff them and mock them and call them “fake news,” but I saw that one of my favorite media critics, Julia Duin, took them seriously and provided a better response. Here is an excerpt from her post, which includes a quote from the NYT:

The bottom line: I’m just surprised it took the Russians this long to discover what everyone else knew – that the breakfast and its parent organization, the International Foundation, have been organizing “secret” meetings between foreign government leaders and U.S. politicians … for years.

Doesn’t the same sort of thing happen at Vatican embassies around the world? Is this news all that surprising? The key question is documenting the money involved.

What’s more, participants appear to see ultimate value in meetings and relationships seemingly irrespective of the motives of those present.

I would sub in “evangelistic value,” in that the motive behind the breakfast is to pave the way for the spread of the Gospel in foreign countries by inviting their government officials to the breakfast.

Remember, the folks at the breakfast – and the Foundation – are using this as an opportunity to reach the Russians (and others) just as much as the folks from overseas are using it as a way to reach influential Americans.

Well, yes, one of the original reasons for holding a prayer breakfast targeted to Washington politicians was to use it to reach out to leaders of non-Christian nations to persuade them to treat their Christians better, and possibly to persuade both American and foreign politicians of the truth of the Gospel.

Usual Stuff

Of some interest over the summer were media digs at Evangelicals in ways devised to emphasize that journalists think Evangelical Trump voters are all hypocrites. Salon ran an article, but since it is Salon, maybe they don’t qualify as news media. Their article excoriated Evangelicals for being hypocrites on account of Trump’s immorality, and then they paused to celebrate the general rise of sexual immoralities, and then they also celebrated the rise of people who have dropped out of traditional churches. Typical.

The only reason to mention Salon is because they get promoted in the feed at the Google News aggregator. Google promotes their catchy headline, and that is what puts them on my radar.   Their headline stayed in the Google News Spotlight for several days.

Mike Pence, Christianist monster

There was a spate of articles that seemed intended to wedge Mike Pence away from President Trump, or to simply portray Mike Pence as a monstrous theocrat. Since they were all simply rehashing stuff I have written about before, there is no need to give a blow-by-blow. SSDD.

Fundamentalist Racists

There was a more recent example. It was from an Alabama newspaper, but it also got featured prominently near the top of the default Google News page. This one was also intended to chide Evangelicals because they support immoral President Trump. They found a liberal Baptist history professor (he also has an MDiv but I don’t know if he was ever ordained). They quote him extensively saying the usual Leftist stuff:

There are broader issues at play, too, with Trump’s stand on Muslim immigration echoing past religious right alarms against non-Protestant immigrants changing the nation’s faith demographics.

“Trump is, at best, racially insensitive, if not racist,” said Leonard, a former religion professor at Samford University and retired divinity dean at Wake Forest University.

But many evangelicals like his style, Leonard said.

“Fundamentalists vest great power in the authoritarian leader who brooks no disagreement,” Leonard said. “They have an appreciation for Trump as an authoritarian figure.”

Baptists traditionally supported the separation of church and state, but shifted with the rise of the Moral Majority in 1979 and the election of President Ronald Reagan in 1980. Despite being divorced, Reagan was the choice of evangelicals over Jimmy Carter, a born-again believer and Baptist Sunday school teacher who did not agree with the religious right on many issues.

That is pitiful dreck through and through. “Trump’s stand on Muslim immigration echoing past religious right alarms against non-Protestant immigrants changing the nation’s faith demographics.” This assumes the Leftists’ worst construction of “religious right alarms” about Muslim immigration, insinuating that the concern is with all “non-Protestant immigrants” and alleging that the problem with Muslim immigrants is demographic, which of course is code for racist. I am calling B.S. on Dean Leonard and AL.com and the reporter, Greg Garrison.

I think Dean Leonard has slandered Fundamentalists as well as President Trump.

I recall debates among traditionalist Christians regarding the difficult choice between irreligious divorcee California actor Reagan versus Baptist Georgia farmer Carter. We voted for Reagan. I don’t recall anyone being called “immoral” for making that choice. But I have been called immoral for voting for President Trump, and in fact, I saw that “immoral” smear tossed around again just this week by NeverTrumpers.

And I resent Dean Leonard’s slander that “Baptists traditionally supported the separation of church and state, but shifted with the rise of the Moral Majority….” Did Baptists stop supporting the separation of church and state? He alleges in that article that Baptists want to use the power of the state to re-establish their dominant political position. He is wrong. Baptists are appealing to government to stop coercing Christians into forced speech that celebrates the sins of the protected classes. Baptists and other traditionalist Christians are appealing to government to stop meddling in local bathrooms. The key for Baptists and other Evangelicals is that Team Obama was using the federal government to elevate non-traditional religion over traditionalist religions; we simply wanted the State to cease establishing Leftist religion.

Evangelicals, whether Baptist or not (I am not a Baptist), are politically active because we are defending ourselves against the attacks of the Left, who have been using the power of government, as has been discussed here at Ratburger.org on previous occasions. Leftists may cry “theocrat” but the truth is that they are the ones on offense and we are the ones on defense, and it has been this way ever since the Reagan Administration.

I will close this time with an opinion column that ran at The Atlantic. It was by Peter Beinart, a professor of journalism at CUNY. It was more of the ‘Evangelicals are racists’ stuff that I have been writing about all year. This one seemed to pivot; Beinard did not address himself to Evangelicals and gave no indication that he expected to have any Evangelical readers. He was not trying to wedge Evangelicals away from President Trump. He was giving Leftists permission to consider Evangelicals to be horrible racist, sexist, homophobic, mean persons, as a way to encourage Leftist political activisms. He wrote on the topic of corruption, brushing off all allegations of corruption by Hillary, and focusing on the corruption of Trump. He wrote that Evangelicals were more concerned about people of color corrupting the complexion of America than about Trump’s political corruption.

I think we will see less of the media attempts to wedge Evangelicals away from President Trump.   We have seen a number of pundits and journalists wailing about how, for all their attacks, articles, shows, editorials, histrionics and shouting, the needle has not moved; Evangelicals who support President Trump have remained unmoved.

I will put links in the comments.

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How News Should Sound

“This is how the news should sound.”   That is the introduction to a new radio news talk show that I have been hearing on NPR.   The name of the show is “The Daily.”   It is a real howler.   It both gives me great laughs and raises my blood pressure.   It is anti-Trump, anti-conservative, anti-Republican Leftism brought to you with all the outragey feels you want when you are nostalgic for the pepper-spray whiff of street demonstrations.

“The Daily, with Michael Barbaro” is a production of the New York Times.   The broadcasts are available as podcasts.  They are a parody of themselves.   They are short (22-minutes) and focus on a single issue each episode.  Sometimes they do a series of two or three episodes.   I have listened to all the usual Leftist bilge.   What gives the laughs is the hushed tones and atmospheric music (violins swells in a minor key to let you know that you are about to hear the latest real outragey dirt on Trump).   They whisper the introductions to experts who pontificate about how awful the Trump Administration is.   They whip up sympathies with sob stories from the most appealing of illegal immigrants.   They really like to interview minor officials from the Obama Administration who now have impressive-sounding titles at Leftist think tanks.

In addition to yelling at my car radio about how selective and dishonest this material is, I get a kick out of how seriously they take themselves.   Last week I laughed and laughed while listening to an activist lawyer describe peeking through the windows at an office building in Phoenix that previously had been used by ICE as a temporary holding facility for minor children who were awaiting transportation one way or the other.   Bear in mind that ICE had moved out several days before our intrepid activist found the site.   She described her tears as she looked in through a window and saw an empty carton of baby formula sitting on the otherwise empty floor.   Her emotional distress over the plight of those beautiful babies was the focus of several minutes in the short broadcast.   Then they noted that ICE had not used it as an overnight facility, but was simply a processing/transfer point where the kids were only there for a couple of hours.   Her tears of distress prompted my tears of laughter.   They were really playing their audience, pushing hard on emotional buttons.   It was an overreach that was such a grasping at staws that I found it laughable.

You really ought to sample this some time.   The hushed tones and mood music accents are over the top.

It is time to brush off last year’s letter to my congressman and write again to request that he work to repeal the Public Broadcasting Act.

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New York Times pursues intellectual diversity

They acknowledged that they lean Left.   Far Left.   They determined to hire additional conservative voices.   So they hired two “conservatives” away from the Wall Street Journal.

Of course, both of the new hires are NeverTrumps.

That is what passes for intellectual diversity at the New York Times.

I saw an interesting attack on the New York Times that complained about the new hires.   Here is Glenn Greenwald:

On CNN, the paper’s executive editor, Dean Baquet, chided critics of the Stephens hiring this way: “Didn’t we learn from this past election that our goal should be to understand different views?” He claimed that “the New York Times has a history of trying to bring in different voices,” asking rhetorically: “Don’t we want to surface all ideas?”

And I was thinking that Greenwald was right.   But then I continued to read Greenwald’s post, and discovered that he was attacking the NYT for being thoroughly establishment and centrist.

Few things are more laughable than watching the incomparably homogenized New York Times op-ed page justify itself with appeals to the virtues of diversity. If your goal were to wage war on media diversity in all of its forms, and to offer the narrowest range of views possible, it would be hard to top the roster of columnists the paper has assembled: Tom Friedman, David Brooks, Nick Kristof, Paul Krugman, Roger Cohen, Ross Douthat, Maureen Dowd, Frank Bruni, David Leonhardt, Charles Blow, Gail Collins, Bret Stephens, with Bari Weiss as a contributor and editor.

Beyond the obvious demographic homogeneity, literally every one of them fits squarely within the narrow, establishment, center-right to center-left range of opinion that prevails in elite opinion-making circles. Almost all of them, if not all, supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election, and now have politics close to that neighborhood. None is associated with or supportive of the growing populist left or the populist right; they all wallow in the vague, safe, Washington-approved middle ground, members in good standing of the newly overt neoliberal-neoconservative alliance. As long as Stephens avoided talking about climate change and Douthat steered clear of abortion, most if not would all be capable of giving a speech that would be cheered at a so-called #Resistance rally, or at an AIPAC conference.

We need to laugh long and hard at the New York Times as it enjoys its waning days of influence.

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