July started with a lull. On the Monday before Independence Day, the news network morning shows led with the oppressively hot weather. The normal feverish panic about living in Donald Trump’s America was missing for a few hours.
You can count on CNN “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter to stay true to the trash-Trump parade. At the liberal Aspen Ideas Festival, he interviewed Washington Post executive editor Marty Baron. Stelter claimed to speak for the crowd when he began asking: “Are we living through a national emergency? And if so, how in the heck should journalists be covering it that way?”
Baron replied that it isn’t his place to answer that. His newspaper’s role “is to cover very aggressively this administration as we would cover any other administration.” He claimed, “We’re not in the business of sort of characterizing the era.”
This is preposterous. The Post greeted the Trump presidency by posting a new motto on the front page each day: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” It sells T-shirts with the motto to other liberals. By contrast, during Barack Obama’s presidential transition in 2009, the Post promoted to national editor a journalist who wrote gushy captions for a coffee-table book titled “Obama: The Historic Campaign in Photographs.”
Most Americans would suggest that the Dow Jones Industrial Average being up 5,000 points since President Trump’s inauguration and the unemployment rate being 3.8 percent is not a national emergency. But then again, most Americans aren’t journalists.
The silliness continued. Stelter told Baron, “The media critique from the left is that this is a crisis and thus journalists have to cover it differently than Bush or Obama or other past presidents.”
Baron acknowledged the Post is “more blunt about calling out falsehoods” than it was previously “because there are so many of them and they’re so blatant.” Then he added: “Steve Bannon tried to call us the opposition party. We don’t see ourselves as the opposition party and we’re not inclined to embrace the notions of some people who would like us to be the opposition party. We’re an independent news organization. We’re independent of all parties and all ideologies.”
Baloney. Baron simply cannot believe that, unless the Kool-Aid is stronger than we thought. Wouldn’t it be fun to find out just how many Washington Post reporters and editors voted for Hillary Clinton over Trump? If a single Trump voter could be found in the newsroom, that would be a surprise. How “independent of all parties” would the Post look then? We found in 2016 that among the Post employees who donated to candidates for federal office in recent years, 15 donated only to Democrats and one advertising sales manager gave to $200 to former Gov. Mitt Romney.
Stelter kept pestering Baron from the left in Aspen: “Your famous line is that ‘We’re not at war; we’re at work.’ … But if one side is at war and the other side is a pacifist, doesn’t the pacifist lose?”
This may be the one occasion where liberals discuss the benefits of war and the pitfalls of pacifism!
“It’s not the way that I would frame it,” Baron explained. “(W)e have the greatest credibility when we do our jobs honestly, honorably, accurately, fairly, diligently, energetically, unflinchingly.”
Our media have shunned any notion of objectivity under Trump. Activists like Brian Stelter keep urging top editors to oppose, rebel and resist, and they wonder why their own approval ratings continue to sink lower, and lower, and lower.
L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.