The establishment media have shuffled forth to announce that their objectivity is dead. They don’t realize that it’s like announcing that Jack Benny is dead. It’s not “news.”
Former Washington Post executive editor Leonard Downie Jr. was the announcer, proclaiming that he and former CBS News president Andrew Heyward surveyed 75 sources in the media elites and found a “generational shift.” Voila, no one is objective anymore.
The headline is “Newsrooms that move beyond ‘objectivity’ can build trust.” Objectivity is in scare quotes because it was always corrupt, according to this enlightened white male.
Today’s journalists “point out that the standard was dictated over decades by male editors in predominantly White newsrooms and reinforced their own view of the world. They believe that pursuing objectivity can lead to false balance or misleading ‘bothsidesism’ in covering stories about race, the treatment of women, LGBTQ+ rights, income inequality, climate change and many other subjects.”
The people who loathe “bothsidesism” are fervent believers in “onesideism,” and seek to enforce the media norm that there should be no space or respect granted to the “wrong side” of climate change, LGBTQ+, “Black Lives Matter,” and so on and so on. There’s no right and left, only Right and Wrong.
The new norm now is allowing young journalists from “marginalized” identities to steer the “news gathering” functions, using their “lived experiences.” In practice, this means their feelings of “personal safety” trump all facts. This woke-mob rule is demonstrated in how The New York Times forced out editorial page editor James Bennet for the offense of publishing an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) suggesting troops could be used to defend cities against violent rioting.
The media elites have also coddled young journalists by allowing them to be their “genuine selves” and participate flagrantly in street protests on the issues they’re covering. They ridiculously identify as the “mainstream” as they stray ever more leftward.
Downie laments that the Old Media are “coping with economic and digital disruption” and “increasing competition from misinformation on cable television and the internet.” This is how the “mainstream” media define the conservative media — they are bluntly categorized as “misinformation” that is harming their market share.
Obviously, when you make everyone painfully aware you will avoid “false balance” and exclude the “wrong side” from your “news” stories — unless you’re destroying them and their favorite leaders — the “wrong side” goes out in search of journalism that addresses their concerns.
Downie strangely wraps up by suggesting that the media should try to restore trust by being more transparent about their “newsgathering decisions”: “When possible, they should hire or designate an editor to field and act on reader complaints and questions.” But The Washington Post and The New York Times dumped their editors who act on reader complaints — The Post in 2013, The Times in 2017.
They also mock transparency every day as they wage war on politicians they don’t like by endlessly exploiting anonymous sources, hiding behind the wall of “people familiar with the investigation.” As they boast that they “protect democracy,” they’ve squashed public debate.
This is why the Downie headline is so deeply weird. The more they’ve dumped objectivity, the more the public trust in the press has plummeted. Last October, Gallup found only 34% of Americans trust the mass media to report the news “fully, accurately and fairly,” and that’s because 70% of Democrats say they trust them.
Earth to the media: You spurned the “wrong side” as undeserving of your attention, and you received the distrust that you wanted. Try to make profits by only serving the “marginalized.”
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 Tim Graham and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.