For the past three years we have heard President Donald Trump complain about how the media treats him unfairly. I think some of his criticism is unwarranted and he uses this complaint to fire up his base. But overall the media has treated both him and his administration unfairly. We all remember some of the instances. When a photo was used showing a young immigrant child lying in what appeared to be a caged in area the media ran with it and castigated the President and his administration as being inhumane and that was not way to treat a child. Then it was discovered that the photo was taken at a detention facility during the Obama administration. Suddenly the photo was no longer being used by the media. There are a lot of examples of this in the past couple of years and sadly it reflects more on the media and their own bias and lack of accountability. This past week we have seem more of this trend.
Just before Thanksgiving Jessica Kwong, a political reporter for Newsweek, filed a story with the headline: How is Trump spending Thanksgiving? Tweeting, golfing and more. It was published on the Newsweek website. But wait. Was it true? The real story was that Trump, under secrecy as other Presidents have done, visited troops in Afghanistan. Ms. Kwong, not knowing of the President’s plans, wrote her story on what she thought he would be doing. For her incompetence she was fired and the editor which allowed this story to be published in the first place was demoted.
But the real issue is the larger one. What would drive a reporter to file a story based solely on what they thought the President would be doing and spin it as a negative story on the President? Was it her clear bias? Would Ms. Kwong have been fired if the President had not gone to Afghanistan? It is very clear to me that she had no knowledge of what he would be doing on Thanksgiving but decided that she was fine with just making up what he would be doing. How many other reporters in the media have allowed their own personal biases to color their coverage of this President or any other?
Former New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg has apparently jumped into the Democrat Presidential race. This prompted an announcement by Bloomberg News, which he owns, that they would adhere to a previous policy and not investigate Michael Bloomberg. Apparently, they were prohibited from investigating him in the past. And to be fair, they announced they would not be covering other Democrat candidates for Presidents.
The question I have to ask is simple: What real journalist would agree to these terms? What they are saying is that no matter what Michael Bloomberg does they are agreeing to not cover his actions, even if they are negative to his campaign. That means anything he did in the past would not be reported by them. And now they add the rest of the Democrat candidates to the list. But, they remind us, they will still continue to report on and investigate the Republican candidate, President Donald Trump. Does anyone see anything wrong with this situation. I sure do. According to his decision Bloomberg news will ignore any missteps by Democrat candidates and focus solely on their opponent, Donald Trump.
The Trump campaign responds by banning Bloomberg News reporters from their events. Immediately the New York Times Executive Editor, Dean Baquet, denounces this decision and his statement clearly shows his own bias.
“Bloomberg News is one of the largest and most influential news organizations in the world. We condemn any action that keeps quality news media from reporting fairly and accurately on the presidency and the leadership of the country,”
If Bloomberg News is what he says it is then why is he not decrying their decision on coverage of Democrat candidates. Real journalists follow the story no matter who it involves and try to report the facts and not their opinions. I suspect that Mr. Baquet is not really interested in reporting news but rather shaping it. A column appeared in the New York Post by Michael Goodwin that highlights what has happened at the Times.
I think I am on safe ground when I say that the Washington Post has been a part of the anti-Trump campaign from the day he was nominated, and it only ramped up at his inauguration. You only need to look at their website to see article after article critical of the President and his administration. I understand they are more liberal and so they feel compelled to go after the President. And he, like any other President, if fair game. But they have not stopped there. They have decided that his wife is also allowed to be in their cross hairs.
This past week the White House Christmas decorations were unveiled. Once again, the media, led by the Washington Post, found it necessary to pick the decorations apart and single out the First Lady in their barbs. Because the decorations were monochromatic this year and mostly white, they immediately decided that it must be an intentional racist act. Can you imagine the uproar any such criticism being directed at Michelle Obama? My point is simple, again. These are Christmas decorations. You may like or dislike them. That is a matter of the individual eye. But they are to be subjected to criticism in a major newspaper.
And not to be outdone, Robin Givhan, the Post fashion critic, jumps into the fray. She admits that the decorations all “quite lovely” and then pounces on the First Lady.
“For her tour, Mrs. Trump wears all white: a dress with a simple jewel neckline, white stiletto-heeled pumps and a white coat. The coat is draped over her shoulders as she strolls through the White House.
The coat looks ridiculous.”
Ms. Givhan then uses the rest of her space to criticize the First Lady. I doubt Mrs. Givhan would like her every move and outfit to be posted each day. I am sure there are days where she makes a fashion mistake, should we broadcast those and mock her for them? There have been many first ladies such as Michelle Obama, Nancy Reagan, Rosalyn Carter and many others who have made bad fashion choices, but they have not had the same degree of vitriol thrown at them for those choices. Taking it a step further those fashion faux pas did not lead to further denigration of who they were as women.
In summary, I go back to the Michael Goodwin article from the New York Post. He talks about the editor at the New York Times when he worked there, Abe Rosenthal. Mr. Rosenthal acknowledged that reporters tend to lean towards the liberal side, so he steered the editing process to the right to get the paper in the middle. Under his tutelage the NYT tried to ensure that all facts were corroborated, and the use of anonymous sources was very limited. These are good rules but apparently the media of today seems to have abandoned them and reporters are allowed to let their own bias become part of the story. Part of this problem lies with the 24-hour news cycle that we now live with and the rampant use of social media by reporters and viewers alike. I think this drives them to throw accuracy overboard in their desire to be the first with the story. I strongly suspect this was the problem for Jessica Kwong and it cost her the job and perhaps her career. We, the public, are all the losers as journalist race towards the bottom. Nobody seems to be interested in just reporting the news instead of slanting it.