Criticism of the News Media Takes On a More Sinister Tone

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It sure does get exhausting working for the global corporate media conspiracy.

The hours are horrible (my kingdom for a weekend off). You never know what the puppet masters are going to order up next. (I wish that guy from Mexico, What’s-His-Face Slim, would get off my back.) And there’s no extra combat pay when, at this point, there clearly should be.

I probably shouldn’t joke (and yes, Twitter, that’s what I’m doing). The anger being directed at the news media has become dangerous enough that some news organizations are providing security for staff members covering Trump rallies. “Someone’s going to get hurt” has become a common refrain in American newsrooms.

On Thursday, Jim Acosta of CNN held up a sign left in the press section of Donald J. Trump’s rally in West Palm Beach that featured a swastika next to the word “Media.” Later, in Cincinnati, the crowd met reporters with sustained boos, curses and chants of, “Tell the truth, tell the truth.”

It was as tense as anyone had seen it since the candidacy of George Wallace, and yet it was almost understandable given what Mr. Trump had been telling them: The news media was trying to “poison the minds” of voters with “lies, lies, lies.” All of it, he said, is part of a “conspiracy against you, the American people” that also includes “global financial interests.”

The idea that the press is part of some grand conspiracy against the people, presented in such incendiary terms, goes well beyond the longstanding Republican complaints about liberal bias. You’d more expect to hear it from Lenin or the pages of the anti-Semitic publication American Free Press than from the standard-bearer of the Republican Party.

But it is resonating with a large portion of the American electorate. There are many reasons, some of which should cause the news media to make good on its promises to examine its own disconnect from the cross section of Americans whose support for Mr. Trump it never saw coming.

We can debate whether the “corporate” news media is as left-leaning as critics claim. The answer, as I see it, is more than they’ll admit to themselves and less than conservatives claim.

But there is little question that it is out of step with Mr. Trump’s die-hards on the issues upon which Mr. Trump won them over, especially immigration and trade. And this tracks across the ideological divide in the mainstream media.

For all their many differences, the right-leaning editorial board of The Wall Street Journal and the left-leaning editorial boards of The New York Times and The Washington Post share the beliefs that global free trade is generally beneficial and that the United States needs to create ways to legalize the undocumented immigrant work force.

The newsrooms of The Times, The Journal and The Post operate independently from their editorial pages. But their coverage certainly does not start from the premise that an immigration overhaul would unduly reward the original sin of illegal border crossing or that free trade deals threaten our national sovereignty.

Then there are big attitudinal differences that come from the fact that the biggest American newsrooms are in major cities.

“One of the reasons the national media initially missed the rise of Trump was because so much of it is based on the coasts,” said Joanne Lipman, editor in chief of the USA Today Network, which Gannett formed in December, in part, to combine the sensibilities of the 110 newspapers it owns throughout red-state and blue-state America.

There also tends to be a shared sense of noble mission across the news media that can preclude journalists from questioning their own potential biases.

“The people who run American journalism, and who staff the newsrooms, think of themselves as sophisticated, cosmopolitan, and, culturally speaking, on the right side of history,” Rod Dreher, a senior editor at The American Conservative, told me. “They don’t know what they don’t know and they don’t care to know it.”

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