America Won’t Reunite Until Its Leftist Media Is Torn Asunder

26 05 2020

  By Timothy D. Naegele[1]

Van Gordon Sauter—who was president of CBS News, 1982-83 and 1986—has written in the Wall Street Journal:

About 35 years ago I was sitting at lunch next to Jeane Kirkpatrick, a onetime Democrat who became a foreign-policy adviser to President Reagan and later U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. She was lamenting what she called the “liberal leaning” media. As the president of CBS News, I assured her it was only a “liberal tilt” and could be corrected.

“You don’t understand,“ she scolded. “It’s too late.”

Kirkpatrick was prophetic. The highly influential daily newspapers in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Boston are now decidedly liberal.  On the home screen, the three broadcast network divisions still have their liberal tilt. Two of the three leading cable news sources are unrelentingly liberal in their fear and loathing of President Trump.

News organizations that claim to be neutral have long been creeping leftward, and their loathing of Mr. Trump has accelerated the pace. The news media is catching up with the liberalism of the professoriate, the entertainment industry, upscale magazines and the literary world. Recent arrivals are the late-night TV hosts who have broken the boundaries of what was considered acceptable political humor for networks.

To many journalists, objectivity, balance and fairness—once the gold standard of reporting—are not mandatory in a divided political era and in a country they believe to be severely flawed. That assumption folds neatly into their assessment of the president. To the journalists, including more than a few Republicans, he is a blatant vulgarian, an incessant prevaricator, and a dangerous leader who should be ousted next January, if not sooner. Much of journalism has become the clarion voice of the “resistance,” dedicated to ousting the president, even though he was legally elected and, according to the polls, enjoys the support of about 44% of likely 2020 voters.

This poses significant problems not only for Mr. Trump but for the media’s own standing. If Mr. Trump prevails in November, what’s the next act, if any, for journalists and the resistance? They will likely find Mr. Trump more dangerous and offensive in a second term than in the first.

More important, how will a big segment of the public ever put stock in journalism it considers hostile to the country’s best interests? Unfortunately, dominant media organizations have bonded with another large segment of the public—one that embraces its new approach. Pulling back from anti-Trump activism might prove commercially harmful.

On the other hand, how would the media respond to a Joe Biden victory (beyond exhilaration)? Will Mr. Biden be subjected to the rigor and skepticism imposed on Mr. Trump? Will he get a pass because he is a liberal and “not Trump”? The media’s protective coverage of the sexual-assault allegation against Mr. Biden is perhaps a clear and concerning preview to how his presidency would be covered.

The media seems uninterested in these issues of bias. But wouldn’t a softening of its editorial orientation bring new readers or viewers? Probably not. The growth of new customers would be more than offset by the defection of outraged members of the current audience. The news media seems very comfortable with its product and ability to sell it.

There’s probably no way to seal the gap between the media and a large segment of the public. The media likes what it’s doing. Admires it. Celebrates it. There is no personal, professional or financial reason to change. If anything, the gap will expand. Ultimately, the media finds the “deplorables” deplorable.

Dan Abrams, ABC’s chief legal-affairs anchor and founding father of the website Mediaite, has a novel but valuable idea for the media—candor. Speaking to the matter at February’s Rancho Mirage Writers Festival, Mr. Abrams said “I think the first thing that would help . . . is to admit . . . that the people in the media are left of center.”

It might be delightful if a publisher, an editor, a reporter, would just say: Yes, I’m left of center! I’m proud of it. I think our reporting is accurate. It best serves the public. And the credibility of the media. So there!

Publications open about their bias might feel freer to focus on the specifics: story selection, presentation, facts, fairness, balance. Not devoid of subtlety for sure, but manageable.

Journalism affects social cohesion. Convinced of its role and its legitimacy, however, the media doesn’t seem to much care. And the other side can certainly enjoy throwing rotten tomatoes at distant targets.

But America won’t reunite until far more people can look at a news story in print or on the screen and, of all things, believe it.[2]

First, Mr. Sauter overestimates the importance and effect of the media on America today, and in the future.  Lots of us began boycotting the so-called “mainstream media” (or “fake news”) when it became dominated by the likes of Don Lemon and Rachel Maddow, two Gays whose disdain for “balanced reporting” passed new levels ages ago.

Second, newspapers and newsweeklies are dinosaurs—dead or taking their last gasps[3]—even though some of us grew up on CNN.  We have vowed never to watch it again, and we honor that decision with religious fervor.  Indeed, CNN consistently enjoys the lowest ratings of any network.

Does this mean that America will not “reunite” anytime in the foreseeable future?  Yes, perhaps so.  Unlike 9/11 that united us, China’s attack on the United States when it launched the Coronavirus—as a bioweapon, or inadvertently[4]—has not united us at all.  And what does a divided America augur for our future?  Time will tell, but our enemies must be salivating.

 

Bald Eagle and American Flag --- Image by © Ocean/Corbis

 

© 2020, Timothy D. Naegele


[1]  Timothy D. Naegele was counsel to the United States Senate’s Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, and chief of staff to Presidential Medal of Freedom and Congressional Gold Medal recipient and former U.S. Senator Edward W. Brooke (R-Mass). He and his firm, Timothy D. Naegele & Associates, specialize in Banking and Financial Institutions Law, Internet Law, Litigation and other matters (see www.naegele.com and Timothy D. Naegele Resume-20-3-10). He has an undergraduate degree in economics from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), as well as two law degrees from the School of Law (Boalt Hall), University of California, Berkeley, and from Georgetown University. He served as a Captain in the U.S. Army, assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon, where he received the Joint Service Commendation Medal (see, e.g., https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Commendation_Medal#Joint_Service). Mr. Naegele is an Independent politically; and he is listed in Who’s Who in America, Who’s Who in American Law, and Who’s Who in Finance and Business. He has written extensively over the years (see, e.g., www.naegele.com/whats_new.html#articles), and can be contacted directly at tdnaegele.associates@gmail.com

[2]  See https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-liberal-leaning-media-has-passed-its-tipping-point-11590430876 (“The ‘Liberal Leaning’ Media Has Passed Its Tipping Point”) (emphasis in original)

[3]  See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2012/04/25/is-google-becoming-microsoft-or-worse/#comment-16403 (“Decline In Readers, Ads Leads Hundreds Of Newspapers To Fold”)

[4]  See https://naegeleblog.wordpress.com/2020/05/12/coexistence-with-china-or-war/ (“Coexistence With China Or War?”)








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