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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6 responses

26 05 2020
H. Craig Bradley

Unification: First Hong Kong, then Taiwan

The United States is too weak politically and therefore militarily to interfere or stop mainland China from implementing their stated reunification plans. So, we can protest and slam China with (more) sanctions and fiery political rhetoric, but really, they know we have no resolve and are too soft and complacent, as well as divided. We can only condemn not stop their expansionist agenda. Americans are far from ready or fit to take meaningful military action on behalf of our allies in Asia. Just saying.

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26 05 2020
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you, Craig, for your comments.

First, Hong Kong has always been dicier than China’s other ambitions. But even there, does the evil Xi want to take on the world? Hong Kong is not Tiananmen Square.

Second, China’s economy was “shaky” before it launched the Coronavirus on the world. Is it really prepared to withstand a global consumer boycott of anything and everything with Chinese components? My guess is no.

Third, yes, China’s evil leadership tier thirsts for power, but so did the Soviet leadership that is no more. Perhaps symbolic is that China’s aircraft carrier the Liaoning was a Soviet-era rusting hulk that the Chinese acquired and put a flatop on. For the longest time, it couldn’t land jets on it, and it was a joke.

See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_aircraft_carrier_Liaoning (“Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning”)

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26 05 2020
H. Craig Bradley

Tim:

I take it you are saying that Communist China is weak and therefore, incapable of causing lots more trouble in the South China Sea. You are inferring that in-effect, China is bluffing with a pair of twos and not a Full House or Royal Flush. My question is: Are various Western nations willing to stick their neck out and formally oppose China’s Stated reunification plans of taking over Hong Kong and eventually, forcing Taiwan to link-up with the Chinese Mainlanders?

Will each individual Western Ally go on record as officially opposing Beijing and being black listed forever by the Communist Peoples Republic of China. My guess is probably not. Western powers will equivocate individually even if President Trump takes a hard position in his foreign policies towards China. As usual, America is on its own.

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26 05 2020
Timothy D. Naegele

Thank you again for your comments, Craig. In a sense, Pat Buchanan would agree with you.

See https://buchanan.org/blog/jinping-takes-up-the-us-challenge-138600 (“Jinping Takes Up the US Challenge”)

In another sense, both of us would part company with your dire views for the American future, certainly as long as Donald Trump is reelected.

China has been courting a global backlash for a long time now. What the evil Xi and his regime have not calculated is a global consumer reaction to China’s Coronavirus, and a boycott of anything and everything from China.

Americans should start with Walmart stores, whose management sold their souls to China years ago.

Lastly, there is enormous anger in the world today, stemming from the medical and economic costs of the Coronavirus. And this anger is coalescing around the fact that China must be held accountable. Forget what governments can and may do. When global consumers vote against China with their pocketbooks, it may be similar to what Americans did in boycotting German and Japanese cars for 20 years after their savagery ended in World War II.

Xi’s hold on his own government may prove to be precarious at best, and its economic might may be more than “shaky.”

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26 05 2020
H. Craig Bradley

China does not think like we do. They don’t care how long it takes to achieve their goals. In contrast we are only able to look ahead 4 years w/ Trump. Tell me, how fast does four years last, really? Many more changes coming later in this decade. We will waste time and not fix anything.

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26 05 2020
Timothy D. Naegele

One last comment.

The naysayers said the same thing about Reagan and the mighty Soviet Union. Yet, I was in Berlin when the Soviet troops were leaving the city, and selling their uniforms and plumbing fixtures from their barracks, and going back to “tent cities” in the USSR.

And I toured parts of the “Iron Curtain” that I had visited before, where the fencing and guard towers were gone, and the roads crossed the border as if no impediments had ever been there.

Xi’s hold on China, like its economy, may prove to be “shaky.” And each of us can help by boycotting anything and everything from China, for the next 20 years at least.

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