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HAS THE MEDIA LOST ITS CREDIBILITY?

By: Dave Gordon



This past June, a representative from media watchdog Project Veritas used a hidden camera while interviewing John Bonifield, the senior producer of CNN. Their discussion centered on Donald Trump, Russian collusion, and the presidential election interference.

Though CNN claimed to have aired factual coverage, in a shocking admission Bonifield conceded that the story was “mostly” made up. “We don’t have any giant proof,” he admitted.

He further noted – again, while secretly being filmed – that they “haven’t seen any good enough evidence” that Donald Trump did anything wrong in his dealings with Russia. “I think the President is probably right to say, ‘Look you are witch hunting me,” Bonifield allowed. He also acknowledged the ideological bias of his colleagues, who would “like to see [Trump] get kicked out of office.”

Stories like these were perpetuated for the ratings, he wasn’t shy about saying. This was true to such an extent that the network’s CEO continued to give the Russia story priority, at the expense of other stories.

Trump’s alleged collision with Russia is just one recent and glaring example of how the media twists stories. This time, they were caught, but countless other stories shaped in the same way are not pronounced false.

“Fake News”

Hyperbole sells newspapers and brings in ratings. For this reason, truthful reporting is not a guarantee in the mainstream media. This reality has been the case for decades, but only in the past two years has the words “fake news” entered our lexicon. Under the watchful eye of President Trump, media outlets been caught red-handed in countless examples of manufactured facts and shameless hypocrisy.

Often, through the spin of a media news story, a double standard is revealed. In What Is Fake News? a video put forth by Prager University, Andrew Klaven posited the following: “[A] white cop shoots a black suspect and the mainstream media treats that story as representative of general police racism – even though studies show cops don’t use deadly force more often on blacks than on whites. On the other hand, if a Muslim commits an act of terrorism, and someone is bold enough to point out that the terrorist act is, in fact, representative of the daily acts of Muslim terror around the world, this is considered Islamophobic.”

As Michael Goodwin, chief political columnist for The New York Post, recently noted, “There was a time not so long ago when journalists were trusted and admired. We were generally seen as trying to report the news in a fair and straightforward manner. Today, all that has changed.”

In an April, 2017 speech called “The 2016 Election and the Demise of Journalistic Standards,” Goodwin declared, “American journalism is collapsing before our eyes.” He even went so far as to say that the media was “engaged in a naked display of partisanship designed to bury Trump and elect Hillary Clinton.”

Corroborating this notion, WikiLeaks revealed that in 2015 theNew York Times gave the Clinton campaign the opportunity to vet any quotes, in search of a sympathetic story about the candidate. And earlier this spring, Donna Brazile of CNN admitted that she leaked presidential debate questions to Hillary Clinton.

Goodwin blames The New York Times and The Washington Post for pouring lighter fluid on the coals. “They set the tone, and most of the rest of the media followed like lemmings. What happened to fairness? What happened to standards? I’ll tell you what happened to them. The Times top editor, Dean Baquet, eliminated them.

The result is that today fewer people believe the media. According to a Gallup Poll taken in the year 2000, a little more than half of Americans said they trusted the news media. By 2015, that statistic went down to forty percent, with only a third of 18-39 year olds saying they trusted the media.

To what do we owe this loss of faith? According to Judith Miller, contributing editor of City Journal, it’s become “a deeper problem (of) failing journalistic standards.” Simply put, the media is “in search of more eyeballs.”

These aren’t merely the opinions of two journalists or pollsters. Harvard’s Kennedy School conducted their own bombshell of a study called “News Coverage of Donald Trump’s First 100 Days.” Their report analyzed The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, CBS, CNN, Fox News, NBC, and three European news outlets. The results were less than promising and the researchers came back with this statement: The media has set “a new standard for unfavorable press coverage of a president.”

Another university study, undertaken by UCLA’s political scientist Meg Sullivan, noted that “almost all major media outlets tilt to the left.”

Examples are legion.

On live television, MSNBC’s Erin Burnett (who is now with CNN) referred to then-President George W. Bush as “the monkey,” while covering a summit with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

In 2008, MSNBC’s Luke Russert, said while covering the presidential election that the students at University of Virginia had the “smartest kids in the state.” They would thus naturally be “leaning a little bit towards Obama.” The implication, it goes without saying, was that only “dumb” people
voted Republican.

Bias Against Israel

Israel, too, receives unkind media bias on a daily basis. It’s no secret that various media outlets compete for who can bash Israel the hardest. The glaring misrepresentations, reckless reporting, lies of omission, and agenda-driven coverage has no limits.

In mid-June an original BBC report was published under the title: “Three Palestinians Killed After Deadly Stabbing in Jerusalem.” The problem is that the real story is this: Those three Palestinians were armed with knives and automatic weaponry. They carried out two attacks near Damascus Gate, and were neutralized as they tried to harm Israeli policemen. Staff Sgt. Maj. Hadas Malka was knifed to death in the altercation. But the focus then was only on the fact that three Palestinians had been killed. When an uproar ensued over the mischaracterization of events, BBC issued this ‘apology:’ “We accept that our original headline did not appropriately reflect the nature of the events and subsequently changed it.
[The headline was later changed to “Israeli policewoman stabbed to death in Jerusalem.] Whilst there was no intention to mislead our audiences, we regret any offense caused.”

On May 25, Washington Post journalists William Booth and Sufian Taha wrote a piece called “A Palestinian’s Daily Commute Through an Israeli Checkpoint.” This long feature highlighted the struggles of Palestinians who commute to Israel for work. It told a harrowing tale of tedious checkpoints, scrutiny, and suspicion, filled with emotional and angry contributions by local Palestinians, who are frustrated and tired of the situation. However, the piece contained zero contribution from Israeli officials, security experts, or checkpoint workers. There is no sense of balanced reporting. The overarching implication was that Israel maintains such vigilance just to be mean, when, in fact, there is hard evidence that these checkpoints save lives.

Another example can be found in a May 18th New York Times article by Ian Fisher. Headlined, “Israeli Fires on Palestinian Protesters in the West Bank, Killing One, the title conveniently leaves out that these ‘protestors’ were attacking IDF personnel and Israeli civilians with rocks. The lack of context makes the Israelis seem violent, unreasonable, and barbaric – when, in fact, they were simply trying to protect themselves.

Putting Things In Perspective

Has the mainstream media lost its credibility? On tight deadlines, it’s easy to make understandable errors, commit the occasional oversight, and miss a fact or two. Every media outlet has had its fair share of corrected stories. To tar the entire media industry with the same brush of “mistrust” or “bias” could be unfair. What’s important is to distinguish a mistake from an injustice, an inaccuracy from a bias.

When a media organization makes a disproportionably high number of misrepresentations or omissions, and when those errors in reporting seem intentional, that’s when we can say that credibility has been lost.

Dave Gordon can be reached at dave@landmarkreport.com