Fake News is just a reincarnation of “yellow journalism,” the late 19th-century propaganda machine that sold newspapers by whipping people into frenzies with exaggerated, twisted and sometimes even fabricated “news” stories.
Widespread liberal bias in the mainstream media is hardly a new phenomenon, but the fanatical partisan activism that supposedly objective journalists have engaged in throughout the Trump era is something we haven’t experienced in this country for over 100 years.
Leaked transcripts from an internal staff meeting held by The New York Times reveal just how bad the situation has become. The core purpose of the meeting, in fact, was to placate employees who were outraged that the newspaper published a headline accurately reflecting remarks made by President Donald Trump, rather than using it as an opportunity to launch an attack against the president in extra-large font.
The New York Times is a prominent example of how Trump Derangement Syndrome has afflicted the liberal media, but it’s far from an outlier.
We got a rare glimpse into the sausage-making process last spring, when Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism hosted an alumni panel discussion titled, “Election Coverage 2020: How to Avoid a Repeat of 2016.”
The title provided hope that there would be some introspection and resolve to do better in the next election, but that hope was lost when The New York Times’ Elisabeth Bumiller declared that “the Democratic goal right now is just to damage Trump ahead of 2020” — something the newspaper’s own employees inadvertently acknowledged in a recent staff town hall.
Journalism School Dean Steve Coll moderated the group that included BuzzFeed’s Tom Namako, NBC’s Morgan Radford and Bumiller. Namako tried to make sense of the media’s miscalculation of Trump’s 2016 victory when he said he thought one mistake was that the press acted too much like a “referee.”
“We were saying ‘that’s out of bounds, you can’t do that, you can’t say that,’ and [Trump] just marched right by us,” he observed, arguing that the media spent too much time covering what they considered outrageous statements by Trump, because those stories didn’t have much of an impact on their audience.
A few minutes later, though, Namako completely contradicted himself with a pathetic analysis of a BuzzFeed headline from the previous day: “You May Be Surprised to Learn that Trump Just Defended White Supremacists Again.”
While he acknowledged that his notoriously anti-Trump media outlet put ”some attitude in there,” he insisted that it wasn’t enough to make it “like, an opinion.”
He even defended the aggressively judgmental approach in the headline about white supremacists by claiming that “We have to call out when things are what they are,” which is just a self-righteously opaque way of saying that media outlets such as his employer should have the final word on what things “are.”
So much for not being the referee.
The gloves came off when the panel unabashedly dove into their plans to prevent a Trump victory in the 2020 presidential election. For example, Radford vowed that NBC will change the way it poses questions to Trump supporters.
“We were so concerned with asking you who you were voting for (in 2016), we weren’t really asking you why,” Radford said. “And when we were asking you why, we weren’t asking why in the right way,” she pontificated.
“And so the question isn’t ‘yo, Bob, are you a racist?’ The question is ‘hey yo, Bob, do you value your small business tax cut more than you value keeping Muslims in the country?’”
“That’s a very different question,” she condescendingly explained.
Instead of focusing on the issues, anti-Trump news outlets run stories about white supremacy and the president’s supposed racism, since their readers are demanding stories that reinforce their hatred for Trump, and the Russia collusion hoax is no longer a viable option.
The New York Times is thriving on its anti-Trump angle, Bumiller said, noting that the paper has hit an “all-time record high” with 4.3 million paid subscribers.
“A lot of that is driven by Trump,” she noted adding “people way above my pay grade” are worried about what will happen to readership “after he’s no longer on the scene.” Think of the extraordinary, self-serving, journalism-crushing disclosure here — the media hate Trump but love the revenue he provides them.
Even with Trump in the Oval Office, The New York Times sometimes struggles to meet its readers’ appetite for anti-Trump sensationalism. Just recently, the paper folded to demands from online subscribers who thought the headline “Trump Urges Unity vs. Racism” wasn’t nasty enough to describe the president’s response to two mass shootings. The newspaper quickly changed its headline to reflect both the anti-Trump and anti-gun prejudices of its audience.
Forget about reporting the facts — as in, answering the who, what, why, when, and where that used to be a cornerstone of Journalism 101. If The New York Times and other media outlets don’t feed their audiences a steady diet of Trump-hate, they risk a revolt by the viewers, readers and subscribers who keep them in business.
If the anti-Trump media keep catering to their readers’ loathing of Trump, though, they will likely miss what’s going on in the 2020 election the same way they missed the point in 2016.
If the Fake News media didn’t have such a long history of dyed-in-the-wool leftism, one might almost think that re-electing President Trump is actually a clever plan to keep their ratings and subscriptions high for another four years.
Trump is right to call them out. Fake News is this century’s “yellow journalism.”
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