We’ve been warning about this since the heyday of Black Lives Matter, where the media began blatantly ignoring facts and evidence in favor of propaganda, man-on-the-street interviews, and a commitment to “social justice.” But the media ignored the warnings. Instead, they launched their biased approach to newsgathering into the stratosphere the moment a New York billionaire named Donald Trump descended that golden escalator to run for president. And in the three years since, they haven’t let up for a minute – even after being given multiple occasions to sit back and reflect on the damage they’ve done.
Damage done mostly…to their own collective reputation.
Never has that been more clear than in a new survey by Columbia Journalism Review. In their poll of more than 4,000 adults, CJR found that Americans trust the media even less than the rest of Washington’s institutions. When you’re lagging behind the federal bureaucracy in D.C. as far as trustworthiness is concerned? You’ve got problems that may be un-fixable.
“For decades, we’ve known that Americans don’t trust the press,” CJR wrote. “What we haven’t known is how people view the makings of journalism, from the use of fact checkers and anonymous sources to the question of whether money skews journalistic decision-making. This new national poll for CJR answers those questions, and points to how big the trust gap remains.”
60% of the American people, for instance, believe that sources pay reporters to put their stories out on the air. That alone tells you just how much ground the news media has to make up. That alone tells you just how fake and wretched we have come to see the mainstream press. Further evidence: 41% don’t believe stories that are filled with anonymous sources. That’s another brutal wake-up call for an industry that really could not exist were it not for people willing to go on the record without identifying themselves.
And still, the media is in denial.
Just look at this writeup in the Washington Post a few days ago, where Professor Jeremy Littau proposed to clear up some “myths” about journalism. Including the maxim that “good journalism must be objective.”
“The American Press Institute says the public has developed a flawed conception of news objectivity by confusing it with lack of bias,” Littau writes. “Objectivity as a journalistic practice is a relatively new phenomenon. From the founding of an independent United States to the penny press of the 1830s and the yellow journalism of the 1890s, the press was more often than not openly biased.”
Yeah, so…first of all, how can an opinion – “Good journalism must be objective” – be considered a “myth?” Second, how does reaching back to an even sorrier time in journalism prove that “good” journalism need not be objective?
If this is the best defense the Washington Post can come up with in 2019 – the “yeah, we’ll be biased if we want” defense – then there is little hope for a return to objective, meaningful reporting in the United States.