After decades of spending my life in media as a newspaper reporter, magazine editor and radio news director, I think I can spot bias. And it is apparent that the bulk of the most powerful American mass media—the major networks as well as the two most powerful newspapers in America, the New York Times and Washington Post—are incredibly biased against President Trump.
A Pox on Both the Major Parties
Just to settle this at the outset let me stipulate my prejudices. I didn’t vote for Trump in 2016, nor for the sad sack Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
I say sad sack because, regardless of whether you supported her or not, she ran a dreary, egregious lazy campaign in which she called many voters “deplorables,” then she expected their support. She went to West Virginia, a big coal mining state, and proceeded to brag that she was such a great environmentalist that she was going to put a lot of coalminers out of work.
Still, anyone reading this column over the last four years knows I generally am highly critical of the both major parties’ career officeholders. The two biggest parties seem mostly populated by men and women who will say and do almost anything. That’s provided it keeps them clear of controversy and wins them elections and re-elections. So the primary goal of most career pols both right and left is to keep themselves on the public payroll until they eventually retire. They then collect their government retirement paychecks. They are usually much larger than what their constituents receive. After that, our governing class tends to move to a low state like Florida.
Four years ago, I supported the libertarian candidate, Gary Johnson, in the last presidential race.
I had contempt for both the erratic Trump and the sleazy former secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
Johnson was the former New Mexico governor. He got four and a quarter million votes in the last election. That was a remarkable number for a third-party candidate. He was ignored by the mainstream media, which tacitly supports a system in which third party candidates are blocked in every attempt to become part of the campaign. For example, they are rarely allowed to participate in debates.
By the way, Johnson and other third parties are also ignored by the mainstream media. Here is another example of media bias. But these columns will mainly discuss the bias I see against Trump. I have seen it for years, including in the CBS Evening News and NBC Nightly News.
The Broadcast Foundation
CBS represents the network with the greatest prestige in broadcast journalism. It was the network of Edward R. Morrow and Howard K. Smith, among others. NBC has been the ratings leader in recent years. It was the network of the great David Brinkley. All of them must be turning in their graves.
Of Donald Trump I will say I agree with about 20 percent of what he has done. But, and it dangerous to say this in almost any place in New York, I don’t detest Trump. I don’t want him placed in Dante’s Inferno. However, I don’t exactly like him, especially when he so often tweets stupid comments, picking some needless fights.
Nevertheless, Trump’s numbers problems don’t justify “reporters” losing all sense of proportion. If you watch the entire press briefings—and not just the 20 or 25 second cuts played on the evening news—you will often see many of these reporters departing from their roles. They become advocates, not impartial journalists. They no longer are looking to find and report facts, facts that will show all sides of often complex events. Many mainstream media reporters aren’t even trying to be objective. They do so because they are being enabled by their networks and newspapers.
But let us now look at specific incidents of media bias I have seen over the past four years. It began even before Trump took the oath of office.
The Beginning of the Bias
On the night that Trump pulled his upset election in November 2016, it soon became obvious that many of the mainstream media were in shock and ready to wage war on the new president.
To say there would be no honeymoon period was an understatement. Indeed, the bride and groom were feuding even before they got to the altar. NBC News people, who were late on recognizing that Trump had won, seemed in shock. I thought some of their people would actually start crying when it became apparent that Hillary Clinton had blown what seemed like a layup election.
By the way, Clinton seemed to lack any class or sense of decency. Thousands of her supporters were at the Javits Center in New York waiting for her either to concede or say that not all the returns were in and she would fight on. These teary people, who busted a gut for her, had to hear one of her associates give a brief speech. Hillary Clinton, who was just a few blocks away, couldn’t be bothered to come over and thank her supporters.
Back at NBC News, the news division foreign affairs head, Richard Engel was anything but teary. He was angry. He practically declared war on president elect Trump.
(An aside: NBC over the years has drastically cut back its foreign new coverage and seems it is down to just one foreign news bureau, London. Their foreign stories are often re-writes of wire service copy with a reporter voicing the story in New York and signing off as the reporter’s name, “NBC News.” This gives the impression that NBC has someone in the field gathering information and covering the story, which is often not the case).
Engel famously said this night—a night in which NBC reported that markets were about to tank because of the Trump election—that “Trump is being blackmailed by the Russians.”
Really? What a great story!
Here, possibly, was the beginning of three years of investigations of Trump by his political rivals seeking and failing to prove that he was in the pockets of the Russians. They, so the faux story goes, supposedly had fixed the election. Therefore no one should blame the “faultless” Hillary. That’s even though several books would later document that she had run a horrible campaign. By the way, I would recommend the book “Shattered.”
Let us consider Engel’s charges. There’s a big problem with them. They have never been proven. And neither his colleagues nor his bosses at NBC News have ever called him to account. What happens when someone at the mainstream media publishes or broadcasts an anti-Trump story that is patently false?
But, for the moment, let us spend a few minutes in Wonderland and consider Engel’s charge.
It is clear that if someone could actually document that charge—that a president, any president, or a prime minster—was being blackmailed by a foreign government, that reporter would win a Pulitzer; that his or her career would be made. That reporter would be the next Bob Woodward or Carl Bernstein.
Fine, where is Engel’s prize? Where are the glorious plaudits for NBC News?
There are none. But this is just one example of several cases of mainstream media bias that I will document here in the coming weeks. Please come back for more.
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