Trump's Packing His Bags, But Partisan Media Is Here to Stay
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump's Packing His Bags, But Partisan Media Is Here to Stay
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
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As leaders of the anti-Trump “resistance,” America’s major newspapers, magazines, network and liberal cable news outlets abandoned journalistic principles to become propaganda arms of the Democrat party and the activist left. They have cast aside their historic commitment to open inquiry and fairness to protect Democrats while portraying Donald Trump as a traitor and his supporters as white supremacists.

A free press is essential to the functioning of a democratic Republic. It is a key channel for the free exchange and scrutiny of ideas. As the mainstream media has abandoned this role while advancing some narratives, no matter their faults, and delegitimizing others, no matter their merits, it is not surprising that cancel culture and anti-conservative censorship are flourishing on social media. Intimidation, coercion and punishment have always been the instruments of choice to silence dissent and destroy freedom.

The media’s partisanship is also a major contributor to the rage that defines the national mood. For progressives, who are increasingly losing their ability to see the world apart from political outcomes, this coverage defines Republicans as an immoral enemy that must be destroyed.

For conservatives, this deluge of deception about themselves and those they support is nothing less than an assault on their sanity, as they are incessantly told what they see, hear and understand is false, ugly and dangerous. It is literally maddening.

It is not a two-way street. Conservative news outlets also spread falsehoods and demonize progressives, but they do not control the national discourse.

The latest example of media malfeasance is its coverage of the criminal mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol last week because they believe the 2020 election was fraudulent. This isolated incident of violence by a small group of Trump supporters has been widely condemned by Democrats and Republicans who have properly demanded that perpetrators be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Nevertheless the media, which at long last has an example to support its pet narrative that conservatives are a clear and present danger to the Republic, has been inflating the threat while suggesting the vandals represent all Trump voters. Hence the claim that the mob was orchestrating a coup. Whatever its intention, that ragtag crew was never going to topple our constitutional government. But such basic common sense is irrelevant to a media that just wants to score points for its side.  

That violence, however, did not arise out of thin air. It follows at least a decade of sustained efforts by progressives to challenge election results through direct action – starting with the takeover of the Wisconsin statehouse in 2011 and the Moral Monday protests launched in North Carolina in 2013. Those angry but peaceful protests evolved into the Black Lives Matter and antifa-led insurrections that began last spring and have led to multiple deaths and billions of dollars in property damage.

The mainstream media and top Democrats downplayed that violence and celebrated the lawbreakers. Vice President-elect Kamala Harris encouraged her supporters to contribute to the bail funds for people arrested in connection with the arson and looting that ravaged Minneapolis.

Echoing false coverage in the mainstream media, President-elect Joe Biden fanned the flames of division last week when he smeared the U.S. Capitol Police as racist by claiming, without evidence, that they were soft on the mob because they were white. “No one can tell me,” Biden said on Jan. 7, “that if that had been a group of Black Lives Matter protesting yesterday, they would have been treated very, very differently than the mob of thugs that stormed the Capitol."

Never mind that the police used tear gas to disperse the crowd, or that they fatally shot an unarmed woman. And never mind that law enforcement’s response to the summer protests was largely marked by restraint. BLM protesters were allowed to march through the streets and intimidate their fellow citizens with impunity in D.C. and elsewhere and to illegally occupy entire neighborhoods. The facts don’t matter if they don’t serve the narrative.

Democrats argue that it is worse to attack the U.S. Capitol than loot businesses and torch police stations in America’s cities. Perhaps so, but both are beyond the pale. As many Republicans still challenge the results of the 2020 election, the media and Democrats are claiming such questions threaten our democracy. Down the memory hole is the fact these same people spent four years claiming President Trump worked with the Russians to steal the 2016 race. Biden said, “I absolutely agree” after a woman called Trump an “illegitimate president” last year.

Biden has also joined Harris and other top Democrats in claiming that Stacey Abrams was robbed of victory in the 2018 Georgia governor’s race by Republican subterfuge. Instead of castigating Abrams for stoking conspiracy theories, the media portrays her as a champion of justice.

The failure to raise these points and thus contextualize last week’s abhorrent violence is journalistic malpractice. Instead of exploring the idea that Trump supporters were taking a page out of the progressive playbook, our major news outlets are portraying the violence as proof of the GOP’s singularly dark soul.

Such duplicity has become business as usual at these outlets. While Trump explicitly condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists in his post-Charlottesville press conference (and on countless other occasions), the mainstream press – and Joe Biden – insisted he did not.

During the 2020 campaign, the press helped Biden advance the false claim that information found on his son Hunter’s laptop was “Russian disinformation” even though the candidate himself offered no evidence of this strange assertion or even denied the veracity of the information found on it.

The same press corps that uncritically reported on unfounded and often wild sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh worked to undermine Tara Reade’s more recent accusations against Biden.

Many people hope that, having defeated Trump, the mainstream media will right its ship and recommit itself to journalism’s best values. This is wishful thinking. The evidence demonstrates that it has embraced a partisan role. The editors and reporters at our nation’s leading news organizations believe there is a single truth – and it is theirs.

Our democracy is dying in this darkness.

J. Peder Zane is an editor for RealClearInvestigations and a columnist for RealClearPolitics.



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