We can’t say we’re very much surprised by the latest numbers the Gallup organization is putting out showing America’s trust in the major media is just 2 points away from its lowest point ever. Look at how the biggest stories of the last few years were mishandled.
The Russian-Trump collusion story was pushed nonstop for two years because of a dossier the major American media said had been compiled by knowledgeable people on the fringes of the global intelligence community. The issues it raised, they reported with all solemnity, needed investigation since they touched on President Donald Trump’s fitness to occupy the presidency.
If they’d looked into the dossier’s provenance with the same intensity that they repeated its more salacious allegations, they might have uncovered on their own that it started life as a political smear, created by opposition researchers working for a law firm doing the bidding of a major-party presidential campaign. But they weren’t interested, just as they weren’t interested in identifying the whistleblower whose allegations kicked off the first Trump impeachment effort. No curiosity was expressed to see if he (or she) had an ax to grind or a relationship with anyone who might profit from Mr. Trump’s removal. Strange behavior for new organizations, especially given the way they operated in the Reagan, Bush I and Bush II years.
That’s not their only sin. They also blew it on COVID-19, publicizing the number people of dying but never asking important questions about why they were. It was important to know how many people were dying from the coronavirus alone versus the number of people who also had pneumonia, cancer, or other potentially fatal illnesses. They didn’t ask because it didn’t drive the narrative they established.
They didn’t ask, at least until it was too late, why people recovering from COVID-19 infections were being sent to nursing homes full of older people vulnerable to respiratory viruses. Instead, they focused on things that stampeded us into putting on masks that did little good, closing the schools and locking the economy down while excoriating as anti-science anyone who questioned the conventional wisdom.
The COVID-19 coverage is only one criticism of the pack journalism that is the American media. What they don’t cover can be just as bad, like what was on Hunter Biden’s laptop. That’s something the press and Big Tech worked together to keep from dominating at a critical point in the 2020 presidential election. As President Richard Nixon said, “People have got to know whether or not their president is a crook.”
Instead, they buried the story and the outlets that would cover it because, we’re supposed to believe, a bunch of former high- and mid-level U.S. government intelligence officials signed a letter organized by a former Obama staffer saying the laptop story had “all the earmarks of a Russian false flag intel operation.”
Nobody but the independent media, and we proudly include ourselves in their ranks, seemed to notice the people who signed that letter had also been peddling by that time the discredited Trump-Russia collusion story in print and on TV for two years. It’s no wonder Gallup found that two-thirds of American adults don’t trust that their news is being reported fairly and accurately.
As bad as they are in public, however, is nothing compared to how vicious the media can get in private. In a recent interview, former New York Times editorial page editor James Bennet decried how he was treated by his now-former colleagues after he selected for publication an op-ed by Arkansas Republican Sen. Tom Cotton that argued the National Guard should be sent in to stop the Black Lives Matter riots in the summer of 2020.
The social justice warriors working in the Times newsroom were outraged and made sure people knew it. Mr. Bennet said he tried to appease them by appending an editor’s note but that proved to be his ultimate undoing.
“My mistake there was trying to mollify people,” he said, lamenting how publisher A.G. Sulzberger missed the chance to use the moment “to make clear that the New York Times doesn’t exist just to tell progressives how progressives should view reality.”
“When push came to shove at the end, [Sulzberger] set me on fire and threw me in the garbage and used my reverence for the institution against me,” he continued. “This is why I was so bewildered for so long after I had what felt like all my colleagues treating me like an incompetent fascist.”
There are plenty of reasons of late to wonder about the accuracy of the polls. But if Gallup says just 7% of Americans have “a great deal” of trust and confidence in the media while 28% of U.S. adults say they don’t have “very much confidence” and 38% have none in newspapers, TV and radio, you can believe it.