In the wake of Attorney General William Barr’s determination that Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report exonerated President Trump from allegations of foreign collusion and obstruction of justice, the left-leaning mainstream media in the United States has had a total and complete meltdown over what they see as an unfair conclusion to a series of events that had them utterly convinced that the president would be impeached and imprisoned. The various overreactions of mainstream media talking heads have been somewhat amusing to witness, ranging from Stephen Colbert’s rant about how Trump is still a “terrible president for 500 other reasons” even though collusion was finally not a crime anymore, to Rachel Maddow now attempting to discredit Mueller himself, despite investing over two years’ worth of time glorifying him.
Chelsea Handler, another outspoken actress who has a history of demonizing the president, went on a Twitter rant during which she professed having a “sexual attraction” to Robert Mueller. Saturday Night Live has released dozens of comedy shorts with Robert De Niro impersonating Mueller, always hovering around the two terrified-looking Trump sons, and promising eventual retribution and justice. According to a detailed report, CNN has spent on average approximately three minutes every single day for an entire two years pushing the narrative of Russian collusion. And so, in the ridiculously anti-climactic conclusion that the President of the United States is obviously not a foreign puppet, it is easy to imagine why most of the media would be having a particularly difficult time accepting reality.
Donald Trump’s son, Don Jr., is certainly not an unbiased figure. He has a history of spreading right-wing memes mocking Democrats on his social media pages. He has made a plethora of controversial statements against the president’s enemies, including once comparing Muslim immigrants to a bag of potentially poisonous Skittles. However, if there is one thing he is right about, it is the sorry state of the mainstream media today, and the massive bias that journalists exude against the president and Republicans by extension.
A survey found that approximately 75 percent of all journalists in America today are Democrats and liberal-leaning. It found that only 9 percent of all journalists are Republicans and sympathize with conservative causes. When Trump supporters at his rallies chant “CNN sucks,” they are responding to the negative attitude the mainstream media has against Republicans. They’re expressing their legitimate frustration with the obvious bias against literally 50 percent of America in the media.
The survey also found that over 90 percent of the total media coverage of President Trump has been extremely hostile. There is not another single president in American history who has faced such uneven coverage from the media. It is therefore entirely fair for the Trump family to criticize the media for the manner in which they have treated him.
Media bias against Trump does not end at the White House. This pattern has been extremely pronounced against conservatives in America today. One example is how the media covered the temper tantrums Democrats Stacey Abrams and Andrew Gillum threw after they lost their races for Governor in Georgia and Florida, respectively. Both made totally evidence-free claims of voter suppression and blatant racism. Both refused to concede their elections, and to this day, continue to claim that the governorship was stolen from them. The media continues to fawn over and defend both individuals, and has published endless articles fantasizing about Abrams potentially running for president. And yet, when Republicans even bring up the possibility of voter fraud in suspiciously close races in California, the same media figures viciously attack Republicans as being “racist” and “hating democracy.” In other words, when Democrats lose, they are free to never accept defeat, but when Republicans lose, they need to shut up and go home.
As a constitutional republic with almost 250 years of history, the United States of America prides itself in protecting the freedom of the press in the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. In order to ensure that our public officials are held fully accountable, this Amendment is vital to the success and continued vibrancy of our democracy. We have checks and balances with the three branches of government for a simple reason — so that no individual or political entity gains too much power. That should be the same case for the media in America today, which, unfortunately, currently suffers from the lowest confidence levels from the American public in a very long time.
Just because the media has the freedom to publish does not mean it shouldn’t be held to basic standards. Lying, cherry-picking, clickbaiting and misleading the audience doesn’t just damage the reputations of journalists — it cheapens political rhetoric and actually inspires political extremism. When Americans can no longer trust the news, there aren’t alternative sources to discern reality from fiction. That is the real danger that actually feeds the seeds of authoritarianism because the one of the most common tactics dictators use to maintain power is to discredit and destroy the free press.
For all the talk about how Trump is a threat to the media, perhaps we should take a step back and think again. As hostile as Trump is to the media, his anger isn’t completely unwarranted. The bias against conservatives and right-of-center viewpoints isn’t anything new. And quite frankly, the biggest enemy of the media isn’t Trump — it’s themselves. They are the only people capable of rewriting their own reputation. It is ultimately entirely in their hands to change their behavior — otherwise, their credibility in the eyes of 50 percent of Americans will be permanently tarred.
It is a common saying that the media is the Fourth Estate. It is important for journalists to remember the heavy responsibility that they carry with them. The New York Times and the Washington Post published false intelligence about supposed WMDs in Iraq, which cost over 5,000 American lives and millions of dead Iraqi civilians. During the 1950s, mainstream news outlets engaged in brazen Red Scare McCarthyist tactics, causing an American Cultural Revolution in which thousands of innocent citizens were falsely smeared as being communist sympathizers. Even earlier, during the first decades of the 1900s, media magnate William Randolph Hearst used his political influence to engage in yellow journalism, falsely blaming Spain for attacking and sinking a US warship in Cuba. This was the precursor of the Spanish-American war, which again cost thousands of lives on both sides.
Words have power. Those who speak and write have great responsibility. While the government is kept in check by voters and the media, journalists must also abide by a code of ethics, the most important quality of which is honesty. Until that changes, there isn’t a bright future for American journalism in the 21st century.