Why conservatives don’t trust the media

The journalistic field of the 21st century really does have a problem with “diversity”—ideological diversity

The CNN team is always eager to depict themselves as saintly apostles of the unbiased truth. In recent days, they have shared many videos of themselves meeting rough treatment at the hands of last week’s Capitol Hill besiegers.

From what I have seen, most of the roughing up was verbal, and there were some attacks on equipment. (See video below.)

But even verbal attacks of this nature aren’t something that anyone should wink at. This shouldn’t happen in America.

Likewise, this blog encourages all sides to refrain from political violence or threatening words—and to settle their differences peacefully.

It is worth asking, though: Why does almost everyone right of Joe Biden dislike and distrust the media? I would never assault a CNN reporter—verbally or otherwise. But I must admit, I no longer trust a word that CNN correspondents say, unless they’re talking about a weather event. (And even then, I like to fact-check them with another source, if I can.)

This wasn’t always the case. CNN used to be different, in the 1980s and the 1990s.

Here’s a concrete example. In one of the presidential debates of 1988, liberal Democrat Michael Dukakis was destroyed by a single question. The moderator who delivered that question was none other than CNN anchor Bernard Shaw. Watch the video below.

Imagine that: a CNN journalist giving a liberal Democratic politician a tough, potentially campaign-ending question. But Bernard Shaw was a different kind of CNN correspondent.

Shaw retired from CNN in 2001, after more than 40 years in journalism. It is quite possible—quite likely, really—that Bernard Shaw’s personal sentiments leaned Democratic. Nevertheless, he saw his mission as moderator in the 1988 presidential debate as one of “getting to the truth”.

Going into the 1988 election, many Americans were concerned that Dukakis was too liberal in general, and too “soft on crime” in particular. Dukakis’s answer regarding the death penalty, following the hypothetical rape and murder of his wife, revealed that he was, in fact, too liberal for most American voters. (Dukakis lost in a blowout in ’88.)

Bernard Shaw is also a former Marine and a Vietnam veteran. Shaw, born in 1940, is now more than 80 years old. They don’t make CNN journalists like that anymore.

The new breed of journalists, the Gen-Xers and Millennials, entered the field from the 1980s onward. As a Gen-xer myself (born in 1968), I can tell you that few conservatives, or even moderates, entered fields like teaching and journalism by the 1980s. Those had already become hothouses of leftwing progressivism.

Fast-forward to the tumultuous present, and almost all journalists lean to the left. This is why public attitudes about the media differ so sharply along party/ideological lines.

Case-in-point: Consider the way the media handles “riots”. The journalists at Vox have practically tripped all over themselves making excuses for the Black Lives Matter riots—which were (let us be clear) riots. Note the following headline, after one of the original BLM riots:

“Riots are destructive, dangerous, and scary — but can lead to serious social reforms”

Vox on the BLM riots

On the other hand, when Trump supporters rioted last week (and let us be clear again: that was a riot, too), Vox suddenly became a champion of law and order. Lock ‘em up and throw away the key!

Vox on the pro-Trump, anti-election fraud riots

It doesn’t stop there. Let’s take a case that was a little bit less life-and-death. In 2018, the New York Times named a reporter from The Verge, Sarah Jeong, to its editorial board. It was later discovered that Jeong, a woman of color, had made numerous racist comments about white people on her Twitter feed over the years.

Vox could have done the right thing, and condemned Jeong’s behavior. But because Jeong was a woman of color, Vox engaged in all sorts of contortions, making excuses for her. Vox blamed the whole thing on a “rightwing conspiracy”.

There was no doubt, though, that Jeong had done what she had done. It was all out there on the Internet.

Sarah Jeong, new member of the NYT editorial board in 2018

In those two cases, you see the difference between the CNN journalists of 1988 (i.e, Bernard Shaw), and the journalists of today.

Today’s journalists are basically engaging in “advocacy journalism”. Absolutely everything they report has a “spin”—and it’s only one spin.

Why should we believe what they say, or take them seriously?

(But I reiterate: There is never an excuse for attacking or threatening journalists, or anyone else. That was wrong.)

***

The bad blood between conservatives and journalists goes far beyond our current cultural divide. The real problem is that almost every journalism student since the 1980s has been a liberal Democrat in both affiliation and orientation.

We need a lot of things right now in our society. But not least among these would be a quota system for journalism schools, restricting liberal Democrats to 50% of each incoming class.

I’m speaking tongue-in-cheek, of course. But the journalistic field of the 21st century really does have a problem with “diversity”—ideological diversity. Until that is corrected, journalists will likely be unwelcome at conservative gatherings by default.

It wasn’t always that way, and it shouldn’t be that way. But then again, there was a time, only a few decades ago, when not every journalist leaned so obviously to the left.