The publisher of the New York Times wrote an Op-Ed that appeared in the Wall Street Journal, my favorite daily newspaper. Even though the Times has its own well-distributed publication, it chose to submit its editorial to the Journal, perhaps as a nod to the Journal’s many Conservative readers, who have largely abandoned the Liberal press because they print FAKE NEWS.
The publisher makes the case that President Trump is the danger to American democracy because he throws around serious charges willy-nilly. In this case, he accused the Times of committing a “virtual act of treason.”
The Times objects, and the publisher gives a fairly lengthy account not of the specific incident which provoked Trump (and for which it does seem like Trump over-reacted) but of the various violations that Trump has made over the past couple of years.
Yet the publisher admits no wrongdoing by the press. He remains blissfully unaware and oblivious to the very valid point Donald Trump has been making repeatedly, one which resonates with his supporters because it is simply true: the press prints false news because it has stopped being objective.
The mainstream media has lost its way and abandoned its professional obligations. But this didn’t just start happening: this has been going on for at least 20 or 30 years. Trump is the first major Republican political figure to take on the press and bring this issue to light.
As one of our leading publishers, the NYT could actually work to fix this problem, but first it must admit it is part of the problem. Instead, the Times takes this as 100% Trump’s fault and 0% the Times (and the other media’s) fault. That simply is untrue.
While the word “treason” is powerful, I don’t think you can charge an organization with it. It is a personal charge. Trump is painting a broad brush and obviously can’t be taken literally. Yet the things the New York Times has printed about President Trump is far worse. Just start with the word “racist” and I’ll bet he’s been called that word at least 1,000 times in print in that paper. With all the things that have been said about Trump (racist, Nazi, sexist, homophobe, xenophobe, etc.), the Times likes to throw punches but can’t take them.
I agree that the government cannot and should not regulate the press. The press has to regulate itself. The NYT, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe, and the rest have dismally failed at any self-regulation. They have abandoned their professional ethics because (evidently) electing Democrats is more important than practicing professional journalism. But in the long run, real newspaper professionals should realize that the importance of a free press to democracy transcends any individual President, by far.
We have a natural flow of political leaders. Power waxes and wanes over time. When the pendulum swings too far one way, it tends to swing back later. Having a free and professional press helps this happen. If the Times were to cover President Trump fairly, he would probably easily win re-election as did President Obama, but maybe we would see a strong showing from the Democrats in 2024. But the Times can’t wait for then, it feels it must take an active role to get involved now, so it abandons it’s professional pretenses and actively works to undermine one side to help the other. When people realize this (and it is probably quite apparent to most, outside of those who work in these newsrooms), they stop reading or believing what they read, so the theoretically important work of the press gets diminished. And that is a greater danger to our democracy than a “Donald Trump.”
Let me underscore that this isn’t a new phenomenon. George W. Bush was viciously attacked, as many of you still remember. “He lied, people died” was the Left’s mantra. The Left said he was the worst president ever. They also were nasty to his father, to Ronald Reagan, and of course, to Richard Nixon. How come every Republican president is evil, racist, etc.? What are the odds of that?
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