We have a strong political divide and it’s not healthy. But this is not about politics. It is about journalism. Having said that, journalism has become political. Nothing has exposed this as well as the Trump election and his failure to be re-elected. This piece points out not only bias, but complete loss of journalistic objectivity.
When it is only acceptable to write one view, then journalism becomes suspect. It trespasses the high journalistic standard–the code of objectivity–which is ultimately the foundation of public journalistic trust.
You’ve all seen them–the articles covering Trump’s claim of American election fraud. Maybe the election was stolen. Maybe it wasn’t. But one thing I know. It’s not up to journalists to print a verdict before the evidence is examined and tried in court. However, this is what happened, right out of the election gate, and we all witnessed it.
I’m not American. I hope the election wasn’t stolen. But how can I know, if nobody is willing to examine the evidence, much less give it credibility?
From the perspective of the media, election fraud is completely preposterous. The obvious bias of journalists, supported by–probably encouraged by–the news outlets, is almost laughable, but for the implications. Journalism that is influenced can be corrupted. When the public feels that journalism is influenced, it loses confidence in the reporting of news. In recent years there has been a shocking erosion of public trust in media.
I’ve taken an article printed on various new sites such as The Guardian, the Business Insider and The Washington Times for my illustration of media bias. The articles look much the same and there are numerous similar articles in print, with different angles, regarding the US election.
The article headline is Steve Scalise, No 2 House Republican, refuses to say election was not stolen. Below is the complete article with my personal observations in bold.
In a television interview aired Sunday, Oct. 10, 2021, Scalise, the House’s second-ranking Republican, stood by Trump’s lie (should be “claim”) that Democrat Joe Biden won the White House because of mass voter fraud.
By Hope Yen – Associated Press – Sunday, October 10, 2021
WASHINGTON (AP) — The House’s second-ranking Republican, Rep. Steve Scalise, repeatedly refused to say on Sunday that the 2020 election wasn’t stolen, standing by Donald Trump’s lie (should be “claim”) that Democrat Joe Biden won the White House because of mass voter fraud.
More than 11 months after Americans picked their president and almost nine months since Biden was inaugurated, Scalise was unwilling during a national television interview to acknowledge the legitimacy of the vote, instead sticking to his belief that the election results should not have been certified by Congress.
“I’ve been very clear from the beginning,” he said. “If you look at a number of states, they didn’t follow their state-passed laws that govern the election for president. That is what the United States Constitution says. They don’t say the states determine what the rules are. They say the state legislatures determine the rules,” the Louisiana congressman said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Pressed by moderator Chris Wallace on whether the election went beyond a few irregularities to be considered “stolen,” Scalise responded: “It’s not just irregularities. It’s states that did not follow the laws set which the Constitution says they’re supposed to follow.”
Trump left office in January a few weeks after a mob of his supporters stormed the Capitol in a violent riot in an attempt to prevent Congress from formally declaring Biden the winner. (placed here for effect)
As Trump mulls a 2024 presidential bid, he has been intensifying efforts to shame – and potentially remove – members of his party who are seen as disloyal to his bogus claims (should leave out bogus) that last year’s election was illegitimate. House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who is vying to become speaker if the GOP takes control after the 2022 midterm election, continues to defend Trump and his false assertions (should leave out false).
At a rally Saturday in Iowa, Trump spent almost 30 minutes arguing falsely (should leave out falsely because this is inserting a belief of the author) that he had won Arizona, Georgia and Pennsylvania. Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds stood by and welcomed his return to their state.
In fact, no election was stolen (appropriate wording would be, “According to….no election was stolen”) from Trump. His former attorney general, William P. Barr, found no evidence of widespread election corruption. Allegations of massive voting fraud also have been dismissed by a succession of judges and refuted by state election officials and an arm of the Homeland Security Department during the Trump administration. (A good journalist would dig into this and also include information from those bringing the allegations. There is a story here.)
Scalise on Sunday appeared to be referring to the legal argument, made in several lawsuits backed by Trump before and after last November’s election, that the Constitution gives the power of election administration exclusively to state lawmakers. (What exactly does the Constitution say? Why not a quote here?) The suits sought to invalidate a number of pandemic-era accommodations including expanded mail voting that were put in place by governors, state election officials and judges. (Did Trump have a case, based on the Constitution? Was there any question of legality here? We need more information. We rely on journalists for this information.)
The high court ultimately turned away the cases, declining to rule on the matter. There’s no indication in any of the suits (not one example is given of a suit…bad journalism) that changing the COVID-19 accommodations would have altered a state’s election results.
Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., who is serving on a House committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, on Sunday slammed Scalise for spreading Trump’s “Big Lie.”
“Millions of Americans have been sold a fraud that the election was stolen,” Cheney tweeted. “Republicans have a duty to tell the American people that this is not true. Perpetuating the Big Lie is an attack on the core of our constitutional republic.”
END OF ARTICLE
It is the responsibility of journalists to present evidence and then to trust the public to have the intelligence and insight to come to a reasonable conclusion.
The beauty of the article is that the last two paragraphs reveal the logic of the writer. We might rephrase, “Journalists and the news outlets have the responsibility to tell the American people what to believe.” This, of course, is false. It is not the role of journalism, in a democratic society, to push a certain narrative. We see this happening in totalitarian states where news sites and journalists are the propaganda arm of the government and must tout the party line, or face consequences.
Readers want information. We want to be able to trust journalists to give us both sides. We want to examine the evidence for ourselves. We don’t want to be told what to believe. And we would like to see journalists’ opinions reserved for Commentary and Opinion columns.