For two years, America heard practically nothing from the mainstream media but Russia collusion, Russia conspiracy, Russia obstruction of justice — President Donald Trump has stolen the election from Hillary Clinton and now must be impeached. Now, there’s a new narrative in town: Racism.
And all the good New York Times’ reporters go: Looks like we’ve got our next two years of coverage mapped.
No wonder recent polling shows a third of Americans see the news media as “the enemy of the people.”
In recently outed remarks, Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The New York Times, said: “We built our newsroom to cover one story. Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story.”
The Pulitzer’s calling, dontcha know.
But there’s the problem with news nowadays: It’s all about directing the narrative, not reporting the truth. Not letting the truth lead where it may.
Newsrooms really shouldn’t be building their newsrooms to cover one story or another, unless that particular story actually has wings to soar it to the heights that require that special all-hands-on-deck approach.
Frankly, Russia didn’t have those wings.
Russia instead had the kind of wings that were affixed by the media.
Or, as Rep. Devin Nunes put it in July congressional remarks: “[T]he American people may recall the media first began spreading this conspiracy theory in the spring of 2016 when Fusion GPS, funded by the DNC and the Hillary Clinton campaign, started developing the Steele dossier, a collection of outlandish accusations … [that were then fed to] partisan reporters and to top officials in numerous government agencies, including the FBI, the Department of Justice and the State Department.”
Yes indeed. The accusatory stories that followed this dossier became one of this decade’s best examples of biased reporting, with each camp — the press and the left-leaning government officials — playing off each other and creating the whirlwind of coverage that made it seem, by the sheer abundance of reports, that something must be there.
Something must be there — why else would there be so many reports of Russia collusion?
Something must be there — why else would there be so much talk in the media, among the pundits, among the government agencies, about Russia collusion?
That’s called story creation.
That’s how we got to the point in this country where Hill-Harris X could report, in a June poll, that 51% of Republicans, 46% of rural voters, and fully one-third of all Americans said the press was “the enemy of the people.”
Now circle around to political realities.
Former special counsel Robert Mueller has testified. And by all accounts, it was a nosedive. Democrats didn’t get their impeachment on a golden platter. Yet, elections still loom.
Yet, the economy’s still kicking.
Democrats sure seem in a lurch.
Enter, the good old race card.
Just a couple weeks ago, NAACP delegates gave the thumbs-up to a resolution supporting impeachment because of Trump’s — ba da dum, drumroll please — racism.
“The pattern of Trump’s misconduct is unmistakable and has proven time and time again that he is unfit to serve as the president of this country,” NAACP chief Derrick Johnson said. “This president has led one of the most racist and xenophobic administrations since the Jim Crow era. Trump needs to know that he is not above the law and the crimes that he has committed, and he must be prosecuted.”
Fly, said The New York Times, attaching its newest wings to the media cycle. And the wings called “racism” took flight.
• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @ckchumley.
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