Attorney General William Barr has become not just the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, but also a prominent critic of what he believes is a degenerating Washington political scene.
In November, he attacked liberal Democrats for organizing themselves into “The Resistance” to sabotage President Trump.
This week, he said the Washington liberal news media have become a “monolithic” band of political activists, instead of journalists.
“Today in the United States, the corporate – or ‘mainstream’ – press is massively consolidated,” Mr. Barr said Wednesday in a speech in Nashville to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention. “And it has become remarkably monolithic in viewpoint, at the same time that an increasing number of journalists see themselves less as objective reporters of the facts, and more as agents of change.”
Mr. Barr’s criticism mirrors Mr. Trump’s, though the president delivers his gut-reaction responses more often and on his Twitter account with the phrase “fake news” he made famous. His targets are often The New York Times, Washington Post and CNN whom he believes skewer coverage of his presidency with constant negative spin and inaccuracies.
Conservatives for years have labeled the liberal press as the “mainstream media.” Today they also refer to it as the “resistance press.”
The attorney general’s press message puts him more in line with Mr. Trump after he pretty much scolded the chief executive during an ABC News interview for intruding via Twitter on pending criminal cases.
Mr. Barr’s speech was the second devoted to what he considers a decline in Washington’s political culture. In November, he lashed out at Democrats who openly refer to themselves as “The Resistance” against the Trump administration. He likened the term to opponents of a harsh dictatorship, not a democratically elected president.
“The fact of the matter is that, in waging a scorched earth, no-holds-barred war of ‘resistance’ against this administration, it is the Left that is engaged in the systematic shredding of norms and the undermining of the rule of law,” Mr. Barr told attendees of the Federalist Society’s 2019 National Lawyers Convention.
An FBI lawyer accused of wronging in the Trump-Russia probe sent a social media message post-election cheering on The Resistance.
In his Wednesday speech on the news media, Mr. Barr said a media conglomerate has formed where the Founder Fathers counted on a constitutionally empowered and diverse free press.
He cited Alexis de Tocqueville, the French diplomat and political scientist who wrote “Democracy in America” after touring the young nation.
“These developments have given the press an unprecedented ability to mobilize a broad segment of the public on a national scale and direct that opinion in a particular direction,” he said. “When the entire press ‘advances along the same track,’ as Tocqueville put it, the relationship between the press and the energized majority becomes mutually reinforcing. Not only does it become easier for the press to mobilize a majority, but the mobilized majority becomes more powerful and overweening with the press as its ally.”
He added, “This is not a positive cycle, and I think it is fair to say that it puts the press’ role as a breakwater for the tyranny of the majority in jeopardy. The key to restoring the press in that vital role is to cultivate a greater diversity of voices in the media.”
He turned to the audience to encourage broadcasters to present views different than the media monolith.
“That is where you come in,” he said. “You are one of the last holdouts in the consolidation of organs and viewpoints of the press. It is, therefore, essential that you continue your work and continue to supply the people with diverse, divergent perspectives on the news of the day. And in this secular age, it is especially vital that your religious perspective is voiced.”
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