Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What the Two Rules of Modern Journalism Seem to Be These Days

    In the New York Times, Joshua Green complains about the (alleged) fact that No One Cares About Russia in the World Breitbart Made (thanks to Instapundit):
Look to the right now and you’re apt to find an alternative reality in which the same set of facts is rearranged to compose an entirely different narrative.

… There have been mileposts along the way: the populist revolt on the right that killed bipartisan immigration reform in 2013, the toppling of House Speaker John Boehner in 2015. And, of course, the rise of Mr. Trump, whose attacks on the mainstream media have conditioned his supporters to dismiss as “fake news” any reporting that is critical of him or his administration — Mr. Trump has even criticized the coverage of his son’s Russia liaison, where the basic facts aren’t in dispute, as coming from the “fake media.”

 … One reason that an alternative view of reality has taken such deep root among Republicans is that they seem to be focusing more on the broader culture. … If you’re not a Republican, watching Republicans react to the news can feel a bit like witnessing a mass hallucination. Even more so when some emissary from the alternate Republican universe like Kellyanne Conway teleports onto CNN or another mainstream outlet to state her case.
    What test will it take, asks the author of the forthcoming “Devil’s Bargain” (Steve Bannon, Donald Trump, and the Storming of the Presidency), in order to measure "just what it takes to snap out of a mass hallucination"?

    In response to Joshua Green's column bemoaning Republicans' "mass hallucination" ("No One Cares About Russia in the World Breitbart Made," July 15, aka The World Through Breitbart-Vision, July 16), I have a few questions:

    If the New York Times is concerned about American statesmen colluding with, and being stooges for, the Russians, why did you not raise an uproar about the U.S. president who whispered to the Russian leader that he would have "more flexibility" toward Moscow after the next election?

    If you are concerned with American politicians who sell out national security for money, how about the secretary of state involved in a uranium deal with the Kremlin, after which the pol's spouse and/or foundation became the recipients of hundreds of thousands of rubles?

    If you are concerned with elected officials creating shady back channels to foreign countries (indeed, to adversaries), how about the time the White House gave not $1.7 million, not $170 million, but $1.7 billion (all or most of it in cash) to the ayatollahs of a country of terrorism supporters who regularly whip up rallies with shouts of "Death to America"?

    What accounts for the difference?

    Isn't it that Trump and the Bushes et al are rightists and Republicans — who therefore must be demonized and countered at every step of the way — while the likes of Barack Obama and the Clintons are leftists and Democrats, who, as demi-Gods, are unworthy of investigations and, indeed, hardly any negative coverage whatsoever?

    Unless Republicans are hallucinating, the two rules for modern journalism seem to be:

    Rule 1:  The words and deeds of politicians, leaders, and the powerful must be duly met with skepticism, put into doubt, fact-checked, countered, and opposed.

    Rule 2:  Rule 1 only applies to people on the right and to Republicans.

    (With Democrats, the attitude seems to be more in the vein of "Kindly tell us your glorious plans for fundamentally transforming the United States of America and taking our country to a radiant new future.")

    My final question to you is: 

    What is it about double standards that they do not teach at the Columbia School of Journalism?

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