I’ve suspended the rules of the local media bias contest this week because I’m drunk with power and can. Actually, I was unable to see any other bias than the flood of reprehensible behavior from our media, both nationally and locally.
Yesterday five innocent journalists were gunned down at The Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland. Before the bodies were cold, media speculated that somehow Trump was responsible because he’s called them out for being what they are: dishonest and corrupt. The editor of Reuters, no less, asked if Trump liked having blood on his hands. The evidence for this tragedy being tied to him? None. Zero. Zilch. Nada. He later deleted that appalling tweet and apologized but guess which tweet was widely retweeted and remarked upon?
Sensing that accusing a sitting President of being an accomplice to murder was ill advised even for them, other media types seized on a passing flippant statement in private emails from Milo Yiannopoulos who said that he couldn’t wait for vigilantes to gun down journalists. His comment after Annapolis received vastly more coverage than before, of course. Milo was trolling and media knew it but it was a convenient narrative hook so they ran with it.
Jarrod Ramos–awkward, that last name–was the murderer and he had spent the last seven years harassing the paper. As Mike Cernovich said “All day Milo and Trump got blamed, wasn’t even on them, guy was a long time psychopath and stalker. Now that “the other side” can’t be blame (sic), this story will be gone within 48 hours.”
One self-righteous CNN editor recounted the times media continued to work despite floods and another instance of workplace violence, to which @PunishedGoose responded “No matter what disasters God sends their way, they will never learn their lesson and they will continue to slander people even under heavy gunfire.”
Slander reached its high point when a verified Massachusetts reporter, @CBerry413, tweeted “Shooter who killed 4 people at Annapolis newspaper dropped his #MAGA hat on newsroom floor before opening fire.” Completely invented, completely unsourced and somehow media think they deserve our respect. I don’t think so.
When it became clear this was another sad instance of workplace violence, local media turned to preening about how great they are, underappreciated by the unwashed. When I mocked that sentiment I was castigated by the books editor of the Star Tribune and by an editorial board member. I can’t do better than @JBurtonXP who had the perfect, deadly response to this self-serving nonsense: “We journalists spent all afternoon racing ahead of the facts and crafting a misleading, self-serving narrative with which we hoped to bludgeon our political opponents. Can you PLEASE take a moment to reflect on all the wonderful work we do?!” Later, @KurtSchlichter added media “is not a “vital check on power” – it colludes with the power that it is aligned with. It does not “bring communities together.” It too often spreads hate.”
Finally, NBC exhibited irrefutable dishonesty by tweeting that upon arriving back at the White House, President Trump, departing Marine Force One, “had no comment” about the Annapolis murders. In fact, he had tweeted about the tragedy, offering condolences and condemning it, before he had landed. NBC knew this but smearing this President remains their highest calling.
I had one local reporter I respect greatly DM me on Twitter taking issue with one of my tweets. Fair enough and I’ll get back. The point the reporter made was this tragedy struck close to home and I completely empathize. Unfortunately, this person’s professional colleagues politicized the shootings when they thought they could get political advantage from it, only to turn to admiring themselves when that proved false. The problem, I’d suggest, isn’t with media critics like me but with the media itself. They seem unable to comprehend this simple, obvious truth.
The consequences of media irresponsibility are quite high for all of us but it is media themselves who must take the lead in changing their behavior. As @LarryVonGuild said “We’ve entered into a negative feedback loop where journalists will blame Trump and thereby attract violence to his supporters and they in turn will blame journalists which will attract violence towards them. It’s escalating in real time, and you get to watch.”
Photo Credit: From top left: Rob Hiaasen, Wendi Winters, John McNamara, Rebecca Smith, Gerald Fischman. Compilation photo, Facebook and the Capital Gazette via GlobalNews.ca