The Media’s Credibility Crisis Is the Right’s Opportunity

The reporting of facts about policy, politicians, and controversial issues is essential for Americans to make informed decisions about their government. That is why the First Amendment guarantees journalists almost total freedom to say what they want, and why reporters enjoy such open access to our political leaders and institutions.

And yet, America’s mainstream media still finds itself in a credibility crisis that seems to get worse every week. Why?

It’s not that the media don’t understand their crucial role in our society⁠—to provide dispassionate reporting about the news of the day. It’s that most mainstream reporters don’t like that role; they want a different one. They don’t want to inform; they want to persuade. They want to be advocates, spinning narratives rather than just reporting facts.

Consider two stories the media failed to cover in 2019.

In October, Indiana authorities discovered that a recently deceased abortionist⁠, Ulrich Klopfer⁠, had hoarded the bodies of 2,246 aborted babies in his garage.

You can be forgiven if you haven’t heard Klopfer’s name before. A quick search of the New York Times finds that America’s “paper of record” published exactly one original article about this blood-chilling scandal.

On the other end of the spectrum is the media’s collective yawn when it came to the abuse of the FISA system by House Democrats to collect and then publicly release the phone records of Members of Congress and members of the free press.

As part of the Democrat House Intelligence Committee impeachment report, committee Democrats included records of phone calls between Republican Ranking Member Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) and journalist John Solomon, formerly of the Washington Post, the Washington Times, and The Hill.

Rather than be outraged at the obvious circumvention of the First Amendment and civil liberties, mainstream media pundits rolled their eyes. “Lordy,” said Lachlan Markay, a Daily Beast reporter, in response to my tweet expressing my shock.

Given that Solomon’s and Nunes’ phone records were never the subject of congressional subpoena but were later published for all the world to see in abject violation of their First Amendment rights, one would think “Lordy” would not be Markay’s knee-jerk response.

Moreover, when it was revealed that the FBI altered material evidence and knowingly misled the FISA court multiple times in order to surveil Trump campaign volunteer Carter Page, most media outlets yawned and said “mistakes were made.”

“Mistakes?” As Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) put it in disbelief. “It’s not like, ‘oops, I just filed a FISA warrant.’”

“But no political bias was found!” screamed headlines in response to the Department of Justice inspector general’s report⁠—conveniently ignoring Michael Horowitz’s response to questions from both Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) in which the inspector general stated explicitly that the “no political bias” claim was actually undetermined, given the unsatisfactory answers they received in response to why the myriad FBI foul-ups regarding surveillance of Trump officials occurred in the first place.

This seems like two stories⁠—one about a creepy abortionist, the other about journalistic apathy in the face of abuse by the surveillance state. But it’s really one story, about the mainstream media’s self-identity as shapers of political narratives rather than unbiased reporters of facts.

The liberal journalists who run mainstream media newsrooms swept the facts of Ulrich Klopfer’s story under the rug, while they flooded the zone with spin about how the FBI willingly distorted facts.

In their narrative, abortion is good and abortionists must be seen as compassionate, caring healthcare providers⁠—not corpse hoarders. And in the same narrative, President Trump is bad and anything that happens to him, even gross abuse of power that threatens us all, is well warranted.

On abortion, on Trump, and so much more, they’re not reporters. They’re propagandists. And after all these years, everyone knows it.

Having squandered the public’s trust, desperate media liberals can now only satisfy their corporate advertisers’ demand for eyeballs with sensationalized hype. Liberal journalists can’t just report the news now, because—like the boy who cried wolf⁠—no one really believes them.

That’s bad news for the old media of leftist activists posing as gatekeepers. But it’s potentially good news for a new generation of entrepreneurs and journalists actually interested in picking up the mantle of accountability and honesty that generations of progressive propagandists have trampled.

Facts are still important, even if the New York Times and NBC news no longer are good places to find them. And the fact is that leftist ideas⁠—not just about abortion and Donald Trump, but about globalism, socialism, and “woke”-ism⁠—are failing all over the world.

There is no reason the news must be a progressive fantasy novel. Just as Donald Trump overthrew the elite establishment in politics, journalistic rebels and outsiders from the Daily Caller and The Federalist to our own American Greatness have shown the media establishment is just as vulnerable to populist insurgencies.

The American people still need an honest, trusted news media. The only question is, who will have the courage to give it to them.

About Rachel Bovard

Rachel Bovard is senior director of policy at the Conservative Partnership Institute and Senior Advisor to the Internet Accountability Project. Beginning in 2006, she served in both the House and Senate in various roles including as legislative director for Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and policy director for the Senate Steering Committee under the successive chairmanships of Senator Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Senator Mike Lee (R-Utah), where she advised Committee members on strategy related to floor procedure and policy matters. In the House, she worked as senior legislative assistant to Congressman Donald Manzullo (R-Il.), and Congressman Ted Poe (R-Texas). She is the former director of policy services for the Heritage Foundation. Follow her on Twitter at @RachelBovard.

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