The news industry knows it has a problem but won’t admit what it is. Here’s the short version: they lie a lot.
A new study by the Reuters Institute examining trust in the news found a disconnect between what trust means to media producers and media consumers. To reporters and editors, trust comes from transparency about how the news is made. But consumers want news to be relevant to their daily lives and factual. Yet several recent stories show how the press promotes the liberal narrative view of the world at the expense of the facts.
Take for example the “60 Minutes” hit piece on Florida Governor Ron DeSantis over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. DeSantis’ more open, less hysterical approach to managing the crisis has earned him the ire of liberals who want to keep the country on permanent lockdown. But the attempt by “60 Minutes” to imply a corrupt bargain between DeSantis and Publix foods over vaccine distribution was so blatantly false that CNN judged it a “massive gift” to the governor going into his reelection campaign and the next presidential campaign season.
Last summer, the New York Times ran an explosive yet thinly-sourced story about Russia supposedly paying bounties to Afghan militants for every American service member they killed. This immediately became fodder for Trump critics, who claimed the president’s failure to adequately protest the bounties was somehow related to the wider Russia collusion hoax. Shaky logic, but when did that ever stop the Trump haters? Yet a Biden administration review found the bounty story lacked credibility. Add it to the massive list of bogus Trump/Russia headlines that broke breathlessly, then died quietly.
The media went wild with reports that U.S. Capitol Police officer Brian Sicknick was killed during the Jan. 6 “insurrection,” either by being struck on the head with a fire extinguisher, or as a result of complications of being sprayed with mace. But now we learn that Sicknick died of natural causes, and that an autopsy showed no signs of any internal or external injuries.
Last year the New York Post was banned from social media for reporting on the scandalous contents of the Hunter Biden laptops. The media quickly glommed onto the evidence-free assertion that the revelations were part of a pre-election Russian disinformation campaign. We now know that Hunter Biden said that the laptop “certainly” could be his and even progressive stalwart NPR was forced to run a correction. The fact that Hunter Biden will be lecturing at Tulane University on the topic of fake news is beyond ironic.
The Washington Post, which aggressively parsed every utterance from President Trump, has now decided that facts aren’t all that important. The paper reported that Joe Biden made 67 misleading comments in his first 100 days, then did away with the Biden fact check. But never fear, the paper will still use the fact-check mechanism to cast bizarre aspersions on black Republicans like Sen. Tim Scott whose cotton-harvesting forefathers were accused by the paper of “early and improbable success,” whatever that means. Scott’s family success story speaks to the amazing opportunities this country affords people of all races, but the inconvenient truth of positive race relations runs counter to the false progressive view of America as a racist hell-hole.
These are only a few examples of the rampant disregard for the truth among major media outlets. Whether it is slanting a story, doctoring a video, using questionable sources or simply making things up, reporters and editors seem to have lost any sense of fairness or journalistic ethics. The press will never reclaim its legitimacy until it recognizes it has a problem with lying. So just admit it. Then, stop it.
Chris Farrell is director of investigations and research for Judicial Watch, a nonprofit government watchdog. He is a former military intelligence officer.