Heil Christmas? … The following is an actual headline, from Christmas Eve, at Newsweek: “How Trump and the Nazis stole Christmas to promote white nationalism.” The piece goes through how Donald Trump campaigned on returning to tradition, starting with “saying Merry Christmas again.” It then goes dark, quickly. Yes, returning to the tradition of unabashedly saying “Merry Christmas” is the same thing as the Nazi party using Christmas traditions. Newsweek used to be a milquetoast weekly news magazine like Time. Yes, it had a bias — everybody does, and anyone who says otherwise is lying — but this is something completely different. And it isn’t just this piece.
Bad Melania … After consulting with arborists, and out of caution for people who stand under it, first lady Melania Trump has decided to remove a tree from the White House grounds. Quelle horreur! The tree in question is the 200-year-old Jackson magnolia. Newsweek’s headline claimed it was a bad, horrible, anti-environmentalist decision by the first lady.
There’s more … Those are just two recent headlines from Newsweek that are completely biased and over the top. The past few months have seen more like this gem: “Sarah Huckabee Sanders is a ‘liar’ who spews ‘horseshit’ for Trump, GOP strategist says.” That story’s url? “sanders-likes-horseshit-trump.” That’s outrageous. And there’s the time that Newsweek compared Trump to a mass murderer. The list really could go on and on and on, but this email would end up filling your inbox quota (yes, I know that’s rarely a thing any more and that this dates me).
When I was a teenager, I used to be an avid reader of Newsweek. I found it less biased than Time. My, how times have changed.
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“Could we be wrong?” … Are journalists biased? Is bias affecting how they present the news and their truthfulness? These questions are the subject of this column by the Washington Post’s David Von Drehle. It is a reflection on the current movie “The Post” and the legacy of longtime Post editor Katherine Graham. He writes how “many journalists have cheerfully shrugged off the ideal of objectivity.” He also takes aim at the high-minded new motto of the Post, “Democracy dies in darkness.” Von Drehle says:
Fearless journalism is not just reporting in the face of adverse power. Another brand of courage is the guts to tell one’s friends that their assumptions may be mistaken. It’s the willingness to push oneself to dig deeper and think harder. To understand bad guys and challenge heroes. To ask ourselves why we think as we do and could we be wrong.
Those are exactly the questions a self-reflecting person should be asking. They are exactly the questions that most in the media do not ask themselves. Instead of reflecting on their own biases, they rush to find “facts” that support their own opinions. That isn’t journalism; it’s stenographic confirmation bias. Von Drehle closes reminding journalists of Graham’s most important lesson, “Are we sure we’ve got it right? Could we be wrong?”
Very good advice indeed.
Who’s winning? … The answer to Politico reporter Jack Shafer’s question, “Who’s winning Trump’s war with the press?” should be “the truth.” But in the post-truth era of journalism that Von Drehle so aptly argued against, it boils down to a zero-sum game. There are some truths in Shafer’s piece, like the fact that rather than be a disinterested referee, calling balls and strikes, “the press has accepted the role of the opposition party if not the designation.” But he then goes on to say it’s Trump’s fault they act that way, not realizing that it is because they act that way that Trump attacks. If you want to get inside the mind of contemporary media figures and understand where they are coming from, this is a great piece to do that. It is a blatant admission of bias, even though he is trying to say that bias is justified because of big bad meanie Trump.
I can’t fight back alone against the mainstream media. I need your help. There are two ways you can help. First, send your friends – and even your enemies – over to the WTF MSM!? email signup page. Second, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with anything questionable you see the media do. Together, we can fight back.
Rob Eno is the editor of Blaze Media’s WTF MSM!? newsletter.