From Conrad Black:
The two signal facts, or “alternative facts” in the well-chosen parlance of the brilliant and engaging co-counselor and victorious campaign manager of the president, Kellyanne Conway, are that public approval of the national news media now stands at 14%, and the allegations the press are now making against the new administration are of no interest to any serious segment of the public.
After a while, if you lie constantly, no one is going to believe you – even if, for the moment, you are telling the truth.
What happened to the MSM in 2016 was the cumulation of their dishonesty over a many-decade period. This was helped along by the MSM going entirely overboard, even by MSM standards, in their desire to destroy Trump at the behest of their Democrat friends and Trump’s ability to command the center of attention with a willingness to punch back very hard. The MSM is now exposed as a hollow threat – and even mainstream GOP politicians will cease to tremble in fear of offending it. But let’s take a look at how the MSM did this to itself.
G. K. Chesterton – himself a journalist – pointed out very long ago that there was no need of a censorship of the press because we already had a very functional censorship by the press. The press – the MSM as we call it today – takes sides. If they like a person or a particular grouping of people, they will go soft on them. If they don’t like a person or grouping of people, they will be merciless in hounding them. This does have an effect on how some people can be viewed even long after they are dead.
Take, for instance, Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft. Roosevelt is lauded in the history books as the strong President who got things done. Taft is derided as a well-meaning man who simply didn’t have the ability of Roosevelt. But, if you dig a bit into the history of things, you’ll find that even on something as signature to Roosevelt as his “trust busting”, Taft actually did far more. Roosevelt did start the Panama Canal, but he did it in a manner which caused grave harm to America’s reputation among Latin American people…Taft actually got the thing properly organized for construction and then kept a close eye on matters until it was nearly done (it was completed about 18 months after he left office…but by then it was all over but the shouting). If you’re liked by the MSM, you’ll have an easy ride – if you’re hated by them, then no level of excellence will be sufficient. When you translate this to the political parties, the MSM likes the Democrats, hates the Republicans – and this goes back quite a long ways: at least to FDR, but a case can be made that the MSM has hated the Republicans ever since Republicans thwarted Wilson, whom they liked, after World War One.
Of course, to take sides means you are simply not going to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You can’t – because the truth will some times work against your side. Even you don’t flat-out lie for your side, you’re still going to present things in a manner which gives best advantage to your side, and most disadvantage to the other side. And you can speak quite a lot of truth without giving the whole truth; of course, if you don’t give out the whole truth, you’ve carried out the functional equivalent of a lie…but as you can’t be caught out in a factual inaccuracy, you can pretend that you just speak the truth. And that is what the MSM did for many decades. As long as their good friends, the Democrats, generally ran things – and from 1932 until 1980, they generally did, in spite of a few GOPers managing to get into the White House – there was no need to lie; you could just tell that part of the truth which reflected most ill upon Republicans. After the election of Reagan – and, especially, his re-election – that started to change.
I still date the break with truth-telling to be Ted Kennedy’s speech against Robert Bork in 1986. No matter how you want to slice it up, Kennedy got out there and delivered a pack of lies about Robert Bork and then the MSM refused to just call them lies. This, I think, is where old Rush gets his view that, for the MSM, it isn’t the facts of the case but the seriousness of the charge which matters…we are to discuss the charge, not the facts. Kennedy made serious charges – essentially saying that Bork was a Nazi set to destroy freedom in America. Republicans were then asked to prove that he – and they – weren’t in favor of Nazi tyranny. We still weren’t to outright fabrication by the MSM, but we had stepped away from telling even partial truth. Later, especially after the GOP won Congress in 1994, the MSM went to flat out lies in defense of their side.
They felt they had to. The reason Reagan won – and Gingrich’s GOP won – was that the system created by the Democrats was starting to fall apart. The Welfare State wasn’t working. The military system and alliances created by the Democrats wasn’t working. The economic system of the Democrats wasn’t working. To tell the truth about anything pretty much meant you were going to have to say something bad about Democrats. The MSM could still tell bits of truth about the GOP which were bad for the GOP – so, of course, whenever a GOPer was caught in genuine scandal, it was played up for all it was worth – but that wasn’t enough, because the GOP was proposing alternatives to failed policies and even if the alternatives were untested, it was clear that we couldn’t just go on and on with policies which were failing right in front of everyone’s eyes. It became necessary to just cook up things to say which would either help Democrats, or harm Republicans. And that is where things started to go wrong for the MSM – took a while, but as I noted, when you lie enough, eventually people just stop believing you.
And it did take a while. It took ten thousand accusations of GOP racism, sexism and homophobia. Ten thousand accusations that GOPers want to starve kids and shove granny off a cliff. It took ten thousand stories about how swell Democrat things are while people could see for themselves that they were getting worse. It took, finally, eight years of servile MSM devotion to Obama winding up in lunatic MSM opposition to Trump to finish the job.
I’ve seen some articles by MSMers wondering how they can get their mojo back – in none of them do I see, “we’ll report the truth, no matter what it is”. They still can’t go there for the same reason they could never go there: they still like the Democrats (actually, of course, they are Democrats), and still hate Republicans. How things will work out for the next four to eight years remains to be seen. But we do actually need an MSM which will just tell the truth. The alternative media is great – and played a role in breaking through the MSM lies – but it is also contains many people just as willing to lie for their own side as the MSM has been. As soon as someone figures out that what will really sell is an MSM outfit which will just tell the truth – the verified, honest truth – no matter whom it hurts, that will be the MSM outfit which comes to dominate all others…and leads to a restoration of a genuine free press in the United States.