The great Mollie Hemingway recently asked her audience an important question about media accountability, and since it’s one I’ve been asking for years and only recently found a decent answer for, I decided to take another stab at articulating that answer in a piece.
Her question is in the tweet below:
For those who don’t know, Mollie Hemingway is a Senior Editor for The Federalist, a Fox News contributor regularly commenting on politics and media bias, and a Senior Journalism Fellow at Hillsdale. She’s one of the few amplified voices I truly value thanks to her unwavering adherence to what I believe are the 3 most important qualities among media and political leaders: 1) original thinking that is 2) anchored in actual substance and 3) adherent to the good faith virtue of intellectual honesty.
The vast majority of the media, as many of you already know, can claim none of those qualities…
No original thinking: The media’s echo chamber in 2020 is like a laboratory and when one of them invents a narrative that the rest agree will help promote their clearly partisan agenda, they all latch on to it. The result is the antithesis of good journalism: entirely uncritical acceptance and blanket assertion of language, thinking and reporting that is expressed virtually verbatim across all of their newspapers and networks.
No substance: The heft of their narratives is typically weighted in hopeful conjecture and unproven allegations that typify the smear campaigns they’re constantly engaged in. It’s a lot of things. But “substantive” isn’t one of them.
No intellectual honesty: Rather than reporting news that might actually help or matter to Americans, the media select only those stories that they believe will support their social and political agenda. And they characterize those stories every time in ways that target their opponents with the worst possible construction at every turn as the “story” emerges. Their goal isn’t to service audiences with good faith reporting that follows facts regardless of where they lead. Their goal is to prove social and political narratives they’ve already established. And there’s simply no room for intellectual honesty or fairness when your standard operating procedure is so aggressively partisan.
From there the media are able to chase their audiences into corners where any dissent from the preferred narrative is labeled nefarious or conspiratorial.
So my answer to Mollie’s question is simple…
What can be done? What should be done?
Stop being their audience.
I’ve written pieces that go beyond the standard observations that “They’re biased!” or “They lie!”, helping to better explore and expose how the dishonest media operates.
I’ve written pieces about the massive power the media has, and how they’re really the only thing that’s kept today’s otherwise feckless Democratic party from becoming nothing more than a bad memory in American history.
And in the last year or so, I’ve started writing pieces about how to actually combat the media.
And those pieces — how to combat the media — are the most important. Because we all know the media are biased, dishonest and increasingly dangerous. Anyone who supports President Trump knows that the media have spent the last 4 years putting a target on your back, and signaling to their unhinged audiences that it’s okay — for example — to violently assault anyone wearing a MAGA hat. We can all cite examples of the media’s bad behavior day in and day out that prove their bias.
But the big question is the one Mollie asked: what can we do about it?
For starters, we can and should do better than one-off observations about bias or dishonesty that the media have a long track record of just swatting away and then memory-holing. There’s a more efficient and effective way to indict the media for their failings, and it requires a laser focus on the bigger conversation about how they characterize the news every minute of every day.
A conversation that focuses on the media’s persistently liberal perspective — the perspective from which they start, continue and end literally every story — is one we can have for months or years without ever hitting the pause button or letting them swat it away.
The conversations we have about their one-off failings, on the other hand, typically won’t last more than a day or two. We like to think that as the evidence stacks up, our case becomes stronger. But we’ve been thinking that for decades and all that’s changed is the media has gotten more shameless in their denials and less worried about being caught. Sure more people today are aware of the media’s bias. But that means nothing if the media themselves haven’t changed at all or, worse, have only become more brazen in their bias and more dangerous to our country and its citizens.
And the reason they still wield that power even though fewer people trust them is they still decide what conversations we have and how those conversations are framed.
That is what we need to change. And that’s why my best answer to Mollie’s question is that we simply stop being their audience.
And I can already hear a lot of you: “I stopped watching or listening to the lamestream media years ago!”
That’s great. But I think even you folks will agree that the media’s failing ratings and dwindling subscriberships also don’t appear to inspire any better behavior from them. Moreover, they’re still controlling what we talk about.
So when I say “stop being their audience,” I’m talking about a bigger perspective and shift in thinking and action.
We need powerful voices who share our concerns to start eating, sleeping and breathing skepticism for the conversations that the media want us to have. And equally important, we need them to make that skepticism its own story. We need them to say it out loud at the beginning of every article they write and broadcast they conduct…
The legacy media today want our nation to focus on [insert story that’s bad for the right and good for the left]. And as usual, rather than reporting honestly or in good faith, they’ve characterized the story in partisan terms designed to paint [insert right-minded person or group] in the worst possible light. If anything meaningful happens there, we’ll address it. But as of right now it appears to be yet another completely baseless effort by the media to steer our nation away from things that actually matter in pursuit of their own partisan agenda. So we’re not even going to address it. Instead we’re going to discuss [insert meaningful news item].
And from there, the writers and hosts should delve into their own newsworthy items.
Letting the media drive the conversation is not only dangerous and dumb, but it’s also lazy. Our most powerful voices should reject it. And they should be out loud about why they’re rejecting it. And then after rejecting it, they should exhibit the guts and courage of their convictions to dig up their own news stories and make that their focus.
And when enough of them start doing that, and enough of our nation hears them doing it and hears their reasoning for it, and when the divide itself becomes the big story that our nation is talking about, one of two things will happen…
We’ll have either marginalized the media so successfully that the whole nation now knows they’re truly seen as nothing but Democrat propagandists, or — better still — we’ll force them to abandon their activist journalism and recalibrate their news focus on original thinking, substance and intellectual honesty. (And I say “better still” on that second option because a healthy Fourth Estate is important for our nation. It’s all the more reason the media today are such an utter disgrace, having discredited their entire industry for generations to come.)
So to put a fine point on my answer to Mollie, there is something we can do about it. Stop enabling them. Stop dignifying the conversations they foist on our nation that every single time are asserted in bad faith, characterized in partisan terms, devoid of intellectual honesty, without a shred of deference to united American progress, and designed solely to serve the media’s own social and political agendas.
Again, I’ve written about this quite a bit already. And I’ll keep trying to craft pieces that make my point until one of them actually hits home with someone who matters. In the meantime, if you think you’re one of those people, or if you want to read more about how to make our case to those people, please read from the linked pieces below. And at the end of each one of those pieces, you’ll find yet more articles that might be worth reading. And FYI I don’t advertise or make a dime off of this site or my writing, so this isn’t about me getting “clicks.” But I’ve got a pretty robust body of work on these subjects at this point with each piece carrying at least some unique insight. So if you’re serious about this fight, it may do you good to read these and hopefully start thinking about criticizing and combating the media in ways that will help us stop banging our heads against the wall and instead start gaining some meaningful ground for once on actually forcing accountability and winning this war.
Make sure to check out WhatFinger News for all the best right-minded media content from around the web.