For years, we have been discussing the decline of journalism values with the rise of open bias in the media. Now, a newly released report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism at Oxford has found something that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago. The United States ranked dead last in media trust among 49 countries with just 29% saying that they trusted the media. The most tragic aspect is that it does not matter. The media has embraced the advocacy journalism and anyone questioning that trend risks instant cancellation. The result is a type of state media where journalists are bound to the government by ideology rather than law.
The plunging level of trust reflects the loss of the premier news organizations to a type of woke journalism. We have have been discussing how writers, editors, commentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. Even journalists are leading attacks on free speech and the free press. This includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy. Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll has denounced how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation.
Likewise, the University of North Carolina recently offered an academic chair in Journalism to New York Times’ Nikole Hannah-Jones. While Hannah-Jones was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for her writing on The 1619 Project, she has been criticized for her role in purging dissenting views from the New York Times pages and embracing absurd anti-police conspiracy theories. Even waiting for the facts is viewed as unethical today by journalism professors who demand that reporters make political or social declarations through their coverage.
One of the lowest moments came with the New York Times’ mea culpa for publishing an opinion column by a conservative senator. The New York Times was denounced by many of us for its cringing apology after publishing a column by Sen. Tom Cotton (R, Ark.). and promising not to publish future such columns. It will not publish a column from a Republican senator on protests in the United States but it will publish columns from one of the Chinese leaders crushing protests for freedom in Hong Kong. Cotton was arguing that the use of national guard troops may be necessary to quell violent riots, noting the historical use of this option in past protests. This option was used most recently after the Capitol riot.
Almost on the one-year anniversary of its condemning its own publication of Cotton (and forcing out its own editor), the New York Times published an academic columnist who previously defended the killing of conservative protesters. Over at the Washington Post this week, the newspaper promoted a columnist, Karen Attiah, who last summer caused an outrage after she tweeted “White women are lucky that we are just calling them Karens. And not calling for revenge.”
Given this trend, it is little surprise that viewers no longer trust the media. They have watched as stories ranging from Hunter Biden to the origins of the pandemic have been aggressively censored by Big Tech and blacked out by journalists. The problem is that this echo journalism works for some in the media even if it ultimately destroys the profession as a whole. It is a journalistic version of Hardin’s Tragedy of the Commons where everyone acts for their immediate benefit as “the inherent logic of the commons remorselessly generates tragedy.”
Reprinted with permission from JonathanTurley.org.