By Victor Davis Hanson
The current “media”—loosely defined as the old major newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post, the network news channels, MSNBC and CNN, PBS and NPR, the online news aggregators like Google, Apple, and Yahoo, and the social media giants like the old Twitter and Facebook—are corrupt.
They have adopted in their news coverage a utilitarian view that noble progressive ends justify almost any unethical means to obtain them. The media is unapologetically fused with the Democratic Party, the bicoastal liberal elite, and the progressive agenda.
The result is that the public cannot trust that the news it hears or reads is either accurate or true. The news as presented by these outlets has been carefully filtered to suppress narratives deemed inconvenient or antithetical to the political objectives of these entities, while inflating themes deemed useful.
This bias now accompanies increasing (and increasingly obvious) journalistic incompetence. Lax standards reflect weaponized journalism schools and woke ideology that short prior basic requisites of writing and ethical protocols of quoting and sourcing. In sum, a corrupt media that is ignorant, arrogant, and ideological explains why few now trust what it delivers.
Once a story is deemed antithetical to left-wing agendas, there arises a collective effort to smother it. Suppression is achieved both by neglect, and by demonizing others who report an inconvenient truth as racists, conspiracist “right-wingers,” and otherwise irredeemable.
The Hunter Biden laptop story is the locus classicus. Social media branded the authentic laptop as Russian disinformation. That was a lie. But the deception did not stop them from censoring and squashing those who reported the truth.
Instead of carefully examining the contents of the laptop or interrogating Biden-company players such as Tony Bobulinksi, the media hyped the ridiculous disinformation hoax as a mechanism for suppressing the damaging pre-election story altogether.
Joe Biden’s cognitive state was another suppression story. The media simply stifled the truth that 2020 candidate Biden was unable to conduct a normal campaign due to his frailty and non-compos-mentis status. Few fully reported his often cruel and racist outbursts of the “lying-dog-faced-pony-soldier” and “you ain’t black”/“terrorist” sort.
The #MeToo media predictably quashed the Tara Reade disclosure. In fact, journalists turned on her in the manner that they previously had insisted was sexist and defamatory “blame-the-victim” smearing.
Joe Biden has long suffered from a sick tic of creepily intruding into the private space of young women and preteen girls: blowing their hair, talking into their ears, squeezing their necks, hugging in full body embraces—all for far too long. In other words, Biden should have expected the Charlie Rose or the Donald Trump Access Hollywood media treatment. Instead, he was de facto exonerated by collective media silence. To this day, despite staffers’ efforts to corral his wandering hands and head, he occasionally reverts to form with his creepy fixations with younger women.
Ask the media today which administration surveilled journalists and they will likely cry “Trump!” Yet their own sensationalist reporting that the IRS was weaponized by Trump was proven a lie when the inspector general notedTrump never went after either James Comey or Andrew McCabe. And it was an untruth comparable to the smear that “nuclear secrets” and “nuclear codes” were hidden away at Mar-a-Lago or that Donald Trump sought to profit from the trove. Nor does anyone remember that Barack Obama went after the Associated Press reporters and Fox News Channel’s James Rosen. Nor do they care that Biden sought to birth an Orwellian Ministry of Truth censorship bureau.
The media does not just suppress, but concocts. The entire Russian-collusion hoax—Robert Mueller’s vain 22-month and $40 million investigation—was a complete waste of time on the one hand, but on the other an effective effort to destroy the effectiveness of an elected president.
How many print and television celebrity journalists declared that Trump would shortly resign, be jailed, or impeached over the pee-pee tape or Christopher Steele’s other mishmash of lies? The problem for the media in promoting the fallacious dossier was not just that it was untrue, but that it was so awfully written, so obviously poorly sourced, and so Drudge Report-like amateurishly sensational that it could not be appear factual to any sane person—other than an agenda-driven and addled journalist who found it useful.
Do we remember the Hillary Clinton-approved Alfa Bank/Trump Tower fable that is now resurfacing for a second try?
Or the Jussie Smollett caper that trumped even the Brett Kavanaugh-as-teenage-assaulter and rapist lie? Or the Covington kids fabrications that trumped the Duke lacrosse hoax that trumped the “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot” myth that trumped the “white Hispanic,” doctored photo/edited 911 call smear about George Zimmerman?
Recall Trump’s supposed “immigration jails” and “kids in cages” at the border—in truth both not cages and in fact birthed by Obama.
Then there was Trump’s supposedly impeachable offense of purportedly canceling military aid to Ukraine so that he could allegedly hound the innocent Biden family—rather than delaying, but not canceling, offensive arms vetoed by the Obama Administration for the prescient worry that the Biden family had left a trail of corruption in Ukraine.
Who ran with the “voter suppression” untruth that Stacey Abrams was the “real” governor of Georgia or the yarn that Donald Trump was illegitimately elected? How exactly did Jeffery Epstein and Harvey Weinstein operate as sexual perverts and high-profile, liberal-benefacting deviants for years without media scrutiny? Who created the cable news myth of now-felon Michael Avenatti as presidential timber?
Why, after the midterms, did we suddenly learn that Donald Trump did not, as in the case of Barack Obama’s Lois Lerner skullduggery, manipulate the IRS for political purposes to go after James Comey and Andrew McCabe? Why suddenly post-election did we read that his presidential papers at Mar-a-Lago really did not contain “nuclear codes” and “nuclear secrets” or stuff intended for sale? Why did we learn after November 8 that a special counsel was suddenly appointed? Why did we discover the Ponzi scheme of Sam Bankman-Fried only after the midterms and why is he treated as an aw-shucks teen in bum drag rather than a calculating and conniving crook?
The answer is the same as why, just days before the 2016 election, we were assured suddenly by the media that the DNC’s planted stories about Christopher Steele’s dossier “proved” that Trump was a Russian stooge.
When did the media finally dribble out that Obama’s memoir Dreams From My Father was chock full of lies and thus was intended all along to be read as “impressionistic” rather than factual?
We only learned belatedly that Hillary Clinton did not brave the front lines in virtual combat in Bosnia. We were assured that she was completely out of the loop on the Uranium One deal and thus knew nothing about the cash that poured into the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s honoraria from Russian sources?
Did the media ever fully report that Hillary Clinton: 1) broke the law by using a personal server to communicate while Secretary of State; 2) lied about the missing emails by claiming they were all personal about “yoga” and “weddings” and such; 3) destroyed subpoenaed evidence by smashing her devices; 4) had her husband accidently bump into Attorney General Loretta Lynch on a Phoenix tarmac who was supposedly investigating Clinton at the time; and 5) became our first major election denialist by declaring “Russian collusion” to be true, Donald Trump to be illegitimately elected, and the 2016 balloting to be “rigged”?
Our once lions of network news were long ago revealed to have feet of clay. Dan Rather insisted that “fake but true” memos “proved” George W. Bush got special exemptions from military service. Brian Williams fabricated an entire Walter-Mitty fantasy existence with ease. The Wiki Leaks Podesta trove revealed blue-chip reporters checking in with the Clinton campaign and the DNC to “fact check” and brainstorm their pre-publication puff pieces.
Throughout the Obama years, Ben Rhodes, the failed novelist and deputy national security advisor distorted U.S. foreign policy, as CBS News, overseen by his brother, warped its coverage of him.
Do we remember the commentary on MSNBC of the brilliant Vanderbilt professor and MSNBC “analyst,” presidential historian Jon Meacham? He periodically praised Joe Biden’s eloquence and moving addresses without informing his audience that he contributed to or indeed helped write what he gushed about. No problem. Even after finally being fired, Meacham is still at it, offering his input on Biden’s September 1, Phantom-of-the-Opera “un-American” rant.
CNN Sums It Up
The long, slow death of Jeffery Zucker’s CNN is emblematic of all the mortal sins listed above of our present-day corrupt media.
It is ancient history now and thus forgotten that the self-righteous MSNBC anchorman Lawrence O’Donnell falsely claimed that Deutsche Bank documents would prove that Russian oligarchs co-signed a loan application for Donald Trump.
Over a decade ago, CNN’s Candy Crowley—remember this impartial “moderator” of the second 2012 presidential debate?—infamously transformed before our very television eyes into an active and shameless partisan by attacking candidate Mitt Romney. CNN commentator Donna Brazile topped Crowley when she unethically leaked primary-debate questions to candidate Hillary Clinton. When pressed, Brazile serially denied her role.
CNN’s former Obamaite Jim Sciutto is known as a serial offender of journalistic ethics and was recently the subject of an internal investigation. Sciutto has also alleged, falsely, that the CIA had yanked a high-level spy out of Moscow because of President Trump’s supposedly dangerously reckless handling of classified information. Sciutto joined CNN’s Carl Bernstein and Marshall Cohen to falsely report that Lanny Davis’ client Michael Cohen would soon assert that Trump had prior knowledge of an upcoming meeting between his son and Russian interests.
Another CNN trio of Thomas Frank, Eric Lichtblau, and Lex Harris were forced out from CNN for their mythologies that the Trump-hating Anthony Scaramucci was directly involved in a $10 billion Russian fund.
CNN’s Julian Zelizer fabricated his own tall tale that Donald Trump never reiterated America’s commitment to honor NATO’s critical Article 5 guarantee. The quartet of CNN’s Gloria Borger, Eric Lichtblau, Jake Tapper, and Brian Rokus all were exposed wrongly assuring that former FBI director James Comey would unequivocally contradict President Trump’s prior assertion that Comey had told him he was not under investigation.
CNN reporter Manu Raju in December 2017 trafficked in lots of fake news stories that Donald Trump, Jr. supposedly had prior access to the hacked WikiLeaks documents. And he offered another fable that Trump, Jr. would be indicted by Mueller’s special-counsel investigation. But then, who at CNN did not blast out such “bombshells” and “walls are closing in” lies?
The once supposedly great Chris Cuomo—finally fired for softball incestuous interviews with his brother Andrew while serving as confidant to his sibling’s sexual-harassment dilemmas—had been caught on tape screaming obscenities. He also lied on the air when he assured a CNN audience in 2016 that it was illegal for citizens to examine the just-released WikiLeaks emails.
Julia Ioffe was eagerly hired by CNN after Politico fired her for tweeting that the president and his daughter Ivanka might have had an incestuous sexual relationship. CNN Anderson Cooper was every bit as creepy. He harangued a pro-Trump panelist with “If he [Trump] took a dump on his desk, you would defend it!”
Erstwhile CNN religious “expert” Reza Aslan was not so subtle. He trashed Trump as “this piece of sh**.” The late CNN cooking show guru Anthony Bourdain openly joked about poisoning Trump with hemlock. Recall CNN New Year’s Eve host Kathy Griffin posing with a bloody facsimile of Trump’s severed head. Was there something in the CNN contract that stipulated CNN journalists had to be obscene, vulgar, and threatening?
The CNN circus also hired as a “security analyst” the admitted liar James Clapper. So, was it any surprise that on spec Clapper did what he was hired to do—by falsely claiming that President Trump was a veritable Russian asset?
But for that matter, former CIA director Michael Hayden preposterously alleged that Trump’s immigration policies resembled those in the death camps of Nazi Germany. Was it any wonder either that CNN host Sally Kohn and her roundtable panelists raised their hands to reverberate the “hands up, don’t shoot” lie of the Ferguson shooting?
Do the bias, invective, and lack of ethics of the media even matter anymore?
In truth, media corruption has changed the course of recent history.
Had the true nature of the contents of the Hunter Biden laptop been reported, the 2020 voters have polled that the revelation may well have made a difference because they would not have voted for a candidate so clearly compromised by foreign interests.
Tell the full story of death, destruction, arson, looting, and injured police of the post-George Floyd rioting and what emerges is not the MSNBC denial of violence or the August 2020 CNN lie of a “fiery but mostly peaceful” sort of idealistic protestors.
The Kavanaugh and Smollett fake news accounts helped further to tear apart the country and greenlighted the new assaults on the Supreme Court, from Senator Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) rants and threats to the would-be assassin who turned up near the Kavanaugh residence.
The Russian collusion hoax and the first impeachment media hysteria virtually ruined a presidency and have had grave foreign-policy consequences vis à vis Russia.
The media, moreover, matter-of-factly assumed Twitter was an arm of the Democratic Party. Mark Zuckerberg and the FBI worked together to suppress any news embarrassing to the Biden campaign. Do not expect much media coverage of Elon Musk’s serial disclosures of Twitter’s efforts to suppress free communications.
No thanks to the media, after nearly three years we are finally learning that the Wuhan Lab proved the likely source of the COVID pandemic and that the media-sainted Dr. Anthony Fauci subsidized gain-of-function viral research in Wuhan.
Despite the lies, Americans assumed that Officer Brian Sicknick was not killed by Trump supporters as reported. The public shrugged “of course” when the media did its best to suppress the name of the Capitol policeman who lethally shot Ashli Babbitt for attempting to go through a broken window inside the Capitol. And on and on.
In sum, there is no media. It has ceased to exist, and the public plods on by assuming as true whatever the Pravda-like news outlets suppress and as false whatever they cover.
Victor Davis Hanson is a distinguished fellow of the Center for American Greatness and the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution. He is an American military historian, columnist, a former classics professor, and scholar of ancient warfare. He has been a visiting professor at Hillsdale College since 2004. Hanson was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 by President George W. Bush. Hanson is also a farmer (growing raisin grapes on a family farm in Selma, California) and a critic of social trends related to farming and agrarianism. He is the author most recently of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won, The Case for Trump and the newly released The Dying Citizen.