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Self-Appointed Arbiters of 'Fair and Balanced' News

March 20, 2017


A recent Washington Post article by media reporter Paul Farhi raises the alarm that the White House Correspondents’ Association has not once, but twice, assigned a Daily Signal employee, Fred Lucas, to be the pool reporter, i.e., the reporter who serves as the “proxy for the rest of the press corps.” The Daily Signal is the “news and commentary site” founded by the conservative Heritage Foundation, he reports, labeling it an “advocacy organization.”
 
“In other words,” writes Farhi, “the news that reporters received about the Vice President came from a journalist employed by an organization with a vested interest in the direction of White House and federal policy.”
 
The idea that the so-called mainstream press somehow stands apart from its own vested interests, or, put another way, against their own agenda, is laughable at best. The distinction between biased advocacy news organizations and the supposedly independent press has not only blurred—it has become obsolete. Organizations such as The Daily Signal and Breitbart are just as capable of speaking truth to power as media outlets such as The New York Times, the Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, and MSNBC.
 
In fact, it is these supposedly impartial news organizations that have continued to lobby for the leftist agenda. When President Obama was in office, they not only worked to legitimize and enhance the Obama legacy, ignoring scandal after scandal, but they even tried to influence the Supreme Court to uphold Obama’s signature legislation, Obamacare.
 
The deceit of the media didn’t stop there. Under Obama, the media consistently portrayed the economy as recovering even though the labor participation rate remained at abominable levels. A vast number of the jobs supposedly created in the Obama years were part-time, many lasting for just weeks at a time. The unemployment rate dropped to under five percent only because millions of people gave up looking for work, not because the economy was booming. Moreover, Obamacare prevented millions of people from getting a full-time job based on the disincentives built into Obama’s signature program.
 
A case in point is the coverage of the Congressional Budget Office’s (CBO) report scoring the proposed Republican legislation intended to replace Obamacare. The headlines and stories focused on the “24 million” people who would “lose health insurance coverage by 2026.” But as The Weekly Standard pointed out, the CBO report doesn’t actually say that. What it does say is that “the total number of individuals insured under the Republican plan would eventually be 24 million fewer than the total insured under Obamacare” by that time.
 
Ironically, it was just a year ago that The Weekly Standard reported that the CBO had been off on another one of its projections on Obamacare by, you guessed it, 24 million people. That error was the average number of people who would have private insurance during any month in 2016, and it took just three years from the 2013 projection to show that the CBO overestimated it by 24 million. In addition, more than six years after the passage of Obamacare, there were still 29 million peoplewho had no health insurance at all, even though the law required it. The price for not buying insurance is a fine, later re-defined as a tax, in order to have it ruled constitutional.
 
The point is that the so-called mainstream media will grab onto whatever they can to put Republicans and conservatives on the defensive, so they are forced to explain how they can be so cruel as to cause 24 million people to “lose their insurance.” They rarely offer anything close to the proper context to help people understand what the Republicans are trying to do. How many tens of millions of people have seen their premiums and deductibles skyrocket, or lost their ability to keep their doctors or their policies, or have been unable to find a full-time job because of the employer mandates imposed by Obamacare? Do those numbers matter? Apparently not.
 
The conservative media also have an agenda, but at least they are generally transparent about it. The leftist, mainstream media pretend to be neutral, biased only for a good story. But they rarely acknowledge that they deceitfully work to cover for the policies and scandals of the Democrats, while working to destroy conservatives and their policies, treating them as cruel and venal.
 
And in the heat of the 2016 campaign season, WikiLeaks and Guccifer 2.0 revealed the Democrat Media Complex, where reporters would have cocktails with the Hillary Clinton campaign. ABC’s George Stephanopoulos previously worked for the Clintons and later gave donations to their foundation without properly disclosing his actions. This is par for the course with the complicit media. The idea that “independent” news organizations somehow lack conflicts of interest is absurd.
 
Farhi expresses concern that “The Daily Signal’s inclusion in the pool could set a precedent for other advocacy organizations...” He even goes so far as to suggest that the “slope could become even more slippery if extremist or racist organizations sought similar status.”
 
It seems preposterous to assume that allowing a foundation’s publication to communicate with other reporters will somehow result in rampant racism and extremism. This is the same type of inflammatory rhetoric used against President Donald Trump and his senior advisor Steve Bannon.
 
Yet, even Farhi tacitly admits that there is no real need for concern when he writes that “there were no objections to Lucas’s pool reports on [Vice President Mike] Pence” and that Lucas’ reporting merely crossed a “symbolic” line.
 
The Post isn’t the only paper spewing vitriol about conservative’s newfound influence over the White House press corps. The New Yorker’s Andrew Marantz claims that the press sees the rising influence of conservative reporters, or “far-right sites,” as an “existential threat.”
 
Marantz writes, “Outlets that have become newly visible under the Trump Administration include One America News Network, which was founded in 2013 as a right-wing alternative to Fox News; LifeZette, a Web tabloid founded in 2015 by Laura Ingraham, the radio commentator and Trump ally; Townhall, a conservative blog started by the Heritage Foundation; the Daily Caller, co-founded in 2010 by Tucker Carlson, now a Fox News host; and the enormously popular and openly pro-Trump Breitbart News Network.” He goes on to quote an anonymous “radio correspondent” as saying, “At best, they don’t know what they’re doing…At worst, you wonder whether someone is actually feeding them softball questions…You can’t just have a parade of people asking, ‘When and how do you plan to make America great again?’”
 
Under Obama, the press consistently used administration statistics and reports in its friendly, fawning reporting designed to further the Obama legacy. Now that President Trump has taken office, the press has reinvested in oppositional journalism, fact-checking minutiae and claiming that Trump has colluded with Russia. This is a blatant double standard.

Copyright ©2017

Roger Aronoff is the Editor of Accuracy in Media, and a member of the Citizens’ Commission on Benghazi. He can be contacted at roger.aronoff@aim.org.

 


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