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OPINION

Some of the More Riffable Headlines From the Past Year – Part One

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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Throughout 2022 the press complex of this country has been, to put things charitably, “off-kilter”. They began the year literally celebrating the 1-year anniversary of the riot on the Capitol. If you think I am exaggerating with the use of “celebrate there, there was a flood of reflective coverage of that day – as if obsessing over it for the full year had not been enough – led by both CNN and MSNBC delivering 24 hours of Jan. 6 recollections. That few people watched and the reporting over that time has led to polls showing fewer people blame the GOP are the overlooked facts. 

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This carried all the way through to the close of the year, with Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover causing distemper and then his subsequent release of the Twitter Files causing the press to fall over themselves excusing away the realities. (Note the way they have swung from claiming the accusations were always false, to today going 180 degrees into ‘This is all old information’ deniability.)

Covering the media on a daily basis in Riffed From The Headlines provides one with a wide panoply of press peculiarities. In between these polemic paradoxes on the calendar was all manner of unhinged reporting and laughably inept examples of journalism. So here is a fun chronology of some of the more mirthful media mendacities from the past year.

  • To start, since this year was essentially our first full turn away Covid restrictions and the rising intolerance regarding government lockdown control we have the rise of many in the press calling for what they call Pandemic Amnesty. Whether it is school closures being revisited, mask ordinances shown to be mostly ineffective, or vaccines revealed to not halt the spread of the virus there is now a pleading to be forgiving. That those asking for this amnesty had spent two years being abjectly inflexible and chasing off anyone with a divergent position makes this an easily ignored request.

  • At the Montreal Gazette Josh Freed covered what a Covid hellscape the free state of Florida was, permitting all manner of liberty to its citizens during his foray. His condemnation was the result of…Freed escaping from oppressive lockdown mandates. “ - I recently fled Quebec for a week, a refugee from Legault’s 2.0 curfew-and-confinement rules. A friend told me about an available condo in Florida, my wife and I made a last-second decision to briefly escape and work remotely. So he sought out the freedom allowed in Florida and then promptly recoiled at the permissiveness he actively wanted to enjoy.

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  • After Jose Biden on a hot mic called Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy a “Stupid son of a bitch” CNN’s Brian Stelter was less than supportive of the journalist. In his Reliable Sources newsletter he was certain Fox would spend a week condemning the president. First, let's stipulate that this is not the most important thing that happened at the White House on Monday. Far from it. Second, let's recognize that the Twitter-type excitement over Biden's profane comment about Fox's Peter Doocy is a reflection of the fact that people feel like they rarely hear "real" and "unscripted" remarks from politicians. And third, let's acknowledge that Fox is milking this exchange for all its worth. First, the network spent little time on the episode, with Doocy actually making light of the comment for a solitary segment. But Stelter held a completely different opinion on the exact same phrase when heard being uttered by the prior president. 

  • The rejuvenated sports portal Deadspin had opinions when it was announced the Miami Dolphins hired Mike McDaniel as their new head coach. Deadspin chalked it up to privilege, as “just another white guy” was hired. Except - McDaniel is a mixed-race individual.

  • CNN kicked off a year of complete mayhem with the departure of CEO Jeff Zucker. This was followed by schedule shifting throughout the year, the basic dissolving of Headline News, and notable departures of named talent – from Jeffrey Toobin to John Harwood and then Brian Stelter. This all was capped off by the Hindenberg-level disaster that was the $300 million spent to roll out “CNN+”, only to have it last for barely three weeks.

  • The Biden administration was found to be distributing free crack pipes, in the name of public health. Fact-checkers such as Politifact tried to massage the details. - Smoking kits typically contain disinfectant wipes, rubber mouthpieces to prevent burns and cuts, and brass screens to filter out harmful contaminants. Except at the Washington Free Beacon, they obtained a number of these kits from across the country, and they found them to actually contain crack pipes.

  • The New York Times finally came around to confirming the validity of the Hunter Biden laptop. This then allowed other news outlets to begin full coverage of the story. Few did, however. Most would walk away from the topic, and none would discuss the merits (more accurately the lack of merits) of the letter signed by over 50 members of the intelligence community calling the laptop story Russian opposition content. 

  • The South Florida Sun-Sentinel made an odd boast. The paper claimed Governor Ron DeSantis had been “outmaneuvered” by the ‘Don’t Say GAy BIll’ messaging. It is impossible to see their point considering that the bill passed the legislature, was signed into law, and polls showed widespread support from voters.

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  • Robert Costa of CBS News and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post delivered the EXPLOSIVE expose: The official White House call logs from January 6 had 7 hours of missing transcripts! The press exploded with reports that this was far greater a scandal than the missing Watergate tapes. Then – the January 6 Committee announced they had located the missing segments of the logs. Well then, nevermind…

  • While the story of collegiate swimmer Lia Thomas dominated news cycles The Today Show was revealed to have airbrushed one still shot of the swimmer to make Thomas appear more feminine.

  • With misinformation being the buzzword throughout the press industry, The Atlantic staged a three-day‘ Disinformation Conference’, laughably hosted by Jeffrey Goldberg, famous for pushing the false story of Trump insulting dead World War II soldiers. Adding to the comedy was Brian Stelter brought in as a featured speaker.

  • Taylor Lorenz weeps openly in an interview with MSNBC about the online harassment she receives – mostly in response to her own online harassment. Later in the year, after becoming the target of ridicule and the picture of memes, she lashed out at reporter Morgan Radford.

  • There never has been a good explanation for this photo spread of Joe Khan after he was announced as the new Executive Editor of the New York Times.

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  • NBC News moved Chuck Todd’s Meet The Press Daily to its lightly-watched streaming portal NBC News NOW.

  • On Twitter, a Washington Post columnist retweeted a joke posted by another account. This innocuous action kicked off what became literally weeks of internal drama at the paper played out in public. Sparked by co-worker Felicia Sonmez, Dave Weigel was initially accused of wrongdoing, suggested he should be punished, then the paper was under fire for fostering a hostile environment, and then other staffers began turning on each other. During this melodrama, the paper was exposed with error-prone articles and other embarrassments. In the end, both Weigel and Sonmez departed, and WaPo became a laughingstock.

  • NPR ran an audio segment about the LGBTQ community struggling with others outside the movement appropriating dinosaur emojis on social media. Yes..seriously. Said one person interviewed: - No matter who you are, if you see something beloved taken over by someone else, that can be hard. Suddenly gender queer fans of dinos everywhere felt under attack as TERFs kept dropping the emoji into their feeds.

  • Despite the laughably obtuse testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson to the January 6 Committee the Washington Post illustrated her impressions in a graphic novel fashion.

  • After her alleged arrest, along with Ilhan Omar, few in the press questioned Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s posturing as if she was being hauled off. She even appeared on the cover of GQ Magazine repeating her false handcuffed pose.

  • A number of columnists and news outlets shared a story from Salon about Ron DeSantis forcing collegians to reveal their political positions. It was a year-old report, and it was proven false in the summer of 2021, but smart pundits shared the story anyway.

  • After the grocery store shooting in Buffalo, many in the press rushed out to call it a result of racial hatred fed by right-wing politics. Other shootings taking place at the same time on a racial basis received no hysterical coverage. For example, in Dallas, a number of Asian businesses were targeted with shootings, but the black perpetrator was not categorized in nearly the same fashion.  

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(The second part of this calendar rundown of media malpractice will appear tomorrow.)

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