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OPINION

Why Our National Journalism Complex Is Unbothered By Attacks on Its Own Industry

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
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AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

We may very well be on the verge of an existential crisis regarding the press industry in this country. This threat arrives not as a result of some large, dramatic flare-up but from more of an incremental imposition arriving as a result of inactivity from news outlets. Over time, these outlets have aligned themselves with the government, and the gradual exposure of how deep these commitments run reveals a mounting problem.

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Now, the larger press industry is facing a paradox of its own construction. As government collusion becomes more apparent, that same government is lashing out at the select members willing to point out this problem, and that means we are seeing the broader body of journalists holding silent as reporters and the sanctity of their industry is challenged by the very politicians many have cuddled up with over the years. 

Last week brought what has to be the most revealing and damaging of realities. The Twitter Files have generated Washington pushback, and the press has become targeted. Deeply significant is how the press complex as a whole has reacted to this; that is to say, there has been little reaction at all. That politicians would go after journalists is not a surprise here. However, the fact that most journalists have little to say about the aggressiveness shown has been rather disturbing to see.

First, the new GOP House leadership is looking into the matter of the Federal Trade Commission targeting Twitter following the purchase by Elon Musk. One of the moves made, in the name of user privacy safety, sees the FTC demanding that Twitter turn over a list of any journalists the company has been working with since October. "In 12 letters sent to Twitter and its lawyers since Mr. Musk's Oct. 27 takeover, the FTC also asked the company to 'identify all journalists' granted access to company records."

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This is the kind of political overreach that normally would have the press howling and gnashing teeth in print. That there has been little to no outrage is revealing. Next came the House committee hearing last Thursday that brought in reporters Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger to address questions regarding the release of the Twitter Files. The Democrats behaved in a crude and insulting manner toward these two, accusing them of being "so-called journalists," interrogating them over methodology, and a number of members demanding that they reveal sources behind their revelations. 

Again, this is all outlandish posturing that normally, in the past, has seen fellow journalists rear up in defense and shout down these attempts to compromise the practice of journalism. Recall during the Trump administration how his antagonism toward the media brought all manner of defensive claims. Journalism was said to be threatened, reporters at risk of some unaccounted threats, and the former president's behavior was impeding their Constitutionally-mandated work and stood as a direct threat to our democracy. Nothing even approaching these claims has been heard from the broader journalism landscape in the days after March 9.

The reason for this is that the press has become exposed by the Twitter Files as being in bed with these politicians. This is why the exposure over the past months has received little attention. It is why the likes of Taibbi and Shellenberger have received mostly scorn from the press, not praise. The stranglehold the press outlets held on Twitter has been loosened, and as a result, they have mostly turned petulant and aggressive. D.C. has been shown to have been working directly with the former Twitter ownership, and by extension, the press mostly worked in concert.

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As political leadership leveraged the social media platform, many a journalist and news outlets followed suit, pushing forth the designed narratives and benefitting by exposure as well as leveraging competition on the conservative side of media. But now that entire game has been exposed. With the curtain thrown open, we have been shown the government's involvement directly with Twitter – and the press's involvement, both directly and indirectly. 

This has forced many outlets and reporters to become exposed and to take the side of wanting the need to dismiss, diminish, exclude, or even counter these reporters who have been exposing the game. So they have to come down on the side of the politicians – to the position that the new Twitter management is something of a problem or threat. This means, as a result, as these politicians are lashing out, most journalists and outlets have to take a silent stance.

So now we have possibly reached a tipping point. As journalists side with the politicians, they are granting tacit approval to threats being levied on their very industry. They have been sleeping with political whores, so when the crackdowns begin, the journalists cannot call for the Johns to be rounded up since they are complicit. So they remain silent and wait to see if they will get swept up in the sting.

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This now falls on those who have been antagonistic toward the politicians to stand up for the sanctity of the press, and these are the very voices those same press members have been antagonistic toward for some time. This business is only getting dirtier, and that is because so many involved are fighting against the cleanup.

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