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A Harsh Critique of Media Ethics

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

The Pew Research Center, firmly ensconced inside the liberal establishment, has a new poll that has the organization worried sick (perhaps not as much as the new USA Today/Suffolk University poll that shows President Donald Trump defeating every single Democratic presidential opponent). Pew is concerned and confused about a dramatic difference between Democrats' and Republicans' skepticism about the media.


When asked about the ethical standards of the media, 31% of Republicans said their standards are "very low," and 48% picked "low." Among Democrats, 10% said the media have "very high" ethical standards, and 53% selected "high."

The two parties are going in diametrically opposite directions.

Pew's poll question wasn't specific about the definition of "ethical standards." But we can guess that many people are responding to the media's commitment to objectivity. Are they in the business of reporting, or advancing an agenda?

Democrats are invested in the idea that the media will affirm their beliefs, which makes the media guardians of truth, honor, beauty and anything else they think is Not Trump. Republicans see the media as affirming all the Democrats' beliefs, which undermines any claim to independence.

The already threadbare notion that the press was a nonpartisan and objective referee lost any tether to reality when Trump came down the escalator and declared his presidential campaign. They mocked the implausibility of a President Trump. He soon denounced them as "scum," and they have ardently opposed him and portrayed him as an unhinged buffoon ever since.

Pew researchers also asked if Americans have a great deal or a fair amount of confidence that journalists will "act in the best interests of the public." There's a 46-point gap between Democrats and Republicans on that question, and it jumps to a massive 75-point gap between respondents who say they are highly politically aware and associate with one party. Ninety-one percent of politically aware Democrats are confident the media will act in the public's interest, compared with 16% of politically aware Republicans.


In other words, Democrats and Republicans alike are confident that the media will help the Democrats wage war on Team Trump and achieve their version of a Great Society, with a Green New Deal and "Medicare for All."

That starts with impeaching President Trump and removing him from office. "Facts" will not put the slightest brake on the impeachment wagon. The new report from Justice Department inspector general Michael Horowitz offers loads of evidence for the strong distaste that Republicans and Trump backers have for the media. They were deeply invested in a false narrative of Trump campaign collusion with the Russian government, spurred on by a wildly unreliable dossier of gossip circulated and funded by Hillary Clinton's campaign. The fake media were openly hostile toward any facts that didn't line up with that narrative, and even now they insist Horowitz's damning new factual findings are somehow still part of an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory.

No one in the press demonstrated an ethical standard by responding to the Horowitz report with a confession saying they were wrong for having pushed a false narrative and a sleazy dossier. Instead, they expressed shock and disgust that pro-Trump media outlets were still resisting their crusade. How could anyone disagree that Trump must be impeached? They must all be pawns of Russian disinformation specialists.


Disinformation? No one does it better than the press.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org.

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