How Low Will Journalists Go?

Elliot  Resnick
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Posted: Jul 11, 2016 2:30 PM
How Low Will Journalists Go?

I’ve always known the mainstream media was biased. But I used to think it at least attempted to cover the news – not invent it. I now realize how naïve I was.

Last week, numerous news sites ran headlines blaring: “Donald Trump Praises Saddam Hussein for Killing Terrorists.” When I first saw these headlines, I said to myself, “This must be a mistake. Trump has been praising Saddam in the context of his opposition to the Iraq War for over a year now. How can they report this as ‘news’?” But they did. CNN, NBC, The New York Times and all the rest knew Trump’s remarks on Saddam didn’t constitute news (their reporters cover every Trump rally), but they didn’t care. They invented a news story and ran with it because they thought it might hurt Trump (and distract Americans from Hillary’s crimes).

This statement bears repeating: These so-called news outlets didn’t merely accidentally slant a news story. Theydeliberately invented a new story.

Perhaps I should not have been surprised. For months now, journalists have been taking 30-second sound bites from hour-long Trump rallies and making them national news stories. It has gotten so bad that MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough commented on Thursday that every Trump rally is really two rallies – the one the crowd experiences and the one that is reported in the mainstream media the next day.

I personally was witness to such gross journalistic malfeasance. Three months ago I was among 25 Jewish reporters and activists who met with Donald Trump in advance of the New York primaries. Good will and laughter filled the room – many of us were Trump supporters – and Trump’s replies to our questions essentially reflected previous statements he had made. All in all, it was a rather uneventful meeting.

When I did a Google News search two hours later, though – lo and behold – the following headline appeared on top: “Trump Doesn’t Know What to Call the West Bank.” Essentially, Trump had been asked at the meeting whether he calls Israel’s eastern region “Judea and Samaria,” “occupied territories,” “Palestine,” or “the West Bank.” Instead of answering directly, Trump deferred to Jason Greenblatt, the Trump Organization’s chief legal officer and an Orthodox Jew, who said the region is certainly not “occupied” but also said we shouldn’t get hung up on terminology. Trump said he agreed with Greenblatt.

That was the extent of the exchange. At the time I thought nothing of it. It was a completely forgettable moment. But a reporter from the Forward (a once proudly socialist paper, today merely a left-wing one) wished to paint Trump in a poor light, so he ran with a headline that captured a total of 45 seconds from the 25-minute meeting. His headline was picked up by many other news outlets – including The New York Times and CNN – so that by the next day what clearly was a friendly meeting with mostly Trump admirers was magically (or maliciously) transformed into a testy one that mainly revolved around one topic.

I invite readers to watch the video of the meeting to fully appreciate the media’s dishonest characterization of it. The Forward’s reporter could just have easily written his story under the headline, “Trump Says George Patton Would Make Good Israeli Prime Minister” or “Donald Trump Intimates Sheldon Silver Got Raw Deal” or “Trump Tells Jewish Audience Its Support of Obama Is Inexplicable” or “Jewish Media Applaud as Charges Against Lewandowski Dropped.” Or, better yet, he could have written a headline that actually reflected what transpired. “Trump Meets With Jewish Media” may be boring, but it least has the merit of being accurate.

Most reporters, however, no longer seem to care about accuracy. Nearly every week I marvel at the unabashed gall reporters demonstrate as they cherry-pick quotes from Trump’s rallies and interviews and convert them into sensationalist headlines. Of course, they only select quotes that advance their agenda. For example, the other week Trump said in a TV interview that he prefers the company of ordinary people to that of the wealthy. Ordinary people are less “phony,” he said. Did you see that comment in a headline? Of course not.

How about his declaration at a North Carolina rally on Monday that he wants to help black and Hispanic Americans? See that quote anywhere? How about him calling ISIS “animals that have to be stopped”? Did that make the headlines?

Or how about Trump’s invocation of George Patton and Douglas MacArthur at nearly every single rally since he’s entered the race. One would think that somewhere along the way a journalist would have said, “Hey, that’s interesting. I don’t remember any politician ever invoking these forgotten American heroes. Let me write a story on that.” Fat chance.

Anything that might portray Trump in a positive, or even interesting, light is not news. But when Trump answers a silly question – “Would you consider resigning the day you win the presidency? – by joking, “I’ll let you know how I feel about it after it happens,” the media bellows his answer in headlines.

What’s the moral of the story? In short, don’t trust the mainstream media about anything. It doesn’t just slant the facts. Facts are altogether irrelevant to it. The “news” is whatever it says it is. And if it has to invent “news” to push its agenda, it will do so. Journalistic integrity simply no longer exists in its ranks.