Holman W. Jenkins, a great columnist, recently speculated something I had also imagined: Some organ of the lamestream media will soon decide it has made a cosmic mistake in following the anti-Trump story line, perhaps issue a mea culpa for its biased and corrupt coverage to date, and at least get on the truthful side of the story.
“I suspect at least one major news organization in this country will soon decide it can no longer afford to be dragged against its will to acknowledge the doings of U.S. intelligence agencies in the 2016 election,” he said. “It will want to get on top of the story.”
The idea has less to do with cleansing their conscience by admitting the gross bias that permeates all their coverage and the overwhelming factual case against the views, prejudices and lies of the Democrats, deep state and anti-Trumpers. The real conspiracy and fake news came from them, we now know.
It has more to do with plunging ratings and financial losses as the truth and facts continue to emerge, showing they were all wrong and dishonest in their central premises. Also, with the bitterness of having to admit (or dodge) the fact Trump, conservatives, Fox News and most Republicans have been almost completely vindicated.
Jenkins explains: “My argument for years has been that readers can repose a high degree of trust in brand-name news organizations to spell names correctly, quote sources accurately, nail down discrete facts.” However, “You can’t trust their thinking.”
He explains they often confuse two basic categories: good/bad and true/false. They believe they’re speaking the journalistic language of true/false when they really mean, for example: “While it may be false that Trump colluded with Russia, this is a pro-Trump talking point so it’s bad to dwell on it. And while it may be true the FBI spied on the Trump campaign, this is also a pro-Trump talking point so it’s good not to acknowledge it.”
We’ll see if AP, USA Today, CBS, NBC, ABC or some other organ has such a revelation. Don’t count on the more hopelessly extreme outlets such as CNN, MSNBC, NYT, WaPo, etc.
But this basic insight also applies to local press coverage. Not so much on national issues where they just print the AP dreck. But on their own coverage of state and local government fiscal matters, coverage they generate themselves.
The basic problem is you can repose a great deal of trust in their quotation of government officials and discussion of discrete facts. (The correct spelling of names and reference to details has, however, taken a hit with the decline of copy editing.) They’ll get a lot that pedestrian stuff right, and in their hunger to survive, often do good work on it.
But you can’t trust their thinking.
The reason is similar to that for the national media and Trump, but slightly different. The bias with which they approach fiscal and related matters is the same as that of Democrats and RINOs (Republicans in Name Only). That is, the main story is the details of how your tax dollars will be spent and the purported good the spending will do. The perspective is short-term: how does this year’s budget compare to last year’s? And what additional taxes will have to be adopted to close the budget?
Thus, in one county, judges are seeking to add another public defender, the commission is considering a $128.18-million budget, and the school district total budget is $90.8-million, with a $2-million revenue shortfall. The next county is reviewing a $122.75-million budget for 25 governmental funds and $51.42-million for 10 proprietary funds, while the school district faces staff cuts.
A lot of good detail in limited space.
However, they studiously ignore the real issue: Over the long term, government spending at all levels has been increasing faster than the growth of our economies. Thus, it grows faster than the incomes of our families and businesses. Not only is that unsustainable, but it also diminishes economic growth and thus is contrary to the public interest in human wellbeing and fairness.
But don’t hold your breath for our local press to rise to addressing the real meaning of the news.