After President Trump complained that the media were persecuting him with relentlessly negative stories and fake news, he got blowback, ridiculing his complaints and noting that other Presidents were actually assassinated. Nice dodge, but it was pretty plain he wasn’t talking about actual assassination; he was talking about character assassination. And it turns out, even Harvard supports his complaint.
A Harvard study of coverage of Trump’s first 100 days found that the media generated nearly three times as many stories about him as other recent Presidents, and on average, they were about 80% hostile. During his best week (the bombing of Syria), his coverage was still 70-30% negative. Other weeks, negative stories reached as high as 90%. On no major topic was coverage of Trump more positive than negative. Even Fox News was more negative than positive, although they came closest to being balanced. Can you even imagine what the average would be if Fox weren’t included? Is it mathematically possible for news coverage to be 110% negative?
To make this kind of blatant bias even more damaging to the media’s reputation, once-respectable outlets like the Washington Post and the New York Times haven’t just abandoned any pretense of objectivity, they’ve also thrown basic journalistic standards out the window. Most of us have lost track of how many times we’ve heard “bombshell” anti-Trump stories that turned out to be fairy tales based on unnamed sources and flatly denied by everyone involved, who could have told that to the original reporters if they’d only bothered to ask. Just look at the recent firestorm over the New York Times’ claim of a James Comey memo that allegedly noted that Trump said something to him that might be construed as obstructing the investigation of Mike Flynn. Except that both Comey and his associates already testified under oath to Congress that there had been no attempts by the White House to interfere in the investigation.
Later, we learned that the Times reporter hadn’t even seen the memo: it had been read to him over the phone. Well, not “read to him.” But someone on the phone recalled portions of it. Who did? He can’t say. It was an unnamed anonymous source recounting hearsay from memory about an alleged memo the reporter didn’t actually see but that, if it exists, allegedly contained a hearsay account of something Trump said. Allegedly. (Who wrote this story? Hank Kimbell, the county agent from “Green Acres?”)
It’s ironic that so many media outlets are suggesting that Trump doesn’t measure up to their high standards for a President when they don’t even measure up to my lowest standards for journalism. I think any fair-minded person would now agree that the Weekly World News was a more reliable source of political news than the current New York Times. At least when they ran stories about that space alien that hung out with Presidents, they quoted the alien directly.
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