NBC news anchor Lester Holt thinks reporters don’t need to hear both sides of a story before determining the "truth." Fairness is overrated, he said while accepting an Edward R. Murrow Award for journalism. Holt’s comment reflects how the media have gone partisan and abdicated their journalistic responsibilities. Holt should not only be fired for making such an imbecilic statement, he should be cast adrift near the South Pole. Murrow, an icon of journalistic integrity and one of my personal heroes, is turning over in his grave.
Presenting both sides of a story is at the heart of objective journalistic practice. That is what constitutes “fairness.” When the anchor from a major TV news outlet feels free to claim that objective reporting is overrated, we know the public is not receiving news—they are receiving propaganda.
Unfortunately, what Holt confessed is standard practice. Media outlets are becoming much bolder in their efforts to distort the news. “The American mainstream media is filled to the brim with liars, frauds, partisans, cheats, plagiarists, and those who tolerate, defend and enable all of them,” according to Breitbart News Network. “There is no American institution that engages in anywhere near the amount of fraud and dishonesty that serially oozes from Our Media Overlords.”
Today’s media are controlled by six corporations. “When the primary sources of mass opinion are so concentrated in the hands of so few,” says CounterCurrents.org, “we are in danger of what they want us to believe as a people becoming what we believe as a people, while the facts are ignored.” Adding to the problem is the fact that all of the major news outlets are in the pocket of the Democratic Party. We are talking about progressive liberals who have no scruples about using their power to influence public opinion. That was made obvious by the distortion of information in the Chauvin murder trial.
The sad part is that Americans are gullible. They accept as truth the most ridiculous nonsense if it comes from credible sources like NBC, CNN, or The New York Times. “We have been deceived by our media to such an extent,” says News Focus, “mostly because people are too trusting of our news system. They very naively believe that broadcasters and journalists would never lie to us.” That does not relieve the media of responsibility for throwing objective reporting out the window.
As a native New Yorker, it has saddened me to observe the decline of The New York Times from the beyond-reproach newspaper of my boyhood to the partisan left-wing rag it has become. TV commentator Bernard Goldberg nailed what the Times is doing: “Passing off editorial opinion as straight news.” Bob Kohn, in his book Journalistic Fraud, refers “to the way the Times has waged editorial crusades, not on the paper’s editorial pages, but within ‘objective’ news stories appearing on the front page.”
A current example of partisan reporting involves the police shooting that occurred in Columbus, Ohio. A black teenage girl was fatally shot by a white police officer. NBC Nightly News deceptively edited the footage to conceal that the girl who was shot and killed was charging another girl with a knife. In the original body camera video, 16-year-old Ma’Khia Bryant is shown about to attack the other girl with the deadly weapon. The officer can be heard calling for everyone to get down before he fired off four shots directed at Bryant. The audio featured on the show also omitted parts of the 911 call featuring frantic cries for help from people who claimed a girl was “trying to stab us.”
NBC was deliberately pushing a racially-tinged interpretation of the event. Various media outlets, activists, and even the White House suggested that this shooting was racially motivated. “She was a child,” the White House said in a statement. “We know that police violence disproportionately impacts black and Latino people and communities and that black women and girls, like black men and boys, experience higher rates of police violence.” This statement is both false and inflammatory. Thanks to intentional distortions, extremists are running around accusing the cop of murder instead of applauding the fact that he saved a girl’s life.
We have a preponderance of evidence that media deception is much worse than most people realize. Ryan Holiday, writing in Forbes, concludes that “media manipulation currently shapes everything you read, hear and watch online. Everything.” Does that make you feel better, Mr. Holt?