- Thursday, June 6, 2024

Two events in the political world this week proved that mainstream journalism is in the same sorry state it was during the last presidential campaign. One episode reminded the world of how the media failed to do their jobs in the closing days of the 2020 race, and the other showed that ideology remains the most important thing to many journalists today.

Let’s go over the highlights if you haven’t heard how the national press corps interfered in the 2020 campaign by ignoring and suppressing an enormous political story. 

In the last weeks of the race, nearly every reporter refused to write about Hunter Biden’s laptop unless they were attempting to debunk it as a credible source of information that tied then-candidate Joe Biden to his family’s influence peddling. Biden defenders flooded the media and started spreading the lie that the computer was a Russian disinformation operation.

Before long, Politico published a letter from 51 former intelligence officials blaming the Russians and cautioning everyone to disregard the laptop. It was a lie orchestrated by the Biden campaign, led by now-Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Still, it worked, and most reporters, editors, and social media platforms used the Russian smoke screen as their excuse to pretend the laptop didn’t exist. 

It was a near-total media blackout, and I argued about it with reporters endlessly and fruitlessly as communications director of President Donald Trump’s campaign. And the media were wrong.

How do we know? Well, even though the laptop has been authenticated many times, we have added confirmation now because it’s prosecution exhibit number 16 in Hunter Biden’s trial on gun charges in Delaware. (These are the only crimes being prosecuted using the laptop, and they’re also safe for U.S. attorneys to pursue without implicating Hunter’s father in the family’s access-selling scheme. What a coincidence.) 

Every news outlet that questioned the authenticity of that laptop is now being forced to report on it as a piece of evidence. But you know that none of them will apologize or correct any earlier reporting that has been proved wrong.

While that reminded us again how the media interfered on Mr. Biden’s behalf in 2020, a different media upheaval this week demonstrated that leftism still rules in newsrooms and crowds out all other considerations.

The Washington Post’s publisher and CEO, William Lewis, announced abruptly last Sunday night that Executive Editor Sally Buzbee had stepped down in response to a looming restructuring at the paper. Owner Jeff Bezos demanded the shake-up because subscriptions have declined by half, and the outlet has lost $77 million in the last year alone.

While no layoffs have been publicly discussed at the Post, there have been waves of recent firings at other media outlets, and some have folded. Journalism is in a shaky time — even at legacy giants like the Post — and the future of the industry is anything but solid.

With that as a backdrop, what’s on the minds of the journalists at the Post?

Why, diversity numbers, of course, according to details of a staff meeting reported by the Post itself, Vanity Fair and others.

About the changes to the structure of the place, one Post reporter is quoted as saying, “We now have four white men running three newsrooms.”

Another asked if “any women or people of color were interviewed and seriously considered” for the newly rearranged jobs.

To be clear, these journalists were aware that their place of employment was bleeding customers and money, yet they reflexively engaged in identity politics anyway. They’ve been told that their ship is sinking, but keeping track of the crew members’ skin color is still their primary concern. Instead of thinking about why they’re headed toward the bottom of the ocean, they want to ensure the doomed officers are suitably diverse.

Finally, the publisher couldn’t take it anymore.

“We are losing large amounts of money. Your audience has halved in recent years. People are not reading your stuff. I can’t sugarcoat it anymore,” CEO and Publisher William Lewis said.

It all recalls an old joke about how the media would cover the story of imminent global destruction. 

“WORLD TO END TOMORROW,” a newspaper’s front page would scream. “WOMEN AND MINORITIES HARDEST HIT.”

The gag is that, in reality, the end of the world would be bad for everybody, but in the minds of the biased press, certain victimized communities would somehow have it worse than others.

News consumers have more choices today than ever, and the day may be coming when familiar legacy news outlets go out of business for good. But based on what we know about the distorted view of the world in newsrooms, it’ll probably be news to them when it happens.

• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist, a communications consultant, a co-host of the “Line Drive Podcast,” and the author of the Amazon bestselling book “Swing Hard in Case You Hit It: My Escape From Addiction and Shot at Redemption on the Trump Campaign.”

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