Back when I covered the White House for a national newspaper in the aughts, I got word of some internal deliberations going on at the Associated Press.
For the record, the longtime wire service provides news to newspapers and news websites, and guess what? Most of them are liberal. So (and you can’t blame them), the AP delivers liberal news for their liberal readers. That’s just business.
So it turned out the AP was sick of all this balanced, just-the-facts-ma’am news stuff. The powers that be at the AP decided it no longer had to present two opposing sides equally. Instead, top editors there agreed that they would determine what viewpoint should be stressed, and what viewpoint should be minimized.
The AP then proceeded to cover President George W. Bush in the most biased manner, becoming a mere shadow of its former greatness. Since then, the wire service has become little more than a Democratic organ spewing out the party’s talking points.
So sure, you could certainly say journalism was grievously wounded back then. But the libs in the newsroom are back to fire off a final kill shot.
Former executive editor for The Washington Post Leonard Downie Jr. and former CBS News President Andrew Heyward interviewed more than 75 media leaders and put together their findings in a report titled, “Beyond Objectivity: Producing Trustworthy News in Today’s Newsroom.”
Its conclusion? Objectivity in the media is now considered reactionary, even harmful. Emilio Garcia-Ruiz, editor-in-chief at the San Francisco Chronicle, went so far as to say: “Objectivity has got to go.”
This is right in line with what liberal professors are teaching liberal students in liberal learning institutions. It’s now all about advocacy — pushing one side — and every fledgling journalist wants to be an activist that promotes change.
“Many forces have eroded public trust in journalism over the years. Additionally, the traditional standard of ‘objectivity’ has lost its relevance for a new generation of journalists and news consumers,” Downie and Heyward wrote.
“This report and accompanying ‘playbook’ offer actionable guidelines to help news organizations restore a belief in the value of fair, fact-based reporting — trustworthy news. We provide a fresh vision for how to replace outmoded ‘objectivity’ with a more relevant articulation of journalistic standards,” they wrote.
The new edict of new journalism comes as Bob Woodward, who along with Carl Bernstein helped break Watergate, finally acknowledged that the Russian collusion coverage during former President Donald Trump’s term lacked objectivity and resulted in false reporting.
In a report for Columbia Journalism Review, journalist Jeff Gerth interviewed media and political figures who pushed Russiagate — which turned out to be completely false. Woodward told Gerth that viewers and readers had been “cheated” by the coverage, Fox News reported.
“Bob Woodward, of the Post, told me that news coverage of the Russia inquiry ‘wasn’t handled well’ and that he thought viewers and readers had been ‘cheated.’ He urged newsrooms to ‘walk down the painful road of introspection,’” Gerth wrote.
But the idea of presenting news in an unbiased fashion, allowing both sides an opportunity to explain its position, has been dying for a while.
Back in 2021, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt declared “fairness is overrated.”
“The idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in. That the sun sets in the west is a fact. Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention,” Holt said, The Daily Wire reported at the time.
Of course, that’s a silly oversimplification. What about complex issues like abortion, climate change, anything coming out of the White House or Capitol? Nothing’s ever that clear cut.
But Holt said there’s no longer any need for a journalist to give both sides of a story equal weight.
“Decisions to not give unsupported arguments equal time are not a dereliction of journalistic responsibility or some kind of agenda. In fact, it’s just the opposite,” Holt said. “Providing an open platform for misinformation, for anyone to come say whatever they want, especially when issues of public health and safety are at stake, can be quite dangerous.”
“Our duty is to be fair to the truth. Holding those in power accountable is at the core of our function and responsibility. We need to hear our leaders’ views, their policies, and reasoning. It’s really important. But we have to stand ready to push back and call out falsehoods.”
And never forget, journalists now decide what the “truth” is. No wonder Americans have given up on its media.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
Joseph Curl has covered politics for 35 years, including 12 years as White House correspondent for a national newspaper. He was also the a.m. editor of the Drudge Report for four years. Send tips to [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @josephcurl.