The mainstream media are not more objective than independents. there is hardly a journalist in the world who is able to fully set aside their own politics in favor of the subjects they are covering. Dismissing an outlet or journalist for having a political agenda is moot. They all have a political agenda. There is an endless number of ways for journalists’ agendas to show in their work.
It is no secret that the ‘fake news’ narrative is being used by the establishment to smear and censor alternative news sources. The news outlets considered ‘reputable’ by the establishment, are all part of that same establishment. Independent journalists and websites are shunned or slandered, among other things for supposedly having a political bias. Take for example the routine attacks against Fox News since basically its inception (first the left told the right to start their own network if they didn’t like the other ones – then when the right did start their own network, the left tried to destroy it for not being like them). The implication is that Fox’ competitors have no such political bias. The same false dichotomy is applied online, but often with more intensity. The HuffPo’s of the world are called reputable and trustworthy and the Breitbarts are slandered as ‘far right’ and ‘fake news’. This is not because Breitbart has a bigger political bias, but because the establishment likes HuffPo’s bias better.
All news is biased. All journalism is activism. It can be overt, deliberate activism – or it can be subtle, even unintentional activism. But there is hardly a journalist in the world who is able to fully set aside their own politics in favor of the subjects they are covering. In the content of any news item is an endless string of potentially political choices: angle, tone of voice, wording, context, emphasis, who do we quote, whose opinion do we ask, how do we describe them… And even before that, journalists and editors have to make the following decisions, every one of which may be influenced by their politics:
- Do I cover this?
- How much time or space do I spend on this?
- Where do I place it?
- What do I put in the headline?
- What picture or video do I use?
For example: Associated Press tweeted “Woman crying “God is great” has injured 2 with box cutter at a supermarket in southern France” (17 June 2018). The headline is factual, neutral and objective. But if it had been “Woman yells Allahu Akbar, injures two with knife” it would still have been factual, neutral and objective. Nonetheless, in both cases there are groups of people who feel the chosen headline was meant to politicize or depoliticize an issue. Every journalist and every editor decides to include certain facts and omit certain others. Inevitably, their personal politics (or the dominant politics of the time) often play a role in that process.
Dismissing an outlet or journalist for having a political agenda is moot. They all have a political agenda. And personally, I prefer knowing what their agenda is from the start.
There is really only one thing you need to know about the mainstream media. And that is: you have probably heard more from them about President Trump drinking 12 diet cokes a day, and eating McDonald’s and KFC, than you did about the Obama administration’s Fast and Furious scandal, Hizbollah drug running scandal or Obama’s IRS targeting conservatives. That should be enough to make you wonder, and to make you doubt everything you have ever heard from them about Obama, Clinton, the Democrats and establishment politicians. And everything you have ever heard from them about Trump, the Republicans and anti-establishment politicians.
Below a collection of examples to illustrate the points above, which I will continue to update.
Do I cover this?
- An anti-Trump activist shot up a golf resort in Miami in May 2018. After a brief mention of his motivations, the mainstream media went suspiciously silent on the event.
- BBC website completely ignores over 20,000 people protesting in support of Tommy Robinson.
- Mainstram media don’t seem too interested in a 2012 anti-semitic tweet from Ilhan Omar.
- Huffington Post pushes the anti-President Trump ‘elevator tape’ narrative (14 July 2018), even though by their own description this is not news at all. “A tape might exist of Trump doing something in an elevator, though exactly where that somewhere is and what that something might be, no one in media can say. That’s because no one in media seems to have seen the tape — or is even confident it exists.”
- A study by the Media Research Center in October 2018 showed that ABC, CBS and NBC deliberately ‘buried’ coverage of the US’ successes under President Trump in the war against ISIS, stating: “Under Trump, U.S.-backed coalition forces have regained nearly all of the territory that the self-ordained caliphate occupied in 2015. Yet on network evening broadcasts, the president and his administration have received virtually no credit for this achievement.”
What do I put in the headline?
- The Independent headline after Tommy Robinson was ambushed and attacked: “Footage shows Tommy Robinson fighting gang of masked man outside a McDonald’s” (11 March 2018). The takeaway from this headline is ‘Tommy Robinson fighting’, while the story is ‘Tommy Robinson was attacked’.
- When Faith Goldy was attacked by Antifa, CTV’s Angela MacKenzie described her as ‘far right’ and Antifa as ‘counter protestors’, thus justifying the actions the far left.
- Multiple news outlets ran a headline stating the State Dept spent over 50,000 dollars on curtains for Nikki Haley’s residence. Deep in the article we find out that the order was placed under the Obama administration.
- Chris Loesch noticed that Apple News calls a ‘mass shooting’ a ‘mass tragedy’ in the headline, which sounds unnatural and is not the full story.
Which part of the quote do I use?
- NBC News tweets that President Trump called Robert E. Lee a ‘great general’ (12 October 2018), attempting to align him with the Confederate side of the Civil War. The highlighted quote does not contain the parts of the speech in which the President praises General Grant.
- When President Trump referred to MS-13 gang members as ‘animals’, almost all of the mainstream media pounced on a perceived opportunity to falsely declare that the President used that word to describe immigrants (17 May 2018).
Who do we mention and how do we describe them?
- CNN headline with a snuck premise: “A brief history of how Parkland survivor David Hogg keeps schooling law makers on social media” (30 March 2018). As pointed out by Dave Rubin: is this objective journalism or designed to keep gun control advocates fighting?
- CTV News calls Jordan Peterson ‘controversial’ in an article about a female protester who was arrested and turned out to have a concealed garrotte, leaving Peterson to wonder why he is the controversial one in this scenario.
- News.com.au wrote “Yiannopolous’ tour of Australia last year led to violent demonstrations where hundreds of police were forced to intervene in clashes between left-wing protesters and supporters of the far-right figure.” Yiannopolous is classified as far-right, without further explanation, the aggressors of the riots are not described as extremist in any way, and their ambush attacks on peaceful visitors of a political event are described as ‘clashes’, making them sound like the two sides share equal blame.
- In negative news, Moroccans with a Dutch passport are called ‘Dutch’. In positive news, they are called ‘Moroccans’ (I have seen someone from the left make the exact opposite statement).
- CNN’s Jim Sciutto loved it when Obama talked to Castro, but attacks President Trump for negotiating peace with Kim Jong Il. Similar events, opposite descriptions, based on the politics of the author.
- Dutch journalist Milena Holdert was one of hundreds (in a coordinated campaign) to file charges against Geert Wilders for asking his party’s supporters whether they wanted ‘more or fewer Moroccans’ on the campaign trail (the answer was ‘fewer’, in case you were wondering). In April 2018, Holdert was involved in making a news item about the extremist As Soennah mosque in The Hague, claiming they ‘unmasked’ the real face of the mosque leadership. No mention of Geert Wilders or his Party For Freedom (PVV), even though Wilders already addressed the dangerous ideology being preached in this mosque 12 years earlier (2006).
- The truth behind The Hill’s (and other MSM outlets) headline of “ICE agents detain husband who was driving pregant wife to hospital to give birth” was that the man was wanted for murder (18 August 2018), but that bit of information was not important enough for these journalists / editors to include it.
- NYT posted a warning of wildfires in California in January 2018 because of ‘100 million dead trees’. After the disastrous wildfires of November 2018, NYT slammed President Trump for making the same point, stating he was ‘oversimplifying’ the situation’.
What picture or video do I use?
- The Dutch state news corporation, NOS, chose a photo with a woman in bikini playing beach volleyball with a woman wearing a burkini to accompany a fluff article about weather predictions. They could have chosen any one of a million things we actually see a lot on the beach, but instead they went with an image that reinforces their ideas of what society is supposed to look like.
- Jack Posobiec showed on Twitter how The Daily Beast cropped a photo of him to evoke the suggesion that he was doing a nazi salute, while in the full photo it is clear that he was pointing his finger (14 November 2018).
Which words do I use to describe this event?
- Scarlett Johansson dropped out of a movie in which she would play a transgender person. One might say she was bullied into taking this decision, but when an author secretly agrees with the hate mob, the bullying can be redubbed ‘backlash’, like Variety did (13 July 2018).
- While Obama almost exclusively received praise from the press no matter what he did during his presidency, with President Trump the mainstream media work to find a negative interpretation for every win. When he negotiated the release of American prisoners from North Korea, one CNN pundit attempted to spin that as him trying to ‘distract from Stormy Daniels‘ (10 May 2018).
- After the midterm elections, Dutch MSM newspaper De Volkskrant ran with the headline: “Democrats increase their control of Trump, Republicans maintain their grip on the Senate”. First of all, this suggests that President Trump needs to be kept under control, and the phrasing ‘maintain their grip’ is equally negative. By comparison, during and after the 2014 midterms, that same newspaper ran headlines like “What can Obama still do [after the elections]?”, “Negativity brings the Republicans victory” and “Elections of fear, in more aspects than one”
- When Obama sent a $4 trillion spending plan to Congress, AP assured us it was to ‘help the middle class’. President Trump’s $4 trillion spending bill was described by AP as ‘featuring soaring deficits‘.
- When an islamic terrorist turns out to have been drunk during his acts, he stops being a terrorist and is suddenly just ‘a drunk’ (this also applies to excuses like ‘low bloodsugar’, ‘fatigue from ramadan’, etc). Somehow that doesn’t seem to work the same way with ‘hate crimes’ – no matter the mitigating circumstances, when there is the slightest opportunity to dub something a hate crime, that will be done.
- This was an extreme example of ‘do we cover this’ or ‘how do we describe those involved’. When a video of a dancing Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at high-school or college age went viral in January 2019, many left-leaning news outlets ran screaming headlines saying ‘conservatives’ mocked or even attacked her for it. No examples of angry conservatives were given anywhere, and the whole story seems based on one anonymous Twitter account. The conservatives I’ve seen responding to the video were actually supportive, and that seems to be the consensus on right-wing Twitter. Certainly, there was no news-worthy story here. Possibly, this was a ‘false flag’ and the anonymous account itself was run by left-wingers deliberately trying to create a news story, with the goal of boosting Ocasio-Cortez’ image.