Sometimes I wish Bill Buckley and Russel Kirk were alive – as they somehow found new phrases to describe crazy liberal behavior, when old ones lost their punch. To say media hypocrisy is “outrageous” is to say the obvious. Needed is a more powerful way of describing the betrayal of public trust and increasing deception practiced by our “professional” press.
Standards seem to have gone out the window, as “journalism” becomes propaganda, pushing political agendas, dressing up activism as fact, seeking coordination to control the public mind, while deftly denying the big lies.
With rising audacity, artificial impartiality, and little accountability, modern digital and hold-in-your-hand media are embracing the power to deceive, mislead, and shape public opinion through insinuation, omission, and cause for doubt in established freedoms, institutions, traditions, and norms.
Critics sound off, but are undercut, shutdown, censored by powerful digital media and social media giants. We know this is happening – having seen false stories elevated, insinuations sown, facts left unreported, inaccuracy championed, and the political process twisted by foreign and domestic actors.
Examples are legion, so common they no longer need citation. The costly, prolonged, politically-driven, institution-damaging “Russia collusion” probe, ending in bland vindication; accelerated impeachment without due process, premised on an innocuous phone call; a presidential campaign surveilled, then a second upended by non-scrutiny of one candidate and vilification of the other.
We have seen what we think is everything – only there is more. The “more” is what we should fear. The “more” is organized, coordinated suppression of facts key to public decision-making, such as potential criminal behavior by the family of a candidate, objective review of a candidate’s mental capacity, and stories not written about life choices, organizational affiliations, personal allegations, character indictments, and policy contradictions in a leftist Democrat ticket.
Conversely, we see attacks launched with impunity at Republicans, indefensible narratives blaming a foreign-source virus and social unrest on a president, as both were propagated by Democrat governors, mayors, city councils, and street activists.
All this is prelude for what may come – unless those who believe in America’s freedoms, accountable institutions, free and fair elections, competition for truth in the marketplace of ideas, speak up.
The most recent “outrage” – where is Bill Buckley? – is a New York Times story which, rather jaw-droppingly, confirmed everything Trump argued about Communist China’s cover-up of COVID-19. According to the paper, the truth is even more damning than Trump alleged. See, e.g., https://nypost.com/2020/12/21/china-reportedly-used-troll-army-to-distract-from-top-covid-19-doctors-death/; https://spectator.org/china-covid-19-cover-up-new-york-times/; and https://www.propublica.org/article/leaked-documents-show-how-chinas-army-of-paid-internet-trolls-helped-censor-the-coronavirus.
“Thousands of internal directives and reports reveal how Chinese officials stage-managed what appeared online in the early days of the outbreak.” When the Chinese doctor who discovered this man-made virus died, China moved “to suppress inconvenient information” and “censors decided to double down,” lying to the world and “reclaiming the narrative.” China “ordered news organizations not to issue push notifications alerting readers” to the doctor’s COVID-19 death, “told social platforms to gradually remove his name from trending topics pages.”
China “activated legions of fake online commentators to flood social sites with distracting chatter,” directing social media to “guide public opinion” while working to “conceal their identity, avoid crude patriotism and sarcastic praise …” They were told to “be sleek and silent in achieving results.”
Here are layers of irony. Not only was Trump right about China’s intentional, pervasive cover-up of false, immoral, unconscionable behavior, misleading their own people and the world about a pernicious, fast-spreading, deadly virus – one now circling the planet – but liberal media bashed a US President for saying the truth, making him villain not China. Now, after the election, they decide to come clean –admitting China was devastatingly deceptive.
The “story within the story” is what causes a shudder. Trump was right about China. Liberal media refused to credit him, instead blaming him. Media waited until after the election to speak. The kicker: Before the election and now, how did Democrats, broadcast, cable, and social media behave? How have they treated pro-freedom, pro-American, pro-Republican, pro-Trump facts, stories, opinions, and tweets?
Have they not – just as China did – worked “to suppress inconvenient information,” operated as “censors … to double down … reclaiming the narrative,” suppressing, omitting, manipulating time-sensitive information – on which Americans depend for decision-making, including for elections?
Did they not, like China’s state-controlled media, seek to “guide public opinion,” weigh what we saw, shape public “alerts,” “media platforms,” and “trending topics?” Did they not work to defend, deceive and “conceal their identity” in ways “sleek and silent in achieving results?”
The question is an open one, but sure as night follows day, we must defend free speech, open access to real information, end social media and media manipulation, or face a future that resembles China – not the America we grew up in. If Bill Buckley or Russell Kirk were here, they would hatch a fitting phrase for the moment. For me, it is just “outrageous media hypocrisy.”