During the 1970s, a television commercial for the wealth management firm Smith Barney starred the actor John Houseman, uttering an iconic line. While both Houseman and Smith Barney are no longer with us, the actor’s brilliant delivery of a profound marketing message is still remembered. At the ad’s end, Houseman, looking into the camera, said, as only he could, with special emphasis on the word indicated: “How do they make money? The old-fashioned way … they earn it.”
In an era in which the media is furious over criticisms by President Donald Trump it generates fake news, the Houseman message takes on special meaning as to what mainstream media (MSM) needs to do to counter the charge. Like the late Aretha Franklin’s biggest hit “Respect” (her correct spelling in the song, not Al Sharpton’s misspelling of “Respict”), a media wanting respect has to get it “the old-fashioned way,” by earning it.
This is a topic recently addressed by Rep. Yvette Clarke, D-N.Y., at the annual meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation in Washington, D.C. Clarke opened a panel discussion involving several black journalist speakers relating their experiences on how the journalism profession is suffering in the Trump era.
As the opening speaker, it was incumbent upon Clarke, if one truly sought a substantive discussion on the topic, to set a tone that encouraged it. She did not. Instead she started with a statement just oozing hypocrisy, commenting, “One of the things that has just been boiling my blood is the lack of respect for the press coming from the orange man.”
For anyone failing to grasp the hypocrisy, here is Clarke, demanding respect for a media that, for all intents and purposes, has failed to earn it, while disrespecting our president, describing him as the “orange man.” How can one take the position of demanding respect if one proves incapable of demonstrating it toward others?
Apparently, something that failed to boil Clarke’s blood five years earlier was an Associated Press complaint to then Attorney General Eric Holder in the administration of Barack Obama of a “massive and unprecedented intrusion” by the Department of Justice “into its reporters newsgathering activities, contending that the feds secretly obtained two months of phone records on 20 lines used by AP journalists, including home and cellphones.”
AP’s president and CEO, Gary Pruitt, admonished the DOJ, saying, “There can be no possible justification for such an overbroad collection of the telephone communications of the Associated Press and its reporters, These records potentially reveal communications with confidential sources across all of the newsgathering activities undertaken by the AP during a two-month period, provide a road map to AP’s newsgathering operations, and disclose information about AP’s activities and operations that the government has no conceivable right to know.”
Of course, AP going to Holder on the issue was like a farmer telling the fox not to attack his chickens. Holder himself decided to spy on a Fox News journalist, making his case to three different judges before he could find one allowing him to publicly release the reporter’s name, James Rosen, as a co-conspirator whose only crime was being guilty of reporting the news.
But, as far as Clarke and her panel discussion were concerned, Trump’s statement the media is the “enemy of the American people” is far more serious than the Obama Administration acting in such a role.
Nor was Clarke’s blood caused to boil by former President Obama’s claim “you never heard me threaten to shut them (referencing Fox News) down, or call them ‘enemies of the people.'” The irony here is that while Trump verbally attacks the press publicly, Obama did it covertly behind the scenes.
As far as MSM not getting respect, apparently it has no interest in obtaining it the old fashioned way – making a conscientious effort to earn it. Instead, it seems satisfied to take a much less-demanding path. Like a spoiled child clamoring he or she is not spoiled but unwilling to prove it, MSM seems willing to rely on a Senate resolution, unanimously passed, simply declaring it is not the enemy of the people. But, like the spoiled child, the bad behavior continues.
There should be little debate over the fact the MSM – the ranks of which are overwhelmingly manned by liberals voting Democratic – maximizes that party’s ideology while minimizing that of the Republican Party.
There are four indicators supporting the charge the MSM is driven by a liberal, anti-Trump ideology.
First is the fact surveys reveal a total lack of balanced reporting as anti-Trump MSM coverage runs about 91 percent.
Second is the mainstream media’s failure to fairly report positive accomplishments of the Trump administration.
Third is MSM’s failure to give negative stories about Democrats the same high profile given negative stories about Republicans – in some cases even ignoring the former completely.
Fourth is a category especially reserved for CNN. It is the failure to retract a negative story about Trump when the source of the story, after the fact, does so. This was the case when Michael Cohen’s attorney, Lanny Davis, was quoted by CNN as claiming his client had evidence of Trump/Russia collusion. Only after this story was published did Davis say he had misspoken. Nonetheless, CNN still refuses to issue a retraction.
The negativism about Trump has become such a rallying cry for the media they have blamed Trump four times for hurricanes!
Ironically, during the Obama administration, Democrats saw a lack of diversity as the FAA employed a disproportionate number of whites over minorities as air traffic controllers. The FAA outrageously changed the hiring rules so as to emphasize diversity over safety. Yet no similar concern seems to exist over the lack of diversity within a liberal-minded mainstream media. Democrats have their diversity priorities reversed: Diversity among the former may kill passengers on a plane but the absence of diversity among the latter can destroy a nation.