By Roger Sollenberger | October 24, 2018
On Monday, CNN hosted CITIZEN, a daylong political conference in New York City featuring “thought leaders and newsmakers” such as Senator Jeff Flake, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. But Kushner’s softball interview with CNN’s Van Jones was so cloying, pandering, and useless that it made headlines of its own.
That interview is an example of a troubling trend not isolated to any single media outlet, and that trend has seemed to accelerate in recent months: The more aggressive this administration gets, the weaker the press becomes in response. Clearly, it’s not the media’s job to make someone look bad. But it’s also not their job to make someone look good. It is their job, however, to reflect reality. And at that they seem to be failing.
We’ll explore the reasons in a bit, but to be clear: The press has a pathological reluctance to report truthfully about what is undeniably—to anyone with a brain and a heart—a bad administration filled with con men, bigots, and liars trying to impose ideals that resemble nothing like the things this country is supposed to value and champion. Those people are dangerous, and the country is very much at risk of losing what makes it great. Or if not great, what has always pushed us, slowly and painfully, in the right direction. The press, by treating these times and these people as normal and only repeating what they hear without challenge or context, is failing the public and failing voters. Ultimately, if they don’t find their footing, they will fail democracy.
It’s also an admission of defeat. The press has been beaten by lies. You can’t simultaneously cover or equivocate two separate realities with separate facts, because one is at its very essence a lie and the other one isn’t. There’s nothing objective about a lie, and by reporting outrageous lies objectively for fear of being called biased by these lying creeps, the press finds themselves doing exactly what they’re trying to avoid: engaging in subjective, biased journalism.