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The former president of CBS News noted in a Wall Street Journal column Tuesday that the “liberal-leaning” media has reached a point where its credibility can no longer be salvaged after moving too far to the political Left.
Van Gordon Sauter began his column by noting that roughly 35 years ago he was having lunch with Jeane Kirkpatrick, a Democrat who was appointed by then-President Ronald Reagan, a conservative Republican, to be his foreign policy adviser and, later, his ambassador to the United Nations.
Even back then, Sauter, said, Kirkpatrick complained about the “liberal leaning” media, which the CBS News chief noted was really just a “liberal tilt” that could be fixed.
It turns out that Kirkpatrick was prophetic and Sauter was just wrong.
“The highly influential daily newspapers in New York, Washington, Los Angeles and Boston are now decidedly liberal. On the home screen, the three broadcast network divisions still have their liberal tilt. Two of the three leading cable news sources are unrelentingly liberal in their fear and loathing of President Trump,” he wrote.
In what is frankly an understatement, Sauter goes on to say that news outlets that say they are neutral in their coverage and views “have long been creeping leftward” — though many conservatives would argue that papers and online news agencies have galloped to the hard Left.
And while he says their “loathing of Mr. Trump has accelerated the pace,” political and media observers who were around during the Reagan administration remember that his administration — and every GOP White House since — has been treated hostilely from a ‘leftward tilt’ media.
Nevertheless, Sauter observes that “the news media is catching up with the liberalism of the professoriate, the entertainment industry, upscale magazines and the literary world.
“Recent arrivals are the late-night TV hosts who have broken the boundaries of what was considered acceptable political humor for networks,” he continued.
The former network boss notes that today, many journalists (I would argue most) don’t believe in objectivity, fairness, balance — “once the gold standard of reporting.” They no longer see those traits as “mandatory in a divided political era” because they believe, as all Leftists do, that America is a country that is “severely flawed.”
“That assumption folds neatly into their assessment of the president,” Sauter writes. “To the journalists, including more than a few Republicans, he is a blatant vulgarian, an incessant prevaricator, and a dangerous leader who should be ousted next January, if not sooner” — regardless, apparently, of what the American people want, as evidenced by one deep state plot after another to oust him since he was inaugurated.
Journalism today, then, has become a voice of the Trump “resistance,” which often runs counter to the will of the people who still largely support the president. And that’s a real problem Sauter argues, that will only be compounded if Trump wins a second term.
That said, “what’s the next act, if any, for journalists and the resistance? They will likely find Mr. Trump more dangerous and offensive in a second term than in the first,” he writes.
The real problem, notes the former news chief, is that the more the ‘mainstream media’ behaves in a hostile manner to President Trump just for the sake of being hostile, the less credible they will become to a growing majority of Americans.
Worse, the ‘resistance media’ now has a large audience of Trump haters who read or tune in daily, so becoming ‘fair and objective’ would likely cost them financially.
“On the other hand, how would the media respond to a Joe Biden victory (beyond exhilaration)? Will Mr. Biden be subjected to the rigor and skepticism imposed on Mr. Trump? Will he get a pass because he is a liberal and ‘not Trump’?” Sauter writes.
“The media’s protective coverage of the sexual-assault allegation against Mr. Biden is perhaps a clear and concerning preview to how his presidency would be covered,” he adds.
Would a “softening” of the major media’s anti-Trump stance bring in new readers, though? Sauter doesn’t think so. He believes that the number of new readers and viewers would be offset by departing angry Leftists who would abandon an outlet they would view as having betrayed their viewpoints.
And there is the fact that most of the major media really have no interest in attracting Trump supporters.
“There’s probably no way to seal the gap between the media and a large segment of the public. The media likes what it is doing. Admires it. Celebrates it. There is no personal, professional or financial reason to change. If anything, the gap will expand. Ultimately, the media finds the ‘deplorables’ deplorable,” he writes.
Dan Abrams, the founder of Left-leaning Mediate, says journalists should just reveal their political leanings in an act of honesty, Sauter notes.
Ultimately, however, because “journalism affects social cohesion,” writes Sauter, “America won’t reunite until far more people can look at a news story in print or on the screen and, of all things, believe it.”
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