I’m not certain I can call myself a newspaper “reporter,” given that with few exceptions most of my “reporting” is in the form of opinions. I would guess that, like me, the majority of Americans are OK with opinion columnists, like me, spewing whatever horse dung they want to spew. They’re opinions, right? Like certain body parts, everyone’s got one. And they (I) have a right to say it or write it regardless of how ridiculous the opinion might be and how many might disagree with it.
Reporters, on the other hand, report facts. Just the facts, ma’am.
That’s the point of the First Amendment to our Constitution, isn’t it? That we can freely hear or see all sides of an issue from the vast number of differing opinions out there so we can make an educated decision on our own what our opinions should be.
So thank God we have the First Amendment that allows opinion columnists to spew, like me, their horse dung without fear of being arrested for it.
And thank God we have editors in the traditional press whose job it is to ensure the opinion columnist’s spewing has some guidelines, editorial professionalism, and truth. And that reporters report facts and not opinions.
Or do we? There must be some decent editors out there some place, but many of them are sure not doing their jobs very well. I get it. People are imperfect. They make mistakes. But there are too many mistakes feeding President Trump ammunition for his attacks on the “Fourth Estate,” our free press and media so vital to our Constitutional Republic, and on Trump’s legitimate claims of “fake news.”
At least one of the problems feeding Trump’s attacks is that the mostly liberal main stream media is allowing their hatred for Trump to cloud their better judgment. It’s like the news media can’t help itself, so blinded it is by its dislike for our President. It seems they take glee at every one of his or his staff’s possible missteps or gaffes and are spring-loaded to jump on any story that might justify their hatred of him, regardless of whether or not there was proper editorial oversight. They substantiate Trump’s attacks on the Fourth Estate.
Here’s an idea. “Reporters” under the guise of being true reporters are too often reporting opinions as facts.
I refer to a press report from October that stated, “a federal judge in Kentucky partially reopened a defamation lawsuit on Monday filed by Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann against the Washington Post, allowing an amended version of the suit to move on to the discovery phase. NBCUniversal and CNN are facing similar defamation suits from the Sandmann family.”
The Washington Post and other mostly liberal media outlets wrongly reported – fake news – on the events of a Washington DC protest, making Sandmann and his fellow students out to be racist and instigators, when they actually were not. If the Washington Post had followed the story until its real (and logical) conclusion instead of trying to scoop their competitors and demonstrate their anti-Trump editorial policies, they wouldn’t be in this mess.
While I personally would not want the Fourth Estate to be tempered in its relentless pursuit of the truth, the Post should be sued – and lose the court case – for defaming a young high schooler. They would do better to take and live by the fictional Daily Planet’s (of Superman fame) slogan, “Straight from the source” than their current slogan, “Democracy Dies in Darkness” because that slogan isn’t working for them. It’s not darkness the Washington Post should be worried about. It’s their dearth of decent editors that is weakening the Fourth Estate, the death of which is certain to kill our democracy.
Another example of editors not doing their job very well is the Washington Post headline about the death of terrorist Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. According to Indiatvnews.com, “the controversy began when the Post published an obituary for al-Baghdadi who was killed by US Special Operations Forces written by its national security editor Joby Warrick.” The headline, “‘Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, austere religious scholar at the helm of Islamic State, dies at 48,’ drew widespread outrage for how (positively) it represented the man.”
Twitter went wild mimicking the Washington Post with faked headlines such as, “Jeffrey Dahmer, connoisseur of exotic and locally sourced meats dies at 34” (Martina Markota); “Attila the Hun, outdoorsman, travel guide and father to many children, dies at 47” and “Adolph Hitler, artist, vegetarian, dynamic motivational speaker and community organizer, dead at 56” (Kari Overggard).
Daniel Payne, assistant editor for The College Fix, the news magazine of the Student Free Press Association writes, “But all of them (the main stream media), taken as a group, raise a pressing and important question: why is this (fake news … inadequate editing efforts) happening? Why are our media so regularly and so profoundly debasing and beclowning themselves, lying to the public and sullying our national discourse – sometimes on a daily basis? How has it come to this point?
“Perhaps the answer is: We’ve let it.” The media will not stop behaving in so reckless a manner unless and until we demand they stop.”
Newspaper columnist Barry Fetzer lives on Queens Creek.