2021: More of same or a press restored?

January 3, 2021

Today’s column was planned to be an analysis of President elect Biden’s and how his pick of so many Obama re-treads and Big Tech executives out to protect their own did not bode well for individual liberty, economic freedom and founding principles in the years to come.

And then I opened Wednesday’s op/ed page.  In the editorial “Judge Less” the Globe quotes Joplin Mayor Ryan Stanley: “Our country is founded on the free exchange of ideas and healthy discourse. We all need to reaffirm our commitment to those tenants of a free intellectual and loving society.”

While the mayor’s quote rings true it was two earlier sentences that grabbed my attention.“It will also be remembered as the year of incendiary rhetoric — a year during which Americans found it tough to talk to one another, tough to listen to one another.  As we leave the worst of this year behind us, the vilifying, the insults, the scorn and derision that seemed to escalate in 2020 should be left behind too.”

It’s not that the words aren’t true, it’s more that confining them to 2020 overlooks a broader issue that’s been brewing for years.

Yes, 2020 was a barrage of insults and derision, but who fanned the flames?

If the press is truly serious about lowering the temperature of today’s political rhetoric it must first look into the mirror and repeat Pogo’s: “we have met the enemy and he is us.”

How many years was the Russian collusion narrative reported as hard news based upon nothing more than “a source close to the investigation”, “a senior White House official”, “a person not authorized to speak publicly”?

When Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. released his campaign video announcing his candidacy I don’t recall a single, so called “mainstream” media/press outlet holding him to account for pushing the false “there were very fine people on both sides” narrative that President Donald Trump had stood up for neo-Nazis and white supremacists following the 2017 Charlottesville, NC riot.

That those words were followed up with “You’re changing history. You’re changing culture. And you had people — and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists — because they should be condemned totally. But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.” to this day is still ignored by a narrative press.

Joe Biden, from the very beginning made a conscious decision to stoke racial division and yet not one member of the vaunted press corps lifted a finger to call him on it.

Taking quotes out of context is as old as politics itself.  But a corporate partisan press refusing to correct the record to protect its industry preferred political party is a place we haven’t been before.  And considering our current political climate, it’s also a place we need to vacate post haste.

Outlets that were aghast at rhetoric threatening election officials post-election (as they should be) uttered not a peep during a summer of riots and looting that ruined the lives of untold small business owners and literally ended the lives of others.

Yes, there was the obligatory “violence in any form is unacceptable”, but those words were buried within a narrative excusing the violence as a pressure valve letting off steam.

It’s easy to blame politicians and “extremists” for today’s divisions.  It’s also lazy.

If you’re a cable news network who’s only mission is to prop up one party and destroy the other, you’re part of the problem.

If you covered the House impeachment hearings without noting Nancy Pelosi’s tossing aside bipartisan processes and historic precedents, you’re part of the problem.

If you’re an Associated Press editor letting opinion pieces camouflaged as hard news go out over the wires, you’re part of the problem.

If you’re a network that refused to give air stories such as the New York Post expose on Hunter Biden to protect your favored candidate pre-election, you’re part of the problem.

If you’re now insisting that Republicans just “move along” without any federal commission to investigate the last election’s numerous irregularities to protect future elections, you’re part of the problem.

One of the hardest things for any us is to admit our own faults.  As any child knows, it’s much easier to blame others than accept responsibility.  But without that acceptance not only do things not get better, they too often get worse.

When a press corps stops being referee and starts rooting for one team over the other, it’s not only lost the moral high ground it’s lost its credibility. Lose the credibility and there goes the trust.  No trust no truth.  No truth, hello anarchy.

If 2021 is to be better, the press itself must take the lead.  I pray it will, but I fear it won’t.

(A version of this column appears in the January 3, 2021 edition of the Joplin Globe)

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