One upon a time, liberals who have dominated the major media for decades, denied they spun their reporting with a liberal (now, progressive) bias. These days, they’re bragging about it. Jackie Calmes is a journalist at the Los Angeles Times. In a recent column titled, “Why journalists are failing the public with ‘both-siderism’ in political coverage,” Calmes denounced “journalistic pressure” to produce balanced stories that prevents journalists from reporting what she referred to as “the new truth.”
By the “new truth,” she means opinions that comport with hers. Leaving no doubt of her bias, Calmes scolded journalists who criticize President Joe Biden and Democrats while giving “short shrift to Republican obstructions — as if the cancer of Trumpism was in remission, if not cured.” “This is a Republican Party” she raved on, “that is not serious about governing or addressing the nation’s actual problems, as opposed to faux ones.” (She specifically cited opposition to critical race theory as a false problem.)
From the NY Times to the LA Times to the Washington Post, to the Denver Post, to the totality of the liberal media hive, Calmes’ claim of “journalistic pressure” (if it even exists) to produce “balance” hasn’t produced balance. Liberal journalists routinely parrot the Democrat Party line and trash Republicans.
Invoking the Democrat false narrative of “voter suppression,” Calmes regards Republican efforts to protect election integrity as placing “democracy literally at stake.” That’s a lie. Measures that require valid voter identification literally safeguard democracy.
Calmes declared: “Democrats can’t be expected to deal with these guys (Republicans) like they’re on the level. Nor should journalists cover them as if they are.” Her plea, absurdly applauded by prominent media liberals, was really unnecessary. She merely called for what amounts to business as usual. Bias against Republicans has long been their practice, which is why their credibility has plunged in the eyes of the public.
Whether Calmes likes iy, we have two major political parties in this country (and numerous minor ones) and they fundamentally disagree. Obviously, she aligns with Democrats and arrogantly calls for censorship of the “other side,” And this in the name of “journalism?’’ Seventy-four million people voted for Trump and even more for down-ballot Republicans in states across the country in 2020. Since Calmes has a monopoly on truth, nearly half of America must be dupes or liars.
Terminology is important here. Not all journalists are reporters. Newspapers have news pages where reporters are theoretically obliged to tell us what’s happening, factually, honestly and objectively. Newspapers also have opinion pages with editorials giving the opinion of the editorial staff and op-ed columnists offering their viewpoints. Opinion page contributors are free to opine and advocate, with no duty to present all sides or even treat opposing viewpoints fairly. Commentary on the news pages should be labeled as commentary. Clearly this is no longer the case. It’s now commonplace for thinly disguised editorials to be run as news stories throughout the paper.
Journalists aren’t philosopher kings possessing superior knowledge or standing to determine “the new truth” or the old truth, for that matter. They’re just people with a platform and an opinion as biased as mine and everyone else’s. Pure objectivity is unachievable. There’s an old bromide fashionable in journalism classrooms and reinforced in liberal newsrooms, claiming that the role of journalists is to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”
Ironically, most journalists who adopt that posture aren’t aware that it was intended as tongue-in-cheek criticism. That phrase, coined in 1902, was the work of Finley Peter Dunne, a political satirist who believed that journalists should do no such thing. He put those words in the mouth of a fictional, curmudgeonly Irishman he created, “Mr. Dooley,’’ who voiced this sarcastic rant: “The newspaper does everything for us. It runs the police force and the banks, commands the militia, controls the legislature, baptizes the young, marries the foolish, comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable, buries the dead, and roasts them afterward.”
Through Mr. Dooley, Dunne was damning the journalists of his day for their bias and presumptuous sanctimony in picking winners and losers, advancing their own pet causes and editorializing in the guise of reporting. The comfortable don’t necessarily deserve to be afflicted, and those who are self-destructively afflicted don’t automatically deserve to be rewarded.
There do remain some ethical, honest journalists in the major media who attempt objectivity, but they’re a vanishing breed. Those who lie about being balanced are hypocrites. Jackie Calmes might be a sanctimonious, partisan hack but she’s unwittingly revealed the insidious mentality of a progressive journalist.
Michael Rosen is an American radio personality and political commentator.