In response to an FT article by Gillian Tett on 14th July 2017, entitled ‘Why a divided America has united against the media’
“Late last month, I took part in a debate in Aspen about journalism in the age of Trump. Halfway through the discussion, it became clear that the room was filled with an anger I had never seen before at this event. Some in the audience thought the media had been too lenient towards Trump. Another (highly vocal) crowd were furious about what they viewed as anti-Trump bias. The unifying theme was that almost everyone seemed unhappy and the atmosphere became rowdy, prompting howls of “The media are lying!”, “They are so biased!”, or “They aren’t doing their job!”…
Thankfully, a great many in my industry remain deeply committed to the cause of telling the truth, and media such as the Financial Times remain determined to practise impartial analysis and reporting. The FT’s growing subscriber base, along with those of newspapers such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, demonstrates that many people clearly want real news”
Real news is not continuing to repeat the televised claim made by Hillary Clinton in October 2016 that 17 intelligence agencies concurred with 'proof' that the Russians were responsible for hacking the election...long after James Clapper had informed a Senate Judiciary Sub-Committee in May that:
a) the report was the work of handpicked agents from 4 of the agencies and
b) there had been no process for published dissent
But that is exactly what the ironically monikered 'paper of record', the New York Times did, waiting until June 29th to issue a belated 'correction', not an apology. The agenda there was 'Support Clinton attack Trump' - OK for editorial, not OK for news, and not OK to lie - even in editorial. But that is exactly what the NYT did, and does on a regular basis.
As for the Washington Post and it's new motto 'Democracy dies in Darkness'...they should know...they turned the lights off in their corner a long time ago.
Moving from outright lying to the arena of deliberate silence: 'Real' news is not blindly going along with the Trump administration claim that US intelligence had irrefutable 'proof' that Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack ...particularly when Dr Theodore Postol, Professor of Science, Technology and National Security Policy at MIT (the guy who debunked the earlier 2011 claim) issued the following assessment:
"I stand ready to provide the country with any analysis and help that is within my power to supply. What I can say for sure herein is that what the country is now being told by the White House cannot be true and the fact that this information has been provided in this format raises the most serious questions about the handling of our national security"
But that is exactly what you all did. The agenda there was 'Don't rock the boat on National Security, even if the claim is made by a guy you hate and is clearly hogwash'.
As for the FT - it is on the slide - you personally are one of the best Ms Tett, but this piece isn't. The FT motto 'Without fear or favour' is a joke. 'Without fear' would have had the FT challenging Trump on his tomahawk tantrum and publishing Postol; 'without favour' would have had it nailing the ridiculous fabrication of the 17 agencies.
The Fourth Estate is suffering, and it is suffering not because of the internet, not because of reduced budgets for proper research, but because it has lost touch with its duty - 'to speak truth to power - to hold power to account'. That includes your own 'side', and it also includes when 'power' would prefer you to keep your mouth shut.
Note to my subscribers: Thank you to those of you who have used the new comments function on the blog. It’s great to hear from you and I hope others will use it when they have ideas to contribute.
I have written a piece every day this week, so I may go quiet for a while – I am in danger of being bitten by my dog and howled at by my wife…or it could be the other way round, but some things are best left ambiguous…
Have a great weekend!