Signs Look Grim for Media Picking the Side of Liberty and Dissent
January 6, 2017
This is a kind of “which side are you on?” moment for journalists. Will they defend the rights and liberties of the many communities under threat—Muslims, women, those reliant on government assistance? Will they keep alive a space for dissent and critical questioning in the face of a White House that declares itself indifferent to rules about conflicts of interest, among many other things, and that threatens revenge on those it calls “enemies”?
Let’s just say: Signs bode poorly.
One sign: The editor-in-chief of the Wall Street Journal, Gerard Baker, told Meet the Press (1/1/17) that it wouldn’t be “objective” to use the word “lie” to refer to patently false statements from Donald Trump. That would imply “a deliberate intent to mislead,” Baker explained, and that’s lacking, in his view, in things like Trump’s claim that “thousands and thousands” of Muslim Americans “celebrated” the attacks of September 11, 2001. It’s “up to the reader,” he contended, to weigh that statement against the fact that nobody has ever found any evidence of it whatsoever.
The Journal has run articles containing criticism of Trump; that’s presumably why he called it “a piece of garbage” at a campaign rally. Baker called that “strange tough love,” suggesting he has a creative relationship to language generally.
Note that this isn’t a new thing. In 2005, FAIR reported a talk in which the New York Times‘ Elizabeth Bumiller and Susan Page of USA Today detailed how they construct absurd word salads to avoid breaking what they present as a firm rule: In Bumiller’s words, “You can’t say the president is lying.”7wo7rees, PADemD, NVBirdlady and 8 othersCharles, broiles, , daleanime, jwirr, Bearian, Fuddnik, Marym625 like this
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