It’s a rough time to work in the news business. Digital media have eaten print products alive, replacing them with dancing electrons that blur the lines between fact and fiction. News reporters lacking the good fortune to land a lucrative spot before the TV camera warn their offspring to stay away and train for engineering or finance instead. Don’t cry for journalists, though. They have no one to blame but themselves for losing their essential stock in trade: credibility. It’s like running a gas station with no gas to sell.
A Rasmussen Poll released Friday measures the depth of the hole in which media outlets now find themselves. A majority, 58 percent of likely U.S. voters, agree at least somewhat with the statement that the media are “truly the enemy of the people,” including 34 percent who strongly agree. A smaller 36 percent of respondents disagreed with the statement, including 23 percent who strongly disagree. An overwhelming 76 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of independents endorsed the damning view of media.
“Enemy of the people,” like the similarly incriminating “enemy of the state,” has a long history dating back to the Shakespearean era, and the poet made able use of the ruinous epithet in his dramatic tragedy “Coriolanus.” Former President Trump is credited with creating a modern iteration to beat his hypercritical press corps: “the fake-news media.”
It’s tempting to attribute the Rasmussen poll’s current derogatory findings to Mr. Trump’s verbal handiwork. Americans have needed a little prodding from the Donald, though, to reach their own damning conclusion about the state of modern American media. By spreading persistent Democratic Party propaganda – Trump-Russia collusion, Trump-Ukraine conspiracy, Trump-bungled pandemic, Trump-led insurrection – the lockstep-liberal media have shattered their credibility.
More than a generation ago, news practitioners abandoned even-handed reportage and jumped into the tank with the Democratic Party. In 1971, a survey of journalists found 26 percent identified as Republicans, 36 percent as Democrats and 33 percent as independents. By 2013, Republican affiliation had fallen to just 7 percent. Democratic membership among the profession had also fallen, to 28 percent, while 50 percent identified as independent.
A gravitation toward political non-affiliation would naturally suggest that newshounds have gained a heightened appreciation for objectivity. Following the money, though, reveals that many of them are far from impartial. Analyses of journalists’ donations during the opening months of the 2016 presidential election campaign between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump found more than 96 percent went to Mrs. Clinton, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Some independence.
During its nearly 40-year existence, The Washington Times has striven to steer clear of the media mob and present the day’s news with fairness and without political animus. If this publication strays in favor of faith, family and freedom, the only possible plea is “guilty.” We suspect patriotic Americans will forgive us.