Credit where credit is due: Donald Trump has unquestionably ushered in an era of never-before-seen scrutiny on the Democrat Media Complex. For years conservatives have bemoaned the ungodly bias exhibited by the mainstream press – from CNN to the New York Times, Washington Post to the network triumvirate of ABC, CBS, and NBC. Brent Bozell and company founded an entire operation, the Media Research Center, including its online offshoot Newsbusters, to combat the nonsense.
But even though Republican politicians were acutely aware of the problem of journalistic malpractice in America, none were bold enough to confront it aggressively. Many would mention it in passing, joke about double standards at campaign stops, and fundraise off of it. But none made warring against the liberal behemoth their daily pastime. But that was all before Donald Trump.
These days the media knows they are in an all-out war for their credibility with a president who commands the bully pulpit. They have to cover him, and yet every time they put microphones in front of him, they risk him exposing their duplicity in a way that becomes a social media gif or meme that lives on in perpetuity. Trump’s dismissal of CNN’s Jim Acosta as being “fake news” at an early press conference remains one of the most iconic moments of his young presidency.
And while journalists are understandably and rightly concerned about the danger posed to a civilization where people don’t trust those who provide them the news, they have to understand that the problem isn’t really Trump’s. Their own advocacy journalism and opinion journalism that they pretended for years was objective news has played a much bigger role in this current media crisis.
Some seem to understand that, like the President of ABC News, James Goldston. A private recording has leaked of Goldston tearing into his reporters (and particularly chief investigative reporter and notorious left-wing partisan Brian Ross) for butchering the facts about Trump transition team member Michael Flynn.
The contents of his furious tirade reveal a great deal about the pressure media now feels to get the story right.
"I don't think ever in my career have I felt more rage and disappointment and frustration that I felt through this weekend and through the last half of Friday," Goldston told the ABC newsroom. I don't even know how many times we've talked about this, how many times we have talked about the need to get it right," he added. "That how we have to be right and not first. About how in this particular moment, with the stakes as high as these stakes are right now, we cannot afford to get it wrong."
Notice those words “with the stakes as high as these stakes are right now, we cannot afford to get it wrong.” What does that mean? It seems pretty clear this is a reference to a president who will make them pay in a way they’ve never paid before if they mess up. He goes on to essentially confirm this interpretation:
Goldston also noted how badly ABC suffered in the aftermath. We "spent this weekend getting absolutely pilloried as a news division for reporting fake news," he said. "250,000 tweets. One percent positive, 99 percent negative about this news division. Two tweets from the president. If it isn't obvious to everyone in this news division, we have taken a huge hit and we have made the job of every single person in this news division harder as a result. It's much, much harder," Goldston continued. "We have people in Washington who are going to bear the brunt of this today and in the days forward. Very, very, very, very unfortunate. Really, really angry about it."
Should news organizations have always taken their job of accuracy this seriously? Of course. But Goldston’s remarks demonstrate that they haven’t because they’ve never had to. And why? To be honest, because before President Trump they never faced a Republican president who would aggressively and mercilessly expose them.
For the first time they are being held accountable publicly in a way that embarrasses and humiliates them for their bias and shoddy journalism. That isn’t a bad thing for our republic.