Propaganda and Media Manipulation: The War on Truth
Nonpartisan research outlets have reported that Americans widely recognize severe bias in major media outlets, a “large majority says Americans see different facts depending on the news sources they turn to,”(I1) and that there is “little overlap in the news sources” that US Democrats and Republicans “turn to and trust.”(I2) Unsurprisingly, Gallup found that 83% of Americans blame the media for political division.(I3)
A 2007 Zogby International survey found that 84% of US voters surveyed believe there is real media bias; 64% of those believe that bias favored leftist candidates.(I4) An October 2018 Rasmussen Reports poll of 1,000 likely voters found that Americans believe by a ratio of more than four to one that reporters who write about Congressional races are trying to help the Democratic candidate compared to the Republican candidate; only 35% believed that reporters tried to report news without bias.(I5)
In observations long obvious to much of the American public, federal appeals court judge Laurence Silberman observed that “most large papers across the country” functioned as “Democratic party broadsheets….nearly all television—network and cable—is a Democratic Party trumpet,” and that Silicon Valley “ has an enormous influence over the distribution of news” and “similarly filters news delivery in ways favorable to the Democratic Party."(I6) He noted that “the first step taken by any potential authoritarian or dictatorial regime is to gain control of communications, particularly the delivery of news...It is fair to conclude, therefore, that one-party control of the press and media is a threat to a viable democracy.”
Former New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss noted regarding media bias and corruption: “However bad you think it is, I promise it is much worse.”(I7)
The Rise of Propaganda
Propaganda is attested from some of the earliest written narratives. According to the inscriptions from ancient Egypt and Assyria, many of their pharaohs and kings never lost a battle, and were virtuous rulers principally concerned with the well-being of their people.The modern age of near-universal literacy in developed countries and ostensible guarantees of freedom of speech and press have promoted advances across a range of disciplines as well as greater human liberties and choice. Free exchange and scrutiny in the marketplace of ideas have required theories and beliefs to stand on their merits rather than merely being asserted as dogma. The resurgence of propaganda has already eroded some of these gains, while threatening human liberties more broadly.
Eroding ethics and hyperpartisanship are attested in the intensification of propaganda. The traditional journalistic ethic of reporting facts with real effort for fairness and impartiality has been increasingly repudiated and supplanted by media activism in which the favored agenda and its metastory narrative are primary. Professed journalistic ethics have increasingly come to serve as propaganda which are cited to claim credibility even as their principles are violated and the public trust is breached.
The tactics of media manipulation used by many American media organizations closely follow those articulated by the “Father of Spin” Edward Bernays, author of Propaganda (1928) and Crystallizing Public Opinion (1923). Bernays “described the masses as irrational and subject to herd instinct—and outlined how skilled practitioners could use crowd psychology and psychoanalysis to control them in desirable ways.”(P1) Bernays’ “best-known campaigns include a 1929 effort to promote female smoking by branding cigarettes as feminist ‘Torches of Freedom, and his work for the United Fruit Company in the 1950s, connected with the CIA-orchestrated overthrow of the democratically elected Guatemalan government in 1954.”(ibid)
The results of Bernays’ tactics may have been “desirable” to the special interests and authoritarians employing them, but were an utter disaster with lasting negative consequences from the perspective of human rights, truth, and freedom.
Media manipulation is a form of information control, which attempts to control or manipulate the public into supporting a favored agenda set by elites. These tactics are anti-democratic and even undermine the legitimacy of elections. Free and fair elections cannot occur when much of the press serves as a propaganda arm for one political party, and when large portions of the electorate do not have access to basic information that is necessary for making their own informed civic decisions. Authoritarians find that a public which is poorly informed, or which has been indoctrinated in favored ideologies and agendas, is much easier to control than principled, informed critical thinkers.
Instead of filling the role of a “free press” allowing unfettered flow of information and ideas which stand or fall on their merits and holding government agencies and figures across the political spectrum accountable to objective standards, American media has been noted to increasingly fill the role of “state press” in authoritarian states, mobilizing against designated political enemies and pushing the regime’s agenda through propaganda. Liberal reporter Matt Taibbi observed that “reporters once challenged the spy state. Now, they’re agents of it.(P2)
Tim Graham noted the distortion of media ethics that has allowed scandal after scandal to occur: “As the media's idea of ethics has wrapped itself around a mission -- removing [an unfavored politician] from office -- whatever helps that mission has been defined as what is ethical.”(P3) Yet scandals that would lead to drastic changes in any credible news organization have been shrugged off while they perseverate in unethical conduct. Christ Barron observed:
“There are no lessons learned, no moments of self-reflections and no one being held accountable for failing to meet basic journalistic standards."(P4)
Contemporary tactics of American media draw heavily from Marxist Herbert Marcuse’s concept of “Repressive Tolerance,” an anti-democratic and authoritarian ideology which advocates uncritical acceptance of extremists on the political left, and intolerance and repression towards movements on the political right.
Facts, reason, and normative ethics do not matter to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.”(P5) Here we describe and provide examples of propaganda tactics used by contemporary U.S. media in its “war on truth.”
Propaganda is an antithesis of both fair reporting and scientific methodology. Whereas ethical reporting seeks to establish the facts fairly and impartially, propaganda starts with a narrative or “metastory” to which facts are secondary. Stories are reported and spun according to the extent that they support the favored narrative, and are downplayed, discredited, or ignored entirely to the extent that they may undermine it.
Using the scientific method, researchers test a hypothesis based on the evidence. Researchers are required to disclose real or potential conflicts of interest, and to work to identify and set aside biases and preconceptions. Limitations must be acknowledged, and other plausible explanations must be addressed. Research which does not adhere to these standards is not scientific and not credible. Propaganda does the opposite. Its conclusion is dictated from the outset by the desired agenda, instead of arriving through processes of open-minded search and interrogation of facts and evidence.
As propaganda narratives are agenda or ideology-driven rather than fact-driven, they are rarely objectively “true.” The purpose of propaganda is not to find truth, but to persuade, incite, or indoctrinate. Propaganda does not arise from its proponents’ lack of awareness of contrary data, but from agenda. Idealistic efforts to “inform” the purveyors of propaganda regarding their factual errors and omissions are almost always fruitless, as propaganda’s roots are not to be found in any specific evidence or in any broader search for truth. When confronted with contradictory information, the propagandist will tend to ignore, conceal, or discredit it. If those fail, the propagandist may make minor tweaks or, rarely, even issue a belated correction -- all without repudiating the underlying agenda. The propagandist’s goal is to promote an agenda, not to tell (or seek) truth.
A nonpartisan assessment of gatekeeping bias based on actual media stories in mainstream media venues of both the political right and left by cybersecurity firm Zvelo found that “there were NO top political news stories that appeared on both sides of the spectrum” on the date examined, attesting to “a strong Gatekeeper bias on the two sides.”(IB1)
The decision not to cover a story is one of a news propagandist’s most powerful tools, and may have tipped at least one presidential election. A nationally representative poll conducted by nonpartisan pollster McLaughlin and Associates in November 2020 found that 36% of Biden voters were unaware of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal demonstrating, among other things, shady financial dealings with China. 13% of those, and 4.6% of all Biden voters, stated they would not have voted for Biden had they been aware.(IB2) The Washington Examiner (also carried on MSN) headlined: “Media's hiding of Hunter Biden scandal robbed Trump of clear win.”(IB3) This data needs to be further interrogated, and such findings should not be accepted uncritically. Nonetheless, the ability of unelected news media to potentially tip a close election by impeding the free flow of information and blacking out newsworthy information that they have an ethical duty to cover, should be deeply troubling to fair-minded individuals across the political spectrum.
At times, key facts are omitted to obscure facts and push misleading narratives. For example, an Associated Press article commemorating the fifth anniversary of the mass shooting at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando that killed 49 and wounded 53 made no mention of the shooter’s name, affiliation, and stated motives, instead representing the shooting as an anti-gay hate crime.(IB4) In fact, the shooter was an Islamic supremacist who declared allegiance to the Islamic State, and did not specifically target the LGBTQ community but selected the club only after being deterred by heightened security at other potential targets.(IB5) Liberal Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald observed:
“Democratic Senators and activist groups [are] promoting a false, conclusively disproven narrative about the Pulse shootings for their own benefits. Anti-LGBT animus was not part of that massacre. It dishonors the memory of the victims - & the LGBT cause - to lie about what happened.”
Writing in 1974, the Russian poet Yevgeniy Yevtushenko, troubled by the lack of awareness of young people about his nation’s true history, noted similar suppression of facts by his own government regarding the Stalin death camps:
“Even when articles are published in newspapers about heroes of our revolution who died in the time of the Stalinist repressions, then the papers fall silent about the cause of their deaths. In a volume of [Osip] Mandelstam published now, there is not a single mention of how he died — from tortures in a prison camp.”(IB6)
In case after case, major media outlets have demonstrated no interest in matters of public integrity and ethics that challenge their favored narratives.(IB7) When favorites lie or mislead the public, sympathetic media systematically ignore their untruths,(IB8) giving a free pass to allies.(IB9) Plagiarism(IB10) and even patterns of pathological lying to claim victimhood (IB11) are passed over by sympathetic media outlets.Biased “fact-checkers” have often failed to call out sympathetic media outlets for misleading coverage and “missing context” in omitting crucial information that does not support favored narratives, or even a complete coverage blackout on important stories.
Media use of information “blackouts” is pervasive, although space allows only a few examples to be cited here. One can pick almost any political scandal, especially of figures on the political left, and find no coverage in many sympathetic major media outlets. The Salt Lake Tribune and New York Times present egregious examples of activists posing as journalists imposing a “blackout” on contrary information and perspectives, allowing favored “four-Pinocchio” false narratives to go unchallenged. Major material omissions constitute a dereliction of journalistic duty.(IB12)
Yevtushenko wrote regarding the suppression of truth: "The truth is replaced by silence, and silence is a lie."
Running Interference for Ideological Favorites
When major scandals have been exposed, sympathetic media and tech companies have gone into high gear to run interference for their favored candidate(IF1) through desparate and unethical tactics.(IF2) For example, before the 2020 election, CNN and some other networks inverted the Hunter Biden scandal narrative, pushing a hoax that allegations of corruption were part of a "Russian disinformation" campaign.(IF3) As a result, a substantial portion of the American electorate was misinformed. Director of National Security John Ratcliffe noted at the time that “there is no intelligence that supports” such claims, and that the Biden laptop was “not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.”(IF4) Only long after the election did CNN and some other media outlets cover key elements of the scandal(IF5) while perseverating in misleading narratives.(IF6) Tucker Carlson observed that “America's most powerful people want you to shut up about Hunter Biden,”(IF7) whereas Adam Mill observed that the tale of media interference “portends a dark winter for free speech.”(IF8)
Conducting Public Relations, Not Journalism, for Favorites
Refusal to hold favorites accountable and ask hard questions represents another major breach of journalistic ethics. The relationship of sympathetic media outlets to a favored subject is often akin to that of a public relations firm seeking to boost a client’s image, and not of independent journalists tenaciously seeking to hold the powerful accountable. Journalists covering Joe Biden’s campaign engaged in nauseating fawning;(PR1) during his inauguration, there was poetic allegory and effuse praise.(PR2) A New York Times’ piece on Kamala Harris was called out as “drooling.”(PR3) Time Magazine was blasted for an “over-the-top” attempt to make Biden “look cool” ahead of a summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.(PR4) “DNC press releases aren’t this sycophantic,” one critic wrote.
In an obsequious interview with White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, CNN reporter Brian Stelter dutifully asked Psaki to comment on “what the media gets wrong.”(PR5) Stelter’s question might be rephrased as a request for direction on how media can better serve Biden’s interests. Liberal reporter and Pulitzer prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald called out Stelter’s “sycophantic ‘interview’” as one that should be studied in journalism school as a model of what not to do: “this is how state TV functions.”(PR6)
Some political reporters covering favored candidates have conducted themselves as if they were celebrity reporters for People or Glamor magazine. Examples include reporters asking Biden about his chosen flavor of ice cream while ignoring the administration’s dismissal of an inquiry into covid origins and other pressing scandals,(PR7) and fawning over Kamala Harris’ fashion choices while ignoring her absence at the southern border notwithstanding the largest number of illegal arrivals in history.(PR8) In some cases, celebrity photographers have literally been called in to create “glowing profiles”for women in leftist administrations, whereas conservative women have been attacked with “hit pieces.”(PR9) Premier fashion magazine Vogue featured a flattering cover story on first lady Jill Biden in June 2021,(PR10) with no mention or inquiry regarding her history of cheating on her first husband with Joe and lying to the public for decades.(PR11)
Joe Concha wrote in The Hill that Joe Biden’s “choreographed” press conferences “included questions that can't even be called softball, but more like T-ball when putting a beach ball on the tee.”(PR12) He continued:
“Of the 12 questions Biden received Monday, there were zero follow-ups. Zero interruptions during answers. Zero questions about any of the issues above, which rank as among the top concerns on voters' minds, along with the coronavirus.”
Such conduct by supposedly objective journalists demonstrates a breakdown of boundaries and misplacement of professional roles. Ongoing collusion between journalists and political favorites(PR13) has been called out as “the real threat to America.”(PR14) The failure of the press corps to ask important questions in the public interest led one young lady to infiltrate the White House Press Corps and submit questions no one else was asking.(PR15) “Kacey ‘Lego’ Montagu, a gamer from the Roblox community,” submitted the question:
"Recently the White House has had read outs of calls and has the name of the people saying ‘Senior Administration official’ so why isn’t the White House releasing the names of people in the calls, making these comments so that they can be held accountable to the American people?"
Good question, along with countless others that the American people deserve answers to. Montagu told Politico: "I love journalism, and I think the press corps is doing a pretty bad job at the moment, so I decided I would ensure some transparency and ask some questions me [sic] and some friends wanted the answer to.” If you think that the press corps is doing a poor job and that almost any thoughtful, basically honest American could do better, you are probably right.
Letting Favored Politicians Control Their Coverage
Media organizations are supposed to be independent, rather than arms of political parties. Yet many news media organizations have ceded substantial control of the newsmaking and editing processes to favored politicians.
Notwithstanding initial promises to bring “truth and transparency back to the briefing room” and lip service for “deep respect for the role of a free and independent press,” shortly thereafter, the Biden Administration asked reporters to submit questions in advance of press conferences, apparently to allow “officials time to craft good answers.”(PC1) This request appears to be an extension of Biden’s conduct on the campaign trail.
Politico reported that the Biden administration has frequently required that White House communication officials approve and be able to edit quotations from administration officials before they can be used in reporting. Politico wrote:
“The practice allows the White House an extra measure of control as it tries to craft press coverage. At its best, quote approval allows sources to speak more candidly about their work. At its worst, it gives public officials a way to obfuscate or screen their own admissions and words.”(PC2)
New York Times chief White House Correspondent Peter Baker lamented that this policy allows politicians to “tak[e] control of your story, stating:”
“So instead of transparency, suddenly, the White House realized: ‘Hey, this quote approval thing is a cool thing. We can now control what is in their stories by refusing to allow them to use anything without our approval. And it’s a pernicious, insidious, awful practice that reporters should resist.”(PC3)
Yet notwithstanding muted grumbling, the sympathetic media has permitted this practice(PC4) without institutional protest or public campaign for reversal, and without cries of assault on the freedom of the press and comparisons to Nazi Germany that would inevitably have followed if this policy had been enforced by a conservative administration. (Politico notes that the “background with quote approval” practice was used often in the “tightly controlled” Obama administration, infrequently under Trump, and pervasively under Biden).
A sympathetic media also raised little outcry about a Biden clampdown giving journalists “zero access” to border operations notwithstanding inhumane conditions, overcrowding, and rampant activity of criminal cartels including human trafficking exacerbated by Biden’s open border policy.(PC5)
These “pernicious, insidious, awful practice[s]” could not exist if journalists would stand by their ethics and refuse to be complicit, instead of doing “special favors” for favorites.
Hand-Picking Sympathetic Reporters
Closely related to the above issues is granting special access to outlets who align ideologically with a politician’s agenda. Joe Concha reported at one press conference that “the most disturbing part was what has become a theme at Biden pressers, which is to have a staffer choose which reporters ask questions, as opposed to Biden randomly calling on them instead.”(HP1) Hand-picking reporters from sympathetic organizations generates staged propaganda under the false pretense that free press access and actual journalism are occurring.
In contrast, the propagandist limits access to independent outlets that may challenge policies and ask hard questions. Despite Fox News being the most-watched US news network in Q4 2020 by a wide margin,(HP2) White House Reporter Peter Doocy confronted Press Secretary Jenn Psaki noting that Fox News has “never been on the list” of pre-approved reporters,and that he has been able to ask questions “only when he shouts after the president ‘goes through his whole list’ of pre-approved reporters.”(HP3)
Staging and Plants
Just as many “press conferences” have constituted choreographed events with the collusion between sympathetic media and favored politicians, news organizations have publicly represented other news coverage as spontaneous, only to be subsequently exposed as staged. Plants (pre-selected individuals with known talking points) have been falsely represented as random, independent, and spontaneous interviewees in order to push political narratives.
in 2020, NBC hosted a “town hall” meeting with then-presidential candidate Joe Biden and represented attendees as “undecided” voters. The same individuals had previously been featured on MSNBC as Biden voters.(SP1) ABC similarly represented its 2020 town hall election event as unscripted grassroots democracy featuring ostensibly independent community voices. It was subsequently revealed that selected questioners included a former Obama speechwriter and the wife of a former Pennsylvania Democratic candidate.(SP2) When this deception was publicly called out, the network was silent, notwithstanding the violation of public trust and journalistic ethics.(SP3)
A progressive news outlet called out CNN for staging an illegal border crossing at the Mexico-US border in Texas, citing multiple irregularities which led them to believe that the CNN video was “deliberately manufactured to present a story of a border crisis, possibly with the participation of the Border Patrol.”(SP4)
A classic propaganda tactic described in Edward Bernays’ 1929 book is hand-picking sympathetic “experts” who are then represented to the public as trustworthy, objective authorities. Contemporary media outlets employ this tactic routinely.
Gawker founder Alex Pareene wrote in the progressive New Republic that media outlets (in this case, the Washington Post fact-checker) cherry-pick data and experts to support their desired conclusions, promoting dogma in the process.(CP1)
Just Facts president James Agresti noted that USA today dismissed numerous robust sources documenting multiple factual errors in their writeup by citing the contrary opinion of a cherry-picked partisan “expert.”(CP2) Agresti wrote: “The article, written by USA Today’s Chelsey Cox, contains 10 misrepresentations, unsupported claims, half-truths, and outright falsehoods.” After sourcing the contrary evidence, he continued:
“Cox describes this stunning array of documented facts with the phrase ‘Agresti argues’ and then rejects all of them in favor of an unsubstantiated claim from a progressive lawyer. That’s not fact checking but propagandizing.”
For over a year, misleading coverage and fraudulent “fact-checks” by the Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, taxpayer-funded National Public Radio, and Facebook labeled concerns that the covid-19 virus may have accidentally emerged from a lab as a fringe “conspiracy theory.”(CP3) The widely-cited “expert” was EcoHealth Alliance President Peter Daszak, whose organization “funded coronavirus research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology for years” and faced “a clear conflict of interest.” Other press coverage, including a February 2020 letter in the British medical journal The Lancet signed by 27 scientists who “strongly condemn[ed] conspiracy theories suggesting that COVID-19 does not have a natural origin,” was orchestrated by Daszak,(CP4) notwithstanding the letter’s statement that its signatories “declare no competing interests.” Several signers have since recanted these claims. Daszak further thanked Fauci in April 2020 emails for “dispelling the lab leak theory.” WaPo’s Glenn Kessler featured Daszak in a “fact-check” video in May 2020 and then taunted critics claiming that “it is virtually impossible for this virus jump from a lab.” Over a year later, Kessler acknowledged that the lab leak theory was credible.(CP5) There is no evidence that any of these media organizations had expressed ethical concerns about engaging Daszak as an expert.
These false media narratives did not arise from unusual failures of rigorous journalistic vetting processes or brief ethical lapses. They arose from standard operating procedures that are pervasive in America’s politicized newsrooms: selecting biased partisans or otherwise conflicted individuals as “experts” to impose a favored viewpoint as factual. No matter how flimsy the “experts’” claims, how dubious their quackery, and how blatant their biases and ethical conflicts, others are not permitted to disagree.
The selection of “experts” on the basis of ideology subverts the process of discovering truth on the basis of evidence and honest appraisal and supplants it with agenda-driven narratives. Facts and reason do not matter to an Orwellian “Ministry of Truth.”(CP6)
Anonymous Sources Masking Partisan Bias
Even more cowardly is the growing citation of “anonymous” authorities. In multiple cases, claims attributed by anonymous sources have been found to be fraudulent.(AS1) Leftist media outlets have been criticized for repeated systemic bias in pushing false stories with anonymous sourcing .(AS2) One partisan “tell-all” source claiming to be a “senior administration official” was later revealed to be nothing of the sort.(AS3)
“Corroborating” False Stories
Repeatedly, media outlets have represented stories attacking unfavored figures as being thoroughly vetted and collaborated by multiple sources, only for the claims subsequently to be revealed as false and the “corroboration” based on circular attribution to an unreliable partisan source.(CF1)
Presenting Partisan Activists as Whistleblowers (PA)
Lying partisans purveying favored false narratives have received wide publicity as media darlings,(PA1) even as true whistleblowers are attacked and ignored.
Lying, whether to impugn designated enemies(L1) or boost favorites, is one of the most widespread propaganda tactics. Media organizations have engaged in blatant lying to convey favored narratives(L2) and to silence or discredit critics,(L3) including with misattribution of false quotes to political “enemies”(L4)
Even media “fact-checkers” have often given a “free pass” for favorites to lie.(L5) The Washington Post “fact checker” has been cited for habitual lying to push ideological narratives and cover for favorites.(L6)
The New York Post’s Michael Goodwin enumerated ten major media lies that have been pushed to mold public opinion.(L7) Scott Jennings documented numerous examples to demonstrate, in his words, that falsehood pushed by favored politicians is “aided by a media complex that laps it up and uncritically regurgitates it.”(L8) One media organization that habitually lies for partisan gain has been characterized as “the enemy of the truth.”(L9) Citing examples of media dishonesty, Greg Gutfield observed that media is “the only industry designed to lie, then create awards to champion their lies.”(L10)
Gaslighting is an extreme form of lying in which facts which are visible or readily verifiable to even casual observers are denied and supplanted with the favored narrative. Gaslighting involves a synthesis of multiple propaganda techniques. Ian Haworth observed regarding pervasive media gaslighting to repackage the 2020 race riots, one of the most destructive and costly man-made disasters in recent American history, as “peaceful” or “mostly peaceful protests:
“Media outlets like CNN, The New York Times and The Washington Post have engaged in, arguably, the worst and most blatant act of journalistic gaslighting in modern American history. Their abandonment of journalistic integrity involves several tactics:
“Telling lies — Stating objective and proven falsehoods.
Ignoring information — Lying by omission, involving an intentional failure to report on certain events, the attempt to use anecdotal experiences as evidence, or the omission of crucial context with the goal of altering the narrative.
“Downplaying or mischaracterizing — Describing the bare bones of an event while hiding its true nature by diluting with intentionally passive language or obfuscating with vague language.
“Defending — Reporting the bare bones of an event while implicitly or explicitly justifying actions, sometimes with the use of irrelevant details.
“Shifting the blame — Directly or indirectly assigning blame, often to someone who is arguably a victim, based on the structure of the report or the details included or omitted.
“Editorializing — Assuming or projecting motive or viewpoint without evidence in order to justify an unsubstantiated conclusion.
“Some tell outright lies. Some ignore crucial details, such as the context behind police shootings. Some downplay the nightly riots as ‘mostly peaceful protests.’ “Some mischaracterize events with irrelevant details, or excuse or justify the violence. Some shift the blame for violence, explicitly naming the political affiliations of some and ignoring the political affiliation of others. Some make unsubstantiated assumptions to justify their conclusion.”(G1)
Junk science “research” papers composed by partisan activists purporting to show that “there is no liberal media bias in which news stories political journalists choose to cover” and that social media companies do not censor conservatives exemplify gaslighting. MSNBC host Joy Reid has been blasted for “turning the gaslight up to 100” and playing “language games” to propagandize racist Critical Race Theory (CRT) dogma.(G2)
Distraction and Misdirection
Media outlets have pushed favored narratives through misdirection and distraction. When information on Hunter Biden’s shady business dealings with China came to light, NBC News challenged the narrative by “debunking irrelevant Hunter Biden docs” by tweeting “about a random document almost no one has seen. It’s not connected to what Bobulinski is accusing Joe Biden of.”(DM1) The impression was conveyed to readers that the trending allegations had been debunked, when in fact the outlet was engaged in misdirection by citing an irrelevant document that had not been in the news.
Scapegoating is a form of misdirection that involves placing blame on a third party, often to distract from the culpability of oneself or favored individuals or groups. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn documented in the Gulag Archipelago that scapegoating was a pervasive tactic of Soviet Communism, where paranoid and absurd allegations were routinely made against individuals and groups as “wreckers” to distract from the chronic failures, constant shortages and grinding poverty of the socialist “worker’s utopia.”
The New York Times cited attacks on Israel by the terror group Hamas in May 2021 as evidence that Trump’s Middle East diplomacy was not working, despite the fact that Joe Biden, not Donald Trump, had been president since January.(SG1) This scapegoating was used to distract from Biden administration policies incentivizing terrorists.(SG2)
Accusing others of doing what they themselves are doing(PJ1) is a tactic involving gaslighting, misdirection, and scapegoating refined by totalitarian regimes in the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany. It serves multiple propaganda purposes, including inciting the public against political opponents, however baseless or absurd the charges. Projection onto political enemies with the facade of moral indignation also distracts from the propagandists’ own conduct and discredits those who would attempt to scrutinize or hold them accountable. Surely they could not be engaged in the very activities they accuse others of when they have expressed emphatic moral outrage!
One example is controversial ex-ESPN anchor Jemele Hill's attacks on West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, excoriating him for not supporting a highly partisan election bill as a "cowardly, power-hungry white dude."(PJ2) The disastrous HR1 “For the People” bill is a partisan power grab which has been noted to “imperil free and fair elections.”(PJ3) Supporting bipartisanship and engaging in good-faith dialogue to find common ground are viewed as important by mainstream Americans. Yet Hill, along with some of her media colleagues, flipped the narrative to allege that Manchin, rather than the advocates of this bill that critics say would “enshrine fraud” and that state attorneys general have warned would “make opportunities for voter fraud ‘the law of the land,’”(PJ4), is the one who is power-hungry, while adding gratuitous attacks on his race.
Biden press secretary Jenn Psaki, a former CNN contributor and Obama administration official, has turned press briefings into a forum for gaslighting and misinformation. Psaki bizarrely claimed that the “defund the police” movement was pushed by Republicans, not Democrats.(PJ5) Even Democrats are well aware that Psaki’s claim is fraudulent. Just two days later, Democratic House Majority Whip James Clyburn noted that the signature Democratic platform of “defund the police” was “cutting the throats of the party.”(PJ6). The Washington Post fact-checker rated the White House’s creative but fraudulent claim as false with three Pinocchios.(PJ7) Yet projecting toxic positions of her own party onto opponents with bizarre conspiracy narratives is easier for the Biden White House than dealing honestly with the issues. This conduct is enabled by many media organizations that refuse to hold the administration accountable, no matter how outrageous the claims.
Imputing False Motives
Imputation of false motives is a propaganda tactic invoking confirmation bias, or interpretation of information in a way that supports favored narratives and beliefs, and projection onto third parties. The attribution of negative motives and agendas to favored groups and individuals is disallowed no matter how clear the evidence, whereas the worst possible motives are imputed without evidence to unfavored groups and individuals. The propagandist’s conclusions are determined by favored narrative and agenda, not evidence. New Zealand journalist Lushington Brady observed:
“It’s funny how the mainstream media’s mind-reading abilities just come and go, when it comes to terrorism. There are times the media are able to divine instantly a terrorist’s motives. Even if that means flatly contradicting even what the terrorist says their motives were. Other times, though, the media are flummoxed. Bewildered. Even if the terrorist very specifically selects targets and clearly states their motivations, the media remain all at sea. It all seems to depend on the terrorist’s skin colour, religion and, most importantly, who their victims are.
“For instance, Man Haron Monis, the Lindt Cafe [Australia] terrorist, was a Muslim who pledged allegiance to ISIS, shouted Allahu Ackbar! and demanded a Shahada flag to wave. The media were puzzled about his motives. Mental illness, perhaps? On the other hand, Robert Aaron Long clearly said that he shot up a trio of 'massage parlours' because of his sexual addiction. Nuh-uh, scoffed the media, who just knew it was because of ‘racism’. Timothy McVeigh flatly stated that he was an agnostic, and his anti-government views were not dissimilar to something you’d read from an impeccable leftist like Noam Chomsky. Naturally, the media knew better: McVeigh was a ‘right-wing, Christian white supremacist.’ After all, the media just know these things when they see them.
“The rest of the time, though, they refuse to see what they don’t want to know. [The GOP Baseball team shooter] was only a Bernie Sanders campaigner and Rachel Maddow fan, who targeted a group of top Republican politicians, had a list of Republicans in his pocket and specifically asked bystanders if the people on the baseball field were Republicans. Aside from that, though, it’s a total mystery.
“Besides, start noticing that the media and the FBI are selectively running cover for certain, apparently protected, terrorist groups, and you might start wondering about other ‘unsolved’ crime mysteries…”(IM1)
Reframing News by Attacking Opponents’ Response
Reframing news by attacking opponents’ responses is another distraction/misdirection propaganda device. In covering power-grabs or other dubious and unethical conduct by political allies, propagandists often ignore the core story and instead attack political opponents for objecting, painting them as petty, partisan, and out of touch. Ian Haworth wrote:
“When a Democrat does something ‘bad,’ the story is that Republicans ‘pounced,’ drawing focus away from the actions Democrats would rather obscure. There are so many examples that ‘Republicans pounce’ has become a Leftist cliché. “Ocasio-Cortez Team Flubs a Green New Deal Summary, and Republicans Pounce” is one wonderful example. The phrase is so hilariously overused that Tucker Carlson joked in 2019 that ‘the symbol of the Republican party might have to be switched from an elephant to a tiger’ due to its apparent propensity for pouncing...the Left are now partnering this strategy with a clear effort to delegitimize such criticism by predefining any such reaction as inherently conspiratorial.”(RA1)
Another example is National Public Radio attacking conservatives for opposition to Critical Race Theory (CRT), which it describes as “an academic approach to examining U.S. institutions through the lens of race.” Demonstrating the propaganda tactic of cherry-picking biased “experts” whose opinions are imposed as authoritative, NPR cites partisan sources to claim that the opposition is merely “the latest GOP effort to use cultural issues to drive voters to the polls.”(RA2) Conservatives are smeared with claims that opposition is anti-scholarly and politically motivated as NPR insinuates without evidence that this is the latest in a string of petty partisan behaviors. Reasons why many find CRT problematic and divisive are never acknowledged, nor does NPR address CRT’s troubled “scholarship” and underlying ideological biases.
Critique and debate are part of the scholarly process. There is no shortage of fringe theories in academia, yet NPR implies that CRT is entitled to uncritical adoption by schools and government merely because some “academics” have advocated these views. By the same standards, Marxism and countless conflicting ideologies have long been discussed and debated academically. Yet CRT is, as critics have noted, not an academic approach at all. Not only is rigorous peer-reviewed scholarship proving CRT’s claims conspicuously lacking; the theory fails basic standards of the scholarly process.
What reasonable person, implies NPR, could possibly disagree with the teaching of CRT? Long before the 2020 riots and the accompanying financial windfall for the CRT industry, Black scholar Coleman Hughes dismantled critical race theory as based on ideological assertions rather than competent scholarship.(RA3) Coleman documented that guru Abram X. Kendi’s CRT bible “How To Be An Antiracist” is “wrong on its facts and in its assumptions.”Coleman observes that “the book is poorly argued, sloppily researched, insufficiently fact-checked, and occasionally self-contradictory.” Kendi’s work, he notes, reads as a “conversion story” rather than a product of scholarship, and it is not clear that Kendri’s statements are intended as “factual claims subject to empirical scrutiny” rather than “as diary entries to be accepted as personal truths.” Kendi has a tenuous grasp on reality, having believed in high school that white people were “literally aliens.” Coleman documents that “Kendi’s goals are openly totalitarian” and observes that Kendri’s readers will learn “less about how to be antiracist than about how to be anti-intellectual.”
Yet NPR abandons objectivity to push “revisionist history” and ideological agenda. Manhattan Institute fellow Christopher Rufo noted of the NPR piece: “It's like a headline from 1981 saying: ‘Republicans across the country are decrying communism, a political approach that emphasizes sharing resources and caring for one another.’"(RA4) Amid widespread critique of the NPR piece, commentators also acknowledged that CRT is in no way an “academic approach.”
Mainstreaming Favored Extremists, Marginalizing Opponents
Echo-chamber media partisans twist language to represent favored groups and individuals on the extreme of the political spectrum as mainstream, while attempting to marginalize political opponents. This tactic has long been used by authoritarians, and is specifically called for in Marxist Herbert Marcuse’ doctrine of “repressive tolerance.”
Media representation of Kamala Harris, the Senate Democrat with the farthest-left record in the Senate and the lowest rate of participation in bipartisan legislation, as a “pragmatic moderate”(ME1) is an example of both gaslighting and trying to mainstream favored extremists. This is also the case for identification of far-left radicals in Biden’s cabinet as centrists.(ME2) For another example, failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams has smeared election integrity audits as “a continuation of the insurrection.” (ME3)
Media propagandists make extensive use of double standards. Examples include running “puff pieces” on favorites and “hit pieces” on designated opponents,(DS1) and playing up alleged “scandals” against unfavored figures, while ignoring or doing damage control for better-substantiated scandals of favorites.(DS2) Bizarre, even racist attacks are made on political enemies (DS3) whereas favorites receive a free pass for brash lies and plagiarism.(DS4) Blatant double standards abound.(DS5)
The use of double standards reflects the belief that media consumers are too gullible to notice the hypocrisy, or too partisanized to care. Fortunately, national surveys of public perceptions demonstrate that a large portion of Americans recognize such media conduct as morally repugnant.
Moving the Goal Posts
“Moving the goal posts” is a logical fallacy often used by media as a propaganda technique closely related to “double standards.” Shifting demands continue to demonize opponents, ostensibly under the banner of requiring greater scrutiny, when initial attacks fail. Numerous examples were demonstrated during the Mueller Russia collusion investigation, in which Trump-Russia conspiracy theories were found to be baseless(GP1) in spite of expectations from major media outlets. Yet media continued to impugn Trump with inconclusive findings regarding allegations of “obstruction of justice” despite the fact that the investigation was inadequately predicated,(GP2) involved FISA court fraud,(GP3) and was based on fraudulent opposition research by a partisan fabulist.(GP4)
Misrepresenting “Opinion Journalism” as Factual Reporting
Journalists have shamelessly gone to bat to push partisan agendas, often misrepresenting “opinion journalism” as objective news reporting with straight-up propaganda(OJ1) and apologetics for favored causes.(OJ2)
Misleading headlines may inaccurately summarize the evidence presented and are often used to present dubious partisan claims as fact.(MH1) An increasing movement has demanded for news media organizations to push favored narratives in headlines, rather than allowing readers to assess evidence and draw their own conclusions.
Pushing Hoaxes and Conspiracy Theories
Hoaxes and unproven conspiracy theories are frequently pushed by partisan propagandists. Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth’s perfuse tweeting of unsubstantiated conspiracy theories is one of many examples.(CT1)
Pump and Dump
The phrase “pump and dump” originated with stock traders who illegally pump up stock prices with false rumors, only to dumping their shares at the market peak and walk away as the price collapses. Like the investment scheme, “Pump and Dump” propaganda pushes “false, misleading, or greatly exaggerated statements” intended to stir up a frenzy. When much-hyped falsehoods are discredited, whether quickly or after years-long investigations, “pump-and-dump” journalists walk away with little acknowledgment of the fraud and typically without being held accountable.
For example, discredited ex-Florida official Rebekah Jones appeared at least five times on CNN’s ‘Cuomo Prime Time’ to push fake conspiracy theories, but the network made no mention when her lies were demolished.(PD1) The New York Times, Washington Post, and NBC News issued retractions of false claims regarding Rudy Giuliani,(PD2) yet these retractions were featured far less prominently than the original stories, and other outlets including CNN that have spread similar misinformation have yet to issue a retraction. Leftist HBO commentator Bill Maher was one of the few to acknowledge that “Russiagate was ‘reported erroneously’ after years of pushing” collusion allegations.(PD3). These same networks celebrated a coerced plea deal of General Michael Flynn for allegedly misleading investigators, while making scant mention when the Justice Department filed to drop charges, even when withholding from their viewers the rationale for the decision: “none of them showed viewers the exculpatory evidence presented in recently released notes from FBI investigators.”(PD4)
The New York Times has admitted one major blunder arising from its eroding journalistic standards, while failing to acknowledge more serious errors and fake conspiracy theories (PD5) that it has “pumped and dumped.” The New York Post's Michael Goodwin observed:
"The bizarre episode is important because it helps illustrate what has happened to the Times since it abandoned its standards of fairness and accuracy to pursue a far-left political and cultural agenda. While the ritualistic repentance in this case seems sincere, it is also designed to create the impression that everything else the paper publishes can be trusted. Nonsense. Here are a few recent examples that had far worse impacts than 'Caliphate' and none has been admitted or corrected. The Times was the lead offender in the greatest error in modern journalism...The paper pushed the narrative and was rewarded with Pulitzers and other awards. The Times played Pied Piper to pack rats from other outlets who joined the feast of fabrication...”
Manipulation of Language
Manipulation of language is used extensively by activist journalists to attempt to control the narrative. In the Soviet Union, capitalism was routinely referred to as “fascism” in political language; this trend has become widespread among Marxist-inspired groups in reference to both the US economic system and to political opponents.
Sympathetic media have repeatedly promoted attempts by favored politicians to change the definition of terms. Examples include over ninety examples of media organizations designating destructive violence by favored groups as “peaceful protests.”(ML1) Packing the Supreme Court by adding four additional ahistorical seats for political gain, contrary to 150+ year precedent (since 1869, and the number has never been more than ten), is sold by advocates as “unpacking the Supreme Court.” To sell massive social spending under misleading labels, propagandists at the New York Times have asserted that “caregiving is infrastructure” contrary to dictionary definitions.(ML2) Then there is the growing trend of using innocuous, even virtuous-sounding names, to shield hyper-partisan groups from criticism.(ML3)
Bizarrely coordinated tweets of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and numerous prominent Democrats offered condolences to “Easter worshippers” among 290 killed and hundreds wounded in terrorist attacks on Sri Lanka churches and hotels on Easter Sunday, 2019. This bizarre use of language, which appears virtually nowhere else, was clearly not spontaneous and was apparently deemed sufficiently important to coordinate among high-profile leaders of the “progressive” left. Of course, no one worships Easter. This absurd neologism has been alleged as part of a strategy of obfuscation to avoid acknowledgment that many of the victims were black Christians, the attacks were religiously-motivated hate crimes, and the perpetrators as Islamic extremists.(ML4) Still unanswered is the question of who or what group gave the orders that could achieve such rapid and widespread compliance among leading progressives. The “Easter Worshipper” language contrasts with tweets representing reprehensible attacks of a lone eccentric gunman on Muslims in New Zealand denouncing “Islamophobia” and “white supremacy” with broad recriminations. Claims of a “manufactured crisis” at the southern US border in 2019 by prominent Democrats were also parroted uncritically by sympathetic media outlets.(ML5) Such examples demonstrate deliberate and coordinated use of language to frame narratives and manipulate public opinion.
George Orwell’s Newspeak, a euphemistic language of political propaganda, epitomizes the intentional misuse of language to obfuscate and mislead.(ML6) As Orwell noted, shifts in language are intended to promote favored ideologies and even to control thinking. Independent critical thinking is far more difficult when words for it have been taken away or have been changed to reflect entirely different connotations.
Bullying and Intimidation
Bullying and intimidation are used by propagandists to silence or purge those with opposing views. Beyond their immediate subjects, these tactics are intended to intimidate third parties so that even if they do not vocally champion the favored agenda, they will be likely to engage in self-censorship and avoid contradicting or opposing it.
Journalist Bari Weiss’ resignation from the New York Times over chronic bullying enabled by the paper’s administration is one example.(BI1) Weiss wrote: “Nowadays, standing up for principle at the paper does not win plaudits. It puts a target on your back.” Weiss, a socially liberal moderate writer of Jewish heritage, noted being called a “Nazi and a racist” by far-left colleagues.(BI2) Only the day before, Ricky Gervais had noted that anyone “mildly conservative” on Twitter is labeled as “Hitler.”(BI3)
Ironically, a letter the week before signed by 150 academics and journalists including Weiss that expressed concern at the growing culture of intolerance, intimidation and “rising illiberalism” from on the political left and calling for open dialogue,(BI4) was met with further harassment culminating in her resignation.(BI5) Sadly, instead of standing up to defend free expression against a culture of harassment and intimidation, leftist journalists mocked Weiss’ departure.(BI6)
Writer Andrew Sullivan announced his departure from the New York Magazine only hours after Bari Weiss’ resignation from the Times, writing that his colleagues “seem to believe, and this is increasingly the orthodoxy in mainstream media, that any writer not actively committed to critical theory...is actively, physically harming co-workers merely by existing in the same virtual space.”(BI7) In one of his last columns at the magazine, Sullivan had wondered “Is there still room for debate?”(BI8) The answer at New York Times, the New York Magazine, and countless others appears to be a resounding “no.” Despite its extensive record of unethical conduct, the New York Times professes to be an “authoritative” news source.
Some media outlets have mobilized to "’punish’ those that don't buy into their narrative,” filing complaints or attempting to censor, block, or demonetize opponents.(BI9) Even the Salt Lake Tribune in red state Utah has become a partisan “echo chamber” publishing only far-left opinions, apparently with little pushback from the mainstream public. Award-winning Somali-born human and women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali observed that “censorship terrorists” are leading the United States “down a path to hell.”(BI10)
Retroactive edits are clearly unethical, especially when done in “stealth” without acknowledgement of changes and any reason therefore. Yet “retroactive stealth edits,” have been noted with increased frequency. Some propagandists not been content merely to shape the current “news” according to partisan agenda, but work to also reshape past coverage. This is done primarily to hide problematic information about allies or disparage political opponents.
The New York Times’ scrubbed Portland murder suspect Michale Reinoehl’s Antifa affiliation from the top of its report.(RE1) The Washington Post removed an unflattering story on Kamala Harris (and restored it only after a backlash).(RE2) USA Today retroactively edited an op-ed by Stacey Abrams to water down her statements supporting a boycott(RE3) due to a backlash of lost jobs and income disproportionately harming Atlanta minority-owned businesses. Newsweek retroactively edited a “2015 Army Ranger report to support Salon hit piece on Tom Cotton.”(RE4) Dispatch editor David French wrote: “a dumb gotcha just turned corrupt,” whereas WaPo fact checker Glenn Kessler called out Newsweek’s conduct as “totally strange...to rewrite the story without an explanation.”
Imagery as Propaganda
Imagery, too, plays an important role in propaganda narratives, whether it is images that are misrepresented(IP1) or ones that are cast favorably or unfavorably to manipulate emotions.(IP2)
Propaganda tends to reinforce and amplify partisan “echo chambers.” Unsurprisingly, research has found that Washington journalists (among other propagandists) demonstrate “groupthink,” parroting each other and favored talking points with little critical thought or real scrutiny.(EC1)
Conflicts of Interest
Numerous major media outlets are controlled by interests favorable to the Democratic Party.(1) The suspension of conflict of interest rules to promote political allies and attack designated enemies has been designated as a “sham of journalistic principles.”(2) Media outlets have even promoted ethically conflicted situations to benefit allies, such as the New York Times’ suggestion that the Democratic National Committee should take the lead on Joe Biden sexual assault allegations: a suggestion so conflicted that it was called out as a putative headline of The Onion, a satire site.(3) Such ethically conflicted arrangements could be construed as normal only in an ethically warped partisan echo chamber, yet appears to largely reflect “business as usual” at the New York Times and other hyperpartisan press outlets. In moments of public candor, major media executives have publicly acknowledged that favored politicians are viewed as friends, and unfavored figures as foes.(4)
At times, journalists have attempted to make moral rationalizations for propagandizing. NBC’s Lester Holt stating upon receiving a lifetime achievement award that “fairness is overrated” in media coverage and that "the idea that we should always give two sides equal weight and merit does not reflect the world we find ourselves in."(RP1) Holt went on to state that beyond ostensible facts, “any contrary view does not deserve our time and attention,” that journalists should deny “platforms for misinformation” and not allow “anyone to come say whatever they want.” Lester’s statements were widely perceived as providing cover for journalists to promote favored narratives without attention to contrary evidence, arguments, and perspectives.
Jeffrey McCall wrote in The Hill that “journalism dies in newsroom cultures where 'fairness is overrated,'” citing a litany of recent journalistic scandals and failures.(RP2) McCall continued:
“Mr. Holt, please meet Mr. Straw Man. Nobody with a smidgen of common sense expects journalists to give life to misinformation or give platforms to flakes and kooks. Responsible journalists have never engaged in such a practice. Holt is using this fake reasoning to justify a nonsensical approach to reporting that assumes establishment media have a corner on wisdom.
"Like many in the news industry today, Holt is dismissing ‘bothsiderism,’ the long-established notion that news stories deserve more than one perspective. Journalists now can smugly justify narrative reporting with the oversimplified rationale that they are just being ‘fair to truth,’ as Holt says. Aside from the thought that journalists don’t necessarily know the truth themselves, ‘onesiderism’ suggests the sanctimonious media doubt the public’s ability to reason and sort out the truth on its own."
Cornell Law School professor and media critic William A. Jacobson stated:
"In a better world in which the mainstream major media had a history of fairness and non-partisanship, Holt's point that journalism inherently involves filtering information might make sense. This is not such a better world, this is a world in which the mainstream major media wears its partisanship on its sleeve, manipulating the news cycle to the advantage of Democrats. In the real world, Holt's advice simply justifies media political bias."(RP3)
In 2020, Margaret Sullivan of the Washington Post pushed rationalizations similar to Holt’s. She asked: “What’s a journalist supposed to be now — an activist?” A stenographer? You’re asking the wrong question.”(RP4) She wrote that the public clamors for fair, objective journalism, with responses like this typical: “Just tell me the bare facts. Leave your interpretation out of it. And don’t be on anyone’s side.”
“That’s an appealing idea at first blush. It’s also one that doesn’t always work, especially right now...That’s why the simplistic ‘just the unadorned facts’ can be such a canard... The real answer is to make better, wiser choices — ones that best serve our important mission to find and tell the truth....What if we framed coverage with this question at the forefront: What journalism best serves the real interests of American citizens?”
The context accompanying these virtuous-sounding statements is Sullivan rationalizing the New York Times retraction of an op-ed by Senator Tom Cotton:
“Cotton’s views should be known, but not amplified and normalized within the prized real estate that is the op-ed page of the New York Times. Rather than present it as stamped with the imprimatur of the Times opinion pages...”
Sullivan’s statements brim with astonishing arrogance. She imputes to her profession the right to decide “truth” and to censor mainstream yet undesired viewpoints. She lionizes the scandal-plagued New York Times which has long abandoned its journalistic ethics to push partisan narratives. She elevates the partisan echo chambers of unelected media activists while shutting out democratically-elected representatives of mainstream Americans. She ignores the Times’ record of “regularly publishing falsehoods that spur violent unrest and civic dysfunction,”(RP5) even while ironically noting journalists’ duty to “best serve the interests of American citizens.”
It is by no means clear that Ms. Sullivan’s conclusions are accurate or serve the interests of the American public by any fair or objective standard. Cotton’s op-ed expressed the view of a majority of Americans that the national guard could be called out “as a backup—only if police are overwhelmed—to stop riots, not to be used against protesters.” Curiously, Cotton’s same critics (including the Washington Post) had no problem with the deployment of national guard in Washington D.C. for some three months after Biden’s inauguration when no riots or looting were occurring. Cotton called out the New York Times for misquoting his statements, yet Sullivan’s arguments uncritically reflect the Times’ false narrative.
The broader problems with Sullivan’s virtuous-sounding rhetoric are the same that McCall pointed out with Holt’s statements. Sullivan acknowledges that narratives can be tilted by bias and agenda, but then astonishingly suggests that journalists are somehow in possession of truth and wisdom that others are not. Are journalists “wiser” than other Americans? Do they always know or have special access to truth? Who, exactly, defines truth and facts, and on the basis of what criteria? How reliably have journalists been able to distinguish between partisan opinion and objective facts, and what accountability has occurred when they have been wrong? When journalism abandons its commitment to report fairly on both sides of an issue, how do personal agendas and biases not impact the journalist’s answer to the question of “what journalism best serves the interest of American citizens?” For political “true believers” skewed to one extreme of the political spectrum, as multiple studies suggest a large proportion of political journalists to be, is this call anything different than a rationalization for unabashed partisan reporting? What is partisan reporting, if not propaganda?
Propaganda, surely, can be perpetrated by ostensibly sincere but deluded partisan activists no less than by conscious frauds. And that is precisely the danger of Ms. Sullivan and cadres of biased partisan journalists, often with weak ethics and poor self-awareness, who appoint themselves as unelected arbiters to decide what best serves the country’s interest. Margaret Sullivan’s rationalization of media partisanship as self-appointed arbiters of truth is not only deeply paternalistic; it conveys the mindset of colonial imperialism which is more closely related to tropes of the “white man [or woman]’s burden, mission of civilization to ‘enlighten’ the ‘savages’” than to any concept of “free and fair” democracy or freedom of speech, press, and conscience.
Sullivan’s claims are morally repugnant to fair-minded people. As the Foundation for Economic Education pointed out, telling only half the story is dangerous.(RP6) In so many cases, propaganda does not even convey the portion that is told accurately.
The answer to these dilemmas is not to cease striving for fairness, but to seek more deeply for truth, to question assumptions, and to critically examine evidence. Fairness should always be sought. It may well be that the evidence may come down more strongly on one side of a debate. Yet that does not obviate the need for fair processes to elucidate and report the evidence, rather than - as is so often the case - dismissing unfavored perspectives a priori. Without fair processes, the product is not journalism, but propaganda.
I1. Shearer, Elisa. “Two-thirds of U.S. adults say they’ve seen their own news sources report facts meant to favor one side.” Pew Research Center, 2 November 2020. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2020/11/02/two-thirds-of-u-s-adults-say-theyve-seen-their-own-news-sources-report-facts-meant-to-favor-one-side/
I2. Mitchell, Amy, et al. 2014. "Political Polarization and Media Habits." Pew Research Center, October 21, 2014. https://www.journalism.org/2014/10/21/political-polarization-media-habits/
I3. Gallup/Knight Poll: Americans’ concerns about media bias deepen, even as they see it vital for democracy.” Knight Foundation, 4 August 2020. https://knightfoundation.org/press/releases/gallup-knight-poll-americans-concerns-about-media-bias-deepen-even-as-they-see-it-as-vital-for-democracy/
I4. Zogby Poll: Voters Believe Media Bias is Very Real". Zogby International, March 14, 2007. (Original link defunct.) Summary at https://www.tvtechnology.com/news/media-bias-real-zogby-poll-says
I5. "Voters Think Reports Trying to Help Democrats in Midterm Elections." Rasmussen Reports, October 25, 2018. https://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/general_politics/october_2018/voters_think_reporters_trying_to_help_democrats_in_midterm_elections
I6. Castronuevo, Celine. "Federal judge accuses NY Times, WaPo of being 'Democratic Party broadsheets.'" The Hill, March 20, 2021. https://thehill.com/homenews/media/544145-federal-judge-accuses-ny-times-wapo-of-being-democratic-party-broadsheets
I7. Weiss, Bari. Twitter [bariweiss], January 26, 2021. https://twitter.com/bariweiss/status/1354218990856511490
The Rise of Propaganda (P)
P1. Bernays, Edward. Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Bernays (accessed May 29, 2021).
P2. Taibbi, Matt. “Reporters Once Challenged the Spy State. Now, They're Agents of It.” TK News, May 11, 2021. https://taibbi.substack.com/p/reporters-once-challenged-the-spy-a32
P3. Graham, Tim. “Tim Graham: 'Anonymous,' the New York Times and the jaw-dropping hypocrisy of America's liberal media.” Fox News, October 30, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/anonymous-new-york-times-liberal-media-tim-graham
P4. Flood, Bryan. “Liberal media reaction to Michael Avenatti conviction slammed as ‘Orwellian,’ ‘appalling.’” Fox News , February 17, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/avenatti-media-reaction
P5. Thomas, Cal. "Let's revisit Ministry of Truth." The Tribune-Democrat, May 29, 2021. https://www.tribdem.com/news/editorials/columns/cal-thomas-lets-revisit-ministry-of-truth/article_fb3e9bf0-bf0a-11eb-b8b0-9b129d12e463.html
Information Blackout (IB)
IB1. “Gatekeeper Bias and the Impact on News Content.” Zvelo.com, 10 October 2018. https://zvelo.com/gatekeeper-bias-impact-on-news-content/
IB2. "National Post-Elect Survey Results: 2020 General Election Voters." McLaughlin & Associates, November 2020. https://mclaughlinonline.com/pols/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/MA-National-Post-Elect-11-4-20-4.pdf
IB3. Bedard, Paul. “Media's hiding of Hunter Biden scandal robbed Trump of clear win: Poll.” MSN (via Washington Examiner), November 13, 2021.
IB5. Arama, Nick. “Dems Get Busted Pushing False Story About Pulse Shooting, Leaving out Some Critical Info.” Red State, June 11, 2021. https://redstate.com/nick-arama/2021/06/12/dems-get-busted-pushing-false-story-about-pulse-shooting-leaving-out-some-critical-info-n395779
IB6. Yevtushenko, Yevgeny. “Excerpts From Yevtushenko Statement.” New York Times, February 18, 1974. https://www.nytimes.com/1974/02/18/archives/excerpts-from-yevtushenko-statement.html
IB7. Dorman, Sam. “McEnany calls out White House press corps for lack of interest in Mueller team wiping phones.” Fox News, September 11, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/mcenany-calls-out-press-mueller-phone-wiping
IB8. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. and Brian Flood. "CNN fact-checker ignores Biden inaccuracies despite vow to report on 'both sides.'" Fox News, April 13, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/cnn-fact-checker-biden-trump
IB9. Rutz, David. “Biden's false remarks on gun show background checks gets a pass from some fact-checkers.” Fox News, April 9, 2021 https://www.foxnews.com/media/some-fact-checkers-biden-false-remarks-gun-show-sales
IB10. Graham, Tim. “Kamala Harris' allegedly plagiarized MLK story – where are liberal 'fact checkers' now?” Fox News, January 6, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/kamala-harris-plagarized-mlk-story-fact-checkers-tim-graham
IB11. Pavlich, Katie. "Elizabeth Warren's fake victimhood." The Hill, October 15, 2019. https://thehill.com/opinion/columnists/465968-pavlich-elizabeth-warrens-fake-victimhood
IB12. Kaplan, Talia. “Ari Fleischer: Mainstream media committed 'dereliction of duty' by not reporting on Hunter Biden.” Fox News, December 11, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ari-fleischer-on-coverage-of-hunter-biden-mainstream-media-committed-dereliction-of-duty
Running Interference for Ideological Favorites (IF)
IF1. McGurn, William. “Saving Private Biden.” Wall Street Journal, October 26, 2020. https://www.wsj.com/articles/saving-private-biden-11603749110
IF2. Devine, Miranda. “Hunter Biden scandal -- How the NY Times, CNN, others, run protection for the Biden campaign.” Fox News, October 19, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/hunter-biden-scandal-ny-times-cnn-biden-miranda-devine
IF3. Perez, Evan, and Pamela Brown. "Federal criminal investigation into Hunter Biden focuses on his business dealings in China." CNN, December 10, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/12/09/politics/hunter-biden-tax-investigtation/index.html (sic).
IF4. Singman, Brooke. “Ratcliffe says Hunter Biden laptop, emails 'not part of some Russian disinformation campaign.'” Fox News, October 19, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/ratcliffe-hunter-biden-laptop-emails-not-russian-disinformation-campaign
IF5. Cohen, Marshall, et al. "US authorities investigating if recently published emails are tied to Russian disinformation effort targeting Biden." CNN, October 16, 2020. https://www.cnn.com/2020/10/16/politics/russian-disinformation-investigation/index.html
IF6. Carlson, Tucker. "Hunter Biden fiasco shows dishonesty, arrogance of mainstream media elites." Fox News, December 10, 20201. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-hunter-biden-and-the-mainstream-media
IF7. Carlson, Tucker. “America's most powerful people want you to shut up about Hunter Biden.” Fox News, October 20, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-hunter-biden-media-democrats-chris-murphy
IF8. Mill, Adam. “Hunter Laptop Story Portends a Dark Winter for Free Speech.” Intellectual Takeout, November 2, 2020. https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/hunter-laptop-story-portends-a-dark-winter-for-free-speech/
Conducting Public Relations, Not Journalism, for Favorites (PR)
PR1. Flood, Brian. “Journalists fawning over Biden tops ‘20 most mortifying media moments’ of 2020.” Fox News, December 22, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/journalists-fawning-biden-20-most-mortifying-media-moments-2020
PR2. Rutz, David and Brian Flood. Media fawns over Biden throughout Inauguration Day: ‘Boy, did they lay it on thick.’ Fox News, January 20, 2021 https://www.foxnews.com/media/media-fawns-over-biden-throughout-inauguration-day-boy-did-they-lay-it-on-thick
PR3. Flood, Brian. “New York Times called out for ‘drooling’ Kamala Harris front page: 'The newsletter of the left.'” Fox News. 12 August 2020 https://www.foxnews.com/media/new-york-times-kamala-harris
PR4. Flood, Brian. “TIME cover blasted for over-the-top attempt to make Biden ‘look cool’ ahead of Putin meeting.” Fox News , June 12, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/time-biden-putin-cover
PR5. O'Brien, Cortney. “In interview panned as 'bootlicking,' CNN's Stelter asks Jen Psaki to tell him what the media 'gets wrong.'” Fox News, June 6, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/softball-interview-brian-stelter-jen-psaki-media
PR6. Flood, Brian. "Greenwald rips CNN’s Stelter for fawning over Psaki: ‘This is how state TV functions.'" Fox News, June 7, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/greenwald-stelter-psaki
PR7. Halon, Yael. “Press admonished for fawning coverage of Biden ice cream pit stop: 'Our media is so embarrassing.'” Fox News, May 27, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/press-fawning-coverage-biden-ice-cream-ohio-embarrassing
PR8. O'Brien, Cortney. “First 100 Days: The Media gushes over VP Kamala Harris, largely ignores border inaction.” Fox News, May 2, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/medias-first-100-days-gushing-coverage-kamala-harris
PR9. Altus, Kristen. "McEnany: Women in Biden admin get 'glowing' profiles after 'hit pieces' for female Trump officials." Fox News, June 4, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/mcenany-women-in-biden-admin-get-glowing-profiles-after-hit-pieces-for-female-trump-officials
PR10. Van Meter, Jonathan. “A First Lady for All of Us: On the Road with Dr. Jill Biden.” Vogue, June 29, 2021. https://www.vogue.com/article/first-lady-dr-jill-biden-profile
PR11.Gould, Martin. “'Joe Biden stole Jill from me': Her first husband tells how she cheated with Democrat candidate he once considered a friend and that they have lied about how they started dating for years.” Daily Mail (UK), August 17, 2020. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8635281/Jill-Biden-cheated-husband-Joe-ex-claims.html
PR12. Concha, Joe. "The new marshmallow media in the Biden era." The Hill, November 19, 2021. https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/526446-joe-bidens-friendly-press-conferences-are-an-absolute-joke
PR13. Graham, Tim. “Dems' liberal media collusion was exposed in 2016, but it's still likely happening now.” Fox News, July 25, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/dems-liberal-media-collusion-tim-graham
PR14. Carlson, Tucker. “Hunter Biden scandal shows media collusion with powerful is the real threat to America.” Fox News, October 30, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/tucker-carlson-hunter-biden-scandal-media-collusion-powerful
PR15. Cadelago, Christopher. "How an online ‘Lego’ gamer infiltrated the White House press corps." Politico, April 9, 2021. https://www.politico.com/news/2021/04/09/lego-gamer-infiltrated-white-house-press-480673
Politician Control of Coverage (PC)
PC1. Collman, Ashley and Grace Panetta. "Biden's press office asked journalists to send questions in advance, drawing mixed reactions from reporters." Business Insider, February 2, 2021. https://www.businessinsider.com/biden-press-office-asked-journalists-advance-questions-report-2021-2
PC2. Thompson, Alex, and Theodoric Meyer. "Reporters fume at White House 'quote approval' rules." Politico, May 10, 2021. https://www.politico.com/newsletters/west-wing-playbook/2021/05/10/this-email-is-on-background-with-quote-approval-492792
PC3. Kaminsky, Gabe. "Biden White House Edits Administration Quotes Before Letting Reporters Publish Them." The Federalist, May 12, 2021. https://thefederalist.com/2021/05/12/biden-white-house-edits-administration-quotes-before-letting-reporters-publish-them/
PC4. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. "White House reporters are allowing Biden admin to 'edit' their own quotes: report." Fox News, May 11, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/white-house-reporters-are-allowing-biden-admin-to-edit-their-own-quotes-report
PC5. Fordham, Evie. “Biden giving media 'zero access' to border operations: photojournalist.” Fox News, March 21, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/photojournalist-biden-media-access-border-patrol-operations
Hand-Picking Sympathetic Reporters (HP)
HP1. Concha, Joe. "The new marshmallow media in the Biden era." The Hill, November 19, 2021.
HP2. Watson, Amy. “Leading cable news networks in the United States in Q4 2020, by number of primetime viewers.” Statista, February 5, 2021. https://www.statista.com/statistics/373814/cable-news-network-viewership-usa/
HP3. Flood, Brian. “Doocy confronts Psaki over Fox News getting snubbed at presser, asks if it's 'official administration policy.’” Fox News, March 26, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/doocy-psaki-snubbed-administration-policy
Staging and Plants (SP)
SP1. Wulfsohn, Joseph. “Undecided voters' at NBC's Biden town hall were featured on MSNBC as Biden voters.” Fox News, October 6, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/undecided-voters-nbc-biden-town-hall
SP2. Olson, Tyler. “Biden's ABC town hall questioners include former Obama speechwriter, wife of former Pennsylvania Dem candidate.” Fox News, October 16, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-town-hall-questioners-former-obama-speechwriter-wife-pennsylvania-democrat
SP3. Wulfsohn, Joseph. “ABC silent after Biden town hall attendees identified as ex-Obama speechwriter, wife of prominent Democrat.” Fox News, October 17, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/abc-silent-biden-town-hall-attendees-identified-dems
SP4. Brown, Marcia. "Did CNN Air a Staged Migrant Crossing of the Rio Grande?" Prospect.org, March 22, 2021. https://prospect.org/justice/did-cnn-air-staged-migrant-crossing-of-the-rio-grande/
Cherry-Picking “Experts” (CP)
CP1. Pareene, Alex. “How Political Fact-Checkers Distort the Truth.” New Republic, January 8, 2020. https://newrepublic.com/article/156039/political-fact-checkers-distort-truth
CP2. Agresti, James D. "USA Today & Facebook Use Slanderous “Fact Check” to Suppress Facts About Illegal Voting By Non-Citizens." Just Facts Daily, November 24, 2020. https://www.justfactsdaily.com/usa-today-facebook-illegal-voting-by-non-citizens
CP3. Rutz, David. "Media fact-checkers, Facebook cited Wuhan lab-linked scientist to knock down lab leak theory." Fox News, June 4, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/daszak-fact-checks-coronavirus-wuhan-lab
CP4. Suryanarayanan, Sainath. "EcoHealth Alliance orchestrated key scientists’ statement on 'natural origin' of SARS-CoV-2." US Right To Know, November 18, 2020. https://usrtk.org/biohazards-blog/ecohealth-alliance-orchestrated-key-scientists-statement-on-natural-origin-of-sars-cov-2/
CP5. Rutz, David. "Ted Cruz mocks Washington Post as 'clowns' after fact-check declares Wuhan lab leak theory 'suddenly' credible." Fox News, May 25, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/ted-cruz-mocks-washington-post-clowns-fact-check-wuhan-lab-leak-credible
CP6. Thomas, Cal. "Let's revisit Ministry of Truth." The Tribune-Democrat, May 29, 2021. https://www.tribdem.com/news/editorials/columns/cal-thomas-lets-revisit-ministry-of-truth/article_fb3e9bf0-bf0a-11eb-b8b0-9b129d12e463.html
Anonymous Sources Masking Partisan Bias (AS)
AS1. Flood, Brian. “Washington Post's 'find the fraud' correction points to larger issue with agenda-driven anonymous sources.” Fox News, March 16, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/washington-posts-find-the-fraud-correction-anonymous
AS2. Gillespie, Brandon. “Mainstream outlets face deluge of criticism for retracted Giuliani story, use of anonymous sources.” Fox News, May 3, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/mainstream-outlets-criticism-retracted-giuliani-story-anonymous-sources-rudy-giuliani-russian-disinformation
AS3. Graham, Tim. “Tim Graham: 'Anonymous,' the New York Times and the jaw-dropping hypocrisy of America's liberal media.” Fox News, October 30, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/anonymous-new-york-times-liberal-media-tim-graham
“Corroborating” False Stories (CF)
CF1. Rutz, David. “Glenn Greenwald blasts liberal media for 'deceitful playbook' of 'corroborating' false stories .” Fox News, March 16, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/greenwald-liberal-media-deceitful-playbook-stories
Presenting Partisan Activists as Whistleblowers (PA)
PA1. “Gutfeld on mainstream media embracing lying whistleblower.” Fox News, May 20, 2021. https://video.foxnews.com/v/6255320996001#sp=show-clips
L1. Flood, Brian. “Mark Levin blasts Washington Post’s coverage of Bill Barr interview: ‘This is a shocking lie.’” Fox News, August 10, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/mark-levin-blasts-washington-post
L2. Miles, Frank. “Tom Cotton calls out 'false and offensive' NY Times tweet after editorial page editor resigns.” Fox News, June 7, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/tom-cotton-ny-times-tweet-george-floyd-op-ed-false-offensive-editorial-resign
L3. Stieber, Zachary. “New York Times Writers May Have Deceived Readers in Stories About Project Veritas: Court.” Epoch Times, March 20, 2021. https://www.theepochtimes.com/new-york-times-writers-may-have-deceived-readers-in-stories-about-project-veritas-court_3742059.html
L4. Gutfeld, Greg. “Gutfeld on the Washington Post admitting to misquoting Trump.” Fox News, March 16, 2021 https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/gutfeld-washington-post-misquoting-trump
L5. Graham, Tim. “Biden-Harris ticket debuts and media fact-checkers do this.” Fox News, August 16. 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/biden-harris-ticket-debuts-fact-checkers-tim-graham
L6. Devine, Miranda. “Fact is, Washington Post ignores truth.” New York Post, June 9, 2021. https://nypost.com/2021/06/09/fact-is-washington-post-ignores-truth-devine/
L7. Goodwin, Michael. “My Top 10 media lies.” New York Post, June 12, 2021. https://nypost.com/2021/06/12/my-top-10-media-lies-goodwin/
L8. Jennings, Scott. “Democrats lie like the devil, and the media lets them get away with it.” Courier Journal, May 1, 2019. https://www.courier-journal.com/story/opinion/2019/05/01/scott-jennings-democrats-lie-and-media-lets-them/3637723002/
L9. Flood, Brian. “CSPAN caller confronts Brian Stelter: 'CNN is the enemy of the truth.'” Fox News, September 1, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/cspan-brian-stelter-cnn-enemy-truth
L10. Gutfeld, Greg. “Media is only industry designed to lie.” Fox News, June 11, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/greg-gutfeld-media-only-industry-designed-lie
G1. Haworth, Ian. “What Riots? Over 80 Examples Of The Mainstream Media Gaslighting About ‘Protests.’” Daily Wire, September 3, 2020. https://www.dailywire.com/news/what-riots-mainstream-media-gaslighting-protests
G2. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “Chris Rufo blasts Joy Reid's 'language games' after barely getting a word in during heated CRT debate.” Fox News, June 24, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/christopher-rufo-msnbc-joy-reid-critical-race-theory
Distraction and Misdirection (DM)
DM1. Flood, Brian. “Trump campaign accuses NBC News of ‘running interference for Biden’ by debunking irrelevant Hunter Biden docs.” Fox News, October 30, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/trump-campaign-accuses-nbc-news-running-interference-hunter-biden
SG1. Crowley, Michael. "Violence Shakes Trump’s Boast of ‘New Middle East.’" New York Times, May 15, 2021. https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/15/us/politics/israel-trump-abraham-accords.html
SG2. Tawil, Bassam. “Biden Administration Rewards Terrorists: Abbas and Hamas.” Gatestone Institute, June 1, 2021. https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17413/biden-administration-rewards-terrorists-abbas
PJ1. Wulfsohn, Joseph. “Newsweek mocked for claiming conservatives are 'weaponizing' cancel culture to 'tame anti-Trump celebrities.'” Fox News, June 25, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/newsweek-mocked-for-claiming-conservatives-are-weaponizing-cancel-culture-to-tame-anti-trump-celebrities
PJ2. DeMarche, Edmund. "Jemele Hill calls Manchin a ‘cowardly, power-hungry white dude’ over election bill." Fox News, June 6, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/jemele-hill-calls-manchin-a-cowardly-power-hungry-white-dude-over-election-bill
PJ3. Von Spakovsky, Hans. “HR1/For the People Act imperils free and fair elections. Here are the worst 8 parts.” Fox News, March 14, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/hr1-for-people-act-elections-danger-hans-von-spakovsky
PJ4. Ozimek, Tom. "Indiana AG Says HR 1 Makes Opportunities for Voter Fraud ‘the Law of the Land.’” Epoch Times, March 6, 2021. https://www.theepochtimes.com/indiana-ag-says-hr-1-makes-opportunities-for-voter-fraud-the-law-of-the-land_3723250.html
PJ5. Clark, Corinne. “Is She Nuts? Biden’s Press Secretary Makes Absolutely Outrageous Claim About Republicans.” Free Press Fails, June 28, 2021 https://www.freepressfail.com/2021/06/28/is-she-nuts-bidens-press-secretary-makes-absolutely-outrageous-claim-about-republicans/
PJ6. Conklin, Audrey. "Rep. Clyburn says Democrats' use of 'defund the police' is 'cutting the throats of the party.'" Fox News, June 30, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/jim-clyburn-democrats-defund-police
PJ7. Rizzo, Salvador. "The White House’s slipshod claim that Republicans are defunding the police." Washington Post, July 7, 2021. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/07/07/white-houses-slipshod-claim-that-republicans-are-defunding-police/
Imputing False Motives
IM1. Brady, Lushington D. "CNN Puzzled by Motives of Shooter Who Hunted Republicans." The BFD, June 17, 2021. https://thebfd.co.nz/2021/06/17/cnn-puzzled-by-motives-of-shooter-who-hunted-republicans/
Reframing News by Attacking Opponents’ Response (RN)
RA1. Haworth, Ian. “The Left’s Latest Use Of ‘Republicans Pounce’ Crossed A Line.” Daily Wire, September 16, 2020. https://www.dailywire.com/news/haworth-the-lefts-latest-use-of-republicans-pounce-crossed-a-line
RA2. Sprunt, Barbara. "The Brewing Political Battle Over Critical Race Theory." National Public Radio, June 2, 2021. https://www.npr.org/2021/06/02/1001055828/the-brewing-political-battle-over-critical-race-theory
RA3. Hughes, Coleman. "How to Be an Anti-Intellectual." City Journal, October 27, 2019. https://www.city-journal.org/how-to-be-an-antiracist
RA4. Stabile, Angelica. “NPR slammed for 'revisionist history' on article criticizing GOP efforts against critical race theory." Fox News, June 6, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/npr-critical-race-theory
Double Standards (DS)
DS1. Flood, Brian. “New York Times accused of running ‘puff piece’ on Warnock, ‘hit piece’ on Perdue ahead of Georgia runoffs.” Fox News, January 4, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/new-york-times-puff-piece-warnock-hit-piece-perdue-georgia-runoffs
DS2. Flood, Brian. "New York Times reporter mocked for justification of Kavanaugh, Biden allegations being handled differently." Fox News, April 16, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/ny-times-reporter-mocked-biden-kavanaugh
DS3. Flood, Brian. “Washington Post crushed for ‘fact check’ on whether Sen. Tim Scott truly went 'from cotton to Congress.'” Fox News, April 23, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/tim-scott-washington-post-fact-check-cotton-congress
DS4. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “Washington Post runs 'fact-check' on Tim Scott's ancestry but not on Kamala Harris' 'Fweedom' plagiarism claim.” Fox News, April 23, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/washington-post-fact-check-tim-scott-kamala-harris-fweedom
DS5. Concha, Joe. “Fox's Kurtz: Media applying 'absolute double standard' in coverage of Biden, Trump.” The Hill, July 1, 2020. https://thehill.com/homenews/media/505444-foxs-kurtz-media-applying-absolute-double-standard-in-coverage-of-biden-trump
Misrepresenting “Opinion Journalism” as Factual Reporting (OJ)
OJ1. Flood, Brian. “New York Times slammed for glowing coverage of Biden infrastructure plan: ‘Straight-up propaganda.’” Fox News, April 1, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/new-york-times-biden-propaganda
OJ2. Graeme Wood. “The Pinnacle of Looting Apologia.” The Atlantic, September 2, 2020. https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/09/there-no-defense-looting/615925/
Mainstreaming Favored Extremists, Marginalizing Opponents (ME)
ME1. Murdock, Deroy. "Deroy Murdock: Kamala Harris is no moderate — she's further left than Bernie Sanders." Fox News, August 16, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/deroy-murdock-kamala-harris-is-no-moderate-shes-further-left-than-bernie-sanders
ME2. Graham, Tim. “NY Times claims leftists in Biden’s Cabinet are centrists — reporters sound like Dem politicians.” Fox News, December 23, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/new-york-times-centrist-labels-tim-graham
ME3. Johnson, Ben. "5 Things the Media Are Now Calling ‘Insurrections.’" Daily Wire, May 25, 2021. https://www.dailywire.com/news/5-things-the-media-are-now-calling-insurrections
Moving the Goal Posts (GP)
GP1. Greenwald, Glenn. April 18, 2019. "Robert Mueller Did Not Merely Reject the Trump-Russia Conspiracy Theories. He Obliterated Them." The Intercept, April 18, 2019. https://theintercept.com/2019/04/18/robert-mueller-did-not-merely-reject-the-trumprussia-conspiracy-theories-he-obliterated-them/
GP2. Zapotosky, Matt. "Rosenstein says, in hindsight, he would not have signed application to surveil former Trump campaign adviser." Washington Post, June 3, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/national-security/rosenstein-to-testify-as-first-witness-in-senate-committees-latest-examination-of-russia-probe/2020/06/02/19b81e04-a50c-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html
GP3. Re, Gregg. "DOJ's FISA report contradicts claims by Dems, media figures that surveillance rules were strictly observed." Fox News, March 31, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/dojs-fisa-report-contradicts-claims-by-dems-media-experts-that-surveillance-rules-were-strictly-observed
GP4. Jarrett, Gregg. "Christopher Steele's secret source for anti-Trump dossier is finally exposed." Fox News, July 27, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/anti-trump-dossier-source-gregg-jarrett
Misleading Headlines (MH)
MH1. Vincent, Subramaniam. “Was the Mainstream Media’s “Walls Closing in …” Narrative Ethical?” Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, April 4, 2019.
Pushing Hoaxes and Conspiracy Theories (CT)
CT1. De Lea, Brittany. “Sen. Tammy Duckworth profusely tweeted about unproven Russian bounty report.”Fox News, April 16, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/tammy-duckworth-russia-bounties-donald-trump
Pump and Dump (PD)
PD1. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “CNN avoids any mention of Rebekah Jones after report demolishes her fake conspiracies its anchors promoted. “Fox News, May 20, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/cnn-anchors-avoid-rebekah-jones
PD2. Curl, Joseph. “New York Times, Washington Post, NBC News All Forced To Retract False Claims About Trump Lawyer Rudy Giuliani.” Daily Wire, May 2, 2021. https://www.dailywire.com/news/new-york-times-washington-post-nbc-news-all-forced-to-retract-false-claims-about-trump-lawyer-rudy-giuliani
PD3. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “Bill Maher now admits Russiagate was 'reported erroneously' after years of pushing Trump collusion narrative.” Fox News, May 7, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/bill-maher-admits-russiagate-was-reported-erroneously-after-years-of-pushing-trump-collusion-narrative
PD4. Fondacaro, Nicholas. "Nets Celebrated Flynn’s Plea Deal But Decry Case Getting Dropped." News Busters, May 7, 2020. https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/nicholas-fondacaro/2020/05/07/nets-celebrated-flynns-plea-deal-decry-case-getting-dropped
PD5. Goodwin, Michael. “New York Times admits to major blunder – but these errors go uncorrected.” Fox News, December 21, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/new-york-times-caliphate-errors-uncorrected-michael-goodwin
Manipulation of Language (ML)
ML1. Haworth, Ian. “What Riots? Over 80 Examples Of The Mainstream Media Gaslighting About ‘Protests.’” Daily Wire, September 3, 2020. https://www.dailywire.com/news/what-riots-mainstream-media-gaslighting-protests
ML2. Kinder, Molly and Martha Ross. “Commentary: the economy that allows you to get your job done is broken.” Salt Lake Tribune, April 14, 2021. https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/commentary/2021/04/14/economy-that-allows-you/
ML3. Koskinen, Anders. “Innocuous Names Shield Groups From Criticism.” Intellectual Takeout, July 16, 2020. https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/innocuous-names-shield-groups-from-criticism/
ML4. Chumley, Cheryl K. "Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton tip anti-Christian 'Easter worshippers' hats." Washington Times, April 22, 2019.https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/apr/22/barack-obama-hillary-clinton-tip-anti-christian-ea/
ML5. Montanaro, David. "'Fox & Friends' looks back on Dems' claims of 'manufactured' border crisis: 'How quickly they've changed their tune.'" Fox News, July 3, 2019. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/fox-friends-looks-back-on-dems-claims-of-manufactured-border-crisis-how-quickly-theyve-changed-their-tune
ML6. "George Orwell Explains How 'Newspeak' Works, the Official Language of His Totalitarian Dystopia in 1984." Open Culture, January 25, 2017. https://www.openculture.com/2017/01/george-orwell-explains-how-newspeak-works.html
Bullying and Intimidation (BI)
BI1. Weiss, Bari. “Resignation letter,” July 14, 2020. https://www.bariweiss.com/resignation-letter
BI2. Flood, Brian. “Bari Weiss quits New York Times after bullying by colleagues over views: 'They have called me a Nazi and a racist.'” Fox News, July 14, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/bari-weiss-quits-new-york-times-bullying
BI3. McCarthy, Tyler. “Ricky Gervais said anyone 'mildly conservative' on Twitter is labeled as 'Hitler.'” Fox News, July 13, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/ricky-gervais-mildly-conservative-twitter-hitler
BI4. "A Letter on Justice and Open Debate." Harpers Magazine, July 7, 2020. https://harpers.org/a-letter-on-justice-and-open-debate/
BI5. Miller, Judith. “Rise and fall of New York Times writer Bari Weiss — a victim of far-left intolerance.” Fox News, July 15, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/new-york-times-bari-weiss-judith-miller
BI6. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “Liberal journalists dismiss, mock Bari Weiss' departure from The New York Times.” Fox News, July 14, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/liberal-journalists-dismiss-mock-bari-weiss-departure-from-the-new-york-times
BI7. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “Andrew Sullivan on his ousting from New York Magazine: Staff believed my columns were 'physically harming' them.” Fox News, July 17, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/andrew-sullivan-new-york-magazine
BI8. Sullivan, Andrew. “Is There Still Room for Debate?” New York Magazine, June 12, 2020. https://nymag.com/intelligencer/2020/06/andrew-sullivan-is-there-still-room-for-debate.html
BI9. Halon, Yael. “Shapiro hammers NBC over role in Google's crackdown on The Federalist: 'The mask finally fell.'” Fox News, June 17, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/ben-shapiro-nbc-google-the-federalist-crackdown
BI10. Halon, Yael. “Ayaan Hirsi Ali praises Bari Weiss, warns 'censorship terrorists' are leading US 'down a path to hell.'” Fox News, July 14, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/ayaan-hirsi-ali-bari-weiss-nyt-resignation
Conflicts of Interest (CI)
CI1. Fox News Staff. “Jesse Watters slams mainstream media's ties to Democrats: 'Let's name names.'” Fox News, April 17, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/jesse-watters-slams-mainstream-medias-ties-to-democrats-lets-name-names
CI2. Flood, Brian, and Joseph A. Wulfsohn. “CNN's latest Cuomo brothers lovefest slammed: 'Sham of journalistic principles,' 'clear conflict of interest.'” Fox News, June 25, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/cnn-cuomo-brothers-lovefest-slammed-sham-journalistic-principles
CI3. Nelson, Joshua. "Sarah Sanders calls out New York Times' take on Biden investigation: 'I thought it was an Onion headline.'" Fox News, May 4, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/sarah-sanders-new-york-times-biden-probe
CI4. Flood, Brian. “CNN exec roasted for declaring Biden’s inauguration fireworks ‘inspire our friends and shake our foes.’” Fox News, January 21, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/cnn-exec-roasted-biden-fireworks-tweet
Retroactive Edits (RE)
RE1. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “NY Times scrubs 'Antifa' reference from top of its report on Portland suspect Michael Reinoehl.” Fox News. September 4, 2020. https://www.foxnews.com/media/ny-times-scrubs-antifa-reference-portland-suspect
RE2. Flood, Brian. “Washington Post scrubbed unflattering Kamala Harris story from site, restored it after backlash.” Fox News, January 22, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/wapo-scrubs-kamala-story-of-embarrassing-jail-joke
RE3. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “USA Today edits Stacey Abrams op-ed published before MLB pulled game in Atlanta, waters down boycott support.” Fox News, April 26, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/usa-today-stacey-abrams-op-ed-georgia-boycott
RE4. Wulfsohn, Joseph A. “Newsweek retroactively edits 2015 Army Ranger report to support Salon hit piece on Tom Cotton.” Fox News, January 26, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/newsweek-edits-report-tom-cotton-army-ranger-salon
Imagery as Propaganda (IP)
IP1. Shaw, Adam. “Crying migrant girl on TIME magazine cover was not separated from mother, family says.” Fox News, June 22, 2018. https://www.foxnews.com/politics/crying-migrant-girl-on-time-magazine-cover-was-not-separated-from-mother-family-says
IP2. Caruso, Jay. “How Media Use Photography as Propaganda.” Intellectual Takeout, March 31, 2017. https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/how-media-use-photography-propaganda/
Echo Chamber (EC)
EC1. Lucas, Fred. “Tweets of Washington Journalists Betray ‘Groupthink,’ Study Finds.” Intellectual Takeout, July 17, 2020. https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/tweets-of-washington-journalists-betray-groupthink-study-finds/
Rationalizing Partisanship (RP)
RP1. Flood, Brian. “NBC's Lester Holt says we don’t need to hear both sides to define truth: ‘Fairness is overrated.’” Fox News, March 31, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/nbc-news-lester-holt-truth-fairness-overrated
RP2. McCall, Jeffrey. “Journalism dies in newsroom cultures where 'fairness is overrated.'” The Hill, May 15, 2021. https://thehill.com/opinion/technology/553719-journalism-dies-in-newsroom-cultures-where-fairness-is-overrated
RP3. Rutz, David. “Tucker Carlson on NBC anchor Lester Holt's 'grotesque' idea of media fairness.” Fox News , April 1, 2021. https://www.foxnews.com/media/tucker-carlson-lester-holt-fairness
RP4. Sullivan, Margaret. “What’s a journalist supposed to be now — an activist?” A stenographer? You’re asking the wrong question." Washington Post, June 7, 2020. https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/media/whats-a-journalist-supposed-to-be-now--an-activist-a-stenographer-youre-asking-the-wrong-question/2020/06/06/60fdfb86-a73b-11ea-b619-3f9133bbb482_story.html
RP5. Agresti, James D. "The New York Times Regularly Publishes Falsehoods That Spur Violent Unrest and Civic Dysfunction." Just Facts Daily, February 22, 2021. https://www.justfactsdaily.com/new-york-times-falsehoods-spur-violent-unrest-civic-dysfunction
RP6. Sean W. Malone. “The Danger in Media Telling Only Half the Story on Political Violence.” Foundation for Economic Education, November 2, 2018.