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Editorial: Media needs to change its ways

The world turned upside down for many Americans on Nov. 8 when GOP presidential candidate Donald J. Trump defied polls and the predictions of political pundits to take the White House.

Not only did the status quo in Washington, D.C., shift off its predictable axis, the media was nonplussed that prophesies of doom for a Trump administration had failed to keep the people from voting him into office.

Media collusion with Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign was revealed by the Wikileaks email cache. That alliance destroyed any remaining defense that national news outlets were objective or principled; which was further evidenced by their turn from fawning coverage of the Obama administration to rabid hostility toward President Trump.

The national media has been speculating endlessly since November how much “fake news” helped Trump achieve victory. Somehow, reporters seem focused on believing that millions of Americans were duped into voting for the billionaire with no political experience.

It seems not to occur to media talking heads that they are spinning “fake news” when they engineer reports to delegitimize Trump and distort his stances on key issues.

Check out this week’s stories about senior administrators at several federal agencies “quitting” to avoid working with Trump.

In actuality, the new president asked these officials to resign because they had been outspoken Clinton supporters while on the job and he didn’t believe they would work well under him.

Other examples of advocacy journalism are the total changes in stance taken by reporters to paint Trump in a negative light.

Cruel and threatening tirades against Trump and his family are excused, whereas any criticism of Obama’s policies was touted as racist.

Where was the media scrutiny when Obama continued to say, “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” long after it became clear that was no longer true.

Yet, Trump’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is the subject of vast media speculation.

Executive orders signed by Obama were often ruled illegal by courts but praised by journalists as a way to get around Congressional deadlock.

Now, reporters ruminate about whether it is a power grab for Trump to sign executive orders, even though they merely uphold existing laws.

Democrats in the Senate tried multiple times to get rid of the filibuster when they held the majority, which the media dubbed a subversive process. Now reporters extoll the need to protect the minority voice by virtue of the filibuster.

Protests against a sitting president, even those that devolve into violent anarchy, are no longer treasonous, but patriotic. Remember the media’s negativity toward Tea Party rallies, which were peaceful assemblies of the people?

Look at the hype given the Jan. 20 rioting and looting, explained away as the frustration of disenfranchised voters.

Little coverage was given to the attack by street thugs on Gold Star families (those who lost someone to war) headed to the Veterans Inaugural Ball, and so many other innocents. A shocking and disgusting way to treat the families of fallen heroes.

When singer Madonna spewed thoughts about “blowing up the White House,” at the Women’s March on Jan. 21, the press pondered what level of angst had driven her to that point of desperation. Can you imagine the media maelstrom that would have occurred if a singer on the conservative side had said that when Obama resided in the White House?

In short, it’s no secret — no matter how much some news organizations want to deny it — that the mainstream media is corrupt, and there is a double standard for how liberal and conservative politicians are treated.

A growing mistrust of the media is reflected in several polls that show just 6 percent of people retain a high level of confidence in the work of journalists.

Americans’ trust of the media has dropped dramatically since 2007, with Republicans more distrustful than Democrats.

That stands to reason, given that just 7 percent of reporters identify as Republican and the vast majority hold liberal ideologies.

Because of the behavior of national media, the news industry is walking the edge of a knife to retain relevance and credibility. Trump has vowed to use social media to reach Americans because of the unprofessional behavior of reporters.

If he is successful at getting his message out despite negative TV broadcasts and print articles, the news industry is forever damaged.

And Trump stands a good chance of succeeding, given the general feeling of the public toward major media outlets.

Treating any official with nothing but disrespect shuts down communication altogether. Trump has more than 20 million Twitter followers and that number grows every day. He is using that venue to point out every piece of fake news that is publicized, i.e., the report that he removed MLK’s bust from the White House.

Sometimes, liberal journalists appear to be pushing out false reports because they know that by the time they are forced to print a retracton, their rendition of the facts will already be imprinted in the minds of readers/viewers.

Millions of Americans resent the media, and rightly so.

It is time for all news outlets, from the smallest local paper to the largest national publication, to take a hard look at how news is being delivered — or go down with a sinking ship. Corruption in newsrooms must be weeded out and every effort made to fact-check stories and report the news, not engineer it.

With this national discussion in play, the Chronicle has an opportunity to show our readers that we have checks and balances in place to ensure all sides of issues are represented. I point out if the conservative side is missing from an issue-based article and my liberal peers do the same.

We are fortunate to have both viewpoints to draw from, unlike most newsrooms. Our editorial department is challenged to see issues from another point of view and that fosters understanding.

Good reporting is like fencing; it involves thrust and parry to get the job done right. There are times to be adversarial with a subject as part of our watchdog role — government decisions are being made in secret or lied about — and there are times to objectively explain how an elected official is thinking.

The founders understood all to well that the media was a double-edged sword.

“We are, heart and soul, friends to the freedom of the press,” wrote Fisher Ames. “It is however, the prostituted companion of liberty, and somehow or other, we know not how, its efficient auxiliary.”

The Chronicle will continue to do its best to accurately represent what is happening in Wasco County.

“Your community, your news” is a charge we take to heart. We invite you to hold us accountable.

— RaeLynn Ricarte


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