“People know in their hearts that journalism is a conventional art like any other, that it selects, heightens, and falsifies. Only its Nemesis is the same as that of other arts: if it loses all care for the truth it loses all form likewise.”
— G. K. Chesterton
This is the year 2020, and it makes for fitting symbolism: The more time passes, the clearer the leftward slant of the news media comes into focus.
Two Associated Press stories on Page 2A of the Sept. 15 News-Journal provide an excellent illustration of this. One article appears with the headline, “Trump spurns science on climate,” and deals with the catastrophic series of wildfires on the West Coast. The president, the article contends, “ignored the scientific consensus that climate change is playing a central role in historic West Coast infernos and renewed his unfounded claim that failure to rake forest floors and clear dead timber is mostly to blame.” It is notable that the piece does not elaborate on the presumed “consensus,” nor explain why the president’s belief is unfounded; we are simply to take the AP’s word for it.
In passing, we are told of Joe Biden’s denunciation of Trump as a “climate arsonist,” preaching to the choir as always. Biden echoes California’s leaders, including Gov. Gavin Newsom, in assigning blame to the Orange Man.
Strangely absent from this article is any question of the role the Golden State’s political leadership may have played in this tragic debacle. Progressives have dominated the state for many years, and have enacted a top-heavy “environmentalist” regime which has, among other things, discouraged the removal of millions of dead trees and the cleaning up of tinderboxes, apparently believing that nature does not need humanity to help care for it.
Meanwhile, Newsom has kept busy this spring and summer, encouraging so-called “peaceful protesters” and running afoul of the First Amendment by banning church attendance. He and other California politicians reflexively blame “climate deniers” while deflecting attention from their own mismanagement and lack of stewardship. Still, the essence of this Associated Press story is Trump’s defiance of “settled science.”
The other story which stood out was less lengthy, but revealing, noting Chick-fil-A’s decision to abandon plans to open a restaurant at the San Antonio airport. The article states that “some city leaders opposed the fast-food chain getting a spot, citing donations made by company owners to anti-LGBTQ causes.”
This is a reminder, and a striking one, of how the press and other institutions neck-deep in “liquid modernity” have created for themselves (and unfortunately, for us) an entirely new moral universe. Only a couple of decades ago, if a reader encountered the neologism “anti-LGBTQ,” he would wonder what the dickens that was. I still wonder myself. Last year, the company decided to discontinue donating to the Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, a move that many suspected was due to pressure from the apostles of sexual and gender confusion. At any rate, the elite press bowed to this pressure long ago and have relentlessly, perhaps joyfully, engaged in these Orwellian word games.
Note well that I am a firm believer in the freedom of the press, which is famously guaranteed, along with freedom of religion, speech, and peaceable assembly, by the First Amendment to the Constitution. I do not wish to apply the Jacobin trope “enemy of the people” to the press as some have. But too often, the establishment media of our time have not served us well. Far too frequently, in carrying out their tasks, they have been self-serving and myopic.
The Associated Press, from whom one would expect objectivity, is now failing in this regard. Perhaps it would do them good, in addition to asserting their freedom, if they would remember their obligation to the public, and to the truth, as well.