“Apologies all the way around” are due over the Russia collusion hoax, says Sharyl Attkisson’s latest opinion article. The former CBS reporter lays out a road map of how the “wildly unbalanced” media, in pursuit of evidence that President Trump colluded with Russia, spent two years “report[ing] a tremendous amount of false information” and “doubl[ing] down more than we apologized” when “correct[ing] our mistakes.”
In her list of those who deserve an apology for those constant, spurious attacks, Attkisson includes “the American people,” as they “did not receive the full attention of their government while political points were being scored [and] were not told of important world events because they were crowded out of the news by the persistent insistence that Trump was working for Russia.”
Attkisson’s point is important, but she did not take it quite far enough. Americans also deserve an apology for the way that the aforementioned biased media coverage stoked the hate that turned us against one another.
For the past two years, while the media criticized the president for his alleged proliferation of intolerance and hatred, the media self-righteously spewed endless vitriol at the president and his supporters. They gave voice to wanton nonsense exemplified in the April 2017 article from the Worcester Telegram, in which writer Carlo Baldino explained: “Those of us who viewed Trump as a joke and a reprehensible madman were totally shocked by the people in our lives we thought would see him as we did. Instead they rationalized and made excuses for his obnoxious behavior and continued to support him….We thought we knew our friends and family members. We didn’t know they harbored such hatred in their hearts.”
Baldino later posed a “philosophical question”: “If you view the world as a liberal or as a conservative, is there any point in trying to maintain friendships and relationships with people whose view of the world makes you want to throw up? Isn’t life nasty, brutish, and short enough without subjecting yourself to that kind of agita?”
This is a perfect example of the kind of navel-gazing diatribes constantly bombarding the American conscience. The not-so-subtle message underlying such tripe is that all Americans who supported President Trump are deplorable scum, and that anyone who treats a Trump voter as such is to be exculpated.
Russiagate Wasn’t the Only Hoax Aiming to Prove This
In their efforts to prove their thesis, the media leapt at many a false hate crime. The most recent, and most highly publicized, of those hoaxes was put forward by “Empire” actor Jussie Smollett. He claimed in January that he was attacked with homophobic slurs and pro-Trump rhetoric, assaulted, placed in a noose, and attacked with bleach.
Smollett’s alleged attack was covered with extreme bias by such outlets as GQ. Yet within weeks, his every allegation was thoroughly discredited by the incredible work of the Chicago Police Department, although the department’s intense efforts were to the detriment, as Superintendent Eddie Johnson explained, of “every legitimate victim who is in need of support.”
Smollett’s case was not the first of its kind, but it was certainly the most egregious. Yet on March 26, all 16 felony counts of disorderly conduct against Smollett were dropped, showing the tremendous power of the actor’s privilege.
While Smollett’s case was being scrutinized, journalist Andy Ngo compiled a list of falsely reported hate crimes in America. His compilation includes more than 80 incidents from 2015 to the present, in which individuals fabricated claims that they were the targets of hate.
They include Muslims who claimed Trump supporters removed their hijabs, Americans who tagged public spaces with pro-Ku Klux Klan or anti-Semitic graffiti and claimed the messages were left by hateful right-wingers, and black Americans who claimed to have received hateful and threatening notes penned by racist conservatives, among others. Commentary on some of these false incidents, including an article written by the formerly well-respected Washington Post editorial board, was “used…to spite Trump,” according to Ngo.
While scouring for evidence that Trump and his supporters were out in force, spreading their toxic hate, journalists discovered evidence in January that really got the hate train moving. A video that quickly went viral shows Covington Catholic High School boys, many in Make America Great Again hats, waiting on their bus, smiling and chanting along as Native American activist Nathan Phillips steadily pounds his drum in their faces, and Black Hebrew Israelites launch vile verbal attacks. Those boys were transformed in the course of a news cycle into unredeemable white racists.
Twitter swarmed with leftist elites lambasting the boys and suggesting, among other things, throwing them into a wood chipper. By the time additional footage, and the truth, emerged, the damage to the boys’ reputations was irreparable.
Inspiring Hatred Isn’t the Media’s Job
In the court of public opinion, the president and those who support him continue to be charged for their supposed hate. Getting short shrift in the news are those attackers who appear to fall outside the realm of Trump voters.
They include former Democratic volunteer James Polite, who set fires at four Williamsburg Jewish institutions and defaced a Brooklyn synagogue with graffiti reading “Kill All Jews” on November 1. They include a transgender black woman, likely the same suspected in a string of pepper spray attacks in Manhattan, who asked one of her victims whether she was white before pepper-spraying her and her companion’s faces in the Bronx on March 8. They also include the two Tulane University students and one Brown University student who set fire to the Tulane University dorm room door of a Turning Point USA representative and member of Young Americans for Liberty on March 23.
The media circus before, during, and after the 2016 elections has affected every conservative I know. We all have a story. For some, it’s a tale of hiding their political feelings or support for the president out of fear of being ostracized by their peers, many of whom have suddenly been politically mobilized and are out for blood.
Others, like me, who have declared ourselves conservatives or Trump supporters have faced public scrutiny and disgust. We have withstood verbal attacks in bars, at work, over the holiday table, and online, at the hands of friends, colleagues, complete strangers, and family members. There’s a reckoning coming for people who voted for Trump, I was told at Christmas.
On the contrary, a reckoning should be coming for a media which, in pursuit of a smoking gun that would validate their discontent with the president, used trumped-up and downright false information to lead Americans into hating their friends and loved ones.
Unfortunately, Attkisson has another thing right. “Judging by the recent past,” she writes, “apologies are not likely forthcoming.”