Corporate media have gotten every single major story of the last decade wrong, in big and little ways. Whether it’s the 2016 election, the Russia-collusion scam, the threats posed by Covid and response to the same, the effort to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s life and family, accurate discussion of the Biden family business, immigration, abortion, crime, racism, guns, hate crime hoaxes, the economy, inflation, education, the relationship between the sexes, the radical trans agenda, or a thousand other stories, the media haven’t just been bad. They have been absolutely irredeemably awful.
A record-high percentage of Americans (39 percent) have literally no — as in none, zilch, nada — trust in corporate media to “report the news in a full, fair and accurate way,” according to Gallup. Another large percentage (29 percent) has “not very much” trust in the media to get the story right. Only 11 percent of Republicans trust the media, compared to nearly 60 percent of Democrats. The gap between the parties is because corporate media overwhelmingly shape news and information to support Democrats and their policy goals.
If The Washington Post were doing journalism instead of propaganda, its reporter who covers the news media might be focused nonstop on the fact that trust in the media is extremely low. But Paul Farhi thinks there are more important problems. Namely, he’s worried that some unwashed masses might be practicing their First Amendment right to do journalism without a license.
“Someone invented the phrase ‘citizen journalism’ a few years ago to describe amateurs doing the work of pros. Yes, it occasionally works, but probably no more often than ‘citizen cop,’ ‘citizen attorney’ or ‘citizen soldier,’” he wrote on social media.
First off, and definitely most importantly, someone needs to take Farhi aside and gently explain to him the meaning of “citizen soldier.” Our armed services were created around the idea of a broad swath of citizens working together to defend the nation’s values. The notion is fundamental to Western civilization and has routinely been shown to achieve better results than armies made up of professionals.
Even now, “citizen soldier” is how military reserve and National Guard members throughout the country think of themselves. In fact, the National Guard’s publication is called “Citizen-Soldier.” There is no need for Farhi to disparage these citizen soldiers or the many successful citizen-soldier armies throughout time and history.
Heck, while we’re at it, let’s go ahead and note that it was a “citizen attorney” with an eighth-grade education who wrote a handwritten appeal to the United States Supreme Court in the case that found that the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires states to provide attorneys for criminal defendants who are impoverished. But of the three groups he mentions, attorneys are the best for his case for professionalism on account of the intense education top lawyers receive.
But journalism? Journalism needs credentialing? Really? Farhi has been on this kick about the need to keep the lower castes out of journalism for a while now. Seven years ago he wrote, “Is there any other profession in which more people think they can do the job better than the pros than journalism? Medicine? Teaching?”
Again, one of these things is not like the others. There is a reason why people generally respect surgeons and don’t try to do their jobs. And there is a reason why people have taken to reporting real news and information since those at corporate media outlets such as The Washington Post are so bad at doing actual journalism.
The Washington Post, we might recall, launched the Russia-collusion scam by having one of its longtime journalists launder an information operation against the American people. The criminal leak against the Trump administration remains one of the great uninvestigated and unsolved crimes of recent memory. That the Post gleefully and willingly took part in an information operation against the country is reprehensible. The paper perpetuated the Russia-collusion hoax with hundreds of stories based on anonymous sources from the intelligence bureaucracy. This scam was no minor thing. It was the lie that Donald Trump was a traitor who had stolen the 2016 presidential election by colluding with Russia. It caused massive amounts of damage to the republic.
Farhi, for his part, seemed to think that many things in the invented “Steele dossier” were true. Falling for a completely false and unsubstantiated claim from fellow Russia hoax outlet McClatchy, Farhi wrote, “If this is accurate, put another check mark next to the Steele Dossier.” Another? ANOTHER? Way to showcase the bare minimum of skepticism and do real professional journalism there, guy.
After finding out the absolutely jaw-dropping news that the Steele dossier was an information operation, bought and paid for by the Hillary Clinton campaign, Farhi wrote, “Most surprising thing abt Clinton’s involvemnt w/Steele Dossier (aside from paying for it) is why her campaign didn’t make more of it.” Citizen journalists knew enough to be even more suspicious about the quality of the shoddy product after realizing its provenance, but not the “professionals” at The Washington Post! In fact, Farhi seemed to be bitterly clinging to the Russia-collusion scam as of a month ago, even after the Post begrudgingly corrected some of its fake news on the matter.
One citizen on social media replied to Farhi’s smug arrogance about the superiority of professional journalists, “The media’s track record in the last 5 years is like a prostitute’s track record on being a virgin.” A bit too kind, but the point is made.
As one of the exceedingly few “professionals” — to use Farhi’s parlance — to do actual journalism on this story and thereby debunk the information operation the Post pushed relentlessly for years, I have nothing but respect for the many “citizen journalists” who did the work corporate media refused to do. I frequently relied on them and their detailed research in the Herculean task of taking on the Post, The New York Times, CNN, and every other media outlet that participated in the intelligence agencies’ information operation against Americans.
In addition to the many articles the full-time professional team at The Federalist researched, reported, and published, we also published many articles from some of these citizen journalists who researched details far better than the entire “professional” journalism class combined.
The Federalist and citizen journalists may not have the corporate sponsorship that Farhi and his cohorts have, but we are wealthy in something few if any at The Washington Post have: a desire to find the truth and share it with others.
The same goes for another information operation run by The Washington Post. In 2018, that paper ran the effort to destroy Brett Kavanaugh’s family and life by publishing an absolutely disgusting and unsubstantiated series of stories alleging he was secretly a serial gang rapist roaming the streets of suburban Maryland. This was a redo of a playbook The Washington Post and other Democrats had used in 1991 in an attempt to derail Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ nomination.
While the Post carefully edited out exonerating details, shaded information to help the Democrat operation, and amplified some of the flimsiest claims on record, The Federalist got to work reporting the real story. We were aided in this effort by tips from community members who were aghast at what The Washington Post was willing to do in pursuit of its political goals. Some of them gave us information they said they tried to share with The Washington Post but were shut down over.
Farhi, for his part, wrote a tendentious article asserting that the obvious collusion between Democrats in and out of the media was a “conspiracy theory.” Quoting — and I’m not joking here — Jane Mayer (yes, really, Jane Mayer), he said there was absolutely no coordinated effort to run the smear operation everyone witnessed against Kavanaugh. (For an alternate fact-based and fact-filled perspective, feel free to read the best-selling book I co-authored with Carrie Severino on the matter.)
A few years later, when The Washington Post was brutally deriding Sen. Tom Cotton for suggesting the U.S. government should look into the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a potential source of the Covid-19 pandemic (the Post called it a “debunked conspiracy theory”), The Federalist was publishing citizen experts who were arguing that maybe the paper owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos didn’t have the story right.
At every step of the way, the Post didn’t do journalism so much as uncritically regurgitate claims from “experts,” about the pandemic and the response to it. Because we at The Federalist published truthful information and hosted debates from citizen experts about the proper response to a global pandemic, we were throttled by the Censorship-Industrial Complex. Those who misled the public as The Washington Post did on the Wuhan Institute of Virology were rewarded with awards and algorithmic amplification.
The “professionals” of The Washington Post continue to republish every unsubstantiated claim coming out of the Censorship-Industrial Complex. For example, a disinformation group called “Center for Countering Digital Hate,” which attempts to get governments and Big Tech to shut down political speech it dislikes, is routinely quoted by the “professionals” over at The Washington Post. So are many other groups that work to censor political speech. Few “citizen journalists” are as gullible as the average Washington Post reporter when it comes to such mindless participation in disinformation operations.
We could go on and on and on. Who did better on the stories involving Jussie Smollett, Covington’s Nick Sandmann (for which the Post settled a $250 million defamation lawsuit), or the Biden family business? No, citizen journalists probably wouldn’t describe Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as an “austere religious scholar,” as The Washington Post did.
The Washington Post and other media outlets aren’t “failing” to get the story right. They are doing exactly what they set out to do: frame news and information in a way that advantages their political allies.
They have massive corporate backing and establishment support in their efforts. Stop thinking that they’re salvageable. That was silly thinking decades ago. By now, it’s suicidal. Start shunning them for their propaganda and thinking instead about how to support and amplify journalism that cares about the truth.