Fear of the Woke Mob is Killing Journalism

The argument that journalism, defined as an unbiased reporting of the truth, is effectively dead in the mainstream news media is now so ...


The argument that journalism, defined as an unbiased reporting of the truth, is effectively dead in the mainstream news media is now so strong that it is barely even still worth bothering to make. However, the how and why of this devastating development are still very much in need of examination, and this week provided particular insight into a critical aspect of this conundrum.

The actual truth of a controversial topic is almost never clear-cut and is very often not nearly as popular as a contrived narrative that appeals to the natural human desire to feel better about ourselves, and our prior beliefs. Therefore, for real journalism to survive, those reporting on events MUST be willing and able to endure criticism—and even risk getting fired–for expressing facts/perspectives which do not necessarily appeal to the natural inclination of their audience.

For several reasons, mostly related to fundamental changes in technology, over the past generation the desire of those reporting and commenting on the news to fulfill this requirement has melted away like a wax candle in a blast furnace. In short, massive media fragmentation has caused new outlets to devolve from broadcasting, to narrow-casting, to cult-casting, and are now even heading towards a “narrow cult-casting” business model.

This has caused the fundamental relationship between media outlets and their audiences to be radically altered. Instead of just reporting all the relevant facts and legitimate sides of a story while letting the popularity chips fall where they may, outlets now feel forced, due to their broken business model, to allow the audience tail to wag their content-deciding dog. They now make sure nothing ever gets said which might offend their viewers/readers, or even force them to think that their perceptions might actually be wrong.   

In other words, almost all media now is about preaching to a carefully chosen choir, while making sure that nothing happens which might make them question their religion, and consequently find a new cult leader to follow. With everyone in the media obsessed with TV ratings, traffic numbers, and Twitter followers, it cannot be overstated how much influence that has over what is allowed to be said, and, just as importantly, how the fear of being attacked/canceled, especially on social media, prevents unpopular views from ever being expressed on major outlets.

The three topics on which this sad reality has been most obvious are race, our reaction to the COVID pandemic, and the view of former president Donald Trump. The past week has provided voluminous evidence that, as even NBC News anchorman Lester Holt recently bragged, only one, strategically-crafted, side of the story is now all that is incentivized.

Obviously, the biggest story of the week was the conviction on all counts of former police officer Derek Chauvin for the second-degree murder of George Floyd. Despite the evidence for second-degree murder, and that Chauvin’s motivation was inherently racist, being exceedingly weak (in my opinion, even the prosecution thought it was a third-degree murder case), based on the vast majority of one-sided media coverage of this tragedy you would have thought anything less than a conviction on all counts would somehow be the equivalent of an endorsement of slavery.

Even CSPAN started censoring callers who were upset about the verdict, apparently out of fear of being seen as promoting racism (because, after all, only a racist could possibly disagree with a second-degree murder conviction!).

This was a situation where fear of negative media coverage, and the public reaction that might help provoke, like a gravitational force, may have greatly influenced the outcomeAn alternative juror has spoken openly about those fears, though ironically/tellingly the pro-verdict elements of the news media have either ignored or mitigated her shocking statements.

In a classic “exception that proved the rule” situation, as a police shooting of a black teenage girl was at first misrepresented by the media, two very pro-verdict CNN anchors had the audacity to correctly defend the police, only to be attacked by some of the more radical BLM forces for having committed blasphemy. Somewhat similarly, on Fox News, Greg Gutfeld took heat for appearing to justify the position that it is worth throwing the police under the bus in order to keep BLM from protesting/rioting.

Before the Chauvin verdict, HBO’s Bill Maher, generally a reliable liberal, dared to dip his toe into the contrarian waters on both the left’s obsession with claiming everything is “racist,” and their extreme reaction to the pandemic. The fact that Maher, who was clearly nervous during his attack on the insane ways in which progressives have responded to the virus, is the only major non-conservative media figure who has articulated this view is incredibly telling and further proof that, as I wrote over a year ago, the COVID story is uniquely designed for the major news media to only tell one side of it.

On the issues of lockdownsmasksvaccinesschools being closed, and the wisdom of “experts,” the major news media has taken an Orwellian “1984” view that for the greater “good” they are only going to tell one side of the story, and systematically censor/destroy anyone who tries to express a perspective not in line with the currently approved tenants of Dr. Anthony Fauci’s doctrine. This has created a self-fulfilling prophecy that it is exceedingly difficult to find “credible/approved” sources which express a contrarian position, even when the actual data clearly goes in directly the opposite direction of the conventional “wisdom”.

The political figure who cemented this “only one view allowed” era of media was obviously Donald Trump. Conservatives eventually excommunicated anyone who dared to not support the looming disaster of his presidency, while liberals, imitating a pavlovian response, instinctively opposed him on every possible issue (I am totally convinced that if Trump had been an early proponent of mask mandates and school closings that neither would be in existence today).

This week, former conservative and Trump sycophant Joe Scarborough, because he is somehow still on the very liberal MSNBC network, had to preemptively “apologize” to his audience for giving Trump some credit for the vaccine rollout. When the teacher has to say sorry to their class even for explaining an obvious truth they sense their kids don’t want to hear, there is a fundamental and catastrophic failure within the entire system.

To be clear, this endless pursuit of popularity and fear of criticism is quickly pervading every aspect of society (which is why when only one senator has the courage to vote against inherently racist “hate crime” legislation, provoked by a mass murder which likely had nothing to do with race, it is THEY who get called racist). Large corporations have now become pathetically risk-averse (though they appear to not perceive hardly any danger at all from offending whites/conservatives), and are now take their marching orders from Woke Twitter every bit as much as The New York Times and most major liberal media outlets do.

Even situations as mundane as who hosts Jeopardy! are now being determined by fear of offending the online woke mob. And, most bizarrely to someone like me who always trusted the golf would be insulated for such nuttiness, the PGA Tour announced this week that they will be giving out $40 million in prize money based almost solely on a player’s popularity.

Emblematic of this increasingly upside-down world, one of the safest bets around is that if the goodness or trueness of something is based primarily on its perceived popularity, then it very likely is actually not good or true at all. This is especially the case when people are terrified to provide an alternative perspective, as is now happening on an all-too-regular basis.

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.



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Newsrust - US Top News: Fear of the Woke Mob is Killing Journalism
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