What you read in most local daily newspapers or see on the daily news isn’t really journalism. It’s leftist propaganda. That’s why a year ago, I decided the Idaho Freedom Foundation would stop answering most questions from Idaho reporters and many national “news” outlets like the LA Times and the Washington Post. Talking to reporters only serves to validate their leftist interpretation of reality.
Coming to this point wasn’t easy, and it’s counter to everything I thought I knew about an industry I had been a part of for decades. From 1987 to 2005, I was a reporter, editor, and producer, writing about the day’s events and helping our audiences make sense of complex issues.
I left journalism at a point in which the demise of journalistic integrity was in play, just before the advent of “fake news.” I watched as news executives became more interested in racial quotas in stories than they were in actual journalism. These executives obsessed over staying relevant, which meant fewer stories about what the city council was doing and more about the latest reality television shows.
My first jobs out of journalism was as a spokesman for a state government agency and later for a member of Congress. Talking to the press was an essential part of daily life. It was easy to see how journalists, under the strain of newsrooms depleted of staff, no longer had time to really dig into issues but still had to meet the arduous demands of editors and copy desks in order to fill the pages of the newspaper or time in a newscast.
Deadlines replaced curiosity and depth. The good journalists largely left the profession for careers in marketing and public relations, leaving unskilled hacks who could write a sentence well enough but lacked curiosity or the ability to do real enterprising journalism.
Oh but what I would give if that were the sum total of the problem with modern American journalism. The era of Trump and COVID-19 turned the few remaining “journalists” into activists. These writers feel it is their job to defend government institutions and programs. When a government sanctified “expert” says something is true, reporters defend the official narrative by dismissing or openly mocking contrarian opinions as “baseless” or “extremist,” words that, heretofore, would never survive a first round of editing.
COVID-19 exposed the lack of true journalistic integrity in news coverage. There were damn few questions posed of the government officials who shutdown businesses, ordered people to stay home, demanded the use of masks, and endlessly promoted vaccines.
On top of that, racial quotas in stories no longer satisfied the “woke” American newsroom. Social justice has also become central to the stories you read in the paper or see on TV. Reporters abide by the idea that America is a racist country. Nowhere is this more evident than at National Public Radio, where almost all coverage is about race and gender. More on that in a future article. Even the Associated Press style guide has been rewritten to reinforce wokeness in all stories, instructing journalists to honor a person’s desired pronouns and refrain from talking about pregnant “women,” lest doing so offend transgender men and non-binary people.
I still get emails and phone calls every day from reporters. Rarely do they ask questions. Instead, I get a distillation of a story they’ve already written asking for comment. If it is from a reporter or news outlet that we’ve never dealt with before, or one that has truly demonstrated an interest in hearing our side of the story, I’m happy to talk to them.
But for the rest, meaning the bulk of reporters in my former profession, ignoring the legacy media is the right decision. I’d highly recommend other organizations and individuals in the public spotlight do the same.