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Poynter Institute Goes Down in Flames over Fake News

Obtuse media watchdogs swing at conservatives, smack selves in face.

Another self-appointed media “watchdog” has shown a shocking lack of awareness of its own bias while attempting to discredit conservative news sources. The Poynter Institute made the wildly inappropriate decision to allow a staffer for the Southern Poverty Law Center to compile a list of more than 500 “unreliable” conservative outlets in its name. The SPLC is a leftist “racial justice” organization that has seen its reputation become so discredited in recent years that a liberal Washington Post columnist denounced its history “of smearing good people with false charges of bigotry.”

Poynter was forced to remove the list from its website after receiving widespread criticism over its inclusion of prominent sites such as The Washington Examiner and the Daily Caller. Unfortunately for the would-be watchdog, public attention is now focused on its reliability as a result of the affair.

Progressive Funding

Poynter owns PolitiFact, a fact-checking site that has long been accused of regularly finding conservative politicians to be far more duplicitous than their Democrat counterparts. A look at Poynter’s major donors should explain its SPLC connections and left-leaning bias. Under the heading “Largest funders of Poynter” on the organization’s website, one finds the prolific Open Society Foundations, run by progressive billionaire George Soros. Another major donor is the Tides Foundation, which also happens to be “[one of] the largest contributors to” the notorious leftist agitating group Media Matters, activistfacts.com reports. Media Matters, founded by Clintonite David Brock, focuses most of its efforts on trying to shut down conservative media voices. Free-market libertarian billionaire Charles Koch’s charitable foundation is also a donor, which shows an interesting connection between global capitalism and radical progressives like Soros.

Poynter and other left-leaning media watchdogs, including Harvard University’s Nieman Lab and the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), desperately seek a mantle of authority. But as they climb their artificial perches, these groups reveal the extremely closed world of critics who fail to grasp their own narrow perspective even as they slam conservatives for allegedly being unwilling to seek out information that might challenge their views.

Trust Us, You Imbeciles

An October article published by the CJR calls the notion of “liberal bias” in the media a “common trope” that conservatives have long fallen for. Authors A.J. Bauer and Anthony Nadler state that due to their being “more skeptical of professional journalism,” conservatives are “more prone to misinformation campaigns and conspiracy theories. In other words, conservatives are more likely to believe ‘fake news.'”

A November article published by CJR was far more personal. Author Larry Light reminisced about growing up with a father who would yell at Walter Cronkite when he watched the evening news. From that experience, he bizarrely concludes that all conservatives who distrust the media are displaying uninformed prejudice. “My father didn’t want to hear any evidence that contradicted his views, and neither do today’s Republican media haters,” Light writes. “The hallmark of a prejudice is that you don’t have to prove it: You just know it.”

Both articles perform the same neat trick of scolding the consumers of media news, rather than concentrating on the producers of the content in question. The so-called watchdogs appear to be more determined to convince Americans that they should trust the “professional” media instead of trying to figure out just what that media is doing that causes so many citizens to utterly distrust and even loathe them.

Establishment journalists anoint these watchdogs as authorities, and then the watchdogs declare that the establishment journalists are trusted news sources. It’s a hollow game, and the American people are not buying it. It is somewhat amazing and a touch delightful to see just how much the people playing this tired game truly can’t fathom why it doesn’t work anymore.

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