The Founding Fathers knew what they were doing when they instituted the First Amendment:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
In establishing the freedom of the press, they made it so that journalists could not be prosecuted for telling the truth, no matter how harsh and no matter who it offended. It was a tough job once upon a time, one that required sleuthing and diligence to get to the truth and then bravery and a sense of duty to get it to the people. The press is not part of the government; it is supposed to work independently as a kind of watchdog to inform the people of the good, bad, and ugly regarding the nation’s leaders. Those times have all but disappeared, and finding a news source that isn’t concerned more with pressing its own agenda and selling copies is hard to find.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black said it best in the 1971 case of New York Times Co. v United States:
“The press was to serve the governed, not the governors.”
It is true that there have always been gossip rags – folks out to sell sensationalism and entertainment. Unfortunately, however, it seems modern journalists have taken a page from those publications: Rather than accurate, unbiased news, they publish narratives fit only for lining bird cages and litter boxes.
Instead of reporting, they are performing.
This type of storytelling started becoming painfully obvious about four years ago, when President Donald Trump called out the media for reporting fake news. The outlets lost their collective minds, stuttering and choking while trying to defend themselves. They also used their incredible power to go after the commander in chief – and anyone who agreed with him.
One glaring example was when top news organizations refused to cover the president’s address to the nation. Instead of being professional, unbiased reporters and watchdogs for the people, the media instead decided to deny the public the right to the information … not because it wasn’t relevant, but because they had a beef with the leader of the nation.
Things have only gotten worse since then. One of the worst offenders was none other than that dubbed the “most trusted name in news.” CNN’s Jim Acosta, Chris Cuomo, and Don Lemon have put down their journalists’ quills to ply their dramatic talents. Could they be any further from the legendary likes of Cronkite? From Acosta getting himself banned from the White House to Cuomo and Lemon pouring on the crocodile tears because the president offended them, the news network has become more of a soap opera than a respectable source of information and truth.
Recently, Liberty Nation reported on a video released by Project Veritas that exposes CNN for using its power to persuade the people – no matter if its message was the truth. In the footage, recorded by an undercover journalist from PV, the station’s technical director, Charlie Chester, admitted to pushing a false narrative for the sole purpose of getting Trump removed from office, knowing the information was not accurate, and which he referred to as “propaganda.” He also said the new narrative was going to be climate control and the way they would persuade the populace was through fear, because “Fear sells.”
In the third video in the series, Chester talks about how CNN is trying to help the Black Lives Matter movement. He explained about researching Asian-hate crimes and how he discovered “a bunch of black men have been attacking Asians. I’m like ‘What are you doing? Like, we [CNN] are trying to help BLM.’” Is that a journalist’s job? To encourage people to think or believe one way or another? Of course not. Their job is to tell the news without any opinions – just the facts, just the truth.
The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword
There is a reason this adage holds true. The power of the written or spoken word is an awesome thing. From Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address to Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream,” words have inspired and encouraged the people. The role of a reporter should not be taken lightly. It is the media’s duty to sift through the evidence and report the findings – not their feelings on what they found, and not what the political party they happen to follow feels is appropriate. Yet, somewhere along the way, Journalism 101 has flown out the window and all that seems to matter is getting the headlines out first, whether they are correct or not – hey, a correction can always be buried at the bottom of page seven.
In the words of rock legend Metallica, it is “sad, but true.” Quoting MLK: “We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline.” And, in the words of Chester:
“You can shape an entire people’s perception about anything [depending] on how you do it.”
Read more from Kelli Ballard.