Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.
Where does media bias come from?
Anyone who really wanted to know had that question answered when much of the media took a break from attacking Trump to attack the Associated Press. What does the AP have in common with Trump? Both were hurting Hillary Clinton’s chances to score payoffs from dictators, arms dealers and tycoons with terrorist ties for the next four to eight years.
The Associated Press got in trouble with the rest of the media for digging up dirt on the Clinton Foundation. Instead of just repeating the usual Clinton denials, it actually ran the numbers and noted that more than half the “ordinary folks” who got meetings with her had donated to her Foundation.
Instead of reporting on the AP story, the media went to war on its own. It wasn’t just the usual suspects like Vox and Slate who have a reputation for attacking any actual reporters who stray off the reservation and actually do their jobs. This time all the big boys were on the job.
CNN called in AP’s Kathleen Carroll to barrage her with classic ‘Have you stopped beating your wife’ loaded questions like, “Did you feel the pressure to publish something even though so many critics have said it didn’t amount to much?” A better question might be why CNN didn’t inform viewers that its parent company was a Clinton Foundation donor. But that would be practicing journalism.
Instead CNN offers gems like, “AP's 'Big Story' on Clinton Foundation is big failure”. A high school paper could have come up with a cleverer putdown, but in this brave new world in which media companies donate to front groups for presidential campaigns and then denounce stories exposing their corruption there are no more new ideas, just organized spin sessions.
If you didn’t like the AP headline, try Vox’s “The AP's big exposé on Hillary meeting with Clinton Foundation donors is a mess.”
Yes, they are all reading from the same script.
The New York Times initially blacklisted the story. Then it came out with a call for Hillary Clinton to cut ties with the Clinton Foundation. That’s like asking Al Capone to cut ties with the mob.
But the Times might have started out by cutting its own ties to the Clinton Foundation.
Carlos Slim, the Mexican-Lebanese billionaire who keeps the lights burning at the New York Times HQ, gave the Clinton Foundation anywhere from 2 to 10 million dollars. Then there’s the six figure sum that Hillary picked up for delivering one of her comatose speeches about something or other in a robotic monotone.
It wouldn’t do for his Manhattan investment property to undermine his Washington D.C. investment property.
The Times tremulously urged Hillary to cut ties with the organization she had used to fuel her political ambitions, worrying that, "If Mrs. Clinton wins, it could prove a target for her political adversaries.”
Could prove? If the New York Times occasionally bothered to report the news, it would have noticed that it already had. But the Times isn’t worried about ethics, legality or national security. Instead it, incredibly, asks Hillary to act to protect her agenda and reputation from her own crimes.
That’s like asking an embezzler to quickly burn his second set of books before the cops catch him.
The New York Times doesn’t give a damn if foreign interests buy the White House. Its only concern is to protect Hillary from Republican attacks. And this overt bias is actually downright moderate.
It’s almost noble compared to the Washington Post, another Clinton Foundation donor, which fired off one attack after another. There was this cheerfully breezy masterpiece which read like North Korean propaganda written by a Portland hipster, “AP chief on patently false Clinton tweet: No regrets!”
The Post’s fact check, which is just the paper’s editorial position plus 5 minutes on Wikipedia, panned the AP story. Or rather it panned the tweet which promoted the story. If you can’t argue the facts, you can always pound the table. Or complain about the wording that the intern used to tweet the table.
Or, and this is their real grievance, that the wording of the tweet helped Trump.
As CNN put it, “The AP's tweet allowed Donald Trump to stand on stage at a campaign rally and declare that ‘fifty percent of people who saw [Clinton] had to make a contribution to the Clinton Foundation.’”
The media bias gatekeepers aren’t worried about the AP story. They know that most people are never going to read a long piece about the Clinton Foundation. And those who do will be firmly in one camp or another. It’s the AP tweet going viral that worries them because Trump picked it up. And once Trump picked it up, the sort of people who don’t read AP investigative pieces suddenly heard about it.
Like the New York Times, CNN doesn’t care if Hillary Clinton handed out suitcase nukes as party favors at Clinton Foundation functions. What keeps its dedicated hacks up at night is the fear that Republicans might win. And that their colleagues in the media will have helped make it happen by exposing Hillary.
That’s the gatekeeping we are seeing in action. Journalists are being warned to stay on the reservation.
At the end of Animal Farm, the animals are no longer able to tell apart the pigs from the men. Can anyone look at a Washington Post or CNN headline on the AP story and tell it apart from a Media Matters or Think Progress headline?
We just happen to know that the latter are semi-official arms of the Clinton campaign and the former are unofficial arms of the Clinton campaign. And that too is what journalism looks like today.
There are official Clinton hacks and unofficially official ones and then unofficially unofficial ones. The official ones get paid by Hillary, or rather her donors, the unofficially official ones get paid directly by her donors, and the unofficially official ones get paid by the companies that are her unofficial donors.
And if you ask her unofficial donors, she did nothing wrong by taking money from them. They did nothing wrong by giving her money. “Big story about media corruption is big mess,” says corrupt media.
In his attack on the AP, CNN’s Dylan Byers claimed that finding anything Hillary did wrong, “the lie, the misdeed, the unethical act -- is proving to be rather difficult”.
Is it really?
From Whitewater to her classified emails, it’s not difficult to find the misdeed, let alone the unethical act; it’s an uphill battle to do anything about it because Byers or someone like him will always be there to explain why investigating Hillary is a fishing expedition that hasn’t turned up anything and never will.
At Media Matters, as official as any unofficial arm of the Clinton ticket gets, Eric Boehlert boasts, “Associated Press Becomes Latest To Get Burned Chasing Clinton 'Scandal' Stories”.
It’s not hard to read that as a threat.
Not that long ago, Boehlert was writing about 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys, pondering such deep questions as, “Is Jive Records big enough for the two biggest boy bands?” Now he’s intimidating actual journalists. It’s quite a promotion for toeing the right ideological line. It’s the sort of promotion that was common in the USSR where the right political allegiances gave Stalinist hacks the power to destroy writers, artists, journalists and poets. Except now it’s the Clintonist hacks whose time has come.
The message from Clinton Inc. has always been that if you criticize us, you are our enemies and we will punish you. Beyond spin, Media Matters is clutching a scalp. And it’s the media that handed it the scalp.
The media is scalping its own for Hillary Clinton.