If you think the mainstream media in America are shameless in their devotion to leftist orthodoxy – well, of course you’re right. But there are exceptions: at least some major outlets in the U.S. don’t march in ideological lockstep. Even the New York Times has a good, honest reporter or two. In any event, you don’t have to pay to read these people’s claptrap if you don’t want to.
Imagine, by contrast, living in Norway, where the political left has a total lock on the mainstream news media, and the country’s five million people are forced to pay big time for their non-stop propaganda. TV and radio news are dominated by government-run NRK, to which the sheeple shell out $500 million per annum in compulsory license fees for the privilege of being brainwashed.
Then there’s the print press. In addition to scores of local papers, Norway has about a dozen national dailies, several of which receive generous taxpayer support – supposedly in order to ensure diversity of thought, even though they’re all left-wing. For example, Dagsavisen, a former Labor Party organ that’s now a gaunt rag consisting largely of far-left editorials and columns, sells only 20,000 copies a year while raking in $5 million in state subsidies.
One is constantly reminded that this is a country whose first-ever professor of journalism, Sigurd Allern – brought on board by the University of Oslo in 2002 – was the first chairman of the Workers’ Communist Party of Norway and longtime editor-in-chief of the Communist daily Klassekampen.
Aside from its lockstep ideology, Norwegian journalism is notorious for its laziness, irresponsibility, and all-around mediocrity. Much of it reads like stuff out of a sub-par American high-school paper. Simple grammatical errors abound. Basic omissions from some news articles give the impression that the reporters in question were never taught the five W’s. International reportage consists largely of material paraphrased from the New York Times.
Despite their incompetence, however, Norwegian journalists at the national level – even young and obscure ones – come off as being at least as full of themselves as the likes of Christiane Amanpour and Don Lemon. Plainly, they’ve been trained to view themselves as part of a lofty elite, instructing the peasants in what to think.
This is especially true when the subject at hand is Islam.
Case in point: Ralf Lofstad, a reporter for the Norwegian tabloid Dagbladet. I do not mean to single him out – he’s not very much better or worse than most of his colleagues – but on Tuesday, he wrote a few things that seemed to me highly prototypical of what goes by the name of journalism these days in the land of the fjords and, more broadly, elsewhere in the West.
What happened is this: Lofstad posted a link on Facebook to his newly published article about the aftermath of the church massacres in Sri Lanka. It’s classic sob-sister reportage, the result of the kind of pointless intrusion into the grief of survivors that you can see on CNN when some clod, shoving a microphone into the face of a mother who’s just lost her child, asks her “How do you feel?”
“For me,” wrote Lofstad on Facebook, “this is what the profession of journalism is about – the ability to tell the powerful personal stories. To get to meet these upstanding women [who lost their loves ones in the massacres] was a privilege.” Barbara Walters couldn’t have said it better.
One of Lofstad’s Facebook followers, a fellow named Per, reacted to this puerile vision of journalism with a highly reasonable question: would Lofstad, in his articles from Sri Lanka, consider providing readers with some context? Although “Christians are the world’s most vulnerable religious group,” Per pointed out, this fact “is almost never mentioned in the mainstream media….Even I, an atheist, think this is, literally, bloody unfair.” Helpfully, he attached several news articles from the international press about Islamic slaughter of Christians in the Middle East, Pakistan, Uganda, and elsewhere.
How did Lofstad respond? By thanking him for the input? Au contraire. “What have I done to deserve political spam on my wall?” he wrote snottily. “I don’t want activism on my wall.” A couple of Lofstad’s friends agreed. One of them accused Per of – gasp! – trying to tell a journalist what to do. Per replied that he was only trying to provide Lofstad with information: “I just wanted to show you these things, in case you weren’t aware of them.” How dare he! Shooting back, Lofstad claimed that the material Per had posted wasn’t “just information” but was, rather, part of a “personal vendetta,” apparently against Islam.
In the eyes of a journalist like Lofstad, you see, even to mention that there’s a worldwide jihad against Christians underway is to be an activist, a provocateur, a troublemaker. When a lone gunman attacks mosques in New Zealand, it makes sense, to the likes of Lofstad, to start yammering on about “Islamophobia” and “white supremacy.” But when there’s an act of Islamic terrorism against Christians at worship, to mention that Islam has, from its conception, been at war with Christianity and that Christians are currently being murdered en masse by Muslims around the planet is to be a spammer, an activist on an Islamophobic vendetta.
Lofstad further accused Per of the high crime of taking a “didactic tone toward journalists.” In other words: How dare you suggest that you know anything I don’t know! This is the mentality of all too many members of the guild today.
I can recall a time when the marks of a good reporter were his ability to sniff out stories, his skill at cultivating sources, his readiness to go anywhere and talk to anybody who might have useful information. One of the attributes such a reporter requires is humility. Every time he takes on a new story, he has to be acutely aware that there are plenty of other people who know things about it that he doesn’t, and that the most important part of his job is to talk to them, listen to them, and learn from them – whoever they may be.
As it happens, Per gave Lofstad a compliment: while “Norwegian media…are generally not particularly good, either with language, research, or objectivity,” he wrote, “I think you’re well above average at Dagbladet.” But this wasn’t good enough for Lofstad, who, like many others in his profession, has apparently been trained to see himself as a member of a kind of aristocracy, too good to learn from anybody else. What, after all, is there to learn? He already knows what narrative he’s expected to push. For that’s what it’s all about, when you get right down to it – not getting at the truth, but furthering the narrative. And if that involves suppressing certain facts, so be it.
And, again, this is particularly true when the story involves Islam.
Speaking of which, the article to which Lofstad linked on Tuesday was one of three that carried his byline early this week. It followed a Monday news story the thrust of which was that stereotypes about terrorism should be avoided. (“In the U.S.,” one “expert” asserted, “it’s white men who are behind most of the mass shootings.”) Another Tuesday article, about the perpetrators of the Sri Lanka massacre, was credited to Lofstad and no fewer than five other Dagbladet staffers, even though it was based largely on reportage in the New York Times.
As for the piece that Lofstad linked to on Facebook, he waited until the very end to mention – as briefly as possible – the perpetrators, namely “the Islamist group National Thoweed Jama'ath.” But he said nothing at all about that group’s motives and ideology. And, no, needless to say, he didn’t breathe a word about the fact that the worldwide jihadist butchering of Christians by Muslims has reached epidemic proportions.