Andrew Good's picture


  by  Andrew Good
Yet another ongoing tempest between the White House and mainstream journalists has erupted over the last couple of weeks. The Washington Post's White House Bureau Chief Philip Rucker allegedly leaked content from an off-the-record dinner, leading to the firing of White House aide Madeleine Westerhout.

This preceded The Washington Post's "Trump's lost summer: Aides claim victory, but others see incompetence and intolerance" by Rucker and his colleague Ashley Parker. Their piece prompted a formal response from the White House, which published "The Washington Post's Lost Summer."

Now President Trump is raising the specter of a White House ban for Rucker and Parker:

Unsurprisingly, the “Democracy Dies In Darkness” Washington Post is backing Rucker all the way:

The specifics of this inside-baseball, Beltway-gossip spat aren't of concern to NumbersUSA. But our Media Standards Program continues to fret over the ongoing transformation of journalism from a gritty pursuit of fact-gathering and even-handed informatism to a cubist artform of indoctrinating preferred narratives. This devolution has resulted in a loss of the public trust. This remains a troubling trend – high among the unsustainable aspects of our declining civic health. Reporters have all-too-often been replaced with poli-narrators!

Unfortunately, Rucker has revealed a reliance on a lazy shortcut mentality in the past for those of us who follow immigration.

Worldview drives this perception, not research. Rucker's lax preconception results in a grievous error, which I addressed immediately (to seemingly no avail):

On this occasion, "only" (or perhaps, at least) the 38,000 people who “liked” it were made less informed than they were before they read Rucker's tweet. This might not sound like a lot, but like Lingchi, this approach is lethal. Earlier this summer, The Atlantic’s Yascha Mounk described the necrotic result:

Americans who rarely or never follow the news are surprisingly good at estimating the views of people with whom they disagree. On average, they misjudge the preferences of political adversaries by less than 10 percent. Those who follow the news most of the time, by contrast, are terrible at understanding their adversaries. On average, they believe that the share of their political adversaries who endorse extreme views is about 30 percent higher than it is in reality.

In today’s journalism, assertiveness leads the way. Depth of knowledge and even-handed apprising is yesterday’s news.

“I was always a researcher.” –Walter Cronkite

I don't know if we deserve better, but we desperately need it.

Extras: Here are two pieces on The Washington Post related to this story:

Washington Examiner.

PowerLine Blog:

What we have here in any event is a story of the bigfoot media in the Age of Trump. E.E. Cummings asked in one of his poems: “how numb can an unworld get?” Answer: “number.” By the same token, we may ask how low the media can go. Answer: lower.

ANDREW GOOD is the Assistant Director of the Media Standards Program for NumbersUSA

Updated: Tue, Sep 24th 2019 @ 6:15pm EDT

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