Looking into the behavior of the media in 2019 is a chore. With the entry into a new calendar the normal practice is to give rundowns of the Best Of, from the prior year. However when making a compendium of the news practices we witnessed we need a list at the bottom end of the spectrum. Journalistically this past year has been a tire-fire inside of a dumpster that is rolling down an embankment into a polluted ravine.

The press has not only had a rough go of things in 2019 but, as an industry, it routinely exposed itself with problems and issues in the practice of journalism. Ethics and standard practices seemed easily dispatched in the rush to forward storylines, events were spun with fractured reporting, and many news outlets framed news with the belief that their attempts to present the approved version of stories could not be countered with the actual facts.

Far more than chance stories going awry this is a list of the long-running narratives the media collectively put out that were exposed as problematic. What we were witnessing were provable instances of the press manipulating stories, or at the least butchering the facts with an inability or refusal to employ basic fact-checking and research. It will serve as a lesson for the coming 2020 election year.

 

THE RUSSIAN COLLUSION NON-EVENT
No other story can match the media malpractice better than the 3-year hysteria that was the Russian collusion accusation. You would be hard-pressed to find another story that had so much build-up and promise and ultimately led to a complete Zero as far as delivery. The release of the Mueller Report provided so little in the form of content that media members tied themselves into knots trying to extract any form of ‘’proof’’ of wrong-doing by the president. It became so laughable that after years of condemning President Trump for questioning the integrity of the nation’s law agencies when the report showed no crimes the press accused Attorney General Barr of shielding the president and manipulating evidence. Upon the release of the report CNN and MSNBC suffered immediate double-digit drops in the ratings, due to those outlets having an overreliance on stating the president was, in fact, guilty before proven otherwise.

 

THE IMPEACHMENT MIASMA
All throughout the impeachment process there has been any manner of questionable activities for which the press would find fodder for stories. They chose instead to run as the PR wing for the Democratic Party. Critical analysis of the proceedings has been at a minimum and every slightly interesting piece of information has been elevated to be declared ‘’proof’’ of wrongdoing by President Trump. The most revealing part of this whole fiasco has been what the media has not covered. Adam Schiff has had numerous charges brought up, then dispatched. Witnesses who have been deemed as unassailable testified to only hearing third-hand information. Democrats insisting this was not a political maneuver then changed their charge to ”bribery”, because that term polled better with voters. Now Nancy Pelosi is sitting on the articles and refusing to pass them to the Senate as they await any additional information they can glean, as the press insists everything has been proven at the same time. The media’s refusal to comment on this farce has itself been farcical.

 

THE COVINGTON HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS
It was so perfect of a story you did not want to ruin it with research. It turned out to be TOO perfect. A group of vile and obnoxious white students confronted a Native American war veteran and mocked him mercilessly while wearing MAGA hats. The press had their perfect anti-Trump story, with pictures! The reports went this way for days, despite the fact that there were numerous videos of this event in D.C. showing that the students had actually been verbally targeted, and the Indian drummer had been the one to confront them in antagonistic fashion as the students reacted, but were largely reserved. Later it was even learned their ‘’hero’’ had falsified his military record, never having served in a war. Once the details were learned many in the press manipulated their impressions to continue the narrative, failing to correct the record and exonerate the kids from the assumptions made. Many even blamed President Trump, for fostering the environment that led them to jump to conclusions

 

JUSSIE SMOLLETT HATE-CRIME HOAX
When actor/musician Jussie Smollett reported to police he had been a victim of a hate crime on the streets of Chicago late one night many questions surfaced immediately. Tellingly most of those questions came from the public and not from the national media complex. For days his claim that two white men in MAGA hats attacked him for being black and gay were banner headlines, despite some glaring problems in his story. Why were two men staking out the streets at two in the morning in sub-zero weather? Why would they have bleach in a hot sauce bottle? Why would Smoillett leave the ‘’noose’’ around his neck for hours when the police arrived? As his story unraveled daily the media continued to coddle the star and push his claims, involving everything from local government officials to Hollywood, to politicians running for the Presidency. The local Chicago news outlets humbled the national media by doing actual investigations and getting to the bottom of his hoax.

 

THE PRESIDENT’S SHARPIE HURRICANE MAP
While certainly not a ”major’’ story this one was wholly cooked up by the press in an attempt to fabricate a staggering controversy. On September 1, President Trump held a press conference in the Oval Office regarding hurricane Dorian. He had a map showing the cone of possible progress of the storm as a visual aid and in an ad-libbed segment he drew an extension of the cone to include portions of southern Alabama. The press exploded on how irresponsible this had been for him to do, claiming he was contradicting the predictions of NOAA and then alleging the administration forced the weather agency to make supportive comments. Brian Stelter, of CNN, led this charge for days, suggesting the president was functionally illiterate with geography and calling this possibly the biggest lie of his administration, while his own outlet was acting worse. Stelter used the NOAA-released tracking map to ‘’prove’’ Trump ‘’lied’’, except in order to do so he omitted a projected wind speed map issued by NOAA on the very same day of the speech. That map did, in fact, include Alabama as possibly being affected. As for geographical ignorance — CNN a couple of days later posted a hurricane map on the air that had the state of Alabama displayed as ‘’Mississippi’’. This insistence of a scandal died like a zephyr out at sea.

 

JEFFERY EPSTEIN
The accused billionaire pedophile ringleader has long been an example of convenient outrage for the press. Their interest in the man only rose up if and when President Trump’s name could be attached — numerous Democrats and liberal celebrities with known connections never generated interest. His death by very suspicious means has been one to raise curiosity in everyone, except reporters. Then, when ABC journalist Amy Robach was revealed to have said on videotape that her network abjectly killed a story she had with blatant evidence of Epstein’s actions, the network — rather than look into the story — performed a search for the individual who leaked the tape and exposed them. An employee at CBS ended up fired as they were accused, as a former ABC worker, of being the source of the tape.

 

RALPH NORTHAM BLACKFACE NON-SCANDAL
It was revealing when a media complex and a Democratic party that finds instances of anything potentially racist in the past of an individual to be unforgivable were very willing to look the other way when it was a Democrat proven with racism. When Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam was revealed to have worn blackface in his college days the press reported on the story against their will, contorting themselves to excuse him and allow him to remain in office. Then another Virginia politician was also found with his own example of racial costuming, and the calls for removal from office continued to be challenged. While a GOP politician would be chased off with pitchforks, and every Republican in office forced on camera to rebuke these examples, the Democrats were spared such an inquisition and Northam remains in office. Now members of the media are coming out to say it is a good thing that he has not stepped down, and that some journalists who called for his resignation are actually apologizing for having done so.

 

KATIE HILL’S DEPARTURE FROM THE HILL
At Hot Air partner site RedState they broke the story of US Rep. Katie Hill engaging in an affair with a junior staff member. This is the exact type of power-leveraged sex relationships the MeToo movement had been created to combat, but the press was entirely on the defensive for Hill. Politico basically reprinted Hill’s talking points as ‘’proof’’ that she did nothing wrong, and few looked into the matter objectively of her having violated ethics rules. They took this stance on behalf of the Democrat politician, despite the obvious House rules violation led to Nancy Pelosi essentially forcing Hill to step down. Instead, most of the press accused RedState of releasing private photos and publishing ‘’revenge porn’’ to attack a politician — this despite the fact that Hill had posted ribald photos of herself on a spouse-sharing website. The press that loves to position itself as the Fourth Estate that holds politicians accountable instead decided to attack a press outlet for daring to hold a politician accountable.

 

GRETA THUNBERG DEIFIED
Much like the news cycle we endured with the Parkland students, the media could not promote enough the rantings of a teenage Swedish girl with an angry environmental agenda. We witnessed all the usual agitprop techniques, whereby a teen was held up as a solemn voice of reason and any pushback on the inaccuracies of her message at all were met with accusations of attacking a child or picking on a young person afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome. Curiously, her age nor her condition were ever reasons to question her as an authority on global geopolitical matters.

 

THE STEELE DOSSIER REPORT
All the while impeachment had been the sole focus of the press, the IG Horowitz report was released that showed how deeply flawed the founding document of the Russian collusion scandal was from a legal stance. In a detailed analysis that would have seen the dossier laughed out of any further discussions, the press responded in a fashion that completely exposes the cheerleading that took place. In place of objective analysis explaining how the dossier was an entirely compromised document and its passage through the court system reveals an institutional bias at play, the press has fallen back on a completely ludicrous standard regarding the law, and evidence. The narrative from the media is a desperate plea that the Steele dossier has not been disproven — as opposed to the once accepted legal and journalistic standard that nothing in the Steele dossier has been proven correct.

 

THE ‘’BOMBSHELL’’ CRATERED
You could be hard-pressed to find another phrase employed by the media with such regularity that was so consistently incorrect. With every report release, with every obscure detail discovered, or with any witness testimony, the press was frothing before the cameras how these were ‘’bombshell’’ revelations that were guaranteed to damage President Trump. Nothing has ever transpired to even approach these claims. In one manner the press might be able to excuse itself; they can claim these were all in fact bombshell events, they just failed to detonate. The media landscape is littered with news story ordinances that are all entirely duds.