The coming media/tech crisis: How to ensure a free and open debate

AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

A few stories today give us a glimpse of a coming crisis in the public square, and perhaps in ways that may not be immediately clear. The crisis will be in part ideological and in part economic — and the former will exacerbate the latter. In fact, that process likely has already begun.


First off, let’s look at my earlier post about the New York Times and its refusal thus far to even report on the Cochrane meta-analysis of masking studies. It fell to opinion columnist Bret Stephens to inform readers of “the Paper of Record” about the lack of any evidence that mask mandates had any impact on COVID-19 transmissions. In fact, as this meta-analysis and a number of studies have shown, the evidence in these studies shows just the opposite.

Despite the obvious news value about the debunking of government policies in the US and around the world, the NYT didn’t cover it — at all. Not even to “contextualize” the results, to argue with the results, or to offer any information at all to their readers. Neither did the Washington Post, for that matter; the only reference to the study came in an opinion piece by Leana Wen arguing that N-95s still work for individuals, even though the Cochrane meta-analysis explicitly argues otherwise in terms of population-wide mandates. Wen said she was getting a lot of questions from her readers, who found out about the new publication — but clearly not at the WaPo.

And this comes after three years of mainstream media and social media platforms actively suppressing these debates.

Nor is this the only example of such failure. Last week, NBC News reported that a Lancet meta-analysis concluded that naturally acquired immunity was at least as good as vaccination against COVID-19. Like the masking issue, these results call government policies on vaccination mandates in workplaces and especially schools into serious question, especially after the widespread transmission of the Omicron variant and its sub-variants.


That only got one mention at the Washington Post, too — in the same Leana Wen opinion column. And at the New York Times, it still hasn’t been reported.

The national media has a real credibility crisis, especially when it comes to holding officials accountable for their policies and performance. That’s likely translating into a financial crisis. For instance, NPR announced today that they will have to lay off 10% of their staff due to a falloff in advertising dollars, which they also note is plaguing the media industry as a whole. CNN and the Washington Post have also recently announced layoffs, as have Vox Media and Gannett, among others.

For the record, NPR didn’t cover the Lancet natural-immunity meta-study at all either, nor did they cover the Cochrane meta-study on masking — even though both relate to major public policy issues over the last three years and up to the present.

And at the same time, the big social-media platforms that might have allowed for a more robust debate are also failing. Meta just announced a second round of layoffs at Facebook, for instance, while Google and Microsoft have also begun large-scale downsizing.

All of these entities have debased their value, both financial and cultural, by actively suppressing legitimate stories and attempting to quash debate and dissent. Furthermore, their efforts to weaponize advertising through secret blacklists and open championing of boycott efforts against those whose skepticism turned out to be prophetic could be backfiring. The advertiser fall-off may well be a collective decision to exit from media and debate platforms altogether rather than risk backlash regardless of which side they choose, or even if they choose all sides.


We have seen this dynamic in the past. That is one reason we developed our VIP/VIP Gold membership programs — to ensure that we can remain independent of social media platforms, mainstream media hostility, and periods of advertiser trepidation stoked by activists and extremists. Our VIP and VIP Gold members help us remain independent of Big Tech’s cowardly collaboration with government censors. It keeps us free to speak our minds and to bring dissent and debate back to our readers. It also provides exclusive content, such as:

  • The Amiable Skeptics featuring Adam Baldwin
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We talk about this more often now because we see the coming crisis in media more clearly than ever. This week’s refusal by mainstream media to even discuss narrative-defying science on both masks and vaccines demonstrates the depth of the problem. We hope we can gather as many allies as possible to keep all of these issues in the public square — and indeed to preserve the public square at all.


Join us in the fight. Become a HotAir VIP member today and use promo code SAVEAMERICA to receive a 40% discount on your membership.

Thank you, and thank you for standing with us.

Ed Morrissey
Managing Editor

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