We dismiss conservative media outlets for their political bias, but we don’t hold liberal media outlets to the same standard. Many journalists who claim to be objective have publicly taken a political stand, saying the urgency of the time justifies a departure from journalistic standards. Yet they ask us to believe their reporting is still unbiased?
It is not hard to find examples of how far we have strayed from reporting standards in the Trump era. A simple example is Time Magazine falsely reporting on President Donald J. Trump’s first day in office, stating that he’d removed a statue of Martin Luther King from the Oval Office. The news went viral. But the writer did not follow the most basic rule of journalism — pick up the phone and ask the White House if it was really gone, and why? The writer late wrote a correction on his Twitter account, stating “The MLK bust is still in the Oval Office. It was obscured by an agent and door.”
Did this feed a racist narrative Time and the reporter wanted to advance and believe, so no fact check was needed? I don’t know — did it? We all make honest mistakes and I am no exception. I’ve made a few of my own in three decades of reporting. But consider this mistake alongside 70 other examples on a running list compiled by independent investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson, who is one of the bravest journalists I know. Is it a mistake when media outlets keep beating the same drum over and over? With our credibility as low as it is today, it’s a question worth asking.