Fair & balanced. You Don’t Have to Publish Both Sides When 1 Side Is Fascism

Perhaps the worst purveyor of this fair and balanced coverage is the PBS News Hour with its anodyne talking head Judy Woodruff. I nearly fall asleep listening to her dull monotone deliver each night.

Now that these talking heads are working from home I always look on the books which are affixed as a prop. On Judy’s shelves are books about  US Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and George HW Bush, two of the most inconsequential, conservative and do nothing Presidents in American history.

Since PBS receives government funding it has to placate the Republican reactionaries currently running Washington. Still, PBS could do better than Judy who has definitely outlived her shelf life.

The Nation – Eric Alterman 6.11.2020

Elite media still hasn’t figured out how to cover the Trump presidency.

More than three years into the Trump presidency, given the threats we face, it is long past time for editors to stop playing both sides with fascism and democracy.

The Trump administration and its Republican enablers are fighting a series of wars directed at targets inside the United States. A partial list would include immigrants, African Americans, Jews, poor people, middle-class people, people with student loan debts, the environment, voting rights, fair elections, blue-state taxpayers, the rule of law, honest elections, and all forms of accountability for Donald Trump, his family, and the criminals who helped him get elected.

Those running the country’s elite media institutions have no experience with a situation like this and still cannot figure out how to handle it. Historically, media machers have seen themselves as collaborators with government officials to ensure that things run smoothly for whoever is in power. They do this, in part, because they believe in the cause and, in part, to obtain access, quotes, and the public pretense of respect.

US government officials, especially but not exclusively Republicans, have been lying to the American people about matters of life and death for a long time. The mainstream media eventually righted itself under President Richard Nixon’s assault on our democratic institutions, but its ability to do so today under Trump, an even greater threat to American democracy, is considerably diminished.

The mainstream media cannot make up their minds about the fundamental question of the Trump presidency: “Which side are you on?”

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The top editors of almost all of America’s mainstream media institutions have explicitly rejected the notion of a journalism of opposition. While The New York Times and The Washington Post, for instance, have tallied Trump’s untruthsseparate from the articles in which they are repeated verbatim—neither has proved willing to reconsider its commitment to the mindless both-sides style of reporting in which Republican lies and incitements to fascist violence are given equal weight to Democratic attempts to tell the truth and defend democracy.

Thanks to Trump’s response to the protests against police brutality, however, the jig is up. Military leaders past and present and even a few Republicans have had enough. It is not OK for Trump to demand a military attack on our own citizens and then lie about having done so. And yet at this moment, New York Times opinion editors offered American journalism’s most prestigious real estate to Senator Tom Cotton to make the case for Trump’s proposed assault.

We know which side Cotton’s on. In addition to calling on Twitter for the military to attack protesters with “no quarter”—that is, committing the war crime of massacring captured troops even if they surrender—he also once urged the Department of Justice to “prosecute [reporters and an editor at the Times] to the fullest extent of the law” for an article revealing a US intelligence program to track the financial activities of suspected terrorist networks.