As a longtime journalist, I am ashamed of what my profession has become. The “Legitimate Political Discourse’ hoax should be studied for decades as an example of how blatant propaganda can shape the civic debate and damage democracy. Read my analysis from my new column at Real Clear Politics.
‘Legitimate Political Discourse’ Is Latest Media Hoax
By Frank Miele/Real Clear Politics
Donald Trump famously called the Fake News Media the “enemy of the people,” but they should more appropriately be called “the enemy of the truth” – especially with regard to how Trump and his supporters are treated.
It is hard to know whether the news anchors and reporters who shape the mainstream narrative are corrupt, stupid or just plain lazy, but they seem to be incapable of doing their basic job of informing the public of the facts.
This all became self-evident during the Russia Collusion Hoax, when the New York Times and the Washington Post won Pulitzer Prizes for collaborating with anonymous fabulists who wanted to disrupt the Trump presidency. More recently, we’ve endured the Big Lie Hoax. Every time you’ve heard a reporter say that there is no evidence of widespread election fraud in 2020, you know that you are dealing with a person who lacks the one essential trait of a good journalist – curiosity. Open your eyes!
Last week we witnessed one of the most shameful episodes in the history of journalism, as there was a tidal wave of fake reporting about what the Republican National Committee did when it chastised two GOP members of Congress in an exceedingly rare formal act of censure.
According to the New York Times, by passing the censure resolution, “The Republican Party … officially declared the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol and events that led to it ‘legitimate political discourse.’” That was shortened in the online headline to “G.O.P. declares Jan. 6 attack “Legitimate Political Discourse.”
In fact, that isn’t what the resolution said at all. No such declaration exists. That is propaganda, plain and simple, and to watch the nation’s most famous newspaper engage in it is terrifying. But it wasn’t just one paper lying; this Democratic Party talking point was repeated nearly verbatim by dozens of anchors and guests on CNN and MSNBC, plus hundreds of reports in newspapers and journals and on the Internet, all repeating the same utter falsehood – that the RNC had made excuses for the Jan. 6 riot and labeled it “legitimate political discourse.”
How do I know it is fake news? Easy. As a journalist with 40 years’ experience, I took the obvious step of reading the resolution for myself. Nowhere does it connect “political discourse” with the Jan. 6 violence. What the Republican National Committee actually did in the resolution was to censure Reps. Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger because of their role on the Democrats’ Jan. 6 Select Committee.
“Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger are participating in a Democrat-led persecution of ordinary citizens engaged in legitimate political discourse,” the resolution declared, “and they are both utilizing their past professed political affiliation [with the Republican Party] to mask Democrat abuse of prosecutorial power for partisan purposes.”
The resolution does not specifically define who is being persecuted by the Jan. 6 committee for engaging in “legitimate political discourse,” but you can bet no one on the Republican National Committee thought it was a reference to rioters smashing windows, assaulting police or desecrating the U.S. Capitol. The RNC later explained that the resolution was a reference to Americans being chased down with subpoenas and threatened with jail time because they had supported President Trump’s attempt to prove election fraud. But the media pundits stuck with their initial claim that the RNC had defended political violence. If reporters were doing their real job instead of carrying water for the Democratic Party, they could have looked up “discourse” in the dictionary and discovered that it refers to “written or spoken communication or debate.” There’s no way to apply that word to the Jan. 6 riot unless you are intentionally misleading the public, but that’s just what countless journalists did.
To put it plainly, what was missing last week in almost all of the media reports was one brave reporter who stared back at Jake Tapper or Martha Raddatz or Joe Scarborough and said, “You know that’s not what the RNC resolution said. They never claimed that the violence on January 6 was legitimate political discourse, so let’s set the record straight.”
That void of media truth-telling was despicable, only rivaled by the spectacle of Republicans rushing in to denounce their party leadership for condemning party disloyalty. This allowed the Trump-hating media to put together clips of the usual suspects – Sens. Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy and Lisa Murkowski, among others – pleading with their fellow Republicans to bend a knee and go along with the debasing Democrat agenda. Pathetic.
But there was one hopeful note. When Margaret Brennan on “Face the Nation” tried to get Sen. Marco Rubio, to condemn the RNC and its resolution, he dug in his heels and pushed back hard:
“Anybody who committed crimes on January 6 should be prosecuted,” he said, “and they are being prosecuted. But the January 6 commission is not the place for this; that’s what prosecutors are supposed to do. This commission is a partisan scam. The purpose of that commission is to try to embarrass and smear and harass as many Republicans as they can get their hands on.”
Bravo, Sen. Rubio. Too bad no supposedly unbiased journalists could figure out the same thing. And if you wonder why most Republicans repeat the Fake News narrative instead of speaking the truth, consider what happened to Rubio when he engaged in actual “legitimate political discourse” without fear or shame.
Because his comments flew in the face of the “official” narrative, the senator was branded by the mainstream media as a Trump sycophant (something which his record doesn’t support). Vanity Fair declared that “Marco Rubio’s mouth refuses to form the words ‘Trump was wrong.’” Newsweek wrote an entire 400-word story dedicated to a 20-word tweet from Kinzinger to make the point that Rubio was the true embarrassment to Republicans.
Worst of all was the report in Rolling Stone magazine, which couldn’t even bring itself to call Rubio a senator. In its headline the magazine demoted him to simply some guy from Florida who was apparently a hypocrite and a scoundrel: “Florida man who called Trump a ‘con artist’ now smears Jan. 6 committee as a ‘scam.’”
If you want a marker for how low journalism has sunk in the past four decades, that’s probably it. Even the magazine that published Hunter S. Thompson’s acid-tongued pyrotechnic critiques of American political debauchery was now just one more outpost of boot-licking conventional wisdom.
It makes this former hippie (and former editor!) want to cry.
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Heartland Diary is solely operated by Frank Miele, the retired editor of the Daily Inter Lake in Kalispell, Montana. If you enjoy reading these daily essays, I hope you will SUBSCRIBE to www.HeartlandDiaryUSA.com by leaving your email address on the home page. Twitter and Facebook may ban me at any time. Also please consider purchasing one of my books. They are available through the following Amazon links. My new book is “What Matters Most: God, Country, Family and Friends” and is a collection of personal essays that transcend politics. My earlier books include “How We Got Here: The Left’s Assault on the Constitution,” “The Media Matrix: What if everything you know is fake?” and the “Why We Needed Trump” trilogy. Part 1 is subtitled “Bush’s Global Failure: Half Right.” Part 2 is “Obama’s Fundamental Transformation: Far Left.” Part 3 is “Trump’s American Vision: Just Right.” As an Amazon Associate, I may earn referral fees for qualifying purchases through links on my website.