The Doctrine of Media Untruth

By Victor Davis Hanson . May 24, 2020

When knowledge, wisdom, independent thought, even basic competence were no longer requisites for success, then the media naturally slid into mediocrity, and mastered networking and obsequiousness instead of valuing independence.

As a general rule, when the New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, Public Broadcasting Service, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, and CNN begin to parrot a narrative, the truth often is found in simply believing just the opposite.

Put another way, the media’s “truth” is a good guide to what is abjectly false. Perhaps we can call the lesson of this valuable service, the media’s inadvertent ability to convey truth by disguising it with transparent bias and falsehood, the “Doctrine of Media Untruth.”

Take the strange case of the respective records of liberal New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and Florida counterpart Ron DeSantis. Both states have roughly equal populations, with Florida slightly larger by about 2 million. Both have populations that travel daily back and forth between their respective major cities. Both are major international tourist and travel hubs. Both have widely diverse populations.

Both have large numbers of retirees and long-term-care homes. Yet, New York has suffered 14 times the number of coronavirus deaths as has Florida. Florida is now increasingly open, and on May 19 saw 54 deaths attributed to the virus. That same day, New York was completely locked down and yet saw nearly twice that number at 105 deaths.

One would never know from the media of the contrasting fates of the two states during the epidemic.DeSantis is often rendered little more than a reckless leader who exposed Floridians to needless danger. Cuomo, in contrast, increasingly is deified by the media as likely presidential timber who finesses press conferences in the lively fashion of his legendary beloved father, and iconic liberal, Mario Cuomo.

Yet on the principle of media’s commitment to untruth, the public legitimately could deduce from the hagiographic news coverage that the frenetic Cuomo has proven the most incompetent governor in the nation in dealing with the virus. He sent the infected into vulnerable long-term care homes. He neither applied social distancing to, nor cleaned, mass transit. And Cuomo exaggerated his need for some medical supplies, while neglecting shortages in others.

In contrast, the media furor at DeSantis is a good guide to his successes in both mitigating viral fatalities while charting Florida’s path back to economic normality.

Hagiography of the Unfit and Unprofessional

The media assures us that failed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams is a statuesque heroic figure who is an experienced state politician, a successful polymath, and would be a valuable asset as Joe Biden’s vice-presidential pick, but even better—wink-and-nod—a likely next president.

That new media consensus narrative is best typified by a recent and obsequious promo piece in the Washington Post. So given the media deification and the Doctrine of Media Untruth, we might assume that Abrams never has held statewide office, in incoherent fashion could not concede her legitimate defeat in the last Georgia gubernatorial race, and until recently still had not paid off an enormous credit card, student, and tax debt well over $200,000.

In other words, read the media narrative on Abrams and without knowing much else, one could conclude that she is not a photogenic candidate; she is not gracious in defeat; and she is without much experience of victory. Her baggage and lack of even a statewide constituency would mostly hurt a Biden ticket, which explains why his opponents hope that she is the vice-presidential nominee.

The Doctrine of Media Untruth was a valuable guide during the serial psychodramas to abort Donald Trump’s presidency. When Yale psychiatrist Bandy X. Lee was canonized for tele-diagnosing Donald Trump as unhinged and in need of forced removal under the 25th Amendment, we knew the media glorification signaled she was unprofessional in making such a diagnosis of a patient she never met, and would never dare offer such a long-distance mental assessment of presidential candidate Joe Biden, based on his obvious cognitive impairment, memory lapses, and frequent cul-de-sac patterns of thought.

Trump’s antics simply lured the snails out of their shells and showed the public they were glorified slugs all along.

The more that CNN and MSNBC put ambulance-chasing lawyer Michael Avenatti on the air, and gushed about his tailored suits, his possible presidential gambit, his cocky take-downs of Trump, and his advocacy of supposed female victims of the predatory Brett Kavanaugh, the more we knew he was a fraud, a criminal, and likely a legal predator of his own clients. That he was sent to prison was predictable the more one heard the media gush.

Do we remember that for a while “Bob” Mueller was Washington’s hallowed prosecutor, investigator, or inquisitor par excellence? No wonder he had assembled a “dream team” of “all stars” who, as “hunter-killer” squads of legal eagles, would tear apart Trump’s supposedly doddering third-stringers and send Trump either to jail or into ignominious exile. So, the more that legal eagle narrative saturated the liberal media landscape, the more we knew the opposite was true.

Mueller himself had a spotty history. He was both physically and cognitively unable to run an effective two-year high-intensity investigation. He was the un-Durham—as leaky and hodge-podge as the latter’s probe is quiet and professional. Mueller likely outsourced his tasks to an incestuous group of partisan and progressive lawyers, many of them incompetent, with conflicts of interest and blinded by partisanship.

In the end, Team Mueller’s chief legacy was burning through more than $32 million in federal funds, hiding evidence, rigging a now-withdrawn indictment of Michael Flynn, initially hiding the amorous unprofessionalism of Lisa Page and Peter Strzok—and Mueller himself testifying before Congress that he knew little of anything about the Steele dossier and Fusion GPS, the fonts of his own investigation.

Mythology of the Weak and Pathetic

The country once knew little of Representative Adam Schiff (D-Calif.). But once the media sanctified his role after the 2018 election as the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, we knew what lay ahead. No sooner had the Renaissance Schiff assumed the chairmanship of the committee than we were lectured ad nauseam how he was a Harvard Law graduate, with a sly sense of humor, who had he not blessed the country with his stellar political career otherwise might well have been a successful Hollywood screenwriter. He ran his committee with flair and competence lacking under the former chairman, the supposedly plodding dairy farmer Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). In other words, we quickly discovered the truth through the Doctrine of Media Untruth.

Each time Schiff assured the media of “bombshells,” that the “walls were closing in,” or that there were all sorts of new top-secret, classified, rarified information known only to him, which would shortly “prove” Trump “collusion,” we understood that he was a con man and prevaricator who had no proof at all or any such evidence. Whatever report he issued (cf. the “Schiff memo”), would certainly be dishonest and not factual. And, of course, it was.

Empowering of the Deceptive Expertocracy

Nowhere has the Doctrine of Media Untruth been more helpful than in following Trump during the coronavirus epidemic. The media fixated on hydroxychloroquine because Trump said it might be a game-changer and he took it himself as a prophylactic. That ensured that the ubiquitous, long-tested, mostly safe, and cheap anti-malarial, anti-lupus household drug would suddenly be declared useless and deadly.

Would the media ever repent and empirically report that in some cases hydroxychloroquine is considered to be efficacious in treating the early symptoms of the disease by front-line doctors, in line with a series of pre-COVID-19 studies that it could be helpful against SARs-like viruses?

If tomorrow Barack Obama gave a press conference, and should confess that when he travels he takes the drug, given its general safety and scattered reports it might have prophylactic value against COVID-19, we would soon read headlines of a “miracle drug” that is cheap, accessible, and vital to the world’s poor and at-risk.

When readers are told that Trump is an idiot for suggesting that the virus might end up like a bad flu year, that his advocacy for opening up the country is a death sentence, that his travel ban was too late and too porous, and that the economy has been wrecked permanently by his incompetence, then we should assume that the death tolls by autumn might approximate or slightly exceed the flu’s lethality in years like 1957-8 or 1967-8, that states that open up do not have much greater spikes in virus morbidity than do states that do not, that the travel ban saved thousands of lives and would likely not have been issued by most traditional presidents so early, and that the economy likely will begin its ascendance by autumn.

Finally, early on in the COVID-19 crisis, the media consecrated Dr. Anthony Fauci as the godlike man of science, in antithesis to the buffoonish, pre-Enlightenment fool Trump. If Fauci uttered a truism, it reverberated across the media world as gospel—but also as a sly putdown of the oblivious, oafish president. So, under the Doctrine of Media Untruth, the more the Fauci hallowing grew, the more we knew he had feet of clay.

The more Fauci was brilliant, prescient and sibyllic, the more we knew that he came late to the danger, had once declared the virus to be not much of a threat, suggested that hook-ups and cruise trips need not be too much derailed by the virus, declared that opening up locked-down states would be a terrible idea, fueled wild modeling estimates of several hundreds of thousands soon to die from the virus, doubted the efficacy of masks, and warned we should not expect an effective vaccination for years.

In other words, under the Doctrine of Media Untruth, the more Fauci was turned into a god and an anti-Trump avenging angel, the more he was human and not especially any more prescient medically than Trump was politically.

Today, the public knows that if Fauci issues a periodic warning from on high, listeners should contextualize it as a valuable data bit, collate his warning with underappreciated economic realities, consider that it might be seen as a subtle putdown of Trump, and move on—all the more so as the media blares out that Trump ignores the latest brilliant forecast from the Einsteinian viral master.

Trump Draws Them Out

The hatred of Donald Trump explains some, but not all, media bias. During the Obama years, a media cohort came of age assuming that the hip, young, educated, urban classes like itself were in permanent ascendance. It did not need to worry about listening to others, venturing beyond coastal corridors, or questioning whether it was really educated or merely branded with mostly mediocre degrees.

Being in the media was analogous to being issued a union card or belonging to the late Soviet party: one was part of an unthinking herd, mouthing platitudes, and hoping to get by and ahead that way.

When knowledge, wisdom, independent thought, even basic competence were no longer requisites for success, then the media naturally slid into mediocrity, valued youth and looks, rank partisanship, obeisance to conventions and stereotypes, and mastered networking and obsequiousness instead of valuing independence.blob:https://rodolfoscafe.wordpress.com/bc4a7576-32e0-4540-88d3-c58b7d80bd53

Trump’s antics simply lured the snails out of their shells and showed the public they were glorified slugs all along.

Attorney General William Barr at the Federalist Society’s 2019 National Lawyers Convention.

By Janita Kan | The Epoch Times | November 16, 2019

Barr Says Democrats, Courts Are Engaged in Efforts to Cripple Presidential Power

U.S. Attorney General William Barr said on Friday that the president’s ability to act in areas he has the power is being undermined by Congress and the courts, saying that they were engaging in efforts to “sabotage” the president’s administration.

During a speech at an annual gathering of conservative lawyers on Friday, Barr defended presidential power and accused opponents of President Donald Trump of “waging a scorched-earth, no-holds-barred war of resistance” against him that involves the “systematic shredding of norms and undermining the rule of law.”

He said since Trump was elected in 2016, his opponents had launched a “resistance” which has “rallied around an explicit strategy of using every tool and maneuver” in an effort to “sabotage the functioning of the executive branch and his administration.”

Barr pointed to Congress saying that the Democrat lawmakers are abdicating their role as legislators and engaging in actions that are effectively blocking the functions of the executive branch.

He said Democrats are pursuing multiple investigations that are designed to “incapacitate the executive branch” and are drowning the executive branch with oversight demands for information.

“Now, I do not deny that Congress has some implied authority to conduct oversight as an incident to its legislative power,” Barr said during his speech to the Federalist Society. “But the sheer volume of what we see today, the pursuit of scores of parallel investigations to an avalanche of subpoenas is plainly designed to incapacitate the executive branch.”

He also accused Senate Democrats of abusing the advice and consent process by systematically opposing and drawing out the approval process of Trump’s appointees, which the attorney general says then prevents the president from being able to build his government.

“That is precisely what the Senate Minority has done from President Trump’s very first day in office,” he said. “As of September of this year, the Senate has been forced to invoke cloture on 236 Trump nominees, each of those representing its own massive consumption of legislative time meant only to delay the inevitable confirmation.”

“It is reasonable to wonder whether a future president will actually be able to form a functioning administration if his or her party does not hold the Senate.”

The attorney general was also critical of judges for encroaching on executive responsibilities and usurping its power, which has substantially undercut the functioning of the presidency.

He said the court has done it a number of ways by appointing itself as the arbiter in disputes between Congress and the executive, something he believes the framers of the Constitution did not intend, as well as expanding the scope and intensity of judicial review that allows them to “substitute their judgment for the president’s.”

He used the example of travel bans, saying that the courts placed a hold on the policy after second-guessing the president’s motive for the ban.

“Attempts by courts to act like amateur psychiatrists attempting to discern an executive official’s real motive often after ordering invasive discovery into the executive branch’s privilege decision-making process, have no more foundation in law than a subpoena to a court to try to determine a judge’s real motive and issuing a decision,” he said.

The president, Barr said, had “certainly thrown out the traditional beltway playbook and punctilio” but he had been upfront with what he was going to do and people still “decided they wanted him to serve as president.”

Barr, who has been repeatedly criticized for defending Trump, said he was actually worried about the presidency and the “steady grinding down of the executive branch’s authority.”

“I’m concerned that the deck has become stacked against the executive,” he said.

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Why NBC, MSNBC’s Reporting on The Epoch Times Is Textbook Fake News

The Epoch Times | JASPER FAKKERT

August 22-28, 2019 | USA Edition

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Dear readers, As you know, The Epoch Times is a proudly independent news organization dedicated to truthful reporting.

Thanks to your support, we are now America’s fastest-growing newspaper.

It appears, however, that not everyone is thrilled with our growth and our dedication to restoring honest journalism.

On Aug. 20, NBC News and MSNBC dedicated a good amount of their time to The Epoch Times in an attempt to discredit us.

We at The Epoch Times were surprised ourselves at witnessing what appears to be a new low that media are willing to drop to in an effort to quash voices they don’t agree with.

False Accusations of ‘Conspiracy Theories’

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, known for her biased coverage of the Trump administration and for getting the Trump– Russia collusion story wrong, dedicated a whole 30 minutes of prime-time television to us on Aug. 20.

In her segment, Maddow presents a carefully crafted picture based on false claims that The Epoch Times is a purveyor of “conspiracy theories.”

As Maddow and the staff at NBC News know themselves, nothing could be further from the truth.

Maddow and the NBC reporters dismiss but do not provide a single point of factual rebuttal to our extensive coverage on the actions by Obama-era officials targeting the Trump campaign in 2016, which have become known as “Spygate.”

Instead, Maddow engages in a description of Spygate that borders on lunacy, saying the scandal is “something about Donald Trump saving America from ‘satanic Democratic pedophiles.’” The reality is that The Epoch Times has become a recognized leader in its coverage of the Spygate scandal. The tireless reporting by our team of reporters based on actual evidence— including court documents, congressional testimony, and interviews—has received wide acclaim from readers across the country and validation from other media outlets, including The New York Times, which has cited our coverage.

In a further attempt to discredit The Epoch Times, Maddow tried to mix The Epoch Times’ reporting with content from an entertainment show called “Edge of Wonder,” which is produced by NTD Television.

Maddow and the NBC reporters intentionally chose to ignore The Epoch Times’ written statement, published on June 20, which clarified that “The Epoch Times and NTD Television, while they are sister media, are entirely separate entities. While we are aware of the entertainment show ‘Edge of Wonder,’ which was founded by former Epoch Times staff, The Epoch Times is in no way connected with it, as the show’s website makes clear.”

Maddow’s intent to discredit The Epoch Times and its reporting was revealed through her bizarre depiction of the Spygate scandal, alongside her repeated attempts to conflate our journalism with content from an unrelated entertainment show that explicitly focuses on the most audacious conspiracy theories out there.

Misrepresenting Subscription Ads

NBC News also sought to intentionally misrepresent a popular digital marketing campaign The Epoch Times is running to sell print subscriptions. In the video advertisements, we discuss The Epoch Times’ editorial and feature content and encourage people to subscribe to our print newspaper.

Facebook has specific rules for advertising that require everyone—including publishers like The Epoch Times—to label content as political advertising if it touches on social issues or politics, something some news content naturally does.

Many other media run advertising campaigns for their content and products in the same category on Facebook.

For example, The New York Times and CNN have run many advertisements in that category.

NBC and MSNBC misrepresented our print-subscription advertisements despite our clarifying this in our June 20 statement, which they again chose to ignore. The statement read: “We take advantage of different marketing platforms to grow our subscriber base, including Facebook. On Facebook, we use video ads to drive subscriptions. The Epoch Times’ subscription advertisements have no political agenda. The only reason some of them are run as ‘political advertising’ is that online platforms require them to be categorized as such.”

It appears that because NBC News and MSNBC disagree with our independent and fact-based journalism, they have resorted to these unwarranted attacks.

Attacks on Religious Belief

But the most disturbing part of the coverage by Maddow’s show and NBC News is their deliberate effort to attack a group of religious believers currently persecuted in China.

This comes at a time when tens of millions in China still don’t have religious freedom and face arrest, illegal incarceration in labor camps, torture, and even forced organ harvesting, for practicing their beliefs.

The Epoch Times was originally founded by Chinese Americans who had fled communism. In America, they saw the opportunity to create an independent media that would benefit people around the world.

The founders of The Epoch Times believed in truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance, the principles of Falun Gong. This is a fact that we have never shied away from. And it is exactly this commitment to truth that can be seen in our reporting. That said, The Epoch Times is an independently owned media and not owned or operated by Falun Gong, as we clarified in our statement to NBC News.

Unable to attack The Epoch Times’ reporting based on factual inaccuracies, NBC News and MSNBC opted to dip into the well of 20 years of Chinese Communist Party hate propaganda aimed at demonizing Falun Gong.

In such low attacks, and in the brazen misrepresentation of our subscription ads and our Spygate reporting, one sees the very image of what has come to be called “fake news.” I believe that this and similar betrayals of journalism are why so many people are turning to The Epoch Times for our independent and factual reporting.

Immigrants have played an enormous role in building this great nation. It is a country built on the principle of religious freedom. As such, we see The Epoch Times’ story as a quintessential American story.

Our pledge to you, our readers, is that we will not waver from our commitment to truth, and will continue to bring you the highest quality of journalism.

Jasper Fakkert Editor-in-chief, U.S. editions

Copyright (c) 2019 The Epoch Times Edition Aug.22, 2019