Media bedfellows or not?
“All news organisations, when they get something wrong they have an absolute responsibility to correct it and to apologise for it.”
— Lachlan Murdoch
The lying at Fox News was premeditated and deliberate. There is no doubt about that. The cause was an absence of integrity, values and grit. It was caused by greed and arrogance. In the end, the meltdown of Rupert Murdoch’s lie machine was caused by panic. The simple truth is that most individuals and businesses who drown don’t do so because they can’t swim. They drown because they panic, and thus it was so at Fox News, America and journalism’s version of pancreatic cancer.
Fox News is not a news organization, according to Fox News and its squadrons of attorneys, who have long argued in court that no reasonable person could ever be confused between fascist entertainment and hard news. Yet, CNN, NBC, ABC and CBS News continue to insist that Rupert and Murdoch’s misinformation business is news. Think about that. Fox News admits it isn’t news, while the other networks continue to insist it is. The result is the entirely predictable collapse of trust between the American people and the media. The American people don’t believe that the American media is on the level, and therefore have become immunized against reality and susceptible to propaganda. The results have been a predictable national disaster.
While flying to Vietnam I watched “She Said.” The movie is exceptional and documents the heroic nature of work that afflicts the powerful on behalf of the truth and public good. The movie charts the work of investigative reporters Jodi Kanter and Megan Twohey in bringing down super predator Harvey Weinstein. It demonstrates the exceptional quality of so much of The New York Times journalists and journalism, while simultaneously exposing the rot and ethical decay around so much of their political coverage in the Trump era. Some Times reporters do the work, while a few take dictation in the Trump information economy. They are not alone.
The restoration of CNN’s integrity and reputation is well under way under the leadership of Chris Licht, who understands that it was demolished by Jeff Zucker’s cynicism and disregard for basic journalistic ethics. He assembled a collection of paid liars and extremists and broadcast their idiocy and delusions around the world. I thought about that 11,000 miles from home watching Jim Acosta, one of the most exceptional broadcast journalists of the Trump era, over breakfast from Hanoi.
Mercifully, few people outside of America can see Fox News. MSNBC doesn’t have a global footprint, but CNN does. The decision to give people like Jeffrey Lord, Kayleigh McEnany and Corey Lewandowski air time wasn’t just irresponsible, it was the cause of national embarrassment. He turned American politics into a reality show for the entire world. In 2019, Zucker justified his actions and said this:
It is hard to find people who will come on and support the president’s point of view. We need these voices.
It made America look weak, decrepit and corrupt when in fact it only proved that Zucker was as empty, hollow and superficial as any Trump crony. He owns a piece of January 6 as well.
Puck News is the zippy and provocative new media company that devotes significant coverage to the media industry and its most powerful players. They have reported about the growing unease and awareness among broadcast journalists and news executives that the company they keep defines who THEY are. Apparently, there is a growing understanding and creeping recognition amongst them that their institutional integrity is defined by the Fox News bottom dwellers next to them, as opposed to the excellence among them. Journalists like Margaret Brennan, Jim Acosta, Erin Burnett, Clarissa Ward, Richard Engel and dozens more deserve better from their management because their exceptionalism should not be squandered by association with the most corrupt institution and family in America outside of Purdue Pharma and the Sacklers.