Opinion Photos

Call it “Build Back Bitter.”

Joe Biden’s $3.5 trillion spending “sharknado” apparently watered down by members of his own party. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi knew just who to blame: The reporters who cover the proceedings under the Capitol dome.

“I think you all could do a better job of selling it, to be frank with you,” Pelosi said.

Got that?

Pelosi believes that the press corps is just an unelected part of her House Democrat caucus, on hand to advocate for the left — not to report stories objectively.

And based on recent history, she’s absolutely right.

Corporate media made a collective decision in 2016: our nation needed its first female president, and with their unremittingly sympathetic reporting, Hillary Clinton would make history “her story.”  

Besides, those filling the newsrooms and executive suites regarded Donald Trump as an egomaniacal outsider. To their collective surprise, he became the Republican nominee. From the day in 2015 when he took a Trump Tower escalator to speak to a waiting crowd and announce his candidacy, the press escalated its attacks on the intriguing political novice, growing increasingly flummoxed as Trump soon became the GOP frontrunner.

Then, on election night, the unthinkable happened: Donald John Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States. Not only did the alphabet networks have trouble minding their p’s and q’s, but the taxpayer-financed Voice of America (VOA) dissolved into the tears of a clown. Radio/TV insiders relayed a revealing tale from deep inside the broadcast bureaucracy. 

Amanda Bennett, then the VOA director, ordered the production of a celebratory documentary, “America’s First Woman President,” to be aired once the votes were counted and the inevitable had occurred. 

When the inevitable yielded to the improbable, Bennett cried and other staffers scrambled, scurrying to fill the gap with somber live coverage that supplanted the joyous pre-produced, planned programming.

Though the press partisans came emotionally undone over the 2016 election results, they were far from done with Donald Trump. He may have been sworn in, but he became a figure to be sworn at, with journalistic coverage full of sound, fury, and falsehoods.

Russiagate. Kids in cages. Two weeks to flatten the curve. Voter ID is racist. Vote fraud is rare. The 2020 Eelection was secure.

To those journalistic themes and scores more, Trump offered a two-word response — fake news. 

Others, with a different political perspective, offered a similar, earlier message in much more sophisticated prose. Trump’s presidential predecessor retained the services of a “late thirtysomething” Ben Rhodes, a one-time aspiring novelist who was given a title too long for a book cover: “Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications.”

The fact that Ben Rhodes’ brother, David, was president of CBS News at the time made Ben’s hiring a “two-fer” in the eyes of Barack Obama: a “creative writer” in the White House with a sibling presiding over a bevy of “creative communicators.” Sure enough, Ben confessed to the New York Times Magazine that the successful messaging of the U.S.-Iran nuke deal and the diplomatic recognition of Communist Cuba depended upon the creation of compelling narratives. Not necessarily factual, nor true, but “compelling.”

And those narratives were served up to a group of sympathetic reporters gullible enough to swallow them hook, line and sinker. Rhodes didn’t call those journalists “gullible”— he called them know nothings. In that same worshipful New York Times Magazine profile, he described the average reporter in the White House Press Corps as someone “27 years old” whose “only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns.”

“They literally know nothing,” Rhodes concluded.

Americans have learned a little something about the politicization of the press: it is real, it is rabid, and it is radical.

What’s more, it has prompted a reaction of revulsion. 

July brought these results from a Gallup Poll: Americans with “quite a lot” or a “great deal” of confidence in newspapers totaled just 21%. For television, it was even lower: only 16%.

The prevailing political view of the press — Orange man bad, senile man superb — jeopardizes American journalism, which badly needs reform—except in the eyes of journalists.

They regard it as the “Build Back Bummer.”