The Wall Street Journal‘s Gerard Baker is under fire for the dumbest of reasons: It seems he committed a great sin against journalism by demanding reporters simply report facts.
Some apparently think Baker’s push for fair coverage of President Trump is a demand for skewed coverage. In coming to Baker’s defense, Left-leaning reporter Jack Shafer revealed something most conservatives and libertarians already know:
In many ways, Baker’s newsroom fights parallel the one fought by A.M. Rosenthal of the New York Times during his tenure (1969-1986) as the paper’s top editor. Rosenthal treated his newsroom like the enemy, thinking that the only way to keep the news pages “straight” was to discipline it. He fulminated every time reporters imposed their political views on stories.
For example, when a 1979 piece about Woodstock’s 10th anniversary called the event a symbol of “national, cultural, and political awakening,” he went bonkers. As Edwin Diamond writes in his 1993 book Behind the Times, Rosenthal called the copy desk to excise what he called the “vacuous politicalization” from the piece. The imposition of such austere standards made Rosenthal unpopular in the newsroom and led to his expulsion.
It’s difficult for a journalist to not impart their political leanings into a story. They’re only human, after all. But that’s part of what editors do. They ride herd over the newsroom and keep the reporters in check. More or less.
That’s all Baker is doing, and that’s all A.M. Rosenthal did during his stint at the New York Times. They want the news to be apolitical.
Well, it’s not. Not as it’s practiced these days, at least. Sure, plenty argue it is, and Trump just really is that bad. A few may even talk about how they were sure the press was out to get Clinton during the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal as evidence that the press is unbiased.
Yet Shafer here tacitly presents the modern newsroom as a place where bias isn’t just present, but allowed to permeate the entire news process — and that this is somehow good and proper. Well, if that’s what you want to do, it’s fine. But you have some nerve presenting yourself as an unbiased source.
If the New York Times, similar Leftist publications, and their broadcast cousins want to admit to their obvious bias rather than continue this charade, I’d welcome that new world gladly.
But as it stands now, they’re peeing on our legs and trying to convince us it’s Trump’s fault.