Bursting the Media Bubble on Russia

For more than a year, the media has pursued frivolous stories about President Trump. The hatred and contempt nourishing that coverage of the President is a classic sign of a news bubble.

Journalism, like other markets, is subject to the laws of supply and demand. During the campaign, large audiences–many progressives, and some conservatives–wanted more dirt on Donald Trump, so the media published more pieces to meet that demand. With audiences consuming reporting aimed toward their own narrow silos, and for the most part unwilling to genuinely consider opposing views or fully examine skeptical analyses, the media has managed to survive major scrutiny, thus entrenching this political polarization currently plaguing America.

But expect the tide to turn, as more and more people grow tired of the journalisticly infirm anti-Trump barbs masquerading as news reporting. Already, the editor of the New York Times warned its staff to avoid airing dirty laundry — or naked political beliefs — on Twitter. It is naive to assume that the change of course was made as the result of a specific shift in Twitter policy, as opposed to declining interest in the Times news coverage in general. The former Mayor Mike Bloomberg recently blamed the Times for contributing to President Trump’s election by providing front page coverage on a daily basis. And supposed Twitter modifications are just the start.

Some Conservative publications have also been playing up the scandalous aspects of the Trump administration, but they appear to be coming around, too. The hallmark conservative magazine — National Review — and others, have been obvious in their bias. Yet, more recently, they have stopped hyperventilating and attempted to return to good old-fashioned news reporting and insightful political analysis.

Among the worst offenses that journalists, both on the Left and Right, have made is fueling the misperception that the Russian government’s undemocratic behavior is among the gravest threats facing America today. If anything, the real national security scandal with Russia reportedly involves then Secretary Clinton and President Obama allowing Moscow to gain control of much of the supply of US uranium.

The obsessive media focus on Russia’s election meddling serves up red meat for many angry and disenfranchised voters. But it also hinders America’s ability to contest Russia in other, vastly more important, areas. Chief among them: the growing Russian-Iranian troop presence in Syria.

Making a convincing play in the Middle East is going to require more sticks to pen in the Persian tiger. America needs leverage to convince the Russians that it is not in their own interest to support Iran in Syria. For that, trade-offs will be necessary, and perhaps even desirable.

Continuing to drum up fears about Putin’s clear disregard for Western, democratic norms can and should cause him to push back. It might even encourage him to commit more unlawful aggression in Crimea or to attempt to make additional intrusions into the American democratic system. But it will do little to help prevent an Iranian curtain from dropping across the Golan Heights — tightening the noose around Israel’s neck and choking off the Gulf from the West.

It wasn’t a smart decision then for the media to sow fear about collusion between Mr. Putin and President Trump — and it isn’t a smart move now. Wise people should close the gap. The better approach is for the media to help keep the public faith in the electoral process intact, and to report seriously and factually about events that should engender more support for American allies and contesting enemy gains in the Middle East.

For too long, the public has viewed the media as objective or neutral. But the media business cares about their bottom line driven by profit. Sadly, the high-quality journalism of the past has succumbed to today’s demand for entertainment and thrills.

It won’t be long before President Trump easily surpasses the lousy expectations which the media has set for him.

About the Author
Mr. Raskas is a combat veteran of the IDF.
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