Jay Engelmayer
Jay Engelmayer

Media bias and President Trump — A very real problem

DISCLAIMER: I am a supporter of President Donald J. Trump and I am an avid reader of Breitbart, the Huffington Post, watcher of both CNN and Fox and a big fan of the Times of Israel. While I do agree that there is a lot to criticize with Trump’s short tenure as US president, there is an inherent problem with the way he is being covered that threatens the trust and reliability many hold in the media. This piece is a reaction to several reports, specifically a recent opinion piece by TOI founder and editor, David Horovitz.

There is something to President Donald J. Trump’s allegations of media bias, and it is evident from the reporting of his recent press conference with Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. I watched the press conference live and while I cringed at times, specifically from Bibi’s awkward and inappropriate remarks towards Jared Kushner that was clearly meant to show just how long he has known the family, I did not hear anything from President Trump that warranted the firestorm of criticism he has been getting.

CNN, clearly the object of Trump’s “fake news” allegations, produced a story entitled “What Trump’s two-state solution rollback means,” alleging in the piece that Trump “dumped five decades of US policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Even this publication’s founding editor, David Horovitz, spun his narrative in his most recent editorial. Granted, Horovitz focused more on how Bibi should have rejected a one-state solution, knowing that it means the end of the Jewish, democratic State of Israel; however, insinuating in the title that Trump actually proposed a one-state solution is unfair to the US president and very misleading — even for an opinion piece.

Many people dislike Trump and the masses have been protesting in cities all across America against him. However, if you simply watch any on-the-street interview by Jesse Watters, David Webb, or even Jimmy Kimmel, you would clearly see that many of those who are rallying against the president have no clue as to why they are protesting. The unprecedented uproar over the new president is fueled by a biased media and, for me, this was made more clear from the reporting after the Trump/Bibi press conference.

The media is an important element in any democracy when it is used to actually report the facts; however, in the day and age of technology-fueled reporting, the media has turned into a dangerous weapon that does not merely report the facts, but rather spins a narrative meant to influence public perception and opinion. The New York Times’ slogan, “All the news that’s fit to print” was unveiled by Adolph Ochs in 1896, and was supposed to be a moral promise to its readers that the paper would be above yellow journalism. Ochs even refused much needed advertising dollars early on when even the proposed advertisements could be considered in poor taste or even blatantly dishonest. Today, the New York Times still portrays that motto on the top left corner of their publication; however, given their obvious dislike for anything that falls to the right of progressivism, the moral compass behind the phrase can no longer be attributed to it.

The specific issue with much of the reporting on the Trump/Bibi presser is this: Donald Trump did not endorse or propose anything. In fact, in my opinion, Trump did the one thing that Israel has asked the world to do over and again: he stated the solution is up to the two parties and, whichever form it takes, as long as Israel and the Palestinians are happy, he had no issue. When watching live, I did not think Trump was abandoning a specific solution in favor of another. Instead, I found his candor refreshing, in saying that he will be happy as long as the parties are happy with whatever resolution is agreed upon. When reviewing it several times after reading that Trump was throwing away the Unites States’ endorsement of a two-state solution, I still could not identify where this was said.

For years, Israel has criticized Europe, the Arab League, the United Nations and even the United States during the Obama years for trying to impose a settlement on Middle East peace, and when a sitting US president acknowledges that the specific parties need to work this out, the media spins it as if Trump has thrown Oslo out the window and endorsed an action that would mean the eventual demise of the Jewish State. I contend that what President Trump stated was logical and practical, that peace cannot be forced onto anyone and that the warring parties must resolve the issues willingly and should not be strong-armed into one remedy or another.

Trump did not abandon the two-state solution. Trump did not endorse a one state solution. Trump did not propose any other type of solution. The reporting on his comments however would have you believe otherwise and are simply another example of how those who are charged with reporting the facts have abandoned the purpose of their profession by trying to influence opinions by spinning a false narrative. This is not an issue of the difference between news reports and opinion pieces. By merely alleging something that was not said and using this as the base to create editorial content which is by definition an opinion, the authors mislead the public and cement the false information as fact. This is irresponsible and clearly an example of media bias.

Regarding David Horovitz’s piece, he is correct in the premise that a one-state solution is the end of Israel as we know it; however, to base the editorial on a false narrative to get to that point was wrong. The Times of Israel is a good publication founded by a respectable journalist in Horovitz. Every news outlet has a slant and it is obvious that TOI leans left in their ideology. However, leaning in one direction or another is not a reason to create a narrative based on conjecture simply to make a point.

The pre-header to the editorial reads “When a US president struck a blow against Zionism…” This is irresponsible even for an editorial, especially when it comes from a career journalist with pedigree like David has. Trump did not strike any blow against Zionism with his answer and to allege so is a large stretch of the truth and very misleading.  There is so much factual information Horovitz could have used as a basis for his observation, specifically the calls from some members of The Jewish Home and Likud parties to annex the West Bank. However, choosing to use Trump’s stance and spinning it for his purpose goes against the principles of journalism and demonstrates a clear and obvious bias against the Trump presidency.

About the Author
Jay Engelmayer is a 49 year old husband and father of four. Professionally his focus has been digital marketing and business development for commercial products. A proud and unapologetic American-Israeli Zionist, he enjoys cooking and yelling at television screens. Some consider him argumentative in nature, although he prefers "purposeful cynic" when describing his disposition. Living in Israel, he hails from New York City and is glad he left before it became the 1970's redux it is today.