Media Bias, Prejudice and the Inigma

“Political Correctness also speaks to foreign policy and national security. Whether the issue is ISIS or having secure national borders, the American liberal can usually be found defending those who are undermining America. At the very least, they occupy the part of the discussion least interested in defending America.”[Daryl Kane, Ricochet, June 30, 2015]

Prior to his inauguration, Donald Trump suffered from being shunned by several well known Republicans. In a number of his opinion pieces, the well known American conservative and nationally syndicated radio talk show host, columnist, author, public speaker and founder of Prager University, weighed in on anti-Trump conservatives such as Jonah Goldberg, Bill Kristol, Ben Shapiro, Bret Stephens and George Will. He made the point that he did so despite admiring them and their being friends and colleagues.

For Prager, it is possible to compromise while remaining principled. He gives as examples, the choice of Stalin over Hitler and supporting right-wing authoritarians against Communist totalitarians. In particular, he quotes of Irene Opdyke, who became a mistress of a married Nazi officer in order to save the lives of 12 Jews. She hid them in the cellar of the officer’s house in Warsaw. To some Christians, her actions were wrong in that she had sinned because she knowingly committed a mortal sin by compromising Catholic/Christian doctrine.

In agreeing with her, Prager contends that she brought glory to her God and her faith and he is of the belief that most Catholics and other Christians would be in concert with his assertion. His justification is one of understanding that circumstances almost always determine what is moral, even for religious people such as himself who believe in moral absolutes.

Interestingly, Dennis Prager provided at least nine reasons why a conservative should have preferred a Trump presidency to a Democratic presidency:

* Prevention of a left-wing Supreme Court.
* An increase in the defense budget.
* A repeal, or at least modification of the Dodd-Frank act.
* Prevention of Washington D.C, becoming a state and providing the Democrats with another two permanent senators.
* Repeal of Obamacare.
* Curtailing illegal immigration, a goal that doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with xenophobia or nativism [one has only to view the situation in Western Europe].
* A reduction in job-killing regulations on large and small businesses.
* Lowering of the corporate income tax and a return of hundreds of billions of offshore dollars to the US.
* A continuation of fracking in opposition to the left; in its science-rejecting hysteria opposition.

Prager concluded by questioning those who refused to vote for the only person at the time who could prevent the threats to America by the left.

It is virtually impossible to comprehend some of Trump’s earlier strange behavior. Consider his cruel remark about Carly Fiorina. Or those about Ted Cruz’s wife. What was the point? His constant bragging about himself, his tendency to talk before thinking and occasional untruthful/incorrect statements must certainly have contributed to some of the lost votes from fellow republicans. And yet, his positive attributes clearly outweighed those of a negative nature.

The selection of Trump’s VP Mike Pence and almost all the cabinet members was undoubtedly first class. His understanding and focus of all America’s problems and in particular those caused by Obama must be regarded as brilliant. The support he enjoys from the likes of Rudy Giuliani, Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Jared Kushner, Herman Cain, and Dr Ben Carson speaks volumes. The last 3 names most definitely discounts all alleged accusations of racism.

How many pre-electoral presidential candidates engaged in significant activities to bolster their image? In this, one immediately recalls Trump’s visit to Mexico for a meeting with President Enrique Pena Nieto, described in a full blown Forbes journal as ” Trump’s Visit to Mexico was a win-win” by the writer, George Friedman with John Mauldin as contributor. Then there was the success in securing revised plans from the auto magnates at Ford, Fiat Chrysler and Hyundai Motors to manufacture vehicles in the US as opposed to abroad.

No discussion on the media can be entertained without an examination on liberalism or rather the discussion the distinction between liberalism and leftism. Liberalism was well defined by Locke, Hobbs and John Stuart Mill. This is not to suggest agreement on all matters of consequence, but basic fundamentals, which until recent times guided the western countries. John Stuart Mill’s, “On Liberty” will suffice in enunciating classical liberalism fundamentals.

No one can be a great thinker who does not recognize, that as a thinker it is his first duty to follow his intellect to whatever his conclusions it may lead. Truth gains more even by errors of one who, with due study and preparation, thinks for himself, than by the true opinions of those who only hold them because they do not suffer themselves to think.To refuse a hearing to an opinion, because they are sure that it is false, is to assume that their certainty is the same thing as absolute certainty.

The usefulness of an opinion is itself matter of opinion. The truth of an opinion is part of its utilty. Socrates was put to death, but the Socratic philosophy rose like the sun in haven, and spread its illumination over the whole intellectual firmament. Christians were cast to the lions, but the Christian church grew up a stately and spreading tree.

However unwillingly a person who has a strong opinion may admit the possibility that his opinion may be false, he ought to be moved by the consideration that, however true it may be, if it is not fully, frequently, and fearlessly discussed, it will be held as dead dogma, not a living truth.

But on every subject on which difference of opinion is possible, the truth depends on a balance to be struck between two sets of conflicting reasons. The fatal tendency of mankind to leave off thinking about a thing when it is no longer doubtful, is the cause of half their errors.

A few ideas in defining specific differences between Liberalism and Leftism (Karen Lehrman Bloch, July 28, 201 ) — follows

[a] Liberals believe in universal morality. Leftists believe in moral relativism; if a trendy “victimized” culture is acting immorally, that immorality must be overlooked and/or denied.
[b] Leftists will sell out their parents and children if it meant scoring points with fellow Leftists. Politics is important to Liberals, but it doesn’t come before family and friends.
[c] Liberals see a distinct difference between objective reporting and opinion. Leftists see the role of the media as the indoctrination of Leftism.
[d] Leftists see the role of universities as the indoctrination of Leftism. Liberals see the role of universities as the enhancement of critical thinking.
[e] Liberals don’t see higher education as a sign of advanced intelligence, and also know that intelligence and morality are often mutually exclusive; some of the smartest people have conceived of the most evil ideas. Leftists think they are the smartest people in the room because they have advanced degrees.
[f] Liberalism allows for all religions and spiritual beliefs. Leftism replaces religion; it even replaces race.

To the writer, trump is an enigma, to his opposition including the media, narcissistic. The later has been virulent in their contempt for him, commencing at the start of his campaign.

Typical of the NY Times headlines: “The Times editorial board has endorsed Hillary Clinton for President. Here’s why” [September 24, 2016]. Is this what one should expect from a leading newspaper, supposedly committed to being free of bias? Or this, “Is the president of China giving President Trump the silent treatment? Some officials think so, citing Mr. Trump’s early provocations.”

Cal Thomas a national syndicated columnist, writing in the Washington Times of February 7, 2017, “Major Media Remain in Denial”, gives specific examples of the medias’ malpractices.

According to Thomas, Piers Morgan, a liberal commentator and former CNN host, when appearing on the “Tucker Carlson Tonight” show, stated that he recently went through 11 pages of the NY Times and found that “every story, every editorial and every column was anti-Trump.” Even four letters to the editor were anti-Trump and that’s not “nonpartisan journalism”, that’s bias.

Quoting Ted Koppel, CBS news contributor ,”Democracy depends on facts” and “There may be some temporary political advantage to be gained by tearing down public confidence in critical, nonpartisan journalism, but it is only temporary. At some point or another, everyone needs professional finders of facts.”

Recently, the Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. attempted to defend what he regarded as misdemeanors and said that they would “rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism. That is to report America and the world honestly, without fear or favor.” This hardly encourages confidence given the Times past record.
Readers of the New York Times, and indeed most of the main line newsprint servers and TV are advised to keep in mind an abbreviated check list:

* The intrusion of moral judgments. The unfounded nature of these judgments.
* The use of photographs to confirm a biased view through the selection of subject matter, the frequency of themes, the size of the photographs, and their placement in the newspaper.
* Factual errors.
* Misrepresentation.
* Misleading headlines.
* The use of biased and incompetent sources for news accounts and opinions.
* Distortion through false analogies, playful and inaccurate inversions, and spurious ironies.
* The use of inaccurate, misleading and prejudicial terminology.
* The selective repetition of particular themes, words and stories.
* Biased foci: the unreasonably intense scrutiny of particular subjects, and the omission or under-coverage of others.

By way of character assassination, an interesting study presents itself by the similarity of the media’s behavior towards Menachem Begin and Donald Trump. The case of the Sabra and Shatilla massacre comes to mind.

In September 1982, Christian militiamen entered the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in West Beirut and killed over 300 Palestinians, some of them women and children. Three years later, in May of 1985, Shiite militiamen attacked those same camps and killed over 500 Palestinians, including women, children and hospital patients. In both cases, the killers were local Lebanese – Christians in 1982, Shiites in 1985.

Despite the similarities, the 1982 massacre became the biggest news story of that year, while the 1985 massacre passed almost unnoticed by the American public. Why?

By considering the Times attitude towards the two massacres as reflected in the way its star columnist, Anthony Lewis covered them. In one of two columns he wrote about the 1982 killings, titled “Averting Their Eyes,” Lewis lectured Menachem Begin about “Jewish values”, about ” closing his eyes to evil”, and about Israel’s responsibility for the “mass killings” at the camps. Lewis had no such advice for Nabih Berri in 1985 during the weeks Berri’s Amal militiamen were killing over 500 Palestinians.

On 6-20-85, while Amal was holding American hostages, Lewis described Berri as a “moderate [who] must worry about falling about the fervor of his people.” This column made no mention of the killings at the camps!

During this war period known as “Peace for Galilee”, at a large Christian gathering at Jerusalem’s Diplomat Hotel, the commander of the Christian forces in Southern Syria said, “We Christians feel utterly abandoned by the Christian world. It is our great luck that our southern neighbor, the only Jewish state in the world, understands our plight, sympathizes with us and assists us.”

When Menachem Begin received the notification from the Israeli Kahan Commission, established as a fact finding entity to investigate culpability for the Beirut massacre, to appear before the Commission, he was distressed and informed friends that he would resign. “Christians kill Moslems” he said “and they blame the Jews.”

In his book, “Double Vision”, Ze’ev Chafetz responds to a long-time critic of Israel, syndicated columnist Nick Thimmisch’s retort, “The media employs high standards to measure Israel — because Israel always claimed high standards for itself.” Or as Washington Post journalist, Richard Cohen put it, “It [Israel] asked to be measured by a higher moral standard”. In other words, Israel wants to be judged differently than others. This is not so and never was.

As in the case of Donald Trump, Begin’s victory was regarded as a disastrous aberration, denunciation with vitriolic comments. The disconcerted and unenthusiastic reaction of the American Jewish establishment, as well as the alarmed assessments of the American government, concluded that Begin was a disaster.

A week after his election, Time magazine ran a cover with Begin’s picture headlined, “Trouble in the Promised Land” and Newsweek had an equally dramatic cover, “Israel: Day of the Hawks.” In similar fashion to the Israeli press, Begin was depicted as a warmonger, a former terrorist, and a religious zealot. Never mind that Winston Churchill had acknowledged that, but for the efforts of Begin’s Irgun, the British would never have left Palestine. A reading of Zvi Harry Hurwittz’s, “Begin: His Life, Words and Deeds” provides an insightful study of the man that had apparently eluded the mass media.

Quoting from Daniel Gordis’, “Before Donald Trump, there was Menachem Begin”, “Trump who takes pride as a deal maker, would do well to consider Begin’s model”; and what Trump would do well to echo from the Begin experience, “is that no less important than the power of the electorate to demand radical change is the question of the character of those waiting in the wings to lead.”

Today we are witnessing mass hysteria, rioting and crude language of American leftists as a consequence to President Donald Trump’s appointment. Turning the clock back 8 years, when President Obama was elected, he evoked as much anger and disappointment for the right leaning public. And yet, they did not react in similar fashion, but displayed dignity with rather low expectations. After all, the perspective offered was one of “Islam 1st” rather than “America 1st.”

About the Author
Alex Rose was born in South Africa in 1935 and lived there until departing for the US in 1977 where he spent 26 years. He is an engineering consultant. For 18 years he was employed by Westinghouse until age 60 whereupon he became self-employed. He was also formerly on the Executive of Americans for a Safe Israel and a founding member of CAMERA, New York (Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America and today one of the largest media monitoring organizations concerned with accuracy and balanced reporting on Israel). In 2003 he and his wife made Aliyah to Israel and presently reside in Ashkelon.