Congressional testimony by former FBI Director James Comey Thursday revealed much of what the media got wrong about President Trump and the Russia investigation. The public learned that Trump himself—as he had indicated—was not under investigation, that he had every right to fire an FBI director he did not like, and that Comey presented no evidence that Trump engaged in obstruction of justice or committed an impeachable offense.
In many ways, the frenzy about Trump and Russia says a lot more about media hostility toward Trump than it does about Trump's actions. The mainstream media has always exhibited rampant bias against right-of-center political figures. In the coverage of Trump, that bias has turned into all-out hysteria and insidious snickering.
While overt media hostility is outrageous, reporting laced with insidious bias is much more misleading and dangerous.
At its most unhinged, Trump hatred will sometimes shame even the most shameless. When comedian Kathy Griffin recently posed with a faux bloodied and severed Trump head, CNN was embarrassed enough to fire her as co-host of the network's annual New Year's Eve special.
Yet much of the mainstream media's bias is more subtle, and much more constant. On a daily basis, reporters, news anchors and fact checkers will spit out personal political opinions, present them as facts (or even gospel) and lambast Trump and his defenders as liars, bigots or otherwise deplorable people.
Toward that end, the dishonest mainstream media has all but declared Trump an existential threat to the free press and the First Amendment.
At the dawn of the Trump era, the Washington Post unveiled a new tagline: "Democracy Dies in Darkness." Not to be outdone, the "failing" New York Times aired a television ad for the first time in seven years portraying itself as the seeker and chronicler of the "truth." There is no mistaking whom the Washington Post sees as responsible for subjecting democracy to darkness, or whom the New York Times sees as a threat to their truth.
Other examples of the media's insidious anti-Trump vitriol abound. In a contentious interview with White House counselor Kellyanne Conway about the firing of Comey last month, CNN's Anderson Cooper disrespectfully rolled his eyes as Conway responded to a question.
The same anchor boasted in an interview with Stephen Colbert of "The Late Show" that he has muted Trump's tweets.
His counterparts at the right-leaning Fox News Channel—anchors such as Chris Wallace and Bret Baier, who broadcast news and analysis rather than their own opinions—have never so glibly dished out contempt for a sitting president (including former President Barack Obama).
Yet with a straight face, Cooper continually gripes that Trump is hostile to reporters for merely doing their job—you know, digging for the truth and trying to get to the bottom of a story.
Of course, Cooper is hardly the only so-called objective journalist who fuses personal opinion with political reporting.
For example, ABC's Martha Raddatz, a presidential debate moderator during 2016, appeared to choke up on election night while discussing the impending Trump victory, and various political reporters for what is supposed to be the very-objective New York Times outright lamented the results of the presidential election.
Meanwhile, liberal insidiousness shines bright in the fact checkers' columns. The Washington Post's Fact Checker regularly plays this game with great skill.
For instance, it has repeatedly declared Trump's pronouncements of an impending Obamacare implosion a lie by ignoring evidence supporting the Trump's claim. It also recently decried Trump's reasons for exiting the Paris climate agreement by spewing standard left-wing arguments. There is nothing wrong with doing that on the opinion page, but it is the height of intellectual dishonesty to pretend commentary is fact, or that those who view climate change as a new religion are on the side of the truth, while those who see the Paris treaty as a "bad deal" might deserve Pinocchios.
Not surprisingly, both overt and insidious media bias has consequences. During Trump's first 100 days, major news outlets provided him coverage that was 80 percent negative.
Never shy to engage in bombast and hyperbole, Trump usually responds by lumping all negative stories about him together as unfair, and has labeled big liberal news outlets as #FakeNews and the enemy of the people.
For those who see Trump's rhetoric and actions (including his inappropriate private comments to Comey) as inviting, or perhaps even deserving, of a hostile press, they should recall the mainstream media's insidious hostility to other right-of-center political figures.
During the 2016 presidential race, retired neurosurgeon and Republican hopeful Ben Carson endured a barrage of unfair media coverage, even though he did not share Trump's predisposition for bluster or habit of calling the media #FakeNews. While self-important outlets such as CNN and the New York Times shamelessly provided inaccurate, irresponsible and dishonest coverage, the Wall Street Journal gave them stiff competition.
With Carson at the top of the national GOP polls in November 2015, the Wall Street Journal made a case that he was lying in his autobiography about having unwittingly taken a psychology test that turned out to be a hoax while studying at Yale. The Wall Street Journal could find no one and no evidence to corroborate Carson's claim, so it insinuated that he was untrustworthy and guilty of making up stories.
This type of lazy, sloppy and reprehensible coverage regularly characterizes the mainstream media's reporting about conservatives and Republicans. Time and again, self-styled reputable publications will not hesitate to smear, obfuscate, grandstand and outright lie—all the while insisting that they are the paragon of journalistic integrity.
When Trump came along to trample on their delusions, they naturally took offense, and went to war against him. Their wall-to-wall coverage declaring that Trump had committed crimes with respect to the Russia investigation is a fine example of their attempt at revenge.
For mainstream media journalists who proclaim themselves truth seekers, the truth is that White House chief strategist Steve Bannon had great advice for them: "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while."
Ying Ma (@GZtoGhetto) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner's Beltway Confidential blog. She is the former deputy director of the Committee for American Sovereignty, a pro-Trump super PAC, and the former deputy policy director of the Ben Carson presidential campaign. She is the author of "Chinese Girl in the Ghetto."
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