In a featured op-ed, the Twin Falls Times-News asserts “Breitbart isn’t practicing journalism. It’s a political platform.”
The daily paper, which operates as, in effect, a local monopoly in the small southern Idaho city at the center of a sexual assault of a 5 -year-old American-born girl involving three Muslim refugee boys, is owned by Lee Enterprises, which received a $2.1 million loan in 2012 and another $9 million loan in 2013 from a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate controlled by globalist billionaire Warren Buffett, an ardent supporter who endorsed Hillary Clinton in December.
Though both loans appear to have been paid back, Berkshire Hathaway had a four percent ownership interest in Lee Enterprises in 2012, an equity interest which has diminished to less than one percent in 2016.
The editor of the newspaper is bristling after Breitbart’s stellar investigative journalist Lee Stranahan scooped the Buffett financed media outlet on a number of stories in its own backyard:
Let’s state the obvious: Breitbart isn’t practicing journalism. It’s a political platform.
If the alt-right media website’s top executive taking over the Donald Trump campaign isn’t enough to convince you of Breitbart’s objectives, what happened at Monday’s Twin Falls City Council meeting should provide evidence enough.
Breitbart has plopped what it calls its “lead investigative reporter” in Twin Falls for the past few weeks to cover the Fawnbrook case, where prosecutors say a 5-year-old girl was assaulted by two boys, both of whom now face charges.
Lee Stranahan of Dallas, Texas, has written a handful of pieces about the issue for Breitbart. In one published last week, he implies local employers should think twice about hiring refugees because they may suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and are libel to uncork at any moment. By that logic, should employers also refrain from hiring American war veterans?
Needless to say, Breitbart’s stories are grounded in a political point of view – and that’s antithesis to traditional journalism, which is supposed to be objective, truthful and authentic. Breitbart, by contrast, is more concerned with promoting extreme nationalism, anti-immigration and xenophobia through a thin guise of journalism.
And here’s why that distinction is so important to note: At this week’s City Council meeting, Stranahan actually approached the board during the public comment period to chastise Councilman Greg Lanting and accuse him of violating the state’s open records laws.
In that moment, he crossed a line that doesn’t seem to matter much for Breitbart or its readers. Stranahan stopped being a journalist and became a political advocate.
Later in the meeting, Stranahan shouted at a local resident as she left the lectern, “You should really learn about the issues before you talk about them,” prompting Mayor Shawn Barigar to tell them to go outside if they wished to have a side conversation.
Perhaps the incident doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it is, and it speaks volumes about what’s been wrong with the alt-right’s coverage of the Fawnbrook case and how the public perceives the media.
Journalists are supposed to report the news, not become the news. That’s not some hifalutin notion of the media elite – it’s the simple principle that separates what most of us understand as journalism from what most of us understand as activism. For respectable newspapers, never the twain shall meet.
It’s why you won’t ever see a Times-News reporter or opinion writer speaking publically at a government meeting. A reporter’s job is to present facts; an opinion writer’s job is to opine, always from the sidelines.
Once we cross over that line, we’re no longer spectators or analysts; we’re players. And that’s simply not an appropriate role for journalists. That’s the job of the public. That’s the job of elected officials. Or institutions. Or anyone else seeking to set public policy.
As was made clear last week, it’s also what Breitbart sees as its job. That’s fine. Breitbart and its staffers are free to do and say whatever the like. But let’s stop pretending its journalism.
The Times-News promotes the myth that its brand of anti-populist Chamber of Commerce boosterism is not “grounded in a political point of view,” which it claims is “antithesis to traditional journalism, which is supposed to be objective, truthful and authentic.”
“Rather than dispute any of the facts that I reported, this editorial attempts to pretend that somehow my reporting is more biased than that of the local media in Twin Falls,” Breitbart’s Stranahan wrote in the comments section of the op-ed.
“I am very upfront about my beliefs, and I do not pretend to not have those beliefs. The reporting here has been extremely biased, has a political agenda… But pretends to be objective journalism,” Breitbart’s lead investigative journalist noted.
“I suggest people read my reporting, read the reporting here and make up their own mind. The residents of Twin Falls are smart enough to factor in everybody’s filter – mine, the city councils, the Times – News and so on,” Stranahan added.
The truth is, every media outlet in America is grounded in a political point of view, and virtually 100 percent of those outlets (with the notable exception of Breitbart News), as far left activist/journalist Glenn Greenwald recently admitted, oppose Donald Trump.
The Twin Falls Times-News op-ed generated a number of comments from local readers, some backing the paper’s reporting as “objective,” but many called the claim into question.
“I remember a rigged debate at CSI [the College of Southern Idaho Refugee Program] put on by TN [the Times-News], all speakers were for [r]efugees. Most articles here are pro Refugee,” one commenter wrote.
“I think our Newspaper is also an activist; should I say passive activist; they control what we read. Hard to find anything anti-refugee,” the commenter added:
But in all fairness; look inwards before you look outwards.
Kinda like the pot calling the kettle black as my Dad used to say.
Both the speaker at the Council meeting and TN is okay with me; I like hearing both sides.
“They are centered until it comes to the refugees. On that subject they are about as far left as Hartgen [the previous editor] was right,” a second commenter wrote.
“People would be better off here if they would realize the objections to the Refugee Center is real. It isn’t a “Small Cohort,” and it isn’t against the refugee’s per say. It’s against the Refugee center in general,” the second commenter added.
“There is and always has been resistance to the refugee center,” the second commenter said:
It’s fine with me if TN wants to stay left and in support of the Refugee’s, I can ferret out the truth.
I don’t hold it against Mr. Stranahan for his comments; makes me more informed. . .
I welcome Mr. Stranahan’s comments; TN doesn’t have to print them if they don’t want to.
“I see the problem as the people who oppose the refugee center have not been represented and cloned as bigots, liars, trouble makers. And a minority,” a third commenter wrote.
If TN wants to stand up for a minority why not print the other side of the story?
They are enough to be reckoned with not ignored. Ignoring the problem makes it worse and it just keeps getting worse. “Yet now in our corner of the country, a small cohort is putting this promise in jeopardy. They’re driven by FEAR, PARANOIA, RACISM and LIES.” That’s a TN quote.
It angered me and I called Matt and told him so. They never retracted it.
I think they should have been taken seriously instead of made fun of.
I never did see a little problem that couldn’t turn into a big one; broken windows effect. It is my belief, I’m not the smartest man alive, but this is all spin off from the lack of concern over the Center.
Good grief! All they had to do is get both sides of the story.
“So glad Stranahan is here digging and reporting! What’s happening here will likely reveal the same kind of machinations happening all over small-town America as global corporations and greedy politicians bring refugees in to lower wages and replace American workers,” a fourth commenter wrote.
“Digging deep here will allow the locals to finally understand who is doing what so they can take action at the ballot box. As others outside the state follow this local story, they can apply the same strategies in their own communities. Stranahan is a hero to the beleaguered taxpayer but especially to a little girl and her parents. Sunlight in the best disinfectant,” the commenter concluded.
“Although it’s true that Breitbart engages in journalist activism, the implication that the Times-News doesn’t is just laughable,” a fifth commenter wrote:
Alternative media owes its very existence to the obscene levels of activism in mainstream news sources. Regarding issues that hold any level of political charge (and most issues do), a consumer of the news simply can’t get the real story these days without reading multiple sources from multiple points of view.
I’ve been frustrated for quite a while with TN’s slanted reporting on many things, since long before the Twin Falls refugees were a topic of conversation. So I always appreciate it when other news outlets pick up on local stories. No matter what you read, make sure you’re looking between the lines, take all of the information available and decide for yourself.
“It would be most fair to say then based on the majority of left-leaning editorials here, that the Times news editorial board would orchestrate their choices for story inclusion into their papers as left-leaning and even biased when it comes to certain topics such as homosexuality, refugees, and even Hillary Clinton, right?” a sixth commenter asks rhetorically:
The reason I say this is because you can see it in the choice of articles and stories. You can see it in the way the scripts are written, twisted slanted and turned. Mimicking the editorial boards political and social positions and beliefs. It really isn’t hard to notice or differentiate. All a person has to do is pay attention.
Breitbart is as Brietbart claims to be. The Times-News? They are absolutely not the quintessential small town “just reporting the facts ma’am” newspaper. They are left. They are liberal. Their editorials show it. Their stories show it. The editors and journalists of this paper can claim whatever higher ground they want. But the reality is printed and easily discerned. Just quit denying it TN
“The Times-News has done some solid reporting — but let’s not pretend that the Editor Matt hasn’t made himself part of the story,” Breitbart’s Stranahan writes in the comment section:
And even bias like saying I “shouted” at a woman who spoke at the meeting where Matt is coming from.
And note that the Times-News didn’t tell you that the woman started her speech by saying she didn’t know what was being discussed or who Breitbart was — which is why I suggested she learn about issues before speaking.
Why did the Times-News leave out that detail? I assume it’s because it would make my statement appear rational and well-founded.
The left often criticizes its opponents for its own faults, and the Twin Falls Times-News editorial follows that pattern. It claims “Breitbart, by contrast, is more concerned with promoting extreme nationalism, anti-immigration and xenophobia through a thin guise of journalism.”
As readers of Breitbart can attest, the phrase “thin guise of journalism” applies to the mainstream media and Buffett financed outlets like the Twin Falls Times-News.
It is true that Breitbart reports the news from a world view.
From that world view, we report facts that, even the far left U.K. Guardian admits are indisputable. Its exact word describing our reporting was “genius.”
The Twin Falls Times-News is really objecting to competition from a real news organization that exposes its own bias.