Katrina Pierson: Journalists’ Behavior Is Why Americans’ Faith in Media Is Flagging

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Jim Mone

The Trump administration is exposing the perfidy of the mainstream media like never before. Liberal journalists, consumed by hatred for the President, are increasingly eschewing the most fundamental tenets of their profession in order to attack Trump and his supporters.

Regardless of their own political beliefs, Americans generally recognize, correctly, that the journalistic profession leans heavily to the left. They still, however, expect broad adherence to good faith and journalistic ethics.

That may be changing. The media’s hatred for Donald Trump and anyone associated with him has induced the least scrupulous reporters in America to drop the facade of supposed objectivity and show us all just how far they’re willing to go to destroy people — almost always conservatives and Republicans — they don’t like.

President Trump’s personal assistant, Madeleine Westerhout, was forced to resign after the Washington Post’s White House bureau chief, Philip Rucker, violated one of the most basic principles of ethical journalism. Rucker broke an off-the-record promise. Westerhout apparently spoke to Rucker and other reporters in confidence, revealing insider information about the First Family and Oval Office dynamics  — and Rucker let it become a career-ending national headline for Westerhout.

Despite the obvious leftward tilt of most mainstream journalists, most of us would have believed that reporters at the most storied publications in America would never betray their off-the-record confidence just to get another “scalp” from the Trump administration. But the Rucker fiasco is not the only crisis facing American journalism this week.

On Tuesday, a Bloomberg News reporter, Ben Penn, dug up a series of 2016 Facebook posts from a Department of Labor official, Leif Olson. The posts joked about former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan demolishing racist, anti-Semitic challenger Paul Nehlen in the Republican primary, poking fun at Nehlen’s presumed response that the “lamestream media” — and by implication, Jews, had protected Ryan.

Even the most dim-witted observer could tell at a glance that Olson’s comments were mocking anti-Semites such as Nehlen and the wild conspiracy theories they believe. Penn, however, deliberately deceived his readers and the Department of Labor, presenting the Facebook post as genuine anti-Semitism and keeping up the public pressure until Olson was forced to resign.

Penn thought he was getting a “scalp.” He probably assumed he’d get congratulations around the newsroom water cooler and a nice boost to his own career. Unfortunately, like his colleague Rucker, Penn gave us a rare glimpse into the nefarious ways that “mainstream” journalists actually operate instead.

It quickly became clear that Penn had edited the Facebook posts to exclude both Olson and his friends explicitly saying they were being sarcastic — just in case it wasn’t obvious enough. Then, according to eminent Jewish conservative attorney Ted Frank, Penn called around to administration officials and prominent Jewish conservatives asking if they knew that the Trump administration had hired an “anti-Semite.”

Disgraceful. Unethical. Unworthy of the American people’s trust. There is simply no other way to describe Rucker and Penn’s behavior.

The media will deny it to their last breath, but these issues didn’t start with Rucker and Penn. They didn’t start this week and they won’t end next week. There is a systemic bias — a blatantly unprofessional ethos that runs incredibly deep within the American news media. The “scalp” comes before the story. Journalists focus on who needs to be destroyed, not what the American people need to know.

Donald Trump’s presidency didn’t create the problems in American journalism. It did, however, elicit such intense hatred among the most biased reporters that the worst of them have forfeited their unearned aura of impartiality — built by piggybacking on the hard work of actual, objective journalists — in favor of naked activism masquerading as “news” reporting.

That will be a lasting legacy of this administration. The most unethical journalists in America are letting themselves be known through their unscrupulous efforts to smear anyone associated with Donald Trump. Americans won’t forget who those journalists are, nor the broader lesson about liberal bias in the mainstream media, for a long time to come.

Katrina Pierson is a senior adviser for Donald J. Trump for President Inc.

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