In the West today we can see that a once free press is voluntarily becoming unfree. Or such is the sentiment of the incredibly courageous and admirable Ayaan Hirsi Ali. But there’s a lot to what she’s claiming, isn’t there? A free press should be programmed to seek out the truth, to take nothing on the assurance of the great and the good, to treat like alike, and to follow the facts wherever they lead. Of course, we know that all journalists, producers, presenters and (as a sum of their parts) media organisations are humans. They have their political druthers, as do we all and hence, to some extent, we expect different newspapers, columnists, and TV channels (including the public broadcaster) to have editorial stances and outlooks that fit in across the left-right spectrum. That’s all to the good.
The ‘unfree press’ problem is not one of having an identifiable editorial line. No, the ‘unfree press’ problem is a combination of double standards (one approach for your side of politics and another for theirs), lack of scepticism as regards the pronouncements and claims of the political and ‘expert’ classes, and coming across – when it suits – as mouthpieces for the ruling elite. Those are recipes for baking in an unfree press, recipes that too much of the press in the West has been buying of late.
Take the double standards. Imagine if one of Donald Trump’s children had been found to use the ‘N’ word when Trump was President. What do you think the reaction of virtually all of the press would have been? Well, we know, don’t we? There would have been wall-to-wall front-page coverage, commentaries and unremitting attacks, all virulently anti-Trump. We’d probably be hearing about white privilege, Trump’s underlying racism, and so on. Yet when President Biden’s son Hunter is found to have used the ‘N’ word multiple times (that laptop again) the press closes ranks and barely reports it. Personally, I don’t think the behaviour of one’s kids is worth much coverage at all. But if you’re prepared to do it against one side, then do it against the other. Otherwise, you look like Pravda. The same New York Times that doesn’t find Hunter Biden’s vocabulary choices worth dwelling upon, last year devoted a front page story to Mimi Groves. Who’s that? When Groves was 15, she got her driver’s licence and then released a celebratory Snapchat video with a three-second Rap-type bit that included the ‘N’ word. Three years later, at 18 when she was accepted into the University of Tennessee and had made the cheerleading squad, one of her classmates released the three-year old social media clip. The cheerleading squad dropped her. Then, the University rescinded her admission. And then the New York Times felt this warranted front-page, condemnatory coverage of her. But this same newspaper won’t cover Hunter Biden having used the ‘N’ word multiple times. Those of us on the conservative side of politics know that much of today’s press has brutal double standards against us; there’s not even a hint of being honest brokers. Think blackface and Justin Trudeau and the Governor of Virginia; think the rest of the Hunter Biden laptop information suppressed by Big Tech and most of the media before the last US election; think coverage of Tony Abbott versus Julia Gillard; the list goes on and on. (I pass over the nasty vindictiveness of Mimi Groves’ classmate, though it reminds me of the same traits in the person who recently trolled through the social media history of English cricketer Ollie Robinson to release an old tweet from when he was 18. Talk about being ruthlessly unforgiving and being filled with the desire to destroy someone for what he or she did as a child or teenager. Social media really does bring out the absolute worst aspects of human nature and some people’s sanctimonious, unforgiving, holier-than-thou wretchedness.)
Or take the genuflecting and total lack of scepticism as regards the pronouncements and claims of our political and ‘expert’ classes. Hasn’t this pandemic brought that out? Over a year ago when former MI6 Director Richard Dearlove (not to mention some of our Speccie writers like Rebecca Weisser) claimed there was good evidence for the Wuhan lab leak theory, almost all of the press (including some on the Australian let me add) went crazy asserting this was conspiracy theory run mad. No scepticism of the official line. No desire to investigate. Just take on face value what the expert and political class pedals. Well, now we know that the preponderance of evidence clearly supports the lab leak theory. The same goes for the preponderance of our press, and our PM, when it comes to the effectiveness of ivermectin (again, the evidence is in its favour but the press refuses to challenge the official line). The same may be true of hydroxychloroquine. Meanwhile, almost none of the US press has bothered to look into Dr. Fauci even though it’s now known he helped fund the Wuhan lab research and regularly claims that attacks on him are attacks on science while having a woeful record of flip-flopping on all sorts of things for over a year. Yet there’s next to no press scrutiny. Ditto the sometimes bizarrely wrong-headed claims of our chief medical officer class in this country. And ditto claims about needing to vaccinate those who’ve previously contracted Covid or are children. (They don’t need it.)
Heck, where is the press’s scepticism of lockdowns now that we have dozens and dozens of peer-reviewed studies demonstrating the lack of any correlation between lockdowns and deaths per million – or coverage of lockdown-caused excess deaths, etc? Or of the new research – you know, ‘the science’ – doubting the worth of face masks? Or what about just doubting the supposed public health ‘experts’, since they’ve got so much wrong? What do journalists think is their job?
Or where is the press talking about how our political class has not had to play by any of the lockdown rules, they’ve imposed on all the rest of us. Take a look at the current G7 conference where none of the lockdown rules appear to apply to any of these ‘great and good’ politicos and their entourages, those going to Britain from supposed ‘red zones’ getting waved in while the rest of us would be hotel imprisoned, as with here in Australia when politicians come back into the country. Doesn’t that warrant any sceptical press coverage?
Sure, sure, sure there are Adam Creighton-type exceptions to all this. But not many. Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes all this as our free press willingly becoming unfree. Sure, many of them no doubt think they’re doing God’s work and that asking questions is a bad idea in times of crisis (or when Donald Trump is in office). But that’s what most of the journalists working for Pravda probably thought too.
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