The American Media Participates in the Degenerate Political Tone

I keep hearing presidents of various news organizations lamenting the tone of American politics these days. Some of them openly question the role their networks have played and are playing in the increasingly degenerate, in your face political discourse of American politics.

Look no further than the media’s treatment of Adam Rippon. He’s a gay figure skater, which is not as new a thing as the media would have you believe. But what sets Rippon apart is that he has been openly critical of Mike Pence. Rippon did not medal in the Olympics, but you’d be hard pressed to figure that out given the media’s treatment of him. Several outlets have even started referring to him as a “media darling.”

And he is. But not for ice skating.

Or consider Chris Cuomo of CNN berating Ted Cruz for not showing up on his show to allow Cuomo the opportunity to grand stand on gun control. Cruz gave a 15 minute exclusive to CNN, but it was not Cuomo’s exclusive so he attacked Cruz. Others at that network claimed Cruz feared CNN and would not come on. But, again, Cruz gave them an interview that they did not run.

Or consider the Russian investigation. 13 Russians were indicted and the bulk of the media coverage has centered on their purported support for Donald Trump. But both a Facebook executive and the Deputy Attorney General pointed out much of the activity happened post election. The Russians wanted to drive up dissent and division in the United States. The media is willfully and gleefully participating in this.

Social media has allowed us to see many reporters unmasked as the progressive activists they really are. Increasingly, it looks like that progressive activism goes all the way to the top. There are serious, credible journalists across news organizations and they are increasingly being drown out of the conversation by the antics of their bosses and others within their networks.

Black Panther Is Worth Seeing

To begin with, I think we need to give some credit to Every Frame a Painting, which produced this brilliant video about how bad Marvel’s musical scores are. Since it came out in 2016 and went viral, Marvel has made a concerted effort to improve its music and develop some thematic musical connections within individual movies.

That leads us to Black Panther, which probably has the best musical score of any Marvel movie. The score does not necessarily become a character in and of itself as it does in a movie like Dunkirk, but the music is unique, beautiful, and consistent.

Black Panther itself is unique, beautiful, and mostly consistent. Look, let’s get this out of the way. Black Panther is not the masterpiece some are claiming. It is a top tier Marvel movie. Thematically, it is much deeper than most Marvel movies and certainly has themes that will resonate with a black audience (and did) in ways a white audience might not connect with. One scene refers to a white character as “colonizer.”

At a larger scale, Black Panther deals with mature issues better than most any Marvel movie. Those issues include abandonment, absent fathers, and being defined by the mistakes of our fathers. The movie handles those respectfully and sincerely.

Black Panther also has a good bit of humor in it. It does not take itself too seriously and uses some of its seriousness for punchlines. It kept the entertainment going and there were not really any scenes where I felt bored.

Chadwick Boseman, who plays King T’Challa, is the Black Panther. We saw him first in Captain America vs. Iron Man. He plays his character with a real dignity. Michael B. Jordan, known as Erik Kilmonger, is the bad guy who was raised on the streets of Oakland without a dad. I thought he overplayed the role, though it might have just been because of the perfectly understated treatment Boseman gives his character.

The movie had Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett in it, so you know it is good. I think the movie cannot live up to the hype of some. The racial dynamic of the movie has caused all the same sort of over praise that Wonder Woman got, but on steroids. The movie is definitely one of Marvel’s best, but it will not cure cancer or solve world problems as some of the reviews might lead you to believe.

There’s some profanity. There’s a middle finger. And there’s some blood. Of course there is violence and some of it is intense for Marvel. I know my 12 year old could handle a movie like this and I’m pretty sure my 9 year old could handle a movie like this.

Marvel has produced a very solid new entry with some of its best visuals and definitely its best musical score. Honestly, it is starting to make me sad. Marvel has mapped out its road through the Infinity War series where we know some of the characters are going to get killed just because they’re tired of playing them.

I have a hard time believing Marvel is not going to go full social justice warrior crap after that as it reboots or otherwise repackages its franchises that for now, at least, have been mapped out sufficiently to mostly avoid the postmodern nonsense to which its comic books have fallen.

The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography, by David Brody and Scott Lamb

The Weekly Standard asked if I would review the new book The Faith of Donald J. Trump: A Spiritual Biography, by Christian Broadcasting Network reporter David Brody and Liberty University Vice President Scott Lamb. I know a lot of reviewers will skim books, but I was actually fascinated by how the authors would approach this subject and made it the whole way through.

You can read the review here.

There’s No Reason to Compromise on the Gun Issue

There’s a pretty healthy consensus in the country that we could expand background check requirements for gun ownership. There is a bipartisan congressional consensus to ban the bump stock, but the congressmen involved in drafting the legislation got too clever by half and tried to ban handguns in the language.

There are actually lots of bipartisan deals that could be had, but there is no reason and conservatives know it. There is, for example, a bipartisan consensus to ban abortions after twenty weeks in this country. But that won’t happen either for the same reason.

The media and left always demand the compromises come from the right without ever giving up anything of their own.

“Now is not the time to talk about abortion,” a news anchor might say. But then there is never a time the media wants to talk about that issue. The media demands conservatives come on TV and defend their supposedly indefensible position on gun control, then treats abortionists as heroes when they kill more kids each year than mass shooters.

So there’s no point in compromise on the issue. The left/media only what the right to move in their direction on these issues. They do not treat conservative positions with good faith, honesty, or candor. The media will focus on guns for a week following a mass shooting, but can barely give the March for Life the time of day. The media wants to spend inordinate amounts of time focusing on the boy who wants to pee in the girl’s bathroom as if he is a civil rights pioneer, but never wants to focus on the Christian who might lose her business for not wanting to provide goods and services to a gay wedding. Well, in fairness, they will focus on that lady, but only to portray her as a bigot.

There is just no point in conservatives compromising on guns or any other issue because the left/media idea of a compromise is where the right concedes the left’s points. There is no real effort to find middle ground or common ground.

So media outlets can claim Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and others are hiding from CNN and don’t want to answer “tough” questions. The reality is there is no point. CNN anchors will use liberal definitions of mass shootings and demand Republicans cave on second amendment issues. But you’ll never then hear them ask the same of the left on abortion or respect for Christian small businesses or anything else.

The media is not reporting the news. The media is trying to steer the national conversation left. So there is no trust on the right to even have a conversation. And I don’t blame the right for refusing to engage.

The Reality is Bad Enough

Every time there is a school shooting, the media turns toward liberal talking points to exaggerate the numbers. The reality is bad enough, but the media wants to drive up the fear of parents thinking their children will be gunned down. They understand that fear can motivate change. The media, like their leftwing activist comrades, want change. They want gun control.

According to reporters, there have been 11 school shootings so far in 2018. In fact, some media outlets have reported there has been a mass shooting every two days since the beginning of 2018. But all that data is misleading. The data come from leftwing activist groups that have decided to alter the definition of “mass shooting” to boost the numbers.

Everytown for Gun Safety is one of those groups and has done the most to get reporters and supposedly objective journalists to use the altered data for propaganda purposes. As Stephen Gutowski of the Washington Free Beacon notes, “This broad definition [of school shootings] places two separate suicides, a January 9 incident where a man shot a BB gun at a bus window resulting in no injuries; a January 10 incident where a student in a criminal justice club accidentally shot a peace officer’s real gun at a target on a classroom wall instead of a training gun resulting in no injuries; a January 9 incident where gun shots were fired from somewhere outside of Cal State San Bernardino, which struck a building on campus without injuries; and other incidents next to the murder of a Winston-Salem State University student at a nightclub on the Wake Forest University campus, the January 22 shooting of a 15-year-old at a Dallas-area high school, and Tuesday’s Marshall County High School shooting which left 2 dead and 18 others injured.”

The definition the media uses for “mass shooting” has been altered to include a homeowner defending his home; police officers firing at suspects; accidental discharges; etc. The Congressional Research Service used by Congress to help shape public policy notes that mass shootings have trended up each decade since the seventies, though in small increments. It also notes that the death tolls of individual incidents, like the Las Vegas shooting, tend to make the total numbers skew high, even in years where the total number of mass shootings is low, but the homicide rate is high.

What goes left unsaid is that we cannot round up all the guns as the left demands. There are constitutional issues at stake. “But Australia” does not apply when the second amendment is in place. Australia could round up all its guns because it had no such equivalent. Here, mental health and broken families are issues that must be addressed. Sadly, those issues always get shoved aside in favor of rounding up guns.

Columbine, one of the most infamous school shootings, came during the assault weapons ban some now champion restoring. The latest shooting came at the hands of a young man whose biological father played no role in his life and his biological mother and adoptive father were deceased. The situation is terrible, tragic, and a reminder that evil is real. It is also a reminder how politicized these issues have become. We cannot even address the systemic issues because we cannot have an honest conversation about the data.

After Newtown, Charleston, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, and now Parkland among others, the odds of enacting any legislation to stamp out evil remain low. The odds remain high that no legislation ever could stamp out evil.

Moving On

I noted it on social media, but haven’t written about it here. After five years, I’ll be leaving Fox News at the end of January. It was a mutual decision. I had emailed a couple of the executives a week ago that short of doing my weekend TV show idea, I didn’t think I was needed nor I think I was useful so it was time to go. A few days later, the lawyer who handles contributor matters called to tell me they wouldn’t be renewing my contract.

The idea of moving on now meets with the reality of moving on so there’s some slight panic and nervousness. It is half of my family’s income and is needed. But I also, if I am being honest, was largely being paid without working. I am a firm believer that is one is to be paid, there should be work and it has been harder and harder to put me in the appropriate contributor box. I am neither anti-Trump nor pro-Trump, but a conservative who does not think he is, but thinks he is advancing some things commendably. All news shows on all networks tend to favor a straight R v. D panel and I’m not in those boxes anymore.

On top of that, I broadcast mostly from Georgia. I have a studio in my house. CNN had their equipment in and when I moved to Fox they put their camera and connecting equipment in. With my wife’s cancer, my radio show, etc. it has been a real blessing. Not being able to get to New York and be in studio regularly has definitely been disadvantageous. But I have to be honest that I like broadcasting from Georgia as a reminder there are still a lot of people out here in “fly over country.” I get the various networks’ needs to broadcast from New York and Washington, but I just have no desire to move my family to either, particularly now with one of the world’s top experts on my wife’s rare form of cancer living an hour from us.

My time at Fox has been wonderful and I am glad I have been there. The people have been quite kind to me these past number of years and I have made good friends. But I haven’t thought I fit in for a while and this exit needed to happen.

As I said in an email to the executives when I told them I was ready to go, I still think Fox is probably the best place for a weekend show that focuses on conservative parents who have kids and a worldview centered on their faith. The world has changed completely upside down from when we were kids. Now our kids have access to the internet in the palm of their hand and we did not even have the internet as kids. The average age of exposure to pornography is now six (!!!!) years old among boys and barely better among girls. And culture seems more and more hostile to parents with a faith worldview. There is literally not a single news program focusing on those families presenting the news to them with presuppositions that share their world view. Nor is there programming out there really helping them navigate their families through the present culture wars without losing their children to a culture increasing hostile to their values.

I would love to do a show like this. And I hope to do a show like this. But beyond doing something like that I couldn’t see myself remaining at Fox as a contributor. Again, it comes back to not really feeling like I fit in and the feeling was clearly mutual. While I would like to think I am useful as a political commentator and contributor for conservatives, I am just not a bandwagon Republican anymore and cannot with a straight face call the President a conservative.

That said, there is no animosity in leaving and the few trolls speculating about sexual harassment or whatnot are insane. The transition over the last year for the network has been difficult and yet they continue to achieve great ratings. Though they have had, in my experience, a greater demand for in-studio guests than other networks, Fox has relentlessly focused on the news that people around America’s river valleys care about. It is a lesson other networks could really learn from Fox, if they didn’t look on Fox with so much undeserved contempt.

Fox spends a great deal of time looking at what people who live within 100 miles of an American river valley think and, consequently, their news topics are often different and the presuppositions made in relating the news tend to not lean left. It has served them well and they have carried on Roger Ailes’s focus on that audience despite being looked down on by others in the media. Roger once told me if he spent all his time worrying about other people in the media liking Fox, he wouldn’t have the time to devote to seeing what people who actually watch Fox care about. The ratings speak to that.

I thank Fox for sticking with me for five years through interesting times and I am excited for new things even if I don’t know what they are. This is a huge and scary leap of faith seeing half my income wiped out at the end of January. I’ve been spending a lot of time in prayer and I appreciate your prayers too. But I have an absolute conviction that now is the right time to move on. My last day at Fox is January 26th.

The Incestuousness of the Media is Causing Problems

A few years ago I gave a talk in Texas on the incestuousness between the Democratic Party and the media. One of the slides noted that Jay Carney of Time magazine left the magazine to go work for Vice President Joe Biden and then on to be White House press secretary. When Carney left Biden’s office, he was replaced by Shailagh Murray, who went in from the Washington Post. In turn, she was married to Neil King who worked for the Wall Street Journal.

Neil contacted me. He took issue with my implication that he couldn’t be fair in his coverage of Washington given his marriage. While I don’t dispute that he covered Washington with an even hand, I thought and still think that it was indicative of his world view and how stories might be shaped that he more likely than not leaned left and was married to Joe Biden’s press secretary. So it is somewhat funny to me to note he left the Wall Street Journal and went to work for Fusion GPS, which is now in the news as the group that created the Trump dossier from Christopher Steel.

In fact, the Washington Post is now reporting that Fusion GPS used media connections to advance interests of various groups that paid it. It is an ascertainable fact that many reporters have failed to aggressively pursue this story because they have knowingly or unknowingly been used by Fusion GPS to advance the interests of paying clients.

But hundreds of internal company documents obtained by The Washington Post reveal how Fusion, a firm led by former journalists, has used investigative reporting techniques and media connections to advance the interests of an eclectic range of clients on Wall Street, in Silicon Valley and in the nation’s capital. The firm has played an unseen role in stories that dominated headlines in recent years.

We also now know that Fusion GPS did not just hire journalists, but also had a senior Department of Justice employee’s wife on its payroll at a time it was creating the Steel dossier.

This likewise comes as there are new questions about Adam Schiff, the congressman the media loves and who may have been one of the CNN sources who caused them to get basic facts wrong on Friday in a story related to Trump’s emails.

Here’s the problem for the media. During the Obama Administration, many members of the media floated in and out of the administration and in and out of leftwing blogs and think tanks. They are still around with many of them serving as reporters and their leftwing friends as members of L’Resistance. They trade information and shape each other’s world views and I am not convinced the heads of media outlets are doing enough to push their reporters to separate their world view from the facts at hand. As a result, we are not getting the whole truth, but a narrative within which facts are shaped to advance the narrative. That is no better than what Donald Trump is doing.

There is a pretty substantial symbiotic relationship between the political left in Washington and the media. While a few people went from the media to the Bush Administration, it was never like it was with Obama.

Jay Carney went from Time to the White House press secretary’s office. Shailagh Murray went from the Washington Post to the Veep’s office while married to Neil King at the Wall Street Journal. Linda Douglass went from ABC News to the White House and then the Atlantic. Jill Zuckman went from the Chicago Tribune to the Obama Administration’s Transportation Department. Douglas Frantz went from the Washington Post to the State Department and Stephen Barr went from the Post to the Labor Department.

Ruth Marcus who heads the Washington Post Editorial Board is married to the Obama Administration’s FTC Chairman. Jonathan Allen of Vox had been at the Politico before going to work for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then back to Politico before Vox. Andy Barr worked for the Politico before leaving for Democrat politics. Michael Scherer was at both Salon and Mother Jones before going to Time. Laura Rozen was at Mother Jones and the American Prospect before Foreign Policy magazine. Even Nate Silver had started out at Daily Kos. Then, of course, there is Matthew Dowd who worked for scores of Democrats before working for George Bush. That, though he later washed his hands of Bush, bought him street credibility with ABC News to become its senior politically analyst alongside George Stephanopoulos, formerly of the Clinton Administration.

It goes on and on in a feedback loop of incestuous politics and worldview shaping. In the Obama Era, it was all about protecting their precious. Now it is about undermining the President. Many of the editorial level checks lean left and so do not run traps as effectively against bad stories. We are seeing a continued breakdown in reporting and a further erosion of public trust as a result. Something has to give. But I fear the media is too inside a bubble of its own creation to do necessary due diligence.

It’s not that these reporters cannot be fair. It’s that many of them do not even realize their biases and left-leaning pre-suppositions are tripping them up.