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.