In 2021, Media Did More to Erode Trust Than to Repair It

It’s obvious that the media’s hatred for Donald Trump colored nearly everything they wrote or said during his presidency. One hopes that the media might regain some objectivity once he leaves the White House.

A review of 2021 shows that it did not happen in many cases.

The case of actor Jussie Smollett’s fake hate crime came to a conclusion this month, revealing that media outlets still are eager to pounce on a racially divisive story and cast blame, but reluctant to examine themselves when the story falls apart.

For those who didn’t pay attention, Smollett, who is black and gay and once a star of the Fox drama “Empire,” alleged in January 2019 that two white men recognized him, physically attacked him, yelled racial and homophobic slurs, poured bleach on him, and tied a rope around his neck in a symbolic lynching before he managed to fight them off.

Smollett claimed that the two men wore red “Make America Great Again” hats, trademarks of the Trump campaign, and screamed, “This is MAGA country!”

He said that it all happened at 2 AM in deep blue, frigid Chicago. It was an early indication that something was wrong.

Nevertheless, the media credulously reported Smollett’s story, often relaying the details as factThese statements should not be dismissed as mere allegations.

Yamiche Alcindor, a former reporter for PBS, accepted the story as it was. She blamed the entire nation. tweeting: “We have to do better as a country. This is disgusting.”

Karen Attiah, Washington Post columnist, identified the true culprit in her view. tweeting that “yet another reminder that Trump’s ascendance and the resulting climate of hate has meant that lives have been increasingly at stake since 2015.”

These weren’t isolated takes on the Smollett episode–this was the genuine consensus of the media.

Earlier this month, Smollett was convicted of five of six counts of disorderly conduct, all stemming from his lies to Chicago police about the “hate crime” he staged with the help of others.

How did the media react? It wasn’t good, and sometimes, it wasn’t at all.

ABC News, which featured Smollett in 2018, allowed the actor’s explanation on the hoax. failed to tell viewersHis trial was under way.

When Smollett’s guilty verdicts were announced, the entire prime-time lineup on MSNBC completely ignored the newsDespite the fact that the network was one the principal promoters of Smollett’s original claims.

Amazing headline CNN muttered: “Jussie Smollett guilty on some charges,” blatantly downplaying the multiple verdicts. It would have been more accurate to say “most charges,” or even better, the precisely accurate “five of six.”

Some wondered, finally, why we were discussing the Smollett verdicts. New York Times columnist Charles M. Blow tweeted that he hated that “people care enough to ‘hate’ any part of it.”

In some circles, however, the lessons learned from the Smollett saga weren’t taken seriously.

ESPN, nominally an sports network, aired a documentary this month that focused on the supposed discovery of a nooseIn 2019, Bubba Wallace, a NASCAR driver, is seen in his garage stall. He is black.

ESPN producers should not be watching ESPN much. ESPN was one of many networks to report in June 2020 that the noose is not a noose. door pullAccording to the FBI, that was true for several months.

The media will go to great lengths to promote racial tensions is also evident in the disparate treatment of Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide case in Kenosha and the vehicular attack on a Christmas parade in Waukesha last month.

Rittenhouse was tried in the media and convicted. He was painted as a white supremacist and accused of crimes he didn’t commit before he was exonerated by a jury last month.

In the Waukesha case, career criminal Darrell Brooks drove his car through a crowd along the parade route, killing six and injuring many others–purposely, police say.

Major media outlets remain indifferent to the motive. In fact, many reports referred to Brooks’ SUV as the true assailant and described the incident as a “parade crash,” as though it were an accident.

In yet another tragic story, the media went into full racial hysteria mode when Ma’Khia Bryant, a 16-year-old girl, was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, on the same day as the guilty verdict was announced for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd. Bryant was black like Floyd.

The reporters quickly grouped the cases together, citing instances of police brutality. Police body camera video quickly showed that Bryant was using a knife to attack another black girl. Police almost certainly saved the second girl’s life.

Other than culturally fraught stories and some of their favorite narratives falling apart in 2021, the media also saw some of their favorite stories fall apart.

An investigation into the clearing of protesters near the White House found that they were not dispersed to allow President Trump to walk to a nearby church for a photo op. This story was a constant in the media for over a year.

“A narrative we thought we knew is not the reality,” NBC News correspondent Ken Dilanian said.

In April, the Biden White House–of all things!–finally dispelled the notion that Trump had failed to hold Russia accountable for paying bounties to militants to attack American troops in Afghanistan.

The New York Times had published this story during the 2020 election. However, it was later exposed as false.

After a year-long struggle to believe that any discussion of the potential leakage of a new coronavirus from China’s research lab was racist or xenophobic had ended, the media accepted the possibility. After Trump left the White House, the lab leak theory was finally allowed to be discussed.

Presidential son Hunter Biden’s laptop, once a forbidden topic of discussion that would get you branded as a conspiracy theorist and banned from social media, was found to be authentic. A book by a Politico journalist confirmed much of the information contained on Biden’s laptop, a year after most media outlets refused to cover the story by claiming it was Russian disinformation.

The granddaddy of all media comeuppances was perhaps the definitive debunking the so-called Steele file, the Hillary Clinton-funded opposition research paper at the center the Russia collusion hoax intended to cripple or expel Trump.

Last month, Russian national Igor Danchenko, a prime source for former British spy Christopher Steele, who compiled the anti-Trump “dossier,” was charged with five counts of lying to the FBI.

It was the end of a fake story that was circulated to the public over two years.

A recent pollIt shows that only a third of Americans trust news media. 2021 did more damage than it did good.

One might hope that the media will engage in some self-reflection as the new year approaches. However, the past history suggests that this is unlikely.

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