At the end of each year since the 2016 campaign, journalist Sharyl Atkisson updates and publishes a list of misleading or inaccurate stories published by the nation’s corporate media outlets. She recently published an updated version at the close of 2019, and it seems the Fourth Estate has been rather egregious over the past twelve months. But are these really mistakes? 

For starters, we have the Covington Kids fiasco. Remember when news outlets like CNN rushed to report on the story of a group of apparently racist white kids harassing a poor, innocent Native American man in Washington D.C.? These supposed junior KKK members, sporting MAGA hats, were filmed viciously berating and mocking Nathan Phillips, a Vietnam veteran who just wanted to play his drum. In fact, Phillips told The Washington Post that the Nazis-in-Training “wouldn’t allow him to retreat.” 

We know how that situation played out. The full video was released by the Black Hebrew Israelites who were actually responsible for starting the altercation in the first place. Only a few days later, the nation knew that it was Phillips who approached the kids while the Black Hebrew Israelites hurled racial and homophobic slurs at them. 

Yes, there were some in the group of kids who made a mocking “tomahawk” gestures, which was not the best behavior. But overall, the children were not the aggressors in this story, nor did they react in a way that was inappropriate. Nevertheless, that did not stop the media from savaging them. Nick Sandmann became the primary target for committing the crime of standing in one place and smiling. Even worse, it was later revealed that Phillips was not a Vietnam veteran, nor did he claim to be. It appears The Washington Post put words in the man’s mouth. 

Over the summer, MSNBC’s Lawrence O’ Donnell claimed that President Trump had loans with Russian co-signers. In a tweet that he later deleted, he wrote: “A source close to Deutsche Bank says Trump’s tax returns show he pays very little income tax and, more importantly, that his loans have Russian co-signers. If true, that explains every kind word Trump has ever said about Russia and Putin.”

Well, that turned out to be about as true as Jussie Smollett’s hate crime claims. The anchor was forced to apologize for the “error” and take down the tweet. 

In yet another effort to take down Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the media tried to pin another allegation of sexual impropriety on him. This one failed even more miserably than it did during his confirmation hearings. 

The New York Times wrote a piece discussing information provided by attorney Max Stier who claimed that Kavanaugh had acted inappropriately at a drunken dorm party. Supposedly, some friends pushed Kavanaugh’s genitals into the hand of a female student. 

This claim mirrored that of Deborah Ramirez, who made similar allegations against the judge. But the story quickly fell apart. when it was revealed that the female student in question denied the story to her friends, claiming that she did not recall any such behavior on Kavanaugh’s part and she refused to be interviewed for the article.

These are only a few of the deceptive stories that the press has published this year. Atkisson refers to these as “mistakes.” I must respectfully disagree with Mrs. Atkisson in her characterization of the establishment media’s reportage. These examples on her list are not mistakes, for the most part. Sure, there are situations in which journalists make honest human errors. But when you look at the totality of these misleading reports, it’s difficult to imagine that there is no agenda present. 

There are currently 109 entries on Atkisson’s list and they all have one thing in common: Each erroneous story is politically damaging to President Trump and Republicans. Every single one works in the Democrats’ favor. If these were honest blunders, wouldn’t at least some of them make Trump look good when he didn’t deserve it? Of course they would and that, as they say, is the rub. 

The media has been biased for decades — it is nothing new. But when Trump was elected in 2016, the corporate press dialed it up to 11, reporting blatantly false stories about the president and his supporters, knowing that they could deceive millions of people even if they have to issue retractions later. 

Look at the “fine people” hoax, for example. Despite the fact that the story has been debunked and some outlets who originally reported it have admitted their claims were false, people still believe that the president said Nazis and white nationalists were “fine people” even though he clearly stated that he was not referring to these individuals. This is how powerful the media is — they can literally get millions of Americans to believe almost anything they want just by repeating the lie over and over again. 

In some ways, this has backfired because now the American public — even those who don’t like Trump — no longer trusts the press. But this hasn’t stopped them yet and it is unlikely to do so in 2020. But will it be enough to bring about losses for the GOP? That remains to be seen. 

 

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