Cal Thomas: Journalism and propaganda

MARY REICHARD, HOST: Today is Thursday, August 16th. Good morning! This is The World and Everything in It from member-supported WORLD Radio. I’m Mary Reichard.

NICK EICHER, HOST: And I’m Nick Eicher. Next up, Cal Thomas on the difference between journalism and propaganda.

CAL THOMAS, COMMENTATOR: Every president since George Washington has suffered from a critical press.

John F. Kennedy canceled all White House subscriptions to the New York Herald Tribune because of coverage he deemed as unfavorable. President Obama, almost universally adored by mainstream media, sometimes complained he wasn’t getting all the credit he thought he deserved for his policies; never mind that in many cases—Obamacare is just one example—liberal media rarely criticized him when those policies faltered.

President Trump has taken media criticism to new heights (or depths, depending on your perspective), calling any questioning or opposition to his policies “fake news” and labeling the press an “enemy of the people.”

Media bias has long been a complaint, especially among conservatives. Reporters and others in the media usually associate with like-minded members of their “tribe” and so either deliberately separate themselves from the majority of the nation in “flyover country,” or oppose the values, faith, and politics practiced by many. Generally they only read or watch each other’s work. How do I know? A columnist for The New York Times once asked me if I still wrote my column. I read his but clearly he doesn’t read mine, or probably most other conservatives.

Examples of bias, whether in the way stories are covered, or ignored, are legion. While columnists enjoy greater freedom than reporters to express their opinions, some have crossed a line of decency that has apparently been erased for the Trump administration.

Last month, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni published a hateful piece on Vice President Mike Pence. Bruni called Pence—quote—”self-infatuated. Also a bigot. Also a liar. Also cruel. To that brimming potpourri he adds two ingredients that Pence doesn’t genuinely possess: the conviction that he’s on a mission from God and a determination to mold the entire nation in the shape of his own faith, a regressive, repressive version of Christianity. Trade Trump for Pence and you go from kleptocracy to theocracy.”

I have known Pence for 30 years and he is none of these things. Besides, even if he could impose his sincere and consistently practiced faith on the nation—which he can’t and probably doesn’t want to—what have secular progressives imposed on the nation since the ’60s?

Journalism is unlike any other profession, because it is the only one that doesn’t seem to care what its readers and viewers think. It is like a parent forcing a child to take bad-tasting medicine because “it is good for you.”

This attitude has fueled declining TV ratings and, sadly, a drop in newspaper subscriptions. But apparently too many in the profession would rather criticize customers, or more accurately former customers, than change. That is bad for the profession and for the country, which needs strong journalism. Journalism that mostly promotes a single worldview and disparages all others is not journalism. It is propaganda.

For WORLD Radio, I’m Cal Thomas.

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