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Jackie Calmes da una clase de cinismo periodístico en Los Ángeles Times

LA Times Columnist Gives a Lecture on Journalistic Cynicism—but Fails, Terribly

Jackie Calmes’ latest op-ed, which seems to be based on a parallel reality, explains a lot why Americans no longer trust journalists and traditional media

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When my editor-in-chief sent me a Los Angeles Times article titled “Why journalists are failing the public with ‘both-siderism’ in political coverage” — a column written by Jackie Calmes — for a minute I thought I was going to read an objective critique of how the liberal press is covering news related to politics. I thought: “This is good,” they are finally realizing that their coverage is deficient and that people do not trust the press anymore due to the shameless partisanship exposed in the traditional media. But no, unfortunately, not the case.

Calmes’ column, far from being a prudent and sensible criticism, explains a lot why Americans no longer trust journalists and the traditional press. This columnist poses an alternate reality where the media are unequivocally critical of President Joe Biden and excessively docile to the Republican Party and its main referents, such as Donald Trump.

She outrageously claims that the media are making false moral equivalences while abusing the both-siderism so as not to target the GOP directly for its outrages against democracy. For Calmes, it is clear that, in the United States, the bad ones are those of the GOP and that it is necessary to use the media force to point them out.

Jackie Calmes da una clase de cinismo periodístico en Los Angeles Times
Screen capture of Jackie Calmes’ article.

¿Does Jackie Calmes live in an alternate reality or is just lying?

Honestly, I don’t know what media Calmes has read lately, but almost all the traditional media, mostly related to progressive ideas and therefore closer to the Democratic Party, have been completely complacent with the Biden-Harris administration, especially considering the current state of the country: border crisis, foreign policy disaster with Afghanistan and France, inflation-driven prices, problems with jobs and layoffs; insecurity in crescendo, the indigence crisis. Ideological tensions and social polarization are on the rise along with scarcity.

There are two options to explain the Calmes column: either she is lying to the public or is simply dissociated from reality.

According to a recent study by Edelman, which assessed Americans’ confidence in the press, 56% of people believe that «journalists and reporters try to deceive people on purpose by saying things they know to be false or big exaggerations» and another 58% think that «most news organizations are more concerned with supporting an ideology or political position than informing the public». Do you know which citizens trust the media the least? Only 18% of Republicans trust the press, while 57% of Democrats trust the media.

Another study, the Digital News Report 2021 by the Reuters Institute, revealed that Americans are the least confident in the media compared to the confidence indicators of 46 other countries.

The data is quite clear: only 29% of Americans trust the media, while 23% say they do not trust it. The other 44% of Americans say they don’t trust it enough.

I the media is supposedly being so benevolent to the Republicans, how come they’re the ones who don’t trust the press and have the perception that the media is lying and deceiving the public?

Isn’t it because the liberal media covered up, for months, the New York Post’s big revelation about Hunter Biden’s laptop in the weeks leading up to the election?  Isn’t it because the traditional media have systematically misrepresented facts to attack conservative politicians and references like Florida Governor Ron DeSantis?  Is it not why the media, for four years, systematically attacked former President Trump often with disinformation or belied facts? 

The New York Times. (Flickr)

It is also curious that for Calmes it is evident that only Republicans are to blame for the institutional weakening that confronts the United States. It must be that the Democrats did not arm and use false Russian collusion for years. It must be that the Democrats, in addition to their lust for power, do not promote the dangerous idea of expanding the Supreme Court; it must be that President Joe Biden, in addition to imposing his health restrictions, did not threaten to overrun Governor DeSantis and other state authorities.

The reality is that the Democrats have contributed to the attack on the institutions of the United States and also to the loss of American citizens’ freedoms. However, Jackie Calmes insists that it is the Republicans who “block federal legislation on the right to vote, those in the red states continue to challenge the 2020 votes for Biden (but not theirs), pass laws to remove future votes to the disadvantage of the Democrats, make a gerrymander of the legislative districts and replace the non-partisan electoral supervisors by other partisan ones”.

Calmes lies and does so shamelessly. That theory that Republicans are trying to impose Jim Crow 2.0 laws is false. After all the polemics with the presidential elections of 2020, protecting the electoral system with clearer laws is the most sensible thing to do so that citizens, especially conservatives, can regain confidence in electoral institutions.

“Right-wing media co-opted the fair and balanced adjectives

The last straw in Calmes’ article is when she says that “it is essential that political journalists remain fair and balanced, in contrast to the right-wing network that cynically seized those adjectives”.

The first thing here is that the columnist contradicts herself, as her own article suggests that the media must change its approach to political issues by being even tougher with the GOP. The second, and no less important, is that it accuses the “right-wing” press of being cynical and taking over the news balance.

It should not be forgotten that the majority of conservative media in the United States was born as a reaction to the political partisanship of the traditional media. Fox News was, directly, a reaction to CNN and its politically biased left-wing coverage. And it has not done badly, because it is the most successful news network in the country. The New York Post, for example, became unequivocally conservative after the New York Times radicalized its editorial line toward the political left. Conservative alternative media was born because the traditional liberal media began to function as communicational arms of the Democratic Party and not as serious journalistic enterprises.

Furthermore, which is the media that hypocritically call itself objective and impartial? The liberal media. It is laughable that someone should say that the right-wing press took possession of the «fair and balanced» adjectives.

Let it be well understood: a media can have its editorial line and defend ideologies and certain values that it believes to be correct, however, that does not mean that it will be docile to the politicians who are, in theory, on its side; if they are wrong, criticism should be equally harsh in relation to their adversaries. Once the media, on both sides, practice this premise, trust in the media will surely grow and American institutionalism and democracy will improve, since the press, in the end, should be the citizens’ first ally and the government’s first watchdog. Don’t be fooled by columnists like Jackie Calmes.

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