This week I am going to do something unusual. I am going to enter into a conversation with another columnist. Doing so was not so unusual a few decades back. Bill Buckley and James Jackson Kilpatrick did it when provoked, and it was always interesting. But today columnists are godlike figures. They communicate solely with Mount Olympus, and the result is often a bit tedious.
I propose to address the New York Post's Michael Goodwin and congratulate him on noting that mainstream media, or MSM, have passed yet another milepost in their decline. In his column this weekend, Goodwin wrote:
"Donald Trump may or may not fix his campaign, and Hillary Clinton may or may not become the first female president. But something else happening before our eyes is almost as important: the complete collapse of American journalism as we know it. The frenzy to bury Trump is not limited to the Clinton campaign and the Obama White House. They are working hand in hand with what was considered the cream of the nation's news organizations."
Goodwin writes for a Rupert Murdoch newspaper, and I write for the good Washington Times and The American Spectator. None is a member of the MSM, and I would venture that neither of us is as tyrannized into homogeneity as the writers for the MSM. In fact, there exists more diversity of opinion about Trump and Clinton where we write than within the MSM. We trust our readers to decide for themselves.
My only quibble with Goodwin is that I doubt the MSM had much credibility before it began its ambush of Trump, though for certitude it has now gone beyond the point of no return. As he says: "The mainstream media's reputations will likely never recover, nor will the standards. No future producer, editor, reporter or anchor can be expected to meet a test of fairness when that standard has been trashed in such willful and blatant fashion." This is a historic moment. Mainstream Americans will continue their migration to the internet. That is their alternative. And in using it, they will continue the steady bankruptcy of the news organizations of MSM.
Their abandonment of the standards for fairness and accuracy is completely willful. They find themselves indignant by the looseness with which Trump says certain things. Most egregious was their hysteria over a sentence fragment about what Second Amendment advocates might or might not do in response to Clinton's attacks on the amendment. The MSM insisted he was encouraging violence. Among mature adults that response was considered preposterous.
The MSM are aroused by Trump's words, but unbothered by actions that Clinton has actually taken. It seems to think that Trump's misfired jokes or loosely formulated statements are more dangerous to the commonwealth than Clinton's decisions with her emails and her mendacious cover-ups.
Evidence of what FBI Director James Comey called Clinton's "extremely careless" mishandling of classified documents does not arouse the MSM's sense of alarm. Even evidence of repeated conflict of interest in her commingling of Clinton Foundation work and State Department work does not trouble the MSM. Their aphorism is not that actions speak louder than words, but that words are more alarming than actions.
Actually, Clinton's server will be to her candidacy what Monica Lewinsky's DNA-bespattered dress was to Bill Clinton's presidency. That is to say, her server will be remembered as high-tech proof that Clinton is a liar. Consider her polls. A recent poll shows that 68 percent of the electorate already considers her "untrustworthy." And as of Monday evening, we were informed of the discovery of 14,900 more emails that she failed to turn over to the authorities.
The MSM may think that Clinton's actions do not reverberate as loudly with the American people as a handful of cavalier utterances from Trump, but I think they are mistaken. Her acts and the lies she has repeated to cover them up are going to become increasingly consequential in this race. They will be repeated on the internet, within the alternative media, in the conservative press and — at least transiently — in the MSM itself. Repeated conflicts of interest and lying about mishandled intelligence may not be serious matters to the MSM. My guess is they are to the average American.
Michael Goodwin has drawn our attention to an important historical development. With the trashing of Donald Trump and the celebration of a career criminal, the mainstream media have become passe.