Monday, April 8, 2019

Clash of the Media Titans

The New York Times is having problems. It’s former executive editor Jill Abramson called out the paper for biased reporting on the Trump administration. Of course, we can dismiss Abramson’s opinion as that of a disgruntled fired employee. But, what to make of Ted Koppel’s similar critique, namely that the Times slants news coverage to make the Trump administration look bad?

The Times used to rule the journalistic roost. It used to be the international paper of record, the Bible of journalism. Naturally, the arrival of the internet has damaged the Times advertising base, causing the paper to need a bailout from a Mexican billionaire. And still, the mainstream media, led by the Times, and followed by major media outlets, even by CNN and MSNBC, still has the largest aggregate audience. In truth, many other media outlets take their cues from the Times.

One should add that New Corps’ Wall Street Journal is the most important newspaper to people in the know, but still, the Times has traditionally had more influence on the media at large.

So, when the Times runs a major hit piece on Rupert Murdoch and his media empire, we take notice. Since Murdoch has, by the accounting of Jeffrey Lord, eaten the Times’s lunch, it is not wrong to consider that the Times is fighting back by slandering and defaming its major competitor. All’s fair, if not in love and war, at least in journalism.

One notes that if you compare Fox News with the New York Times, the former makes far more profit than the latter. Fox News is a cash cow. The New York Times—at least until Donald Trump bailed it out—is on food stamps.

So, the Times wants to blame Murdoch for the failure of liberal democracy. Why not, you ask. The hit piece explains:

The right-wing populist wave that looked like a fleeting cultural phenomenon a few years ago has turned into the defining political movement of the times, disrupting the world order of the last half-century. The Murdoch empire did not cause this wave. But more than any single media company, it enabled it, promoted it and profited from it. Across the English-speaking world, the family’s outlets have helped elevate marginal demagogues, mainstream ethnonationalism and politicize the very notion of truth.  The results have been striking. It may not have been the family’s mission to destabilize democracies around the world, but that has been its most consequential legacy.

This paragraph contains so many inaccuracies that it is impossible to deal with all of them. If liberal democracy has been declining around the world, the influence of the illiberal Chinese regime is the first reason. The second reason is that when nations around the world look at American liberal democracy, they see judges and activists imposing crackpot ideas on the populace, like the transgender follies. They see a nation that cannot control its own borders and that is being invaded by peoples who will undermine it from within. They see activists judges tamping down innovation. They see the same foolish policies in Western Europe. They see an inability to confront Islamist terrorism… we could go on.

To blame it on Rupert Murdoch is the kind of typical demonization that has persuaded countries around the world, especially those that have already undergone their own cultural revolutions, that they do not want to buy what America is selling.

Lord concludes that Murdoch has supplanted the Sulzberger family. He has more influence on world affairs and is making a whole lot more money:

Long before the dawn of cable news, and long before Rupert Murdoch arrived in America to expand his Australian newspaper empire, The New York Times and the Sulzberger family that owned it ruled the media roost.

And now - they don’t. Because of Rupert Murdoch’s newspaper and television genius, the Sulzberger influence on the world and in America has been overshadowed by Murdoch's News Corporation and Fox News.

The America where attention was paid to Times columnists and their dominating left-wing world view has vanished - replaced by massive audiences listening in prime time these days to Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham. Breakfast is not about reading The Times - it’s about tuning in to Fox & Friends.

The Times hit job on the Murdochs and Fox News is furious that the President of the United States - on whom they spent volumes of print and cyber-ink insisting he would never win-calls not them but Rupert Murdoch and - oh the horror!!!! - Sean Hannity.

In short, what this voluminous Times hit piece is really all about is a primal scream of anger, rage and envy that its once-upon-a-time “Kingdom and Power” of liberalism is gone - and gone for good. The paper no longer gets to define what is “truth”, and it most assuredly is no longer “the bible.”

Whatever else lies ahead for the Murdochs and Fox News, it is very safe to say that this spittle-flecked Times hit job is in reality nothing more than a testament to just how effectively The Times monopoly and that of the larger Leftist State Media has been eviscerated- once and for all.

So, the Times can no longer compete in the matter of journalism. The internet has given people access to a far wider journalistic field. The wider the field, the more information available, the more difficult it is for the Times to keep peddling its slanted journalism.

True enough, the mainstream media still holds sway. Murdoch has merely provided a counterbalance. He has broken the monopoly control that the Times had on journalism. He was not alone. But, he took advantage of opportunities that the Times did not know how to monetize. The true story is that Donald Trump did save the Times from financial oblivion. 

Apparently, the business model of the Times has reduced the paper to tabloid journalism. It now keeps feeding its readers the negative stories that they seem to want. Unfortunately, being brought up on New York Times stories means not knowing how to think rationally.


Sam L. said...

I don't trust the NYT; indeed, I despise, detest, and distrust the NYT. They print the writings of Paullie "The Beard" Krugman.

Walt said...

I don't think the Times is dead or without influence. I speak to too many people, at least here in NYC, who repeat what it --and Rachel Maddow--say as Gospel and, likely w/o ever watching Fox, dismiss everything on it as lies and propaganda and anyone who watches or believes it as a fascist. I note this, too, as a facebook meme. But I do think the worldwide wave of distrust in government(s) is caused by the governments themselves.