Glance at the front page of this newspaper. Compare it to the page you are now on. On the front page you will find hard news. The headlines indicate that factual material will follow. I believe that factual material is what you will always find there.
On the page you are now reading, a heading appears. It reads “Editorials & Opinions.” I have read the Marietta Daily Journal since August of 1971. I doubt that I have missed reading a single issue over these 48 years. I also believe this newspaper has remained true to the distinction between news and opinion.
This doesn’t mean that the MDJ’s editorials or its columnists’ opinions haven’t made anyone angry or that they haven’t been unfair. Fair or not is a matter of perspective. In opinion writing, “fairness” doesn’t apply as long as one doesn’t tell lies or misrepresent someone. It’s not the opinion writer’s purpose to show both sides but to argue, support and shed light on one side.
Factual or not is a matter of integrity. Even so, it’s possible to get facts wrong, in which case apologies and corrections are due. At any rate, a principled journalist will always keep news and opinion separate. This newspaper does.
Not so with its print counterparts around the country nor with television news. Objectivity informs; subjectivity argues a viewpoint. Only a cursory glance will reveal whether or not the Washington Post or the New York Times presents hard news objectively. They don’t. The Wall Street Journal is better, though at times it could justifiably be charged with fashioning headlines that tilt a certain way.
It hasn’t always been so with the New York Times. Its longtime editor, Mississippi-born Turner Catledge, was heralded as an ethical man who sought to “do newspapering right” and to “report the facts straight and the opinions clear.” Editor of one of the world’s most widely known newspapers from 1951 to 1968, Catledge was never a big shot nor too busy to visit his home state and little East Central Jr. College in Decatur, Mississippi, to talk journalism with the college newspaper staff. Catledge was a graduate of Mississippi State University, then known as Mississippi A&M.
Smaller newspapers excepted, modern journalism has not followed the path of Turner Catledge. Neither has the electronic media. That’s why President Trump’s rage during his press conference this past week was justified. There has never been a better example of New Journalism’s excesses and subjectivity than the way the national media has covered President Trump. Finding him entertaining during his presidential campaign, the networks and the national newspapers gave him time and space, never dreaming he would win the presidency. The biggest uh-oh! in political history is election night of 2016. The media’s useful idiot turned out not to be an idiot after all, but a candidate who was saying what voters wanted to hear. Since that eventful night, the sole mission of CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times has been to erase their embarrassment by destroying Donald Trump. So far, none of their efforts have worked. It’s highly unlikely that a kerfuffle over the president’s conversation with a foreign leader will work either.
Nationally, objective journalism is dying. ABC’s Sam Donaldson started it all by yelling out at and being disrespectful to a president, but who could ever enrage the smiling, joke-cracking Ronald Reagan? Trump, though, ain’t taking it. Good for him.
Georgia Congressman John Lewis deserves deep respect for his courageous stand as a civil rights hero. How many different photographs of his bloodied head have we seen? But that heroism cannot justify Lewis’ ludicrous claim that President Trump is a threat to our democracy. Currently the biggest threat to our democracy is “news” organizations leading the way in refusing to accept the results of an election. That’s what undeveloped nations do.
Churchill once commented, “A fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject.” His words are an apt description of the journalists and commentators whose arrogance and disdain are aimed as much at Trump’s 63 million voters as at Trump himself.
Having thrown respectable and objective journalism to the winds, the New Journalists are mean and vengeful, but they aren’t dumb. They know that Biden is too yesterday and that the other Democratic candidates are too far left. Their aim is to crown Hillary Clinton who, no doubt, is waiting in the wings.
Even Napoleon remarked, “Three hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.” But Donald Trump doesn’t fear newspapers or cable television, either. That’s why they hate him. He has bill-boarded their total lack of objectivity.