Washington Post Columnist Calls for the End of Impartiality and Balance in Journalism

In an age of rage, Washington Post columnist and MSNBC contributor Jennifer Rubin has long been a standout in her attacks on Republicans and conservatives: “We have to collectively, in essence, burn down the Republican Party. We have to level them because if there are survivors, if there are people who weather this storm, they will do it again.” However, her recent column shows that she has made a clean break not only from Republicans but from reason. The writer (long cited by the Post as their “Republican columnist” for balance) has called for the media to abandon balance and impartiality. Rubin is demanding that the media just become overt advocates in refusing to report both sides in the myriad of political issues in this election.

In her column, Rubin rejects the “need for false balance” because the coverage can suggest that Republicans are “rational.”

“The Kabuki dance in which Trump, his defenders and his supporters are treated as rational (clever even!) is what comes from a media establishment that refuses to discard its need for false balance that it has developed over the course of decades.”

That balance was once called “journalism” but Rubin now calls it facilitating “disinformation.” Balanced reporting is now dangerous and makes the media “a megaphone for disinformation, upholding the pretense that there are two political parties with equally valid takes on reality.”

What is striking is how Rubin objects to the current coverage when many already object to a heavy bias in such reporting. Yet, Rubin believes the media must go further.

Rubin’s attack on disinformation is ironic given her own past controversies in misrepresenting news, cases, and events. For full disclosure, I clashed with Rubin over her personally attacking me for a theory that I did not agree with in a column that I did not write. I also challenged her on an equally bizarre column where she wrote about my impeachment testimony and later column misrepresenting the holding in an appellate case involving Trump. That false account was never corrected by the Washington Post. It appears that misrepresenting the holding of a major case is not being a “a megaphone for disinformation.”

Rubin, however, is not alone in this call to abandon the foundational principle of impartiality in journalism.

We have been discussing the rise of advocacy journalism and the rejection of objectivity in journalism schools. Writerseditorscommentators, and academics have embraced rising calls for censorship and speech controls, including President-elect Joe Biden and his key advisers. This movement includes academics rejecting the very concept of objectivity in journalism in favor of open advocacy.

Columbia Journalism Dean and New Yorker writer Steve Coll decried how the First Amendment right to freedom of speech was being “weaponized” to protect disinformation. In an interview with The Stanford Daily, Stanford journalism professor, Ted Glasser, insisted that journalism needed to “free itself from this notion of objectivity to develop a sense of social justice.” He rejected the notion that the journalism is based on objectivity and said that he views “journalists as activists because journalism at its best — and indeed history at its best — is all about morality.”  Thus, “Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”

Lauren Wolfe, the fired freelance editor for the New York Times, has not only gone public to defend her pro-Biden tweet but published a piece titled I’m a Biased Journalist and I’m Okay With That.” 

Former New York Times writer (and now Howard University Journalism Professor) Nikole Hannah-Jones is a leading voice for advocacy journalism.

Indeed, Hannah-Jones has declared “all journalism is activism.” Her 1619 Project has been challenged as deeply flawed and she has a long record as a journalist of intolerance, controversial positions on rioting, and fostering conspiracy theories. Hannah-Jones would later help lead the effort at the Times to get rid of an editor and apologize for publishing a column from Sen. Tom Cotten as inaccurate and inflammatory.

These figures are killing journalism. Polls show trust in the media at an all-time low with less than 20 percent of citizens trusting television or print media. Yet, reporters and academics continue to destroy the core principles that sustain journalism and ultimately the role of a free press in our society. The result is to turn newspapers like the Post into echo chambers for the values of its reporters and a core of liberal readers.

For the rest of the country (including roughly half that voted for Trump), figures like Rubin are saying that they should go elsewhere.  They are. Media outlets like CNN have faced sharp declines in viewership and are trying to break away from this advocacy model to restore ratings. (The move has been denounced by some in the media as potentially helping Republicans by fairly reporting their side of these controversies).  The movement toward advocacy journalism is likely to build in the coming years to remake the media in the image of figures like Hannah-Jones and Rubin.

Viewers clearly tune in to Fox News and MSNBC for their strong editorial opinion and commentators. However, there has long been a line between reporters and commentators in how stories are presented. If journalists want to be advocates, they can shift to the side of commentary. That is clearly not sufficient for some like Rubin who do not want readers to be able to receive both sides of these controversies. Readers are to be shaped in their opinions like impressionable children. That was the message from the conference on disinformation led by media and Democratic figures like the recently fired CNN media host Brian Stelter.

Even as a columnist, I prefer the approach of Theodore White that “when a reporter sits down at the typewriter, he’s nobody’s friend.”


178 thoughts on “Washington Post Columnist Calls for the End of Impartiality and Balance in Journalism”

  1. In contrast, I was thinking today how the HuffPost’s Political Stance (The Huffington Post until 2017) has changed over the Years,

    [Excerpt from wikipedia.org]
    “… The Huffington Post was launched on May 9, 2005, as a commentary outlet, blog, and an alternative to news aggregators such as the Drudge Report. It was founded by Arianna Huffington, Andrew Breitbart, Kenneth Lerer, and Jonah Peretti. Prior to this, Arianna Huffington hosted the website Ariannaonline.com. Her first foray into the Internet was the website Resignation.com, which called for the resignation of President Bill Clinton and was a rallying place for conservatives opposing Clinton. …”

    Political Stance:
    ” … HuffPost has been seen as a mostly liberal or liberal-leaning outlet, being described as such by the BBC, CNN, and Politico. Upon becoming the editor-in-chief in December 2016, Lydia Polgreen said that the “wave of intolerance and bigotry that seems to be sweeping the globe” after the election of Donald Trump was remarkable and The Huffington Post has an “absolutely indispensable role to play in this era in human history.”

    Commenting in 2012 on increased conservative engagement on the website despite its reputation as a liberal news source, The Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington stated that her website is “increasingly seen” as an Internet newspaper that is “not positioned ideologically in terms of how we cover the news”. According to Michael Steel, press secretary for Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner, Republican aides “engage with liberal websites like The Huffington Post [anyway, if for] no other reason than [because] they drive a lot of cable coverage”. Jon Bekken, journalism professor at Suffolk University, has cited it as an example of an “advocacy newspaper”. The Wall Street Journal editor James Taranto has mockingly referred to it as the “Puffington Host”, while Rush Limbaugh referred to it as the “Huffing and Puffington Post”.

    During the 2016 United States presidential election, HuffPost regularly appended an editor’s note to the end of stories about candidate Donald Trump, reading: “Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims—1.6 billion members of an entire religion—from entering the U.S.” After Trump was elected on November 8, 2016, HuffPost ended this practice to “give respect to the office of the presidency.”

    Ibid.: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HuffPost#Political_stance

    Your column [John] also made me think of ‘catching up on’ Megyn Kelly, seems she to has gone through some changes and launched her own Media Venture.

    “Devil May Care Media Is Megyn Kelly’s Independent Media Company Focused on News, Current Events, Legal and Cultural Issues and Will be the Exclusive Home to The Megyn Kelly Show”

    “Devil May Care Media was founded by Megyn Kelly as an independent platform dedicated to the free, unfettered exchange of news, information and ideas. Committed to taking on difficult subjects with reason and rationality, Devil May Care Media is unbeholden to any corporate entity. Its fealty is to the truth, discussed openly, sometimes provocatively, and with respect for the audience’s ability to make its own judgments.”

    Ibid.: https://www.devilmaycaremedia.com/


    1. As the saying goes: “It’s A Woman’s Prerogative To Change Her Mind”

      The Times They Are A-Changin’

      Come gather ’round people
      Wherever you roam
      And admit that the waters
      Around you have grown
      And accept it that soon
      You’ll be drenched to the bone
      If your time to you is worth savin’
      And you better start swimmin’
      Or you’ll sink like a stone
      For the times they are a-changin’

      Come writers and critics
      Who prophesize with your pen
      And keep your eyes wide
      The chance won’t come again
      And don’t speak too soon
      For the wheel’s still in spin
      And there’s no tellin’ who
      That it’s namin’
      For the loser now
      Will be later to win
      For the times they are a-changin’

      Come senators, congressmen
      Please heed the call
      Don’t stand in the doorway
      Don’t block up the hall
      For he that gets hurt
      Will be he who has stalled
      The battle outside ragin’
      Will soon shake your windows
      And rattle your walls
      For the times they are a-changin’

      Come mothers and fathers
      Throughout the land
      And don’t criticize
      What you can’t understand
      Your sons and your daughters
      Are beyond your command
      Your old road is rapidly agin’
      Please get out of the new one
      If you can’t lend your hand
      For the times they are a-changin’

      The line it is drawn
      The curse it is cast
      The slow one now
      Will later be fast
      As the present now
      Will later be past
      The order is rapidly fadin’
      And the first one now
      Will later be last
      For the times they are a-changin’

      The Times They Are A-Changin’
      Artist: Bob Dylan
      Album: The Times They Are a-Changin’
      Released: 1964

    2. As neither Arianna Huffington (on 5/9/05) ) nor Megyn Kelly (on 9/10/20) came out of the blue, it might be for some interest to know more about her colorful (personal) life.

      1. On 4/12/86, Arianna Stassinopoulos, a Greek-born writer and lecturer, married Michael Huffington, the son of late Roy Huffington, a pioneer in the oil business, founder of “Huffco” (discovered natural gas in Indonesia), and very close ally of President George Bush, who served as Ambassador to Austria from 1990 to 1993). Michael served as Vice Chairman of Huffco from 1976-1990 [1]. He made a fortune from oil and natural gas interests in Indonesia. He also launched and sold a merchant bank “Simmons & Huffington” for a healthy windfall. On 6/27/97, the couple “friendly” break up on 6/26/97. Ariana Huffington, with her two children, moved to Brentwood, CA, in her new $ 4.1 Mill home part of her multimillion-dollar divorce settlement. The property is reportedly protected by an electric fence, and Huffington’s office is hidden behind a sliding bookcase. In 2013, it was reported that Huffington had purchased an $8.1 million 4,177-square-foot apartment in the affluent SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan.

      Adrianna rose to the national prominence in 1994 (unsuccessful Senate bid by her then husband, She became known as a reliable supporter of conservative causes such as Newt Gingrich’s “Republican Revolution” and Bob Dole’s 1996 candidacy for president. However, in 1998 she described “the right–left divisions are so outdated now. For me, the primary division is between people who are aware of what I call ‘the two nations’ (rich and poor), and those who are not.” In 2003, Adrianna (I-CA) earned 47,505 (0.5%) votes in her bid in the 2003 CA-governor’s recall election which Arnold Schwarzengger (and his then spouse Maria Shriver) won. In 2004, she indorsed then Secretary of State John Kerry in his Presidential bid. The time she co-founded “The Huffington Post”, she was registered Democrat.

      In 2/11, AOL acquired the website{2] for US$315 million [3] making her editor-in-chief (departed in ’16) [4]. She is also famous for her close involvement in a range of other companies, including Thrive Global (value $120 million), Uber, Onex, and Global Citizen. An accomplished writer, Arianna has published numerous best-selling books.

      2. Megyn Kelly started her carrier as TV personality at ABC affiliate WJLA-TV in 2003. A year later, she successfully applied for a job at the late Roger Ailes’ [5] FNN that she holds until 2017. Megyn moved up the latter during her 12 years tenue until it peaked with the appearance of presidential candidate Donald J. Trump in 2015 [6]

      In 5/16 FNN aired a one-hour prime time special wherein Kelly interviewed celebrities from the worlds of “politics, entertainment, and other areas of human interest”. Critics qualified the show as a public interview for her next job.“Barbara Walters has retired; Oprah has moved to the OWN network and is doing a different thing now. So why not me?” [7]. In 2017 she changed ships and signed three years contract worth $ 69 Million. Two years later, Megyn Kelly and NBC have ended a partnership that ultimately failed to elevate the anchor’s stature and the network’s ratings. Kelly will reportedly pay remaining $30 million.

      To sum up: Arianna Huffington & Megyn Kelly are two different pair of shoes!

      [1] His interest in politics began in summer 1968, when he was an intern for Rep. George H. W. Bush and later a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Negotiations Policy und DepSecDef William Taft (Reagan-Bush administration) Michael represented CA-22 from 1993-1995 in the House, his senatorial bid failed (44.8-47.7) against incumbant Diane Feinstein (D-CA) on 11/8/94
      [2] It shouldn’t be overlooked that there was a controversy about thousands of uncompensated bloggers.
      [3] At the time of the sale Ariana owned around 30% of the company, giving her a pre-tax payday of roughly $100 million.
      [4] https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2016/09/why-arianna-huffington-left-the-huffington-post
      5] Before Robert Murdoch appointed him as CEO (1996-2016) he was a political consulter for Nixon (Joe McGinniss: The Selling of the President, 1969), Reagon, Bush I) and creator of “Orchestra Pit Theory” .
      [6] Those who followed politics for a longer period of time, will remember her exchange on 8/6/15 at primary debate or how she covered 2016 RNC.
      [7] https://variety.com/2015/tv/news/megyn-kelly-fox-news-star-anchor-republicans-hillary-clinton-1201524340/

    1. Not exactly:

      “Contrary to what most people think, the Nazis were ardent socialists (hence the term “National socialism”). They believed in free health care and guaranteed jobs. They confiscated inherited wealth and spent vast sums on public education. They purged the church from public policy, promoted a new form of pagan spirituality, and inserted the authority of the state into every nook and cranny of daily life. The Nazis declared war on smoking, supported abortion, euthanasia, and gun control. They loathed the free market, provided generous pensions for the elderly, and maintained a strict racial quota system in their universities—where campus speech codes were all the rage. The Nazis led the world in organic farming and alternative medicine. Hitler was a strict vegetarian, and Himmler was an animal rights activist.”
      ~Liberal Fascism: The Secret History of the American Left, From Mussolini to the Politics of Change

        1. Liberal fascism is an oxymoron. But most people who self identify as liberal AREN’T.

          liberal is someone who prizes liberty – the word is self defining.

          Fascism is as Mussolini defined it “everything in the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state” that fits the left today.

          The fundimental distinction between communists and fascist is that Fascists are nationalists. Both are socialists.

          The modern left fits Mussolini’s definition perfectly, but they do not exhibit the nationalism of fascist regimes.

    2. David B., this is my brief summary provided earlier. Tell me what you think.

      Left-wing: Big government; rights of private property infringed on.
      Nazi: Big government; rights of private property infringed on.
      “Right-wing”: Small government; private property rights essential
      Libertarian: Small government; private property rights essential
      Classical liberal: Small government; private property rights essential
      Conservative: Varies slightly but mostly Small government; private property rights essential
      Add to Nazi: National Socialism; Dictatorship; religious persecution and persecution based on race; expansionist; Jessie Owens could not possibly exist.
      “Democrat racist leadership including their friend, Joe Biden: Jessie Owens sits in the back of the bus.
      “Right-wing”: Jessie Owens was an American. ‘Americans are free’

        1. David, you are correct, but I was not going considering the extremes on either side.

          Start with one point. Big government vs small government.

          Doesn’t the left like big government?
          Doesn’t the right like small government?

          Is the fascist government large or small.

          Now look at the rest of the points.

          Here is a video. I am breaking the name of the site up with spaces. You can put it back together. I posted it twice and it didn’t appear. Perhaps a WordPress filter blocks the site or certain videos from the site. That has happened on youtube.

          https://www.pra geru.com/video/ is-fascism-right-or-left

          Let me know what you think.

          1. No, as I understand it classical liberals wanted “small” government while the conservatives, considered to be those seated on the right in the French assembly, insisted in rigid control from the center.

            This is a pointless discussion. Read the history of the French republics.

            1. David, you are correct, but the Liberal or progressive of today is not a classical liberal. I am best described as a classical liberal/libertarian. The left stole the word liberal from the classical liberal, but the left is illiberal.

              Who wants a small government? The classical liberal. Is that what we saw under Obama or are seeing today under Biden? Absolutely not.

              Who is censoring speech? The left.

              Who is taking private property rights away? The left.

            2. There is no “as I understand it”
              Classical liberal – or just liberal before the early 20th century progressives stole the term liberal having made it into an insult,
              is someone who prizes liberty.
              Conservatives are those resistant to change.

              Liberalism and conservatism are not inherently incompatible. Liberalism is an ideology, conservatism is merely proceeding with caution.

              From country to country and era to era there is some policy differences with respect to groups using the same label.
              But for the most part the deviations are not huge.
              Liberal is possibly the first word that the left mangled its meaning.
              Liberal and libertarian mean the same thing. Classical liberal is just an attempt to say – I mean liberal as the meaning flows from the word, not as it has been mangled.

        2. Maybe, but the actual far right is not socialist. Fascists are.

          I would also ask that you consider your own claims.

          What are the policies of the “far right” ?

          I can pick but I would prefer that you do – since you are the one making the claim that the far right is fascist and totalitarian.

          Is Trump far right ? DeSantis ? MTG ? Jordan ?

          Who is the “far right” today ?
          and what are the specific political views that make them “far right” ?

          Can you describe the “far right” in terms of values and principles that those on the “far right” would say is accurate ?

          Left and far left are easy.
          The left is those that seek solutions to problems in government. add “far” means they seek all or nearly all solutions in government.
          All on the left are not socialists, but all socialists are on the left. Most on the far left.

        3. Politics is multidimensional.

          What do you think the is the attribute that sets the right left axis ?

          There are numerous political spectrums out there with two or more axis.
          Some axis examples are personal freedom, economic freedom, equality, collectivism

          So what is it that you think defines the left right axis ? Or is it just arbitrary ?

          On non-arbitrary schemes some form of freedom is one Axis and the extremes of that are anarchy and totalitarianism.

          In the real world as I noted politics is actually multi-dimensional, and left and right tend to be arbitrary labels.

          I would also suggest isidewith.com as a means of connecting what is important to you with the candidates

    3. Fascism is and has always been a flavor of leftism (powerful authoritarian government of the few over the impoverished collective). Leftism in all its forms is evil.

        1. Read Musolini

          Fascism: Everying in the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.

          The name of the NAZI party is literally National socialist German workers party

          Mussolini offered fasicm as the perfection of socialism.
          Hitler and his henchmen repeatedly insisted they were socialists – as their platform and policies demonstrated.
          Peron was a socialist.

          I have no idea what you mean by right if fascism is on the right.

          Fascism is unarguably statism – big government, and I can not think of a fascist government that was not socialist.

          Fascism is the synthesis of socialism and nationalism.

          The modern left is not fascist – or atleast they are not nationalist. They certainly are socialist.
          The modern right is absolutely not fascist, they are most definitely not socialists or statists. Some may be nationalist.

          The most repugnant part of fascism is socialism. Socialism always fails and nearly always fails bloodily.
          All nationalist regimes have not been failures.

          Fascism is just a particularly malignant form of socialism.

          Are you claiming socialism is on the right ?


    4. So, you think SOCIALISM is far right? Lol. You should sue for all your education monies to be returned. You’re clueless.

    5. Based on what criteria ? How do you define right ? How do you define fascism ?

      If the terms are arbitrary then any claim is inherently true – because left and right do not mean anything.

      On the the problems with discussions with you – and the left generally is that you tie nothing to reality.

      Words have no meaning or are defined in reference to other words without meaning.

      You equate fascism with the ultra right – but provide no means of measuring right-left.

      You worry about “climate change” – yet the climate has always been changing, change is the universal constant.
      The view that everything should be static, unchanging is the core to conservatism – yet you would never call yourself conservative.
      And you are only conservative with respect to the environment.

      What does it take to get you to communicate in terms that are fixed – actually defined – not by the left, but defined in reality.

      I think Mussolini’s definition of fascism is excellent, if you disagree – provide a clear definition of fascism by quantifiable attributes that fits accepted historical fascists. Mussolini’s definition fits Hitler and Mussolini – any definition that does not clearly fit both must be false.
      But it does not fit anyone or anything that I would call “ultra far right”

      I suggest that nearly everything you post would collapse to meaninglessness or self contradiction,
      if your words were given actual meaning.

      There is a reason that the left – for centuries has worked to destroy language.
      Because it can not exist where words have meaning.

  2. Jennifer Rubin is a sick person , and the Wastington Post is sicker for allowing many of her post .

  3. There’s absolutely nothing about liberals that’s intelligent, problem solving, or fierce. They are weak, feeble minded cowards who hide behind masks and overwhelming numbers (antifa) and obnoxious and demanding (media). They are the people who feel beat when everyone is as miserable as they are, living in their pathetic little bubble. They have no idea that the massive numbers of middle America has an anger that’s swelling every day, every time they get off work to fill up the gas tank or go food shopping. But they’re soon to find out just how badly they and their ideals of transgenderism, reckless spending, and loony ideas are hated across the heartland

  4. It puzzles me why the right is always targeted as fascist.

    Perhaps I need the take Jennifer on a little trip down memory lane. Had she attended history class she would know that four of tenets of the third reich were:

    1. Confiscation of all guns from the citizenry.
    2. Terrorizing and killing Jews
    3. Book burning
    4. Abolishment of most religions.

    Now, jennifer, which party does that remind you of?

  5. I had a rather long conversation online with someone who was trying to convince me that the subject of our conversation was a “Neo-Fascist.
    I said “I don’t think you understand the meaning of the label Fascist” or what Fascists actually did at the height of their power. He proceeded to explain to me that people on the right and especially anyone who might have supported Trump was by default a fascist because…Just because.
    When I pointed out the behaviors of groups like the brown shirts more closely resembled the behaviors of Antifa and BLM, both supported by the left, he told me that Antifa couldn’t be Fascist because its like, you know, in their name! Anti-Fascist!

    This is the long way of pointing out that there is a cabal of deranged people out there that do not think. They don’t know history. They don’t understand the terms they throw around. They are useful tools for leftists who DO know what is going on.

    Just because someone has degrees behind their name and is a “professional”, doesn’t mean they have a clue. Dangerous times we live in, but we let this happen. It might well be to late to fix it.

    1. RE:”This is the long way of pointing out that there is a cabal of deranged people out there that do not think..” Welcome to my world. You’ll find a comment from me in that regard somewhere in today’s conversations. It’s a position I’ve maintained for years.

    2. When I pointed out the behaviors of groups like the brown shirts more closely resembled the behaviors of Antifa and BLM, both supported by the left, he told me that Antifa couldn’t be Fascist because its like, you know, in their name! Anti-Fascist!

      Antifa is as antifascist as the Westboro Baptist Church is Christian.

  6. The party of homelessness, censorship, anti-Americanism, felons and illegal immigrants can count on this woman to push the democrat Marxist ideology and propaganda.

  7. Jennifer Rubin is just plain despicable. She advocates for the type of political system that put people like her in gulags in the Soviet Union or in gas chambers in Nazi Germany. She is either wantonly ignorant of history or beyond stupid

  8. Many years ago I came across an illustration of the mythical Harpy and whenever I see this woman that image of a cruel face with black hair surrounding it comes to mind and the current definition fits as well “a predatory person : leech. : a shrewish woman”

    1. So what she is saying is business as usual. All of the msm have been doing this for the last couple of decades. The only stories about conservatives are negative. Today’s media are truly the enemy of the people.

  9. It is unfair to accuse the Washington Post of blurring the line between news and commentary. The post obliterated that line fifty years ago.

  10. I do not know why our Professor wastes ink on the likes of Jennifer Rubin. For years she has written stupidity after stupidity and just keeps proclaiming her ignorance. As the saying goes “Some mothers have ’em”.

    1. Because she says the quiet part out loud. And in so doing may sober up a few information activests.

  11. There is something seriously wrong with Jennifer Rubin. Besides being an astoundingly unappealing and unattractive person both inside and out. She is unwatchable and unlistenable. Why is she given so much air time? One has to wonder.

  12. Democracy dies in darkness. Is this still the tag line for the Washington Post? They should change it to: Washington Post: ‘Megaphone for disinformation.’

  13. I personally think you are totally nuts if you vote Dem or Rep. Nothing but sheople that have a liking to one particular theme of brainwashing.

  14. One major pole has Trump up by 5 over Brandon. So you want to know why the dims are trying to destroy Donald Trump.

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