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. Money talks the loudest of all, and if people simply stop reading the Washing Post, at some point it will be forced into a CNN-style reset in order to survive.

    1. Your point is well-taken. I have often wondered why, -with money not a problem for the right side of politics, there has not been sizeable competing media interests other than Fox. I was encouraged by Elon Musk’s effort over Twitter, but still, that is not comparable to mass media control today.
      I think back in the 70s, there was something called the “Seven Sisters,” as stated in Wikipedia and others, that “was a common term for the seven transnational oil companies of the ‘Consortium for Iran’ oligopoly or cartel, which dominated the global petroleum industry from the mid-1940s to the mid-1970s.”
      Today, we have the “seven brothers” ‘dominat[ing] the global [left-wing propaganda] industry’
      –to wit, WaPo, NYT, CNN, NBC, MSNBC, NPR, Daily Beast and little bro, ABC.

    2. The problem with that is the brainwashed woke totalitarians will continue to fund it because that is exactly the kind of echo chamber the want, they’re extremely offended when someone disagrees with them.

    3. Perhaps. But there is a long tradition of wealthy Americans funding publications that never turn a profit. The Nation, Salon, The New Republic, The Weekly Standard, among many others are vanity projects for rich people to push an ideology.

  2. How do we get out of this censored hell we are in, that looks the other way for one side, censors truth they don’t want to hear, and goes out of their way, even lie, to bring down those they do not want or like, who may ruin the agenda that is ruining this country and the world?

  3. The entirety of the media,(yes, FOX too) has yet to lift a finger to make amends for the Russia hoax. Not a single major outlet did the investigative journalism that exposed the pure fiction, lacking even a veneer of facts. Same is true of the documents kerfuffle. No discussion of law. Just arguing from an unsupported conclusion.

  4. I believe she called for mass arrests after Herr Biden’s famous speech at the Reichstag, I mean Philadelphia. She is as ugly as her words.

  5. If the National Socialist Democrat WOKE Party were able to enslave this nation she would be one of the first journalists to be shot. Along with everyone at CNN and MSNBC.

    Uncle Joe would call them useful idiots. Academia would be there with them. History says so.

    700 million guns GO POUND SAND Socialist.

  6. There should be a drawing of Donkey next to ‘fascist’ in the dictionary in the 21st century. It is blatant and out in the open now, and I have never seen such hate and madness in my country in my lifetime. Almost without exception it comes from our left, they are well paid to do it, and it is now daily. Saddest to me is that it’s largely about money; a close second would be the straight faces they blatantly lie through, on video, so there is no parsing of words. Modern American Democrats are indeed equivalent to 18th century French Aristocrats, but creeping toward the German or Italian fascists of the 30s more and more every day.

    There will be no reasoning with them – our only option is to vote them out while we still can and fiercely reject their imposed societal shackles. Stop supporting institutions that are too far gone into leftism because they ain’t coming back – your alma mater is gone forever, it IS that bad – and that shift will likely have to be generational. Money is the language they speak, and the time for hoping things ‘change by themselves’ is over. There is no mystical ‘real world’ people magically butt up against at some point – the people that live in a society create that world through their actions, or inaction. .

  7. Don’t forget. According to Rubin, Bush the W, was literally Hitler, before he was the Epitome of the Republican Party. Don’t even get started on the evils of HW. (ssshhhh, cia director) (the cia was evil, until Obama seeded it with leftists, and turned it into the Democrat Party Stasi)

    1. What we really need are political leaders that don’t have an agenda on how they want us to live and they “all” should be telling us to calm down. Take a deep breath,take a few steps back and sit down and relax. Whether it’s Donald Trump or any of the nitwits on the left, they should be telling us to calm down and act more civil to each other.

  8. With a nod to intellectual blather, all this withers and dies on the vine of inflation. There’s simply no interest like self-interest and one look at this month’s bill for electricity, gas, and groceries and the notion of voters who never had a shot at going to Harvard, Yale, or any other great university paying the loans of those who did should convince the pro-Rubins of the planet that they need a reset or reboot of their hard drives.

  9. Is the media the only institution which behaves like this – advocacy journalism – or is it only one of several others, like medicine or law or education or entertainment? Rubin says out loud what is obvious at most media outlets.

  10. I went to journalism school in the late 60s and had a long career in newspaper journalism. We were taught to be scrupulously nonpartisan in our work despite our private beliefs, unless we were writing opinion pieces or editorials. We were also taught that word choice can subtly influence the reader, e.g., “claimed” conveys a different meaning than “said.” Nowadays, journalists don’t bother with subtle; they use the sledgehammer to the forehead approach. By the time I changed careers after 25 years, nonpartisanship was disappearing, and it’s completely gone today; Rubin and the others cited here are only a few prominent examples. I loved the craft of journalism and despair that the media have lost their way, casually tossing away the credibility that underpinned their raison d’être — except to the partisans they’re so desperate to attract.

    1. Maky, the problem is that you are in your 70s and sadly that world is gone forever. The universities, the J schools, the Law schools, the med schools are all indoctrination centers now and the cancer has metastasized beyond cure now. The cancer is to well ensconced in the body politic that there is now no way to recover. The “kids’ at Harvard say they don’t want diversity of thought so what chance do the idiots at Oberlin have?

      I used to subscribe to the Boston Globe (my former home area) but I canceled it many years ago, I used to regularly buy the NY Times but I ceased that many years ago because both papers are now a partisan rag with zero talent being shown in their pages. I see stories from the LA Times on Realclear Politics sometimes and they are insane. The WAPO is a complete joke as well. Ben Bradley and Katherine Graham are not coming to the rescue. These papers cannot be making money, but they are owned by billionaires who probably take a loss for tax reasons or they are just vanity assets.

      What I see from MSNBC is complete racist tripe that should be shunned by all decent people, but to paraphrase Adlai Stephenson, decent people are no longer the majority. Imagine a white Elie Mystal getting away with the racism he spouts nightly? Imagine a white Joy Reid? Imagine a white Al Sharpton?

      On top of the racism on MSNBC, their news lineup is also a radical joke. Imagine a conservative Chris Hayes or Lawrence O’Donnell. Imagine a Fox “news reporter as biased as Andrea Mitchell. Imagine a conservative as dumb as Nichole Wallace.

      Who on MSNBC can be compared to Bret Baier or Howard Kurtz?

      One last rant: Imagine if you can a panel of conservatives as dumb as the panel on ABC’s the view. Can’t do it, can you? Liberals are morons.

  11. To fully understand why so many who claim to be journalists, professors, politicians, government employees (including teachers) or even corporate leaders please watch Bret Baier’s, “The Unauthorized History of Socialism.” Suddenly it’ll all be crystal clear!

  12. “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.”

    There sure are a lot of influential people who are nonobjective about their job requirements.

    First, the Harvard story (which is endemic to academia).The job requirement of a professor in the classroom is to educate, not to propagandize. Yet many academics don’t grasp the difference between a classroom and a pulpit.

    Now we have Rubin, et al. — who don’t grasp the difference between reporting and editorializing. And who believe that their job, as *reporters*, is to proselytize.

    It’s almost as if there’s a concerted effort to keep Americans dumb and deaf.

  13. Why JT wastes his time on anything Jenifer Rubin writes is beyond me.

    OT: I’m surprised JT has not yet commented on the 5th Circuit decision on a Texas law prohibiting censorship by large internet platforms. This was a comprehensive analysis of the platforms’ arguments that states are not permitted to stop their censorship because it is really speech. It is well-argued and entertainingly written. There will no doubt be an appeal to SCOTUS, if only to resolve an apparent conflict with the 11th Circuit, which came out the other way on a more limited Florida law. The 5th Circuit made it clear that it disagreed with several of the 11th Circuit holdings.

    1. The law in Florida was not more limited.

      In fact, it actually awarded srtatutory damages. By sharp contrast, the Texas law does not offer any remedy at law, only equitable remedies.

      as such, the Fifth Circuit held that the Texas law did not actually chill speech.

  14. Coming from a hack on MSNBC, I would just see Rubin’s rant as the norm. MSNBC doesn’t hire its people based on competence, but on how ridiculously provocative they can be — they are paid provocateurs, and nothing more. It’s typical of the unhinged left to use Trump as the excuse to attack the Republican party, even though not all Republicans are Trumpists. But, of course, any alternative to Trump will just be labelled “worse than Trump,” so the Dems have their talking points ready. It boggles the mind that thinking people don’t see through this veil of demagoguery. And it’s noteworthy that she made that rant after McCarthy came out with a perfectly reasonable platform for Republicans that, were Democrats to challenge it, would force them to acknowledge that they hate the US, children, and the Constitution. Having no way out of their dilemma, they go to their first resort: rage against all Republicans. And besides, Rubin should know that there hasn’t been any “balance” in the media since, well, decades.

  15. It was not that long ago when the New York Times ridiculed the idea that they were not fair and objective. At least now all pretense is gone.
    And it was Donald Trump and his open cry of “Fake News” that woke up many Americans to the prejudiced state of our news organizations.

    1. Rubin gets the money from MSNBC and that is why she sold out. Either that or she was selling out in her prior incarnation and therefore what we know for sure is that she is a sellout.

  16. The comical part is that WaPo bills Rubin as their conservative voice.
    These people talk about democracy but in fact want a one party state.

    1. ti317, Rubin being conservative must be intended as a cruel joke. I hope independent voters see through the left’s shameless gaslighting and respond accordingly. If not, it will be the beginning of an era of civil conflict in this country. There is no living in peace with such hypocrisy and intolerance. I guess I’m prepared for any outcome at this point 🙁

      I wonder if the Chinese put something in our toothpaste. People are getting literally crazy. The Chinese have a term for it: “baizuo.” Silly and arrogant white liberals. The Chinese admit these people are ridiculous, even as they manipulate the baizuo to keep America off balance. For the Chinese, it’s just about changing the subject from Tibet and Hong Kong to the unicorn of “white supremacy.”

      Is it possible the Chinese are right? Pluralism is a hoax? Even Americans need to be led by the nose? I hope independents will renew my faith in democracy.

    2. The Wapo calling her a “conservative” is like those 4 or 5 Jews Iran hauls out every time they oppose Israel.

  17. RE:”In an age of rage,..The electorate will get what they voted for, notwithstanding which political persuasion prevails.. The current state of the nation makes that perfectly clear. The elite pontificate as they do, because they do not have to walk behind the elephant in the room with a dust pan and a broom, in order to clear their path in life.

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