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. “Advocacy journalism” (an oxymoron) is just a euphemism for propaganda. If the Republicans regain control of the House perhaps they can and will blunt the impact of the idiotic, anti-American policies that continue to spew from the warped minds of the Administration with the support of the media. Then, in 2024, if we should be so lucky as to regain control of the Senate and the Presidency, my hope is that one of the first pieces of legislation will be a legislative reversal of New York Times v. Sullivan. Corporate media, with one or two exceptions, has forfeited its right to special protection from the consequences of its own negligence, sloppy reporting and propaganda.

  2. “We have to collectively, in essence, burn down the Republican Party.”

    – Comradette and Foreign Hyphenate, Jennifer Rubin

    Translation: We have to burn down the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights.

    We have to burn down individual freedom and free enterprise under infinitesimal and freedom-facilitating government.

    We have to takeover and “fundamentally transform the United States of America” and place them under the dominion of the Communist Manifesto.

    Wait! That was accomplished in 1860, beginning its full incremental imposition, under General Theftretary “Crazy Abe” Lincoln.

    The Japanese “awakened a Sleeping Giant”; why haven’t these anti-American communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs)?

    “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

    – Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

  3. Quote: “Indeed, Hannah-Jones has declared “all journalism is activism.””

    Except that some activism must be passive.

  4. The money shot: “Journalists need to be overt and candid advocates for social justice, and it’s hard to do that under the constraints of objectivity.”

  5. Quote: “The writer (long cited by the Post as their “Republican columnist” for balance) has called for the media to abandon balance and impartiality.”

    She self-identifies as a conservative. Disagreement is not permitted, dissent will be punished.

  6. “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.”

    “And if all others accepted the lie which the Party imposed—if all records told the same tale—then the lie passed into history and became truth. ‘Who controls the past’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’”

    I’ve recently reread and rewatched 1984. Orwell had uncanny insight into the mind of those in power with the tyrannical and totalitarian mindset.

    I still have my references books. Yesterday, I pulled down my Merriam-Webster dictionary and looked up the word “female.” Then, I went to the Merriam-Webster online version and it now has two definitions. Entry number two of the online version is still that same as my physical dictionary, which is succinct. The online version has recently added a lengthier and much less succinct entry of what is a female that was not there a few years before.

    So, it begins. Using search engines and high tech to search for information is incredibly useful, however, a person cannot become so dependent on this technology. The algorithms can guide a searcher away from key information. As one Google engineer told me, “The best place to hide a dead body is on page two of a Google search.” Book sellers can say they do not censor, but they can make it difficult to find books. I have found several controversial books that had price tags of nearly one hundred dollars. See? no censoring but if you want the book, it will cost you.

    If a person wants to know the logical conclusion of hushed dissent, they only need look back at history or seek out international current events: The examples of what happens to societies that are silenced are innumerable and heartbreaking. To find these examples, the information seeker will have to break away from the gravity of the legacy news organizations and venture out into a world that doesn’t care if Donald Trump did this or Hilary did that. There are real and important news events occurring internationally that are barely known to the American consumer. Maybe it is time to use the “off” button on the remote and pick up a book, invite a friend to coffee, and attend public events and ditch the media for a while. Maybe they will get the message when no-one will advertise with them.

  7. Ms. Rubin is actually being honest.

    She comes right out and promises to lie for her cause.

    She is not a journalist, but a propagandist.

    Thinking people ignore her lies.

    Stupid lefties wallow in her drivel.

    As soon as someone quotes Ms. Rubin as a source, they have self identified as a retard.

  8. It’s just a little bit of history repeating. First comes the elimination of opposing view points because they are against the people and should be considered “domestic terrorism.” Next comes the threat of imprisonment for your views. Next comes the tribunals (Jan 6) declaring that your opinions are criminal acts. Next comes actual imprisonment for your opinions. This is the nation that Ms. Rubin so adamantly desires. Perhaps a larger dose of caffeine will shake the nation awake. It’s time for the cost of a coffee bean to go up due to increased demand.

    1. Sammy, we are aware that Professor Turley appears on Fox News. We are also aware that you still believe that the Steele dossier was fact and that the Hunter laptop was just Russian disinformation. You question the veracity of the good Professor but the waift of you previous passage offends our nostrils.

    2. Never once have I heard the miniscule number of journalists on the Right call for Leftwing voices to be silenced. Try again.

    3. That’s unfair. He is one of the better people to comment on the things going on. Most journalists lack Professor Turley’s ability to see more than one view of a story and that helps him to work at being as fair and balanced as possible.

      I am an Independent and enjoy great writing that reflects the writer’s intelligence and ability to in a sense leave his personal opinions at the door to his office. Just wish there were more of him as I am left jumping from one source of progressive reporting to usually middle of the road Republican writing. So as I reader I do think in today’s world I have a responsibility if only to myself to try to understand often a multiplicity of views. Then I sit back and form my own.

      Each reader is a bit different and more and more often are attacking the messenger who in this case is among the best out there. Do remember he started I believe at CNN when it couldn’t cope with a man who saw a wider picture than they were willing to show. How much of that do you really want?

  9. In broad outline, Jennifer Rubin is correct.
    Trump’s iteration of the Republican Party does not believe in accepting the results of free and fair elections, if those free and fair elections result in Democratic office holders.
    Turley writes as though that were not the case.
    Additionally, Trump should have been removed after his first impeachment (and in fact, before that.)
    Among the crimes and/or high crimes and misdemeanors Trump committed that got him impeached the first time were 1) multiple violations of the Impoundment Control Act; 2) Soliciting a Bribe; 3) Illegally soliciting covert propaganda; 4) Witness tampering; 5) Witness intimidation; 6) Violations of the whistleblower protection laws.

    1. Seems the democrats are the authoritarian promoting violence to increase their political control. The left has been attacking Trump since before he was elected, trying to “get” him on anything they can. The democrat leadership cannot afford for their crimes to be exposed so they will stop at nothing to destroy him. Hillary and Stacy Abrams both have yet to accept the 2016 elections. It is not a crime or a lie to believe the election was not fair. Democrats should want the citizenry to have confidence in our institutions and especially our elections. They should work to enact policies that give us confidence that the elections are free and fair. It doesn’t matter whether or not they are currently. Over 30% of the population suspects they are not. We must work together to reduce that percentage and dems do no support efforts that would accomplish this important goal.

      1. RE:”Hillary and Stacy Abrams both have yet to accept the 2016 elections.” …but they’re Democrats, and that’s the rub. Republican commentators have yet to rub that salt into the wound as vigorously and aggressively as the opposition has done with Trump. In fact, Democrats appear to accept the fact that Clinton and Abrams were ‘robbed’. A motivator for wanting to abolish the Electoral College.

    2. Yet the Attorney General for the State of New York has only been able to initiate a civil suit towards President Trump and his adult children. At least 80% of the AG’s campaign was to investigate President Trump until she could find something to put him in jail. She’s been trying, without any success, for nearly four years to find something criminal to charge him with.
      You list a half-dozen crimes that he’s guilty of, but no criminal charges have been brought for those or any other crimes. Let me guess, The Walls are Closing In.
      Democrats in Congress have referred to the younger President Bush as illegitimate in both of his terms. Hillary Clinton, Stacey Abrams, Nancy Pelosi, Al Gore, John Kerry, Adam Schiff, Jamie Raskin, Gavin Newsom, every member of “The Squad” and many, many more elected Democrats have repeatedly stated that President Trump was illegitimate from the day he was elected and is still illegitimate for whatever cause du jour. The first time a Republican makes a claim of illegitimacy and it suddenly becomes a “threat to Democracy.”
      After watching an entire summer of violent and deadly riots across the nation with no consequences, the events of January 6th were entirely foreseeable and preventable. That Republicans, typical law & order types, might revolt was never taken seriously.
      How soon we forget! President Biden has come up with the term “MAGA Republicans” to describe the people who rioted at the Capitol. Mr President, there are more than 74 million MAGA Republicans that didn’t participate in any violence. Ignore them at your peril.

      1. I am very tired of the innaccurate portrayal of what occured on J6.

        This was not an insurrection. Had it been there would have been thousands of AR-15’s.

        The entire purpose of J6 was political from the very start. The rhetoric was political.
        It was not incitement to violence – had there been a real desire for violence – there would have been REAL violence.

        The protest went out of control when protestors were blocked from entering the capital.
        That blocking was unconstitutional and a violation of nearly every clause int he 1st amendment.

        That unconstitutional action left protestors seeking other means of redress in unplanned ways.

        It there anyone here who can recall congress EVER locking its doors to protestors before ? EVER ?

        The kavanaugh protestors were very nearly as violent and destrictive. On took an axe to a senators door.
        No prosecution, and the axe was returned.

        Two people were killed on J6 – both protesotrs, Both were mudered by capital police, yet no meaningful inquiry has occured.

        June 2020 protestors who committed arson, violence nearly broke down the whitehouse fence. and threw rocks and ice at police ultimately won a lawsuit against police.

        J6 protesotrs who burned nothing – who did not throw rocks and did not bring bottles of frozen water – much less guns
        still languish in jail looking at long sentences for holding the wrong political views.

        The J6 protestors were not heros. They made mistakes. Though none as serious as burning down a church, or throwing frozen water bottles at police – which is a premeditated act of violence, or taking an axe to a senators door.

        There is a massive effort by the left to exagerate and demonize J6 – with too much cooperation from republicans.

        Because the left is terrified by political protest by those in the center or the right.

        You can rig elections, but you can not hide the anger of protestors.

        You can have millions of angry teenagers protesting, but when thousands of adults with families and jobs, show up to protest – government is in trouble. The left is in trouble.

        It is absolutely essential for democrat to quash any notion that political protest outside those on the left can be legitimate. It is critical that the middle class and the working class are punished draconianly so that they remain fearful of excercising first amendment rights, because the working class wields far more political power then the armies of teens and clueless young adults that the left is able to regularly muster.

        When taxpayers revolt – govenrments fall.

        1. JohnB: You note you’re “tired of the innaccurate portrayal of what occured on J6.” Yesterday, while traveling, I listened to NPR no less than three times refer to Jan 6 as an “attempted insurrection”– (not “an insurrection”). I believe that included a statement by Mary Louise Kelly. Interesting, hunh?

          1. Lexington and concord were an insurrection. The minuteman brought guns.

            If NPR wishes to define an insurrection (or an attempt) at unarmed people making demands of government – then Tienanmen square was an attempted insurrection, Recent events in Hong Kong were attempted insurrections.
            And the collapse of the GDR and subsequently USSR were insurrections.

            If NPR wishes to redefine insurrection as a protest against government – one that may end up toppling an illegitimate government – I am OK with that.

            Regardless, J6 was no less legitimate than protests in Hong Kong, Tienanmen square, In the GDR leading to the collapse of the Berlin wall.

            And certainly far more legitimate than the nonsense at the Portland federal courthouse or throughout the 2020 “summer of love”

  10. She and much of the media are just Squealer the pig. Propagandists for one political party and controlled by that party. Kind of sound like semi-fascism doesn’t it.

  11. Advocacy journalism is the parasite that is destroying the craft of news reporting and fanning the rise of alternative media. Who can trust any journalism that opening stumps for one party and one point of view? Jennifer Rubin lost her own credibility a long time ago and now wants others to follow her down the path of irrelevancy. It is shocking and sad that journalists who should know better are poised to follow her. It’s time the ‘woke’ revolution got some pushback via a counterrevolution that stresses honesty, balance and objectivity in reporting. There would be no room for Jennifer Rubin’s rants in such a world.

  12. The only way to combat this incredible bias is to stop buying/reading the Washington Post or any other publication like this. Biased journalism will end our Republic and once done, any attempt to enjoy freedom of speech will be eliminated. These journalists turn pundits for the left should try living in a Russia or Iran. Let them live in a reality that echoes what they want for others.

    1. Easter, you have absolutely zero analytical skills. To say that Rubin is reasoned is beyond a joke, it is moronic, partisan, ill-informed and well…it’s just so you!

    2. Sadly, that is far from true. While Jonathan Turley bases his writings on the law, she bases her comments on personal opinions and that is where she loses the title of “Journalist”. Let her be a spokesperson for the left and that is fine but do not present bias as data or truth. And do some fact checking before you tear down people who disagree with you! How can you prove she is ‘more moral’ than another?! Or are you basing this on the fact that she speaks to your opinions? We are being bombarded with ‘opinions’ but is that really truth? Who, for example, really believes our borders are secure? Get the facts and listen to the WH push and you know there is a wide gulf between truth and reality. For me, I like that we can disagree but that hardly makes you more moral than me, or me, more than you!

  13. RE:” Rubin rejects the “need for false balance” ” Last night Bill Maher did a hatchet job on Republican’s and only chided the Liberals. Ripping Biden a new one for Philadelphia would have been ‘balanced an unafraid’ considering the unfortunate young man whose life was taken in Alaska for expressing the political point of view.deemed ‘irrational’ to Rubin.

  14. I think it is an excellent idea. Let the far left come out and show their true colors and let the readers/viewers decide if they really want to accept prog/left propaganda. Let the viewers know that certain papers of note are in the corner for the ultra left or ultra right and stop pretending that they represent fair and balanced ideas. They all should stop with the “fair and balanced” hypocrisy if they are, in fact, partisan advocates.

  15. Another wolf in sheeps clothing. No need for her to “cry wolf “ when the backlash zaps her psyche.
    No one will hear. Balance is a key component in life, social discourse and civilization.

  16. Journalists have been trying to destroy Trump since mid-2016. Yet when Trump criticizes them, they assert that he is inciting violence against journalists. [https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2018/10/25/trump-inciting-violence-nearly-retired-journalists-condemn-presidents-un-american-attacks-press/] Apparenlty, they not want to openly campaign against Republicans, they also want to be treated as neutral “reporters”.

    1. It isn’t necessarily difficult to distinguish between criticism and incitements to violence.
      What does Trump do that counts as incitement to violence?
      Well, for example, when he smears the entire free press as an “enemy of the people” and then says that to see reporters shot or shoved to the ground is “a beautiful sight,” that is a clear incitement to violence.
      Additionally, on January 6, multiple Trump supporters committed violent assaults against reporters inside the Capitol, and now Trump says that those who acted out violently in his name against reports should not be prosecuted, if found guilty, should be pardoned, and that they should receive an apology for being prosecuted.
      That, too, is incitement to violence. It is approving of violence.

      1. Well, for example, when he smears the entire free press as an “enemy of the people” and then says that to see reporters shot or shoved to the ground is “a beautiful sight,” that is a clear incitement to violence.

        No, it does not incite violence.

        Additionally, on January 6, multiple Trump supporters committed violent assaults against reporters inside the Capitol, and now Trump says that those who acted out violently in his name against reports should not be prosecuted, if found guilty, should be pardoned, and that they should receive an apology for being prosecuted.
        That, too, is incitement to violence. It is approving of violence.

        That does not incite violence.

    2. edward:

      Democrats have been pushing the false narrative that Republicans are racist, Fascist, etc. They falsely assassinated their characters. It’s gone on so long that it’s become part of the psyche of Democrat voters. Criticize Obama’s policies, and your racist. Support a work requirement for Welfare, and you hate the poor. Want illegal immigration to stop, and to follow international law where asylum seekers have to remain in the closest country to counteract the 95% false asylum claims? You’re a racist xenophobe, even though you approve of legal immigration, most of which are minorities.

      When Democrats are convinced Republicans are all Hitler, then you can’t wrong an evil person. Everything you do, whether it’s harassment, assault, threats of violence, interfering with their free speech, or calling for the murder of the innocent Covington High School kids for wearing MAGA hats…it’s all part of the good fight of avenging angels. Too bad they never look back to see they have horns and a tail instead of wings.

      I’ve seen Democrats whom I’ve known to be intelligent, kind, and tolerant, slowly change until they are claiming Republicans are all evil. One by one, I’ve seen Democrats cut off conservative family, or say horrible things about them. One of my own Democrat relatives I thought was so sweet, told me when my son was two he was born racist and probably a rapist, because he was white and male, while her own mixed race son should be valued more than mine. These people have gone crazy. I think the moderates who are left are keeping quiet so as not to be skewered by the maniacs running the show. It’s like brainwashing is taking over the entire party.

      There is absolutely no way in heck that my Democrat grandparents would have voted for a party that promoted castrating young boys and making them think they could become girls. No way they would have voted for a party who would get people fired or punished at school for calling a biological boy a “he”, for defunding the police, and for open borders. JFK with his patriotic speeches would never have been welcomed, and MLK, Jr would have been called an Uncle Tom.

      This paradigm shift in what the Democrat Party stands for was enabled by the media.

      1. One of my own Democrat relatives I thought was so sweet, told me when my son was two he was born racist and probably a rapist, because he was white and male, while her own mixed race son should be valued more than mine. These people have gone crazy. I think the moderates who are left are keeping quiet so as not to be skewered by the maniacs running the show. It’s like brainwashing is taking over the entire party.

        It is plain and obvious that the network broadcast and print media are the true ethics corrupters.

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