Many in my field were outraged when President Trump called the press the enemy of the people, and I understand their anger.
I’ve been in the journalism business for nearly 25 years and can assure you it is filled with hard-working individuals who are simply trying to report the news while also making a living. They have similar hopes, dreams and goals as many of the people they report on. They take pride in their work and want to do it well. They are most definitely not the enemy of the people, and they provide a valuable service.
But that doesn’t mean the business of journalism is not without its faults, not without its problems, and among the biggest is the liberal bias that exists in what I like to call Big Media, those outlets that have a national reach, and therefore, a national influence. Their ranks include newspapers such as the New York Times and Washington Post.
The latest example of that bias was on display via Big Media’s reaction, or lack thereof, to a crass joke comedian Pete Davidson told last weekend on “Saturday Night Live.”
During the “Weekend Update” segment, Davidson made cracks at the appearance of several candidates in Tuesday’s midterm elections, including Texas GOP congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw, a veteran of 10 years with the Navy who lost an eye to an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in 2012. Crenshaw wears an eyepatch.
As Davidson prepared to deliver the joke, the show posted a photo of Crenshaw, which drew laughs from Davidson, the SNL cast and the audience.
Davidson had this to say about Crenshaw during the bit on SNL.
“You may be surprised to hear that he's a congressional candidate from Texas and not a hitman in a porno movie," the comedian said. "I'm sorry. I know he lost his eye in war or whatever.”
Understand, please, I’m not a prude. I have watched my share of SNL and understand the show pokes fun at a wide range of public people, including every president since Gerald Ford. But degrading the appearance of a veteran who was permanently injured serving our country crosses the line, and I don’t think you have to be of a particular political persuasion to understand that.
To Big Media, though, Davidson’s joke was no big deal.
In its initial review of the show, the New York Times didn’t even mention the joke. Only after criticism built during the course of the day Sunday did the Times revise its story to include the controversy, and then it was buried about 20 paragraphs into the piece.
The Washington Post didn’t mention the joke in its review of the show, either. Like the Times, the Post was much more concerned about Davidson’s recent breakup with pop star Ariana Grande, which I guess two papers considered a national crises.
In fact, looking around the internet Sunday morning, I found little about Davidson’s joke on Big Media outlets. NBC, for example, finally got around to posting something late in the afternoon.
Now, ask yourself, if a known conservative, say comedian Dennis Miller, had make a crack at say, a black Democratic or Hispanic congressional candidate with a disability, would Big Media have reacted with the same yawn it did about Davidson’s joke at Crenshaw’s expense?
The answer, of course, is a resounding “no.” The Times, Post, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, etc., would have fallen over each other in the race to condemn the comedian, demand he apologize, demand he never be allowed to perform again and attempt to tie the whole thing to President Trump.
But because Davidson is a proud liberal (he has called Hillary Clinton his hero and claims he had her likeness tattooed on his leg) and because Crenshaw is a white male, Davidson gets a pass. Call it liberal privilege, courtesy of Big Media.
And he’s not the only one. As noted in this space recently, big liberal and noted Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff recently accused GOP Rep. Tom MacArthur of being bigoted against Korean-Americans despite the fact MacArthur has two adopted kids from South Korea. The reaction from Big Media? Crickets. Once again, Big Media liberal privilege.
That Big Media leans hard left is no secret. Longtime CBS newsman Bernard Goldberg wrote a brilliant book about the topic, “Bias,” back in 2001.
In “Bias,” Goldberg argued the media elite are hopelessly out of touch with “everyday Americans,” that all their friends are liberal and they all suffer from a case of group think about the big issues of our day.
“That’s why they don’t simply disagree with conservatives. They see them as morally deficient,” Goldberg wrote.
“The sophisticated media elites don’t categorize their beliefs as liberal but as simply the correct way to look at things. They think they’re middle of the road -- raging moderates -- while everyone else (the people who live in the ‘red states’ that George W. Bush carried) is on the fringe. It’s scary to think that so many important people who bring Americans the news can be so delusional.”
And how did Big Media react to that kind of blistering criticism from one of their own. With a yawn and a teenage-like “whatever.”
If anything, Big Media has doubled down since the publication of Goldberg’s book 17 years ago and moved even further left, which explains how it failed in 2016 and continues to fail to understand Trump’s popularity in what some like to call “flyover country.” Big Media has no interest in understanding the views of those voters. It’s just easier to label them as uneducated bigots and move on.
No, the press is not the enemy of the people, but as long as Big Media is unwilling to take a long, hard look at how it approaches journalism, its liberal bias is going to subject all of us who work in the business to those type of accusations. And that’s nothing to joke about.
Lew Gilliland is assistant editor of The Daily Home. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.