Intelligent Design

The Media Squandered Trust; The Nation Suffered

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In bygone days the news media enjoyed a great deal of prestige and was trusted by nearly everyone.  Walter Cronkite was called “the most trusted man in America.” 

Those days are gone.*

A poll last week indicated that the news media are viewed least favorably of 16 major institutions.  It is no wonder.  Vicious partisanship is now the order of the day (see here for the latest on this).  CNN, for example, seems to have given up even the pretense of being a news organization and now serves as the propaganda wing of the Democratic party.

And the nation suffers as a result.

When I first heard the hysterical news reports in late February and early March, I received them with extreme skepticism.  More ratings driven/click bait yellow journalism I thought.  We were all going to die from the bird flu; we were all going to die from swine flu; we were all going to die from SARS, zika, Ebola . . . I could go on and on.  See here for a story about media health scares over the last 20 years. 

And I was not alone.  “This is  no big deal.”  “This is no worse than the seasonal flu.”  These were common reactions until very recently.  No one trusted the media.  And, frankly, that was a reasonable response, because the media did not deserve to have anyone’s trust.

But as the story goes, if the boy who cries “wolf!” is lying 50 times in a row, that does not mean there is no wolf the 51st time. 

This appears to be the 51st time.  I am deeply saddened that the media spent literally decades conditioning us to ignore it, because I am confident the suffering and death wrought by this pandemic would have been mitigated substantially if we could have trusted the earlier reports.


* Ironically, Cronkite himself probably contributed to the initial phases of the collapse of trust in the media with his hysterical and unwarrantedly defeatist reporting after Tet.

19 Replies to “The Media Squandered Trust; The Nation Suffered

  1. 1
    MatSpirit says:

    Short Barry: Conservatives have been damning the news media since Goldwater because they didn’t report exactly what the conservatives believed. Nixon improved and extended on news bashing because they accurately reported that he was a crook.

    Reagan came in and maintained good press relations while he turned the US economy into a giant cartel where each industry is dominated by three to six players and those players control the government with their campaign bribes. Meanwhile, “capitalism” and “free enterprise” have come to mean the government borrows trillions in your name and gives the money to the rich as tax breaks. The rich in turn invest your money in China, because that’s where you find free enterprise and competent government these days. And to hell with the Americans thrown out of work – slash their unemployment and health care for being such ungrateful peasants!

    Somewhere in here, Nixon’s media guru Roger Ailes and arch conservative Rupert Murdoch started Fox News, which really is an organ of the Republican party and which is Pravda-esk in its bias, but that’s okay with our conservatives because they’re Pravda-esk themselves.

    But let’s not forget W who ignored warnings that Al Queda was plotting a big one and was busy reading to kindergardeners in Florida when they bombed the twin towers with our own planes containing hundreds of innocent Americans. W and his malicious Vice President then invaded Iraq, which had been on their agenda for a long time, despite that country having nothing to do with 9/11. They totally wrecked Iraq, brought medeval misery to it’s citizens and we are still mired in that country decades later. Not content with that disaster, W then killed the American and world economy.

    Then America elected it’s first black President and the right wing went totally ape, hooting and hollering and screaming and dedicating themselves to the frustration of everything he did, which was mainly rebuilding the American economy, or at least what’ was left of it after the conservative destruction.

    You b______s then went completely berzerk and voted a spoiled heir whose been surrounded by yes men for his entire life, all paid for by his daddy’s money, who insulated him from any realistic knowledge of his numerous incompetencies as he frittered his inherited wealth away to the point where no bank in the world will make him a loan, he’s gone bankrupt seven times and he doesn’t dare release his income tax statement because people would know how blazingly incompetent he was. But he certainly knew how to claim the healthy economy Obama left him as his own.

    And now he’s ignored, down played and denied COVID-19 for almost three months while it grew far past our ability to control it and now the economy is in tatters and the DEATH RATE FROM COVID-19 IS DOUBLING DAILY! If you know even the most elementary math, double ANY number, even starting with 1 if you please, ten times and see what numbers you get. It will be over ONE MILLION A DAY even if you start with one. YESTERDAY’S AMERICAN DEATH TOLL WAS 2854!! Multiply that by a million to see what kind of present Trump and his conservative fifth column have waiting for us this Easter.

    Meanwhile, if you actually believe the non-Fox networks are lying to us, just go to church every Sunday. After all, God will certainly protect you from a tiny little virus while you’re in His church, praising Him in the way He specified. Why, if He doesn’t, Logic and First Principals would say that He doesn’t exist.

    Come on Believers, show us what you’re made of. Go to Church this Easter. Go to church ever Sunday. Prove your faith! Give God a chance to show his power by protecting you while all the athiests and anybody with a half a brain shelters in their homes.

    F/N When you get that big check from the Government, which won’t begin to replace lost wages and destroyed busineses, remember what happened when the last Conservative incompetent sent you a lot of money.

  2. 2
    MatSpirit says:

    The edit feature doesn’t seem to work. The 2854 figure for U.S. COVID-19 deaths is the total death rate so fer. It’s not doubling every day, the daily increase is doubling daily.

    The daily U.S. deaths from COVID-19 are several hundred. Multiply that number by one million to estimate your Easter surprise.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    MS, it is clear that the media as an institution has lost its sense of duty to truth, fairness, right reason and even that simple prudence that recognises that what is claimed to be so must be reasonably warranted. There have been so many lynchings and overwrought hysterias, especially those coloured by hostility and polarisation targetting “anyone to the right of X” and operating on cultural marxist principles and tactics that the US in particular is now in low level, early phase 4th gen civil war. On the current situation, just earlier today I documented how a partyline was taken up against a promising drug with significant supportive evidence, once a President they despised “touted” — note the loaded word — it. Now, the media chorus on that campaign is beginning to unravel as France (in response to further testing) approved the drug and the US FDA has approved another level of use. Remember, by their own admission up to 40 million lives were thought to be on the line. Unless and until there is massive, down to the roots reformation, the man in the street has no good reason to take the media on the whole as anything more than shills for various radical agendas. Game over. KF

  4. 4
    john_a_designer says:

    For the mainstream media it is no longer about the objectivity, the facts or the truth. Rather now it’s all about the narrative. Whose narrative? The progressive secularist’s narrative which they claim is based on science. Who’s science? That’s where the argument starts to become circular which most of us who believe in logic, truth and reason understand is fallacious. Does that bother them? Not at all. They’re the ones who make up the rules. It least that is what they believe. But let’s be honest here. The progressives make up the rules because they are in control. In other words, truth is trumped by power.

    Here is a recent example (1/18/19) that illustrates how in the MSM truth is over ridden by the narrative.

    A truly discerning reader would have wondered why a trivial encounter that involved no one of significance and resulted in zero injuries or property damage was worthy of so much coverage at all. But no matter: The actions of Sandmann and his friends, as described by the media, generated apoplectic denunciation by conservatives, liberals, Catholics, celebrities, politicians, and virtually everyone else. Even ideological allies of the boys, who had come to Washington, D.C., to attend the anti-abortion March for Life rally, were quick to condemn them.

    In hindsight, the slanted nature of the coverage is almost comical. The Detroit Free Press described the video as depicting “Phillips peacefully drumming and singing, while surrounded by a hostile crowd” and suggested that this “illustrates the nation’s political and racial tensions.” The Daily Beast’s story was filed under “AWFUL” and described the video as “disturbing.” Its first several paragraphs quote directly from Phillips. NPR asserted that the boys had mocked the Native American man. In story after story, news outlets claimed the Covington kids had shouted “build the wall.” Again, the sole source of this claim was Phillips.

    Of course had the media had done its due diligence rather than rushing the story to print, or even worse onto the air, they would have discovered that Phillips account was less that reliable.

    Within 48 hours, the truth had emerged. A longer video, which showed the Covington boys’ prior harassment at the hands of the Black Hebrew Israelites, made it clear that the kids had not directed racist invectives at Phillips’ crowd—they were cheering in order to drown out the Black Hebrew Israelites. Phillips then entered the teens’ midst, drumming and chanting at them…

    There is no doubt that Nicholas Sandmann and his fellow Covington Catholic School students were demonized, vilified and slandered by the main stream media because it promoted their progressive narrative that white Catholic kids wearing MAGA hats just had to be at fault because they were racist. In other words, the truth simply doesn’t matter anymore.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    JAD, one of the attempted media lynchings I was discussing. Notice, how little self reflection and change has happened since then. KF

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:


    I suggest you look at the figures here and notice that the US and other North Atlantic countries are seeing a common pattern of quasi-exponential growth of 2 – 3 days doubling time [notice, log-lin plots], though we must bear in mind that for the US a surge in testing is contributing to the apparent growth . . . most of the epidemic lies in mild cases.

    If the US is manifesting incompetence, so are the rest of advanced countries. But not everybody is incompetent in that group, they reflect instead a common problem: it is very hard to contain such an epidemic in a large state with a high level economy and much natural interaction with people. Now yes some few, mostly significantly smaller states [mostly ones burned by earlier epidemics] have doubling times on a slope as low as ten days. These were able to build the collective will to clamp down quickly. With something as contagious as this, and with the havoc a sudden lockdown imposes, it is hard to reach there until enough has happened to force willingness.

    In the case of the USA, you are paying the price for the deep polarisation that has led to low grade 4th gen civil war and which culminated in an ill justified, media trumpeted attempted impeachment using star chamber tactics that dominated public attention from Oct-Nov to Jan-Feb. Indeed, early efforts to clamp down on travel from centres of the epidemic met with the standard cry, racist. That speaks volumes, as does the continued debates over border control.

    Sorry, on fair comment this is far bigger than any one scapegoat for the daily two minute hate.

    Insert a SIR-based model and we can see why we face a challenge. We face a challenge that once there is lodgement, breakout is highly likely, leading to quasi exponential growth until natural or imposed saturation comes in. In absence of vaccinations, that will pivot on effective treatments and isolation, which will be economically seriously destructive.

    A further sign of the incoherence of the polarisation is the reaction to a promising treatment backed by a rising body of evidence.

    Something is deeply wrong and needs to be addressed seriously.


  7. 7
    Barry Arrington says:


    The rich in turn invest your money in China, because that’s where you find free enterprise and competent government these days.

    Anyone who would hold China up as an example of competent government — now of all times — is suffering from some sort of severe delusion. Mat’s post is practically self-refuting, so I won’t bother too much with it.

  8. 8
    Ed George says:


    Anyone who would hold China up as an example of competent government…

    I guess that depends on how you define competent government.

  9. 9
    Barry Arrington says:


    I guess that depends on how you define competent government.

    Ed, I suppose you are correct almost by definition.

    The Chinese under Mao were competent at killing tens of millions of their fellow countrymen (It is easy to forget, but the government headed by Xi has not changed materially since Mao’s time; thus he stand in unbroken linear succession to Mao.). The Chinese are certainly competent at putting a million members of a religious minority in “re-education” camps (Given MatSpirt’s obvious visceral hatred of Christians, he doubtless admires that bit). They are competent at instituting a massive surveillance state. They are competent at stamping out freedom movements in Tibet and Hong Kong. They are competent at lying to the world about the extent and severity of COVID-19. They are apparently competent at lying about the near miraculous recovery in Wuhan. I could go on and and on. But I take your point. We need to define the competencies we are interested in.

  10. 10
    BobRyan says:

    What is happening now is nothing new regarding those who claim to report the news. Reuters believed in speed and accuracy. Accuracy was important to him, because there was very little accuracy in his time. It’s a shame accuracy did not follow after his death.
    The media created a sense of fear and panic with numerous American tribes, which the government used to justify any action the wished. The Trail of Tears had a Supreme Court ruling against the president, yet he gave the order that should have been considered unlawful. Crockett referred to President Andrew Jackson as a tyrant. He should have been impeached and removed from office, but Jackson received platitudes from those in office.
    When Woodrow Wilson was elected, Americans had a fairly positive attitude towards Germany. There were a lot of German immigrants settling in the United States and becoming legal citizens. Wilson controlled the media, by having reporters imprisoned for reporting anything he did not wish to be reported. These were just a few of political prisoners Wilson had. In 4 years, he turned a positive outlook into a negative one to guarantee America sided with France.
    The media today is largely propaganda, but not for a political party. They have become propagandists for socialism. Socialists do not value truth, which is why truth in reporting laws should be written.

  11. 11
    Truthfreedom says:

    @7 Barry Arrington:

    Mat’s post is practically self-refuting, so I won’t bother too much with it.

    Their poor reasoning is their worst enemy.
    And remember kids: the f***ing whole Universe appeared from NOTHING, for no reason.
    That is how you will gain knowledge. Brute facts are cool and thinking hurts the physical brain.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    BA, have we so soon forgotten how tyrannical, murderous and destructive Communism is? KF

  13. 13
    john_a_designer says:

    The Chinese government is competent? Why then after supposedly being banned are the wet markets still open?

    The virus was detected in December and is thought to have originated in a market in the city that sold wild animals for human consumption.

    And why do these epidemics keep originating from China?

    This isn’t the first virus that has been linked to wet markets, with the SARS outbreak in 2003 also thought to have originated there.

    A study published in 2007 from researchers at the University of Hong Kong described the culture of eating at these wet markets as a “time bomb” for a new virus.

    “Coronaviruses are well known to undergo genetic recombination, which may lead to new genotypes and outbreaks,” the paper read.

    “The presence of a large reservoir of SARS-CoV-like viruses in horseshoe bats, together with the culture of eating exotic mammals in southern China, is a time bomb.”

    I hate to start going down the conspiratorial path but maybe this has all been intentional. You can deny that if you wish but you can’t claim that the Chinese lies, deception and disinformation isn’t.

    Yeah competence is relative to whether you are good or evil. Of course you have another problem if you don’t believe in good or evil.

  14. 14
    Barry Arrington says:


    have we so soon forgotten how tyrannical, murderous and destructive Communism is?

    MatSpirit certainly has. But it was easy for him to forget for the same reason his fellow progressives were apologizing for Stalin even as he killed millions of Ukrainians in the 30s. You see, progressives like MatSpirit are by definition top-down authoritarians. And they admire other top-down authoritarians like Stalin, Mao and Xi. And if a few eggs get cracked (tens of millions murdered; concentration camps, boot heels in the face of those who would stand up for fundamental liberties), well, that’s the price of cooking their Utopian omelette. They never seem to notice that no matter how many eggs are cracked, Utopia remains over the horizon.

  15. 15
    Truthfreedom says:

    @14 Barry Arrington:

    And if a few eggs get cracked (tens of millions murdered;

    They love ‘humanly created population control’.
    But viruses are ‘evil’.

  16. 16
    vividbleau says:

    “You see, progressives like MatSpirit are by definition top-down authoritarians”

    If you examine the heart of every far lefty there is a tyrant just dying to get out.
    What’s really perplexing is these people have no idea that they are going to be sent to the gulag along with many others.,authoritarians eat their own.


  17. 17
    Barry Arrington says:

    “authoritarians eat their own.”
    As all of Stalin’s dead compatriots would have said just before Stalin corpse-ified them.

  18. 18
  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    BA et al, indeed we must do some serious thinking. KF

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