The escalation against conservatives continued on Thursday with an online Washington Post column by Sarah Pulliam Bailey that sought to connect the distrust in the mainstream media on the right to the rise of fake news and “dangerous” consequences like the false story that’s become known as Pizzagate.
“Listen, I was raised in an evangelical home. I know the media is supposed to be the butt of many jokes and the source of many of our problems. For many conservatives, the phrase “fake news” is now being used to describe “liberal bias,” but fake news has real consequences,” Bailey emphasized near the beginning of her post.
Perhaps most frustrating but not surprising for this newspaper was that Bailey made no attempt to differentiate between conservatives not willing to trust the liberal media and those who have embraced everything they see and hear from sites that have no semblance of facts or substance (ex. Stories about Pope Francis endorsing Donald Trump).
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She whined that “[t]he jokes aren’t funny anymore” seeing as how “[w]e are living in a post-truth time of fake news and misinformation, something that should be deeply troubling to people of faith who claim to seek truth in their everyday lives” before explaining that she grew up in a home in which “[t]he Bible and newspaper went together like cereal and milk.”
Your quick dismissal of the entire “mainstream media” feels deeply inaccurate to me as a Christian and a journalist — at least the kind of Christianity I was raised on, where the newspaper informed how we understood the world. The act of doing journalism is a way to live out my faith, a way to search for and then reveal truth in the world around me.
I sympathize with some frustrations you have, including a lack of ideological diversity within some media outlets. Some reporters have unfortunately stepped into more advocacy-oriented journalism and we’ve seen a blurring of opinion with reporting. And yes, sometimes editors must issue corrections. But it does not make sense to replace unwise mainstream media outlets you believe you can’t trust with websites and other sources that lack any accountability.
Once again not acknowledging examples such as CBS’s false hit piece on George W. Bush, Bailey lamented that we’ve wrongfully decided to not “trust journalists to act as information gatherers and truth tellers” on our behalf.
“As a reporter who also happens to be a Christian, I believe that truth exists and can be ascertained, even if imperfectly and the fact that we understand it imperfectly heightens our duty to pursue it diligently. And I believe journalism is the one of the best practical pursuits of truth in earthly life, one that allows us to reveal and explain the truth to others,” she later added.
Bailey correctly stated that's unwise to abandon traditional media completely for only sites that reinforce your beliefs (if not purely from a standpoint of knowing what people of all stripes find important), but she only extended that to the right even though there’s a behemoth of left-wing sites like the Daily Kos, Slate, and Vox:
Abandoning mainstream media sites for opinion sites you already agree with is not the answer. The “mainstream media” is collectively valuable because it presents a range of information and viewpoints, while the Breitbarts of the world present a singular voice to a targeted group of people.
Her conclusion a few paragraphs later only reinforced the short-sighted view that its conservatives who need to continue giving the mainstream media a chance to be their sources for news (even if, you know, they either don’t cover stories that should be or mischaracterize conservatives).
“To demean a journalist’s profession of “truth-telling” and to suggest that reporters are uniformly dishonest in their search for the truth threaten to undercut the idea that truth exists and that it can and should be pursued. We know this is true: Firing a gun in a pizza parlor over fake news is no laughing matter,” she said.