WashPost's Margaret Sullivan: Media Still Far Too Neutral with 'Trump Unbound'

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President Trump's acquittal in the Senate is driving some of the media's worst Trump haters into a tizzy. The media's bias has been intensely negative -- and yet the problem is apparently it's not intensely negative enough. 

In The Washington Post, where each morning their front page screeches of how "Democracy dies in darkness," media columnist Margaret Sullivan is bizarrely urging the media to drop its "neutrality at all costs" model and go all out in opposition to Trump .

Her Trump Derangement Syndrome is on display in her Monday column, "We have entered the Trump Unbound era — and journalists need to step it up."

Perhaps more accurately "we have entered a Media Unhinged era" as reflected in her rant in which she poses questions as to whether the media should act in a professional manner:

Should the news media continue as usual? Should it retain its own traditions as the nation slides toward autocracy? Should it treat the Trump presidency as pretty much the usual thing, with a few more fact-checks and the occasional use of a word like “lie”?

And Sullivan's answer to all those questions is "No."

First, we need to abandon neutrality-at-all-costs journalism, to replace it with something more suited to the moment. Call it Fairness First.

Fairness is not about letting both sides have a say. It's actually the opposite. Fairness means spiking, squashing, and burying the Wrong Side of History.

I’m talking about the kind of fairness that serves the public by describing the world we report on in honest and direct terms — not the phony kind of fairness that tries to duck out of difficult decisions by giving “both sides” of an argument equal time, regardless of their truth or merit.

Now more than ever, with a president feeling empowered and vindictive after his acquittal, we need to apply more scrutiny and less credulity to his increasingly extreme actions and statements.

Sullivan admits that news consumers want "just the facts" reporting....and then she insists that only underlines the media hasn't driven its "Big Picture" diatribe hard enough: 

Second, we need to be far more direct in the way stories are put together and presented.

I often talk to news consumers — citizens by another name — who insist that they want “just the facts” reporting. They’re understandably frustrated that they can’t seem to find that when so many news organizations, especially cable news, seem to have chosen political sides for commercial purposes. They want news that is unbiased — that doesn’t come with a side helping of opinion. Just tell me what happened, they say. I’ll make my own decisions about what it means.

That sounds good in theory. In practice, every piece of reporting on national politics is unavoidably the product of choices: What’s the angle? Who is quoted? What’s the headline? How much historical context is there? How prominent is it on a front page, a home page, an app?

It’s in these small but crucial decisions that mainstream media often fails its audience: We simply are not getting across the big picture or the urgency. This happens, in part, because those news organizations that haven’t chosen up sides — those that want to serve all Americans — fear being charged with bias.

Obviously, our media do not fear being charged with bias. They overflow with bias. Sullivan's just unhappy that it's just not working. Trump is rising in the polls, even as the press doubles down on the negativity. They've yelled themselves hoarse, and now they're staring at the growing prospect of Four More Years. 

Campaigns & Elections 2020 Presidential Washington Post Margaret Sullivan

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