Fox News correspondent John Stossel has just written a stinging column on the "Stupid Hostile Media." He began with New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg, who celebrated July 4 by suggesting "anti-press" conservatives shouldn't hate the media so much. They always make the mistake of opposing or exposing the liberal media is always anti-journalism -- as they dismiss conservative journalism as propaganda and quackery.
Rutenberg quoted a bunch of Founding Fathers -- as well as Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush -- in support of a free press. Leftists never wonder about their own irony: they pound a libertarian drum for their own socialist pamphleteering, but try to curtail liberty in every other sector of society for "fairness," or "diversity," or "the planet." They also claim for themselves the First Amendment, but don't seem to want freedom of speech for people to call them liars, knaves, and radicals. (Clay Waters was the first to arrive at the scene of the arrogance here.) Stossel made this case:
New York Times writers are so upset by Trump's rants against them that they act like he's a Venezuelan dictator who will shut them down. (Wait, don't Times socialists like Venezuelan dictators?)
"Independent Press Is Under Siege as Freedom Rings" was one recent headline. The evidence?
"The First Amendment," wrote the normally sensible media columnist Jim Rutenberg, "is under near-daily assault from the highest levels of the government."
The "assault" cited was Trump's tweeting out a fake wrestling video, which depicted, as Rutenberg put it, "himself tackling and beating a figure with a CNN logo superimposed."
So what? The video, like professional wrestling, was childish and unpresidential. But it doesn't put the press "under siege." It's a lame joke.
Rutenberg goes on to ask how we can feel good about Independence Day and press freedom "when the president lashes out at The Washington Post by making a veiled threat against the business interests of its owner, Jeff Bezos, suggesting that his other company, Amazon, is a tax avoider. (Where have we seen that sort of thing before -- Russia maybe?)"
Hello? In Russia, Putin probably murdered reporters. Trump merely suggested that Bezos dodges taxes.
I threw that at Rutenberg. He emailed back, "That wasn't a reference to murder (but) to executive authority using tax code to squelch free-speech." In Russia, media that criticized Putin were raided and accused of tax fraud.
But Trump hasn't done any of that. There's speculation that he will block a Time Warner merger, but hasn't done it.
Rutenberg, like his Washington Post colleague Margaret Sullivan, represent how the newspapers analyze themselves now. They claim it's ridiculous to say they consider themselves "above reproach," but these papers fired their "public editors" and "ombudsmen" and "reader's advocates" because they don't want an in-house critic. Instead, they hired "media columnists" to rage against President Trump and conservative critics in defense of their own liberal activism.