AP Promotes Liberal Talk of 'Can Journalism Save Democracy?' (and Defeat Trump)

December 24th, 2023 8:32 AM

Most of the anti-Trump media have endorsed the argument of leftist New York University professor Jay Rosen that "horse race" coverage of the 2024 election is trivial and should be shelved in favor of full-blown panic about the stakes of a second term for President Trump. In other words, the media must engage in incessant fear-mongering about democracy dying in darkness if Republicans win.

As polls often show Biden behind Trump now, Associated Press media reporter David Bauder recently promoted this Rosen thesis and the recent issue of The Atlantic dedicated to scaring everyone into voting for Biden.

“The stakes are high,” said David Halbfinger, politics editor at The New York Times. “We saw on Jan. 6 of 2021, when we cover politics, we don’t just cover elections. We cover democracy now. Everybody has to take their jobs seriously, and it’s good to see that everybody is.”

Voting Republican is anti-democracy. Democrats and democracy are the same. 

Halbfinger said. Journalists have learned — or should learn — to take seriously what the former president says while campaigning. “The skeptics who might have consoled themselves about the first term of Trump, saying that he’s too incompetent to get things done, they can’t console themselves by saying Trump and his people don’t know what they’re doing this time,” he said. “They’ve learned a lot and they’re preparing.”

Bauder noted Rosen and former Washington Post columnist Margaret Sullivan, who hosts the podcast “American Crisis: Can Journalism Save Democracy?”, have repeatedly urged for more of this democracy-in-danger coverage. Journalists should report “with far more vigor — and repetition — than they do about Biden being 80 years old,” Sullivan wrote last month in a column for The Guardian.

Thankfully, Bauder balanced the story a little, and let conservatives like me respond: 

Jordan Boyd said in the Federalist last week that corporate media was trying to “gaslight Americans” and are leading a coordinated effort to paint a potential 2024 Trump victory as the beginning of a cruel and unyielding dictatorship.

There’s a “whole new level of panic” in the media about polls that have shown Trump matching up well against President Joe Biden, said Tim Graham, director of media analysis at the conservative watchdog group Media Research Center.

“There’s a frustration with, ‘Why can’t we destroy this guy?’” Graham said. “I think everyone figured that 91 indictments would do the trick and it did the opposite.”

Then Bauder expressed the big concern on the Left, that conservatives won't be talked out of voting Republican:

The question remains whether the new reporting will be noticed by people who rely mostly on conservative media.

“I’m just not sure it’s sinking in to the public in general,” said Sullivan, incoming executive director of a journalism ethics center at Columbia University. “There’s a lot of people who understand there’s a threat to democracy that comes with a second Trump presidency and there are a lot of people who continue to think that it’s a normal presidential contest. I don’t think that’s the case.”