But periodically — and frequently in the age of POTUS Trump, actually — journalists need to look inward and examine where their profession is, how it is (or is not) contributing to the betterment of American society, and what (if anything) we can and should be doing to improve their trade and improve the public’s knowledge of the most pressing issues of our day.
Also, we should ask ourselves if what we are doing is causing more harm to our country and our society than good.
Roger L. Simon, co-founder of PJ Media, took media self-examination to the extreme in a column Monday in which he asked a compelling question in his headline: Should journalists go to jail for spreading Russia lies?”
As a First Amendment maximalist, I am inclined to reply an automatic "no" to my own headline — should journalists go to jail for spreading Russia lies? But a penalty of some kind, indeed a serious one, should certainly be levied for misinforming the public on the most important subject of our day, which has happened repeatedly over the last few years concerning the Russia probe. And when these prevarications can be shown to have been deliberate, to have been done knowingly, difficult as that may be to prove, the line to sedition may have been crossed and there is an argument the reporters involved should face legal consequences. They should also be fired.
Powerful stuff, indeed, but let’s examine what he is advocating without allowing our minds to be clouded with hysteria, for at this point in our history, his is a poignant and appropriate question.
Recall that the “Russian collusion” hoax has consumed much of the political oxygen in our country for more than two years. Even before POTUS Trump was inaugurated in January 2017, establishment media outlets like The New York Times and the Washington Post were publishing breathless ‘bombshell’ stories about how our current commander-in-chief conspired with Mother Russia to “steal” the 2016 election from Hillary Clinton.
In many cases these stories weren’t simply wrong, they were false — and they were false because, as special counsel Robert Mueller ‘officially’ concluded in March, there was no Trump-Russia collusion.
But it goes further than that: There is ample evidence that the collusion narrative was a fabrication of the Obama administration and was purposely and knowingly spread by several members of the establishment media.
Take the infamous “Steele dossier.” The document was pure-bred political opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and the DNC. Reports noted that throughout the summer of 2016, as Trump and Clinton won their party’s respective nominations, the dossier made the Washington media rounds but was rejected for publication because a) everyone knew what it was; and b) none of it could be corroborated. But then Buzzfeed published it in its entirety, albeit with customary disclaimers. (Related: What? NYT columnist David Brooks blames fake news media’s nonstop coverage of the Russian collusion hoax on…POTUS Trump and Sean Hannity.)
How could editor Ben Smith, who made the decision to publish, not know it was fake or at least suspect as much?
The same for other ‘mainstream’ journalists since 2017 that have served as the deep state’s enablers for the collusion hoax.
At some point, given the damage the hoax has done to the president’s diplomatic outreach to Russia — a well-armed nuclear adversary — and our own country politically, as Simon asks, at what point are these people “guilty of sedition?” Didn’t they help Russian President Vladimir Putin sow discourse among the American electorate?
Rather than winning Pulitzers, reporters at the Post and the Times and throughout the establishment media should be in court answering questions as to why they intentionally lied about the collusion narrative which has endangered our country.