I’ve long harbored the hope that journalists with integrity at the Providence Journal were quietly embarrassed by their paper’s dabbling in PolitiFact. In the past, I charted PolitiFact’s bias, and I even wrote a parody song about it. In PolitiFact, the mainstream media has the perfect representation of the pretense of objectivity being used as a partisan political weapon.
With its coverage of this year’s partisan conventions, the Projo appeared to have committed the entire paper to the PolitiFact aesthetic. With today’s front page, it appears to have taken up its method, too:
The “news” of this story is that Donald Trump, (sadly) the Republican nominee for president, is habitually dishonest. Disliking Trump, myself, I’m not inclined to object to such investigation, but I still find it shocking to see it as such a prominent report in the Providence Journal, partly because it is inconceivable that the paper would give similar treatment to the similarly dishonest Hillary Clinton.
In fact, take the analysis a bit farther and open the paper to its “Campaign 2016″ coverage. The headlines are:
- RI Democrat Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (of all people) calling Trump “a dangerous kook.”
- “Trump’s lack of filter taking a toll.“
- The story of some guy climbing Trump Tower.
Pay special attention to the bullet in the middle, because it may indicate why the editors felt it necessary to land so hard on Trump’s honesty today. The “lack of filter” story is used as an envelope around an inset about the latest Clinton-related revelations, which I mentioned this morning, and that story is couched in terms of “Trump pounces.”
A search of the last fifteen days of the Providence Journal turns up no other news reports including the words “Clinton Foundation email.” In other words, for the paper’s only reporting of emails that raise ethical questions about the Democrat nominee for president, it minimized the find (excluding, notably, the Obama Justice Department’s killing of FBI requests to investigate the foundation further), presented it in terms of Trump’s response, surrounded by a story about Trump’s wild speaking habits, next to a story about a U.S. senator calling him a kook, within an issue fronted with bold declarations of Trump’s habitual lies.
This is a newspaper attempting to affect the outcome of an election along predictable party lines, pure and simple. Few remain so naive as to believe in mainstream objectivity in the post-Bush era, and I personally think we need less regulation of speech, not more. Nonetheless, while this may do little more than show my age, I’m still shocked by the tabloid-esque brazenness.