Published in partnership with Shadowproof.
In August, Jim Rutenberg of The New York Times admitted the establishment or “mainstream” media could not be objective when covering Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Rutenberg claimed this was Trump’s fault for having an abnormal campaign style and questioning establishment consensus views on NATO, immigration, and ethnic nationalism.
Many find the establishment media’s rather open conspiracy against Donald Trump’s candidacy to not only be acceptable, but laudatory. And, why not?
Objectivity is, fundamentally, a fraud. It is impossible for human beings to be objective about anything, let alone politics (the most biased of enterprises). So why shouldn’t the Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and the rest try to destroy a candidate completely antithetical to their values?
For those on the left, the issue is not the mainstream media willing to admit its bias against Donald Trump, but their refusal to admit their general bias in favor of the neoliberal status quo. And while it is nice to see the establishment press oppose xenophobia and racism (somewhat) it is cold comfort when considering their indifferent attitude to our current economic and political system’s other terrible pathologies.
Currently, six corporations—News Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS and Comcast—own roughly 90% of media in America. That’s TV channels, radio stations, newspapers, and movie studios.
The values these powerful media corporations hold, not surprisingly, align perfectly with the values of the economic and political order under neoliberalism. Those values are threatened by both the left and right, which found voice in prominent candidates this cycle.
Donald Trump continues to challenge the social liberalism and multiculturalism the corporate establishment approves of because it facilitates the hedonism of consumerism and the necessities of marketing products and services in an ethnically and religiously diverse global economy. Yes, executives running those companies also probably find Trump repulsive on a personal level, but even many people who agree with Trump find him personally repulsive.
So that’s what happens to candidates that challenge the establishment’s social agenda. What about people that challenge the establishment media’s economic agenda?
The candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders challenged the form of capitalism the corporate establishment approves of because it has made their shareholders incredibly rich. So rich in real and relative terms that the top .01% of families own 22% of the country’s wealth, as much as the bottom 90% of American families combined.
Perhaps that explains why there was no such impetus among the press to drop the pretense of their objectivity and go after Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries the way they are going after Trump now. If anything, the establishment press helped Clinton by ignoring the Sanders campaign, the so-called “Bernie blackout.”
So, what’s the lesson from this campaign cycle and the Rutenberg admission? There is no objective media. There is no real “view from nowhere.” The establishment “mainstream” media is going to fight for the interests that own it and it serves. To get all the information, for contrary views to be seen and heard, independent media needs your support.
We don’t claim to be objective, but we do report the facts and always try to make reasonable arguments. We also aspire to tell stories the mainstream media is failing to cover, such as Roqayah Chamseddine’s wonderful new project, Islam In America. Any support you provide will be greatly appreciated.