Clark Kent Was Fiction — The Mainstream Press Has Been Biased for Decades

Barb Wire

So, are y’all getting a little jaded as you discover the mainstream press is entirely in the tank for Hillary Clinton?

Do you long for the good old days when reporters were like Clark Kent, straight-arrows and unbiased? Just the facts!

Don’t kid yourself. Today’s journalism is only different by slight degrees from that which preceded it for a couple centuries in America. Look up Yellow Journalism, if you’ve forgotten your American history. “Watch His Girl Friday,” the absolutely hilarious 1940 movie that was so true to the outrageous nature of news gathering and reporting of its era because it was written by former news reporters who experienced it first-hand.

You think it was different before? Are you unaware that the entire Washington press corps knew about JFK’s daily whoring in and around the White House and kept it quiet? Every one of them. Didn’t you know an American newspaper buckled under when Attorney General Robert Kennedy intervened and killed a story that threatened to link JFK to a hooker involved in Britain’s Profumo sex/spy scandal? Didn’t you know reporters for decades have routinely traded silence for access?

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And do you honestly believe those gentlemen and ladies of the press keep their opinions out of what they write and say? Remember Dan Rather? He didn’t even need a semblance of “facts” to advance his opinion disguised as news.

Were you miffed at the sight of “journalists” at a recent gathering giving Hillary Clinton numerous rounds of applause? You read that right. Applause.

So, you think it’s something new under the sun and something that deviates from standard journalism standards when personal preference and opinion are advanced instead of facts? Maybe you missed the FRONT PAGE opinion column in the New York Times recently that said Donald Trump is so bad that maybe it’s time for reporters to stop being fair to him.

Well, here’s an insight you may not share. None of this is new. It ebbs and flows by degree over the years, but Washington D.C. reporters and their editors (who these days vote about 90% for Democratic Party candidates) let their biases guide them. It’s just that now and then it becomes more blatantly obvious.

Have you bought the fiction of “objective journalism?” Here’s the reality: every choice of what story to pursue (and what story not to pursue) is a subjective choice, not something generated from a value-free computer independently analyzing the day’s options. Every question asked (and not asked), every interview subject chosen (and the ones not chosen) are the results of subjective choices. That is to say, a choice informed not by merely what the reporter thinks he “objectively” knows, but how he subjectively values what he knows.

If you find this a difficult concept to grasp, consider how few news stories you read in the mainstream press about the hundreds of thousands of babies put to death every year by abortion. Are those deaths less alarming than the far, far fewer number of people shot to death by criminals? Are they less “newsworthy?” They are if your worldview ranks them that way. And your worldview dictates how you view the world. And consequently, how you view what’s news. Abortion? No big deal. Guns? Horrible stuff that deserves lots of coverage.

There are times when the duplicity is greater than normal, and we seem to be sliding into one of those low troughs with this current more polarized-than-usual election campaign. But the depths of slanted, shameful reporting by the fourth estate have been even worse.

In the 1930s Walter Duranty was the New York Times Pulitzer Prize winning correspondent who was instrumental in persuading the U.S. to recognize the new Soviet Union. As a reporter, Duranty predicted the success of the Bolshevik state when all others claimed it would fail.

But, in the 1990 book “Stalin’s Apologist: Walter Duranty: The New York Times’s Man in Moscow,” Duranty is revealed to be a lying propagandist, who for years knew of Soviet failures and atrocities yet reported from Russia to American readers what a workers’ paradise was being created by the communists.

Even after all of this became widely acknowledged, the New York Times balked at returning Duranty’s Pulitzer, which he won after his one-on-one interviews with Josef Stalin, one of history’s most horrific mass murderers. Oh, by the way, Duranty’s stories about Stalin painted the murderous dictator as a cross between George Washington and the Most Interesting Man Alive. Duranty wrote that there were no famines, no one was starving and the Russian people were 100% behind Uncle Joe.

When he finally was confronted with the fact that the Soviet government was purposely starving to death Ukrainian peasants at the rate of 25,000 a day, Duranty said he wouldn’t write about that.

“What are a few million dead Russians in a situation like this? Quite unimportant,” said the New York Times’ star reporter. “This is just an incident in the sweeping historical changes here. I think the entire matter is exaggerated.”

He apparently learned well at the knee of Stalin, who infamously once proclaimed that, “The death of one man is a tragedy. The death of millions is a statistic.”

Another author assessed the damage: “Duranty’s denial that there was a famine was accepted as gospel. Thus Mr. Duranty gulled not only the readers of the New York Times but because of the newspaper’s prestige, he influenced the thinking of countless thousands of other readers about the character of Josef Stalin and the Soviet regime. And he certainly influenced the newly-elected President Roosevelt to recognize the Soviet Union.”

So, here’s a tip from a writer, who’s been a reporter and an opinion columnist for more than 40 years: The news you get is weighted and shaped to fit the outlook of those giving it to you. Buyer beware.

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Barb Wire.

Mark Landsbaum
Mark Landsbaum is a Christian husband, father, grandfather and journalist who has written for a living for 43 years, ever since discovering he had no particular talents. He can be found on Facebook, Linkedin, and in the archives of the Orange County Register where he wrote another column for 10 years. He can be reached at

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