Trump’s constant refrain charging fake news hit a common nerve. I recall jury selection in the Anderson Columbia vs the PNJ case many years ago. The dislike among the jury venire for the PNJ was palpable. I also recall with vivid clarity the unfair treatment I received from the PNJ when I ran for office in 1986. Over 30 years ago and I remember exactly what they did. I also was certain who outside the PNJ influenced it.
We soon forget the favorable press we receive but never forget the slightest unfairness from a single story. The reason I think, is because we see the unfairness as having no way to redress it while the story written is perceived by readers as being true when it is not . It is that bully pulpit power that causes us to dislike and even sometimes hate the newspaper that published it.
We had people on our Anderson Columbia jury venire panel say they would never believe anything they read in the PNJ. So it goes though with a free press. It will always be that way, but Trump saw a common enemy that almost everyone had a reason to join in the chorus screaming fake news. The view that you may disagree with what someone says but will fight to protect their right to say it sounds quite patriotic. It is however rarely true.
We root for the press to be exposed as unfair. Trump also knew though that the press was easy to manipulate. True locally and true nationally. There is no independent press and there never was one. How could anyone watch the PBS News Hour and not conclude it has a left leaning bias? FOX, CNN and MSNBC are obviously openly biased, ABC and CBS news lean left. It is futile trying to find unbiased news coverage because it rarely exists.
When a PNJ writer writes of the virtue of whatever Mr. Studer dreams up at the time (like brain bags and baseball), we should know by now it is hardly objective. The PNJ editor sits on boards of Mr. Studer’s organization. Channel 3 News content is now controlled by the Sinclair brothers with their right wing advocacy infecting the news reported. There is no objective local news coverage. Maybe there never was. And maybe our hope is that with many voices from many sides all tilted one way or the other depending on the writer or editor’s desires will lead us to dig out the objective truth for ourselves. There is little intent by anyone in the news business to help us do it. It may well be that Mr. Trump has done us all a favor by calling out the fallibility of thinking reported news was ever objectively done.