Tens of millions of Americans believe Kyle Rittenhouse should have been convicted of homicide in Kenosha, just like many of the same people still believe that the riots of 2020 were “mostly peaceful” protests, or that “Russian collusion” explains how Donald Trump was elected president. They believe these things because powerful institutions of American journalism — from the New York Times and the Associated Press to CNN and the nightly broadcast news programs — want them to believe in such falsehoods.
The late talk-radio legend Rush Limbaugh used to say that, if all he wanted to do was complain about liberal media bias, he could fill three hours a day, five days a week with nothing else. And it often seems futile to call attention to examples of liberal bias in most of what is called “journalism,” because the examples are as numerous as the stars in the sky. The media are biased about everything, and if those lying bastards at the Washington Post could find a way to sneak Democratic Party propaganda into football box scores and real-estate listings, I’m sure they would.
Unfortunately, many conservatives have become complacent about the problem of media bias. The success of alternative outlets like Fox News Channel, Newsmax, One America News, and others (including dozens of right-leaning YouTubers and podcasters) lends credence to the belief that so-called “legacy media” are no longer important. But however much truth there is in this belief in the declining importance of Big Media, they are still quite big, and they’re now so completely in the tank for Democrats that their “news” coverage is practically a contribution-in-kind to the DNC.
The distortion of public opinion is becoming dangerous.
Let’s take a look at the ratings, shall we? Last Friday, the day the Kenosha jury acquitted Rittenhouse, the total-day average audience for the three major cable-news outlets was thus: Fox News 2,450,000, MSNBC 990,000, CNN 678,000. Conservatives might congratulate themselves about this — Fox had an audience 32 percent larger than the two left-wing networks combined.
Ah, but wait a minute before you pop the cork on that champagne, my right-wing friends! Have you forgotten about the broadcast networks? According to Nielsen ratings published in September, the average audience for the nightly news on Big Three networks is ABC 8,740,000, NBC 7,320,000, CBS 5,400,000 — a combined total of about 21.5 million viewers, which is more than seven times larger than the audience for Fox News. Do you see the size of the problem here?
Our current media landscape began forming about 15 years ago, in the wake of George W. Bush’s reelection amid the Iraq War, when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and it was possible to believe that what Karl Rove called the GOP’s “center-right” coalition might be a permanent majority in American politics. Fox News was newly ascendant in the cable-news ratings, and, to many conservatives circa 2005, it may have seemed that the ancient dragon of liberal media bias had finally been slain. Such a sanguine view, however, failed to take seriously the possibility of reversals — the deadly “insurgency” in Iraq and the approaching collapse of the real-estate bubble.
What was especially overlooked by conservatives circa 2005, however, was the fanatical determination of the Left to upend the “center-right” status quo. After Democrat John Kerry’s defeat in the 2004 election, George Soros and other big left-wing donors poured millions of dollars into newly created tax-exempt “progressive” operations, including David Brock’s Media Matters for America. Brock’s outfit somehow managed to convince many liberal journalists that the real problem in the media was that they weren’t anti-Republican enough. They had been too soft on the GOP, liberal reporters were led to believe, and any concern about balance in reporting was derogated as a “both sides” fallacy, a false equivalence that failed to take account of the all-encompassing evil of Republicans, and the particular evil of Fox News.
If you wonder what happened to CNN, this is the answer: During G. W. Bush’s second presidential term, MSNBC found ratings success by positioning itself as the left-wing antidote to Fox News, and CNN tumbled to third place among the cable-news outfits. Every subsequent effort to reconfigure the network’s programming to regain their erstwhile ratings has failed, but during the Trump years CNN had some success by going into 24/7 anti-Trump mode. If liberals weren’t getting enough “Orange Man Bad” rhetoric from the talking heads on MSNBC, they could click the channel to CNN, where, as Nigel Tufnel might say, the Trump-hating noise was turned up to 11. But with Trump out of office now, the appetite for this diet has vanished, and CNN’s ratings are routinely lower than reruns of Paw Patrol on Nick Jr.
Do not expect CNN to recover anytime soon, however, because like all other liberal journalists, Jake Tapper and his colleagues continue to be obsessed with counteracting the demonized right-wing bogeyman of Fox News. Despite the fact that Tucker Carlson’s audience of about four million viewers is scarcely half the size of the audience of ABC’s World News Tonight, liberal journalists feel a duty to counter what they deem the dangerous “misinformation” on Carlson’s show. Absent the bogeyman of Trump, now CNN and other media outlets are waging war against Carlson as the new bogeyman. One characteristic of totalitarian propaganda is the relentless demonization of political scapegoats; Tucker Carlson is to CNN now what Leon Trotsky was to Pravda during Stalin’s “Great Terror” of the late 1930s.
The reason this matters — why I’ve devoted hundreds of words to tracing the recent history of the media’s increasing left-wing bias — is because the distortion of public opinion is so obviously becoming dangerous. We need look no further than the Kyle Rittenhouse trial to see this danger. It was the media, of course, that incited the Kenosha riot in which Rittenhouse shot three people. If you believe what CNN and other liberal media said, Jacob Blake was a helpless unarmed victim of police racism. In fact, Blake was a domestic abuser who was terrorizing his victim when police arrived; he was armed with a knife and violently resisting arrest when he was shot. (Wisconsin’s state investigation later found the police officer’s action justified, and the federal Justice Department concurred.) Viewed through the warped lenses of liberal bias, however, Blake was a heroic civil rights martyr — Joe Biden expressed sympathy toward him — and this view justified what the media then characterized as “mostly peaceful” protests. Translation: Riot time!
Well, what did Kyle Rittenhouse do that made him a household name, smeared as a “white supremacist” by Biden in a campaign ad? If all you knew about the case was what you learned from the liberal media, you might believe Rittenhouse was some kind of dangerous extremist who, as an MSNBC announcer said during his trial, “shot three men at a racial justice protest last year.” But if you had read my American Spectator column written a week after the shootings, you would have known a lot more, e.g., “Rittenhouse never fired his rifle except in self-defense and … the teenager will almost certainly be acquitted if the case ever goes to trial.”
Nearly every crucial fact that came out in Rittenhouse’s trial was known within days of the shootings — including the criminal records of convicted child rapist Joseph “JoJo” Rosenbaum and the other rioters who attacked Rittenhouse — but the liberal media suppressed these facts, which didn’t fit their “racial justice” narrative. So biased was the media’s coverage, in fact, that many people erroneously thought Rittenhouse had shot black people (Rosenbaum and the other two were white).
Why would professional journalists disgrace themselves this way? Why were they getting scooped by mere bloggers when it came to reporting the most important facts about the Rittenhouse case? In a word, politics.
Everything is now political, in the view of our elite media class, who evaluate every story in terms of how it will influence elections and policy decisions. Police shot a domestic with a knife who was resisting arrest? People got killed in a riot? “Well,” the network news producers ask themselves, “how can this story be used to help advance the interests of the Democratic Party?” Believe it or not, police still shoot lots of white criminals, and a lot more people died during last year’s riots than were shot by Kyle Rittenhouse. But neither the Biden campaign nor CNN paid any significant attention to the deaths of Barry Perkins and David Dorn in St. Louis, or other riot-related deaths that didn’t fit the preferred political narrative.
If the only result of such one-sided coverage were to influence how Americans vote in elections, this would be bad enough. The official margin of victory for Biden in 2020, after all, came down to 10,457 votes in Arizona, 11,779 in Georgia, 20,682 in Wisconsin, and 80,555 in Pennsylvania. We dare not suggest cheating played any role in Biden’s victory, lest we be denounced as “conspiracy theorists,” but even if there was zero fraud in these results, how much did Biden’s election owe to the gusting tailwinds of liberal media bias?
Beyond this, however, what kind of world are we living in where it is possible for a teenager to be prosecuted for homicide when all the evidence so clearly pointed to self-defense? Any liberal who was surprised by the jury’s acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse needs to reevaluate the credibility of the “news” organizations that they’re relying on for information, but it feels almost useless to point this out.
After all, if liberals could be induced to read The American Spectator, they wouldn’t be liberals much longer, would they?
Source: The American Spectator