A refugee from the old Soviet Union once explained to me how she knew what was actually going on in her country and in the world, despite having no trust in the evil empire’s official newspaper, Pravda. She read Pravda not to glean information from what was printed, but rather from what was omitted.
Was there an esteemed official whose name suddenly disappeared from news about government meetings? Not only was he now an enemy of the state but history would be re-written to show that he had always been so. Woe to you if you ever said anything positive about him—even if such statements were mandatory at your workplace.
Was there no record of an Aeroflat flight’s arrival? The internal Soviet airline either had a technical difficulty or, as happened too frequently, had crashed. These problems couldn’t be acknowledged as they would reflect badly on the all-capable, all-competent regime, but you could track how often they occurred by how many flights did not arrive.
At the time, that idea of such discriminating reading seemed far-removed from me. Yet lately, I too have been reading the newspaper not for what is there but rather for what isn’t.
I have been reading the Wall Street Journal since I was a little girl. I started with what used to be the front page, middle column, human-interest article that now has migrated to the bottom of the front page. I graduated to editorials, columnists and the news. (Alas, I still don’t understand the stock market pages.) It is with great dismay that I now see the paper, both in its news reporting as well as its opinion pieces, as tilting center-left rather than staunchly objective or leaning conservative. Reporting has been replaced by second-rate repeating of news from other sources, thus influencing readers’ viewpoints rather than being a source of enlightenment. While I always appreciated reading columnists from a liberal viewpoint, those coming from the conservative side are increasingly out of touch with today’s vibrant conservatism as well as the Leftist lurch of the currently misnamed liberal movement. Having given up on the New York Times years ago because of its abandonment of honest reporting, it is extremely painful to see the WSJ too abdicate from competent journalism, if not yet being downright deceitful.
What have I noticed missing from the Wall Street Journal? Here are three examples:
- A missing editorial obituary for Rush Limbaugh. It is impossible not to recognize that Mr. Limbaugh was a towering, influential, outsized personality for the past few decades. While the Wall Street Journal had two columnists write about him after his death—one positively and one negatively—there was no editorial obituary. Like those who once lauded and benefitted from the newly canceled official in the Soviet Union, the powers-that-be seemed scared that writing about Mr. Limbaugh, even in a nuanced way, would be toxic. The ingratitude this showed to a man who not only supported but played a part in promoting legislation that the newspaper encouraged, was staggering. (UPDATE: a reader informs me that such an editorial did appear. I’m pleased to hear that because I was very upset about the omission. I think my larger point still stands, but I stand corrected on this example.)
- Skewed pictures and basic reporting of most attacks on Asian-Americans. To the delight of American Leftists, a white man recently killed a number of Asian-Americans. While shedding crocodile tears, the glee at being able to label rising violence against Asian-Americans as a white supremacy (ipso facto, Donald Trump associated) plot was immense. Obscured was the fact that not only was there no hint of racial or politically conservative motivation in this attack but that major newspapers have had a blackout on the increased violence against Asians, particularly in NYC. This increase in violence is directly related to the release of dangerous criminals by a liberal mayor who personally is surrounded by armed security protection. The uncomfortable fact that a disproportionate number of the attackers are black has similarly been ignored.
- Astute readers of the news immediately recognized that, unlike perpetrators who are named, tried and convicted by reporters before even a small percentage of facts are known, newspapers initially showed no name, picture or info about the driver whose car recently assaulted Capitol police. It was clear to those who search for what is not said that the alleged murderer was neither white nor had he ever uttered a positive word about President Trump.
There are so many more examples. I don’t want to replace my morning paper with one that leaves out pertinent news and discussion while tilting to the other side of the political spectrum. I would appreciate being given a fair, unbiased and comprehensive picture of current events. Is that still available? How sad that talents that were necessary in the failed Soviet Union are becoming increasingly necessary in a failing United States being harmed by a failed mass media.
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