A friend of mine posted a picture of Walter Cronkite, to Facebook. For those too young to know, Walter Cronkite was the anchorman at CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1980. He was nicknamed “Uncle Walter.” Older Americans will remember his sign off line ” And that’s the way it is …” followed by the date. CBS news was 15 minutes long until 1963 when it was expanded to 30 minutes. Walter Cronkite would generally read the news accompanied by pictures or videos. News stories were very short, because it was just the facts, not opinion. We never knew whether Uncle Walter was a Democrat or Republican. ABC, NBC and CBS simply were our eyes and ears into the world, but would not try to form opinions for us. They were able to squeeze in sports and weather into the short 30 minutes.
The reason for my friend’s posting was obvious. Today we have “news shows” which are more filled with commentary than actual news. They are targeting certain audiences. Conservatives like Fox News and One American News (OAN). MSNBC and CNN generally have commentators critical of Donald Trump, which liberals enjoy. But there are many examples of outstanding reporting in MSNBC and CNN. I also watch the BBC which has more of a global focus. I read the New York Times print edition, and online edition of Washington Post, New York Times and Miami-Herald. Yet to do research, I often just go to Google and hit the News icon. I consider these newspapers are well worth the money if I really want all the details. I just found out that General Flynn and I attended the same university but 8 years apart.
I will not differentiate between “Mainstream Media” and “Alternative News” as Donald Trump seems to do, They are all multi-million dollar corporations, so they are all mainstream. They are all contending for national market share, so this distinction is meaningless. Fox News and OAN are by far the most biased, often leaving out significant parts of the story so they can push a particular point of view.
Yesterday, the top stories were so evident: (1) A 3 trillion dollar aid stimulus package for Covid-19 was likely to have problems passing in the Senate (2) Recent events in the continuing saga of General Flynn in Judge Sullivan’s court, and (3) Whistle blower Dr. Rick Bright’s testimony in Congress. Each of these 3 stories were given very different levels of importance. In fact, with the General Flynn story, the details between
#1 story: I’ll begin with the 3 trillion dollar Covid-19 stimulus package. Washington Post gives the facts and the really grim statistic: “Live updates: House to vote on $3 trillion coronavirus relief bill; U.S. death toll surpasses 85,000.” The bill was announced 2 days ago, and it will be voted on today (Friday).
Fox News on their website tells you right off that it is a bad package: PARADE OF ABSURDITIES; McConnell blasts Dems $3T proposal for stimulus, but makes prediction. So, you know Donald Trump opposes it, because Mitch McConnell as the Republican Majority Leader in the Senate opposes it.
#2 story: Next up, is the next chapter in the General Flynn saga, which began in January 2017 with an FBI interview. As I hope most Americans know, General Flynn pleaded guilty to making false statements to the FBI and offered to cooperate with the Mueller’s Russian probe, and in return would be given a lenient sentence. Then, once the Russian probe was completed, Flynn got new legal team, and a new strategy evolved asking the judge to withdraw his guilty plea and he was actually tricked into making false statements. Many felt he was doing this in hopes of a Presidential pardon. The false statement charge meant he could spend either no time in jail or up to six months. Next. the Department of Justice under AG Barr decided to drop the charge against Flynn, but Judge Sullivan decided on Thursday not to go along.
New York Times was right on the mark with its headline: Judge Appoints Outsider to Take On Justice Dept. in Flynn Case. A retired judge will also examine whether the former national security adviser committed perjury. The Times story continues:
The federal judge overseeing the case against President Trump’s former national security adviser Michael T. Flynn appointed a hard-charging former prosecutor and judge on Wednesday to oppose the Justice Department’s effort to drop the case and to explore a perjury charge against Mr. Flynn.
Judge Emmet G. Sullivan’s appointment of the former judge, John Gleeson, was an extraordinary move in a case with acute political overtones. Mr. Flynn pleaded guilty twice to lying to investigators as part of a larger inquiry into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Mr. Flynn later began fighting the charge and sought to withdraw his guilty plea. Then last week, the Justice Department abruptly moved to drop the charge after a long campaign by Mr. Trump and his supporters, prompting accusations that Attorney General William P. Barr had undermined the rule of law and further politicized the department.
Now that’s just good reporting. It brings us up to date. The Times goes into more detail about former judge John Gleeson. They also note that the action of Judge Sullivan’s action has been criticized, as an extreme departure from normal procedures. So, their story is balanced.
CNN has the Flynn case in its headline news, but begins with Judge Gleeson and his role in the persecution of John Gotti (Mafia boss) case, Reporting in CNN and Washington Post are very similar.
A very different news story is headlined today in Fox’s reporting. The focus actually has nothing to do with what happen in Judge Sullivan’s court, but is totally focused on a Donald Trump’s tweet. Fox News large headline news “Trump wants FBI’s original ‘302’ report on Flynn case, says former adviser ‘persecuted'” . The 302 report would be an FBI notes taken during the interview in 2016. The whole Fox News story is not news at all, because the DOJ wants the charge dropped against Flynn because they consider the false statements unimportant to a legitimate FBI investigation.
So, if you follow Fox News, you might think important information somehow vanished, and of course, one would want comment from the FBI director, Christopher Wrey or the Department of Justice. Of course Fox just shoots and asks questions later.
#3 story: Whistle blower Dr. Rick Bright, who testified in Congress yesterday on the various treatments for Covid-19, and his claim that there were some attempts to bypass’ a vetting process for hydroxychloroquine. I would not characterize his manner as a “disgruntled” but more as a frustrated medical expert in infectious diseases, who had to watch as the top leaders ignored his warnings.
CNN gives the latest headlines “Rick Bright plans to start his new job working on coronavirus treatments and vaccines next week.” (see link) Others like the New York Times and Washington Post give excellent summaries of the hearing.
Fox New- I don’t see anything on the Fox News website except a short video: “Trump did everything that Bright said he should do.”
It would be fine if they reported that Trump believes he did everything that Bright said he should do, but this is just another biased opinion from Fox News.
Three events happened yesterday. Each were told differently. On the whole, I believe Uncle Walter would have liked CNN, the New York Times, and the Washington Post reporting, rather than the Fox mix of commentary and selected elements of the news to support the commentary.