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Opinion: Don’t ever talk about the media “speaking truth to power” again

It was just over a year ago that NBC’s Chuck Todd took to the pages of The Atlantic and gallantly called on his fellow journalists to fight back against those who would question their professionalism:

[T]here’s a new kind of campaign underway, one that most of my colleagues and I have never publicly reported on, never fully analyzed, and never fully acknowledged: the campaign to destroy the legitimacy of the American news media.

Todd spent 2,300 words condemning this alleged campaign, blaming everyone from Roger Ailes to Rush Limbaugh to Richard Nixon for the damage that’s been done to the reputation of mainstream media outlets like his. So many words that he apparently didn’t have any left to consider the wild possibility that corporate media elites like himself might actually have no one but themselves to blame for the dumpster fire they have made of their own credibility. No, introspection was in short supply as Todd obsessed over his elaborate The Media Strikes Back screenplay:

I’m not advocating for a more activist press in the political sense, but for a more aggressive one. That means having a lower tolerance for talking points, and a greater willingness to speak plain truths.

His op-ed inspired a wave of self-aggrandizing puffery in the press, including the resurfacing of this jewel from The Washington Post’s associate editor David Maraniss:

Heroes, I tell you, every last one of them. So, how’s that “greater willingness to speak plain truths” working out for these self-proclaimed freedom fighters of the mainstream media?

  • To protect their powerful friends in the entertainment industry, Todd’s own NBC sat on the Harvey Weinstein rape and sexual abuse story until they couldn’t hide it any longer.
  • To shield themselves from public scrutiny, NBC allowed a sexual predator named Matt Lauer to be the face of their network for decades. This while they gave him a secret door lock button under his office desk for whenever he was feeling a little frisky with his female subordinates.
  • CBS looked the other way for years as their own CEO, Les Moonves, managed to rack up a host of sexual misconduct allegations from no less than twelve women.
  • For almost half a century, CBS allowed their veteran news reporter Charlie Rose to grope and sexually harass nearly 30 women with impunity.
  • A recent bombshell video from Project Veritas, shows an ABC anchor discussing how the network spiked the story of notorious pedophile Jeffery Epstein to, among other reasons, protect powerful people like Bill Clinton (the same year Hillary was running for president, of course), Prince Andrew of Britain, and several others.

If Chuck Todd really wants to know why people don’t trust the media, he might start by asking why each of those same networks feverishly ran with any and all accusations – corroborated or not – that were leveled against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. ABC didn’t have time to squeeze in the earth-shattering Epstein interview because they were too busy running breathless reports about the shocking revelation that Kavanaugh drank beer in college.

So spare me the self-congratulatory pats on the back and the crowing about how modern mainstream journalists hold the mighty to account and “speak truth to power.” No, they don’t. There were countless, innocent young girls being sexually abused by some of the most powerful men on earth, and these stout-hearted journalists knew it, but sat in cowardly silence.

The next time Chuck Todd and his mainstream media colleagues start lamenting and publicly examining what has precipitated the disintegration of public trust in journalism, could someone please just save us all the noise and hand them a mirror?

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