When I joined RedState in September 2015, I wasn’t directed to write favorably or unfavorably about any of the GOP candidates for President. I was not asked, “Who do you support?” Over time I increasingly became more hostile to the idea of a Trump candidacy, and in December 2015, wrote I would not support him for President. The decision was mine, and while the bulk of the writers at RedState held the same position, we were not a monolith.
That attitude of independence continued through the nominating process into the general election campaign and still exists today. The Hill has a piece wherein they spoke to several conservative media outlets (not RedState) regarding the supposed “difficulty” there is in adjusting to Donald Trump being President.
One of the issues I have with the piece is the conflation of sites like Gateway Pundit and Breitbart with the Washington Free Beacon. The former two are not conservative media outlets so much as they are mouthpieces for the Trump administration and the Trump campaign before that. Matthew Continetti, the editor-in-chief of the Free Beacon made an excellent point when he said, “Conservative media has always been held to a higher standard than liberal media, and as conservatives we have to live up to that higher standard. When we don’t, it not only undermines our work as journalists, but also the conservative project as a whole.”
He’s right. Outlets such as Gateway Pundit and Breitbart do a disservice to conservative media outlets because they behave more like palace guards than journalists.
Conservative columnist John Ziegler said, “A lot of so-called conservative media is like the dog that caught the car, and now they don’t know what the hell to do. They’re completely confused because they’ve never been in this situation before.” They shouldn’t be confused. If they’re confused, it’s because they value access and traffic more than what they should value above all else: the truth.
It is not a challenging endeavor for any journalist, whether they’re a reporter or an opinion writer. However, people struggle with it anyway, and that above all else does a disservice to conservative media in the same way it does to the mainstream media. How can conservatives in media point fingers if they are prone to engaging in the same behavior they decry? There is a tendency based on the loathing of the mainstream media and Democrats for conservative outlets to enter into a knee-jerk defense of Donald Trump.
There is a difference between hypocrisy and dishonesty. The media attempt to turn the dismissal by Trump of 46 Obama-era US attorneys into a scandal was an exercise in hackery. It was a moment of the ordinary becoming extraordinary. The ‘scandal’ died a quick death and with good reason because it’s complete nonsense.
That differs from hypocrisy. Being hypocritical does not make one wrong and when conservative media outlets tend to gloss over Trump’s dangerous accusations about wire-tapping or Devin Nunes suspicious behavior in behaving more like a White House surrogate instead of one charged with oversight, conservative media morphs into what it supposedly loathes. Yes, Adam Schiff is a grade-A snake. That said, his recent call for Devin Nunes to recuse himself from any investigation involving the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to the Russian government should not be dismissed simply because he’s a hypocritical jackass.
There is no confusion.
Conservative media outlets should tell the truth. If the result is less traffic or less access, then so be it. If one chooses to ignore the truth in favor of access and traffic, the conservative outlets become the hypocrites and lose any leverage they have over their mainstream media counterparts.