Being Right: Taxpayers Should Not Have to Subsidize Fake News

Patrick Taylor, Maroon-News Staff

The White House announced on Thursday October 24 that it would be discontinuing government agencies’ subscriptions to two newspapers: The Washington Post and The New York Times, both publications which are said to be famous for virulently anti-Trump and left-leaning coverage.

This brings to mind a very important issue: Why was the U.S. government funding these newspapers in the first place? The Washington Post is an overtly partisan newspaper, having endorsed Democrats in at least the past nine presidential elections. The paper is regularly filled with emotionally charged headlines, and was one of the leading proponents of the debunked Trump-Russia conspiracy theory. Its coverage of the Trump presidency has been nothing short of shameful from a journalistic standpoint, depending largely on anonymous sources, whose claims cannot be easily verified (some suggest they might be completely fabricated). Likewise, The New York Times, once a respected newspaper, has stooped to gossip and tabloidism, regularly publishing biased headlines and fear-mongering opinion pieces.

This has to do with the larger issue of the relationship between the press and government in general. Many falsely assert that the role of journalism is exclusively to hold presidents and other government figures accountable. I should note that there is certainly a role for journalists to play in rooting out corruption; however, this ideal cannot get in the way of facts and fair reporting. I contend that a more appropriate guideline for journalism should be to report the news in a way that is as fair and unbiased as possible. Sure, negative stories regarding the president should be reported. But this should not come at the cost of ignoring the actual truth of the matter. 

It seems to me that some journalists feel that it is their moral obligation to bring down President Trump. They devote entire front page articles and much of their resources to bashing and exaggerating every trivial misstep the president makes. They write most articles with so much bias that news and opinion become indistinguishable. 

Take, for example, this misleading Washington Post headline published in February: “President Trump installed a room-sized golf simulator at White House.” This could be a legitimate criticism of the president, if it were actually true. Here’s what really happened: Trump replaced Obama’s old golf simulator, using his own money. While this headline is especially egregious in its bias, it is hardly unique in how it obscures the truth. 

On the side of The New York Times, we should look back to last month, when they published an article describing what appeared to be a new sexual misconduct allegation against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. The story gained significant traction for a day following its publication, with some Democratic presidential candidates even calling for Kavanaugh’s removal from the bench. The New York Times, however, left out one key detail, which they added in a correction the next day: Kavanaugh’s supposed “victim” had no knowledge that the event had ever occurred. This is not what real journalism looks like. This constant omission of important details is not right, and it is at our own peril that we simply put up with the embarrassing state of today’s press.

Journalism is not what it once was. Previously a noble endeavor, mainstream journalism has sunk to a new low, shunning the old standards in favor of rumors and hearsay and ignoring the ideal of a fair press in favor of constant partisan insults. It’s time that we took a stand against the bias and hate coming from the mainstream media on a daily basis. It was the right move for the president to stop handing over taxpayer money to these dishonest publications, and maybe in the face of this dispute, certain members of the journalistic world should stop doubling down on their biased coverage, and instead, take a good, hard look at themselves, and ask the question, “What are we doing wrong?”