UNFREEDOM OF THE PRESS
By Mark R. Levin
Threshold Editions, $28, 258 pages
“Unfreedom of the Press,” writes Mark Levin, deals with “how those entrusted with news reporting are destroying freedom of the press from within: not government oppression or suppression, not President Trump’s finger-pointing, but present-day newsrooms and journalists.
“Indeed, social activism, progressive group-think, Democratic Party partisanship, opinion and propaganda passed off as news, the staging of pseudo-events bias by omission, and outright falsehoods are too often substituting for objective fact gathering and news reporting.
“A self-perpetuating and reinforcing mindset has replaced independent and impartial thinking. And the American people know it. Thus the credibility of the mass media has never been lower.”
In this thoroughly researched and well-written analysis, Mr. Levin, nationally syndicated talk radio host, chairman of Landmark Legal Foundation, host of the Fox News show “Life, Liberty & Levin” and author of five bestselling books, provides a concise survey of embryonic journalistic practices from the Colonial days to the signing of the U.S. Constitution, the development of the Republic and the growth of newspapers, through the Progressive Era and into the present, where we are today, with an overwhelmingly partisan press serving as the voice of one political party.
“It is surely not for the government to control the press,” writes Mr. Levin, “and yet the press is not capable of policing itself. We must remember, we are not merely observers, we are the citizenry.”
And as citizens, Mr. Levin believes, we have great cause for alarm for what is being done to the concept of a free press, and its ultimate effect on free speech. Although expressing no sharp partisan views himself, he sees Donald Trump, a democratically elected president of the United States, as a prime example of what can happen when the national media unites in unbridled hostility, engaging in biased reporting and commentary bordering on sub-literate character assassination, and often completely unhinged.
Some typical examples, among the scores he includes: From MSNBC political analyst Michael Eric Dyson, “‘Donald Trump talks like a racist, makes statements like a racist. Conjures emotions that give succor and support to white supremacists and white nationalists. He has emboldened white supremacists to come forward.’”
More from MSNBCs Mr. Dyson: “‘We got a guy [Trump] who gets up every morning and excretes the feces of his moral depravity into a nation he has turned into a psychic commode.’” (And that’s more than enough of Mr. Dyson.)
Here’s Joe Scarborough, once a reasonably good conservative but now also a talking head at MSNBC, where they may be putting something in the water, on the treatment of refugee children, who under Mr. Trump “‘are being marched away to showers, just like the Nazis said they were taking people to the showers and then they never came back.’”
NBC’s Andrea Mitchell says that children are being held at the border in “‘concentration camps,’” and introduces Joseph Stalin into the conversation; and an MSNBC producer makes the other implied comparison explicit by accusing the Trump administration of following “‘the exact pattern that Hitler’” had set. And New Republic contributing editor Bob Moses nails it down: “‘He is our first neo-Nazi president.’”
Then there’s this Newsweek headline: “‘How Murderer Charles Manson and Donald Trump Used Language to Gain Followers.’”
“The media-pack malevolency toward President Trump and his party belies the press’s self-serving claims of professionalism and high standards .Indeed, during the Trump presidency, the press has engaged in lies, distortions, sloppiness, and overall malpractice to an extent previously unseen in modern times,” Mr. Levin writes.
Mr. Levin does not make those charges lightly, and this fully-researched book is packed with a wealth of information to substantiate them. His intention in writing it, he tells us, is to “jump-start a long overdue and hopefully productive dialogue among the American citizenry on how best to deal with the complicated and complex issue of the media’s collapsing role as a bulwark of liberty, the civil society, and republicanism.”
An admirable goal, and much needed.
• John R. Coyne Jr., a former White House speechwriter, is co-author of “Strictly Right: William F. Buckley Jr. and the American Conservative Movement” (Wiley).