Elon Musk’s successful bid to buy Twitter for $44 billion and end its practice of censoring conservative speech is viewed as a threat to “wokesters” attempting to make quick work of their leftist revolution. For most Americans, though, it represents a shot at recovering balance in opinion that currently excludes conservatives. However, a more fundamental rebalance is needed between the media’s tandem components: opinion and news. Whether Mr. Musk succeeds in reforming Twitter, a shift away from the snarky celebrity social media and toward impartially reported news is the key to a clearer picture of the world.
A favorite refrain of Fox News host Sean Hannity is “journalism in America is dead.” “Damaged” would be more accurate — damaged by politics. Contemporary practitioners of the trade include a generous share of publicity hounds posing as newshounds as a means of jumping to the head of the “progressive” parade. Unsurprisingly, Americans find the Weather Channel more trustworthy than The New York Times or The Washington Post, according to a recent YouGovAmerica poll.
For those hungering for more consequential fare, genuine journalism is still happening in plain sight. The Washington Times, for one, serves as an antidote for Big Media anti-Americanism. The publication has risen upon the foundational labors of now-departed press veterans. Among them were the editor-in-chief who slept in his office for fear of missing critical developments when the Iron Curtain fell, and the patriotic ball turret gunner who applied his skills shooting down flimsy facts as a copy editor for “America’s Newspaper.”
From Day One of publication in 1982, newsmen were expected to arrive at work in a tie — no exceptions. A woman making the mistake of showing up in a provocative dress was sent home to change. No whistling was tolerated in the newsroom — a tune on the lips was gauged as indicative of an unfocused mind. And flip-flops were a no-no because their signature slap conjures up the feeling of a day at the beach, not the office.
Strict workplace etiquette may seem anachronistic in 2022, but it has served as a cornerstone for journalistic integrity. Every issue has two sides — or more — and the public is entitled to sample them all. For a reporter to take one side by donating to a politician’s campaign is a blatant breach of objectivity. Such vintage press rules compare favorably to the contemporary scene where elected officials and the journalists who cover them are in each other’s pockets, and sometimes, each other’s beds.
Elon Musk is spot-on in pointing out that free speech is “essential to a functioning democracy,” and his acquisition of Twitter appears nothing less than a rescue mission to save the First Amendment.
Beyond social media, though, there are remedies for Americans who value a balance of both news and opinion — and expect them to remain distinct. Real journalism is neither dead nor dying, and for those who know where to look, it’s just a click away.