It Is Time to Demand Media Accountability

On Monday, former president — and current Republican frontrunner — Donald Trump garnered a record-breaking 51% of the votes in Iowa’s GOP presidential caucus. Trump’s percentage was greater than those of his next two competitors’ — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley — combined.

Notably, Trump won among both Iowa voters with and without college educations, as well as among self-described “conservative” and “moderate” voters. He won with urban, suburban and rural voters; he won with both men and women; he won with older and younger voters. Immigration was the top issue among Iowa caucus participants, and an overwhelming majority polled were completely unfazed by the civil or criminal cases that have been filed against Trump.Yes, this is only the first of the 2024 presidential primaries, and plenty can happen in 11 months. Even so, Iowa’s results raise compelling questions that demand serious analysis. Unsurprisingly, some of America’s self-appointed political experts in media show neither the inclination nor the ability to conduct it.MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow is a textbook case. As the Iowa results were announced, Maddow explained that Republican voters are the problem. She intoned ponderously:”If we are worried about the rise of authoritarianism in this country; if we are worried about the potential rise of fascism in this country; if we are worried about our country falling to an authoritarian and potentially fascist form of government, the leader who is trying to do that is part of that equation. But people wanting that is a much bigger part of that equation. … and I know because I’ve been studying this … [t]here is an authoritarian movement inside Republican politics that isn’t being bamboozled by Trump; they are pushing Trump to get more and more extreme.”Meanwhile, the other talking heads — including Jen Psaki, Lawrence O’Donnell, Joy Reid and Chris Hayes — all nodded gravely in agreement, periodically interjecting, “Correct!” and “That’s right!”This is not just nonsense on stilts. It is an outrageous lie of the highest order — and a massive deflection from the real threats Americans face. Yes, Americans should be worried about the “rise of authoritarianism” in this country — and millions are. But they understand that it is not coming from their neighbors who wear “MAGA” hats or the populist political Right.The media has been manifestly deceitful about Republican and conservative politicians for decades. They have taken it to new and shocking levels with Trump. But this latest angle should concern more than just political candidates.The Left fears that they might not be able to stop Trump despite all their efforts, so they have apparently decided to turn their attention to the tens of millions of Americans who have voted and will (or may) vote for him. When Hillary Clinton called them a “basket of deplorables,” that was bad enough. Now those voters are being smeared by the Democratic Party and their shills in the major media as longing for “authoritarianism” and “fascism.”What might the consequences of such a broad-based propaganda effort be?We have already seen some of it: the censorship of speech that was exposed by the “Twitter files”; the “Disinformation Governance Board” that Nina (“Mary Poppins”) Jankowicz was going to head up; the prosecutions of people who walked peacefully through the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 (and even, potentially, those who never entered the building); the FBI arrests of pro-life activists; the denunciation of parents protesting pornography and transgender bathrooms and locker rooms in their children’s schools as “domestic terrorists”; the FBI’s designation of conservative Catholics as “rad trad” (“radical traditionalists”) and proposed surveillance of their churches.Perhaps the most absurd aspect of all of this is the media’s refusal to see their role in the political developments they decry. Americans were fed up with the press’ years of smears against Republicans and conservatives, and — even more significantly — they were fed up with Republican politicians who nevertheless grovel to that same press and capitulate to Democrats on important matters of law and public policy. Those who voted for Trump wanted a candidate who would stand up to the Left and take Americans’ concerns seriously. Trump gave them that, and then some.The media did not create Trump. But their decades of deceit made the rise of someone like Trump inevitable.One would think that Trump’s political resilience in the face of a relentless onslaught might be cause for a bit of introspection. But the media is doubling down, ignoring the Biden administration’s flagrant disregard for the Constitution and laws (like those governing immigration) designed to protect Americans, and ramping up their attacks against Trump as an aspiring dictator. (Which is, admittedly, a curious position for a profession that has a history of singing paeans to actual dictators like Joseph Stalin, Pol Pot, Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez. But I digress…)The continued decline of the American press is shocking to watch. Panels of “experts” lie with impunity, and yet no one takes them to task. On-air personalities make outrageous claims but are not publicly confronted in ways that would expose their falsehoods to their audiences. They have an oligopolistic stranglehold on propaganda and no one is breaking it.It isn’t funny, and it isn’t just greed; it’s destructive, and it is long past time for them to be held to account.Some will say that’s impossible. I disagree. The aftermath of the congressional hearings involving the presidents of Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology demonstrates that the determination of a committed few can focus the country’s attention on corrosive institutional policies and rally demands for change.If academia can be held accountable — and it must be — the same is true of the media.

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Laura Hollis

Laura Hirschfeld Hollis is a native of Champaign, Illinois. She received her undergraduate degree in English and her law degree from the University of Notre Dame. Hollis' career as an attorney has spanned 28 years, the past 23 of which have been in higher education. She has taught law at the graduate and undergraduate levels, and has nearly 15 years' experience in the development and delivery of entrepreneurship courses, seminars and workshops for multiple audiences. Her scholarly interests include entrepreneurship and public policy, economic development, technology commercialization and general business law. In addition to her legal publications, Hollis has been a freelance political writer since 1993, writing for The Detroit News, HOUR Detroit magazine, and the Christian Post, on matters of politics and culture. She is a frequent public speaker. Hollis has received numerous awards for her teaching, research, community service and contributions to entrepreneurship education. She is married to Jess Hollis, a musician, voiceover artist and audio engineer, and they live in Indiana with their two children, Alistair and Celeste.

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