I am ever grateful to you, Dana Milbank, Soledad O'Brien and others for being the 21st Century Muckrakers we so badly need. Muckraking the media is sort of a new twist but one that is desperately needed. In the Progressive Era, muckrakers called out the dirty alliance between politicians and big business. In the 21st Century the underlying issue is the same but now it is writers calling out writers who are part of that machine. The pen really is mightier than the sword and I so appreciate what you are doing - it's our only hope.

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I was thrilled that Milbank wrote that column and went so far in his criticism he actually wrote “ My colleagues in the media are serving as accessories to the murder of democracy” !!

I am glad that his column hasn’t been swept under the rug they way previous media criticism has been, although the findings from the study he referenced should be getting far more attention. The media loves holding everyone’s feet to the fire but their own.

We should be discussing how this kind of media treatment of Democrats has been going on for decades, badly damaging public perception of them. Multiple studies found deep bias in the 2016 media coverage of Hillary Clinton compared to that for Trump. For example:

“Coverage of Trump overwhelmingly outperformed coverage of Clinton. Clinton’s coverage was focused on scandals, while Trump’s coverage focused on his core issues.”


Going back further to post-election media analyses of the 2000 election:

“A new study by the Pew Research Center and the Project for Excellence in Journalism underscores this. Examining 2,400 newspaper, TV, and Internet stories in five different weeks between February and June, researchers found that a whopping 76 percent of the coverage included one of two themes: that Gore lies and exaggerates or is marred by scandal.”


Other polls showed that the perception of Gore as a liar cost him a lot of votes.

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I have a feeling of pride that I have followed and supported Eric's work, work that set the stage for Dana Milbank to finally say, in clear language, that we must act on this media crisis. Keep going, Eric. Milbank did not mention you but I am certain he knows all about what you have been doing. Others will follow.

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It is often said that reporters, pundits are cowed by Republican claims of liberal bias, but I suspect the imbalance in the media is the result of something closer to home, the executive offices. For too many industries, corporate governance has adopted a "cutthroat capitalism" a la Jack Welch, whereby nothing matters except the bottom line.

A new book, "Flying Blind" by Peter Robison details how Boeing went from a company well served by the engineers in charge, to one run by the bean counters, so safety, training, etc were secondary to profits. This is one example of how craven and venal corporate governance has become in so many industries, including the media.

And of course, corporate executives love the tax cuts they get from Republicans, so are happy to have Republicans in control of Congress and the White House (they now control the Supreme Court, so that battle is over). Democracy be damned. (Remember that corporate interests are one of the legs of fascism.)

So I think it matters that we diagnose the obvious tilted playing field in today's media as a problem inside the house. Better messaging from Democrats is often cited as a way to untilt the field, but the problem is not the message. For starters, Democrats need to be more vocal in pointing out the lack of a level playing field directly by pointing fingers at the media outlets themselves.

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The chryon on MSNBC right now: Dems struggle with messaging for 2022 midterms.

Are they struggling with messaging, or is the media saying that they're struggling with messaging? I would argue that it is the latter.

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CJR published its email this morning and it derides Milbank's analysis by claiming first that we who found truth in it are merely gullible rubes, and then it goes on to quote a couple of people who have pooh-poohed it. Since they apparently couldn't, or wouldn't, explain what was so sorely lacking in Milbank's analysis, I took it with a large grain of salt.

Long before summer, it was obvious that the media was making an unspoken demand of Biden - to be the perfect president, and to be adored, It also wanted a tweeting, yapping, gaffe-producing head of state to easily write stories about, and what they got was a rather serious-minded man who put his nose to the grindstone and began actually doing his job. (Part of the press' frustration spilled over into its highly negative coverage of Kamala Harris, our first female vice president and first person of color to hold the office, but I digress).

Biden's low point was when the press lynched him last August for the withdrawal from Afghanistan, which actually went very well, all things considered. Even now, stories of the people who were "left behind" are still being published, like yesterday in the Washington Post, who ran a story about how "thousands" had requested help to leave the country and "got no response."

Biden is being held to impossible standards so that the media has stories to tell. The damage that's being done is incalculable. We wanted a good president, and we elected one. But good is not good enough.

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Yet again: It's more than bashing Biden. It's the need to bash everything Democrat. And bad enough as that is as it requires BSing way more any respectable reporter should, it also includes lying to cover up and promote the GOP.

And just to add a few tidbits to Eric's post: Overlooked was the mainstream's visceral attack on Biden's withdrawal from Afghanistan which was a) awesome that it even happened; b) went as well as possible; but c) overlooks that only the occupation ended, financial warfare is now the means of attack.

As for GOP support, refusing to call Trump and his Mini Me's literal killers for their response to Covid.

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A large part of the MSM is positioning itself for an authoritarian America. I do believe they fear the imprisonment and worse that could be coming if Trump or a Trump wannabe is elected in 2024. If that sounds crazy then consider what has happened since the insurrection almost a year ago. Except for the dupes that actually followed Trump's insane rhetoric and climbed the Capitol walls, assaulted and killed police, no elected person in the GOP who was obviously involved has been prosecuted. Steve Bannon was arrested and his lawyers are now angling for a postponement of trial until October, just before a possible House flip. Mark Meadows decided he's not going to cooperate. The DOJ's snail like pace does not mirror the level of concern the demise of our democracy demands. Add to that redistricting, voter suppression laws, Republican state legislatures that are now positioned to ignore the popular vote and elect Republicans over the will of the people and of course the now politicized Supreme Court that's in the process of shredding Roe V. Wade and it's clear to see the safer side the press want to remain with. I applaud Dana Milbank's piece but from where I sit, regardless of the tremendous job Biden and the Democrats have done, those of us for a free and fair America are losing the fight. The Press should be on our side. This is not a battle between Conservative and Liberal. It's a coup that was born decades ago with dark money with the ultimate goal of destroying democracy enabling the super wealthy to run and own everything. Donald Trump simply accelerated the process. Much to the surprise of many, the Press has played along, looking out for their own best interest and survival. Thank goodness for Eric Bohlert and other progressive journalist including Milbank. Without peaceful but irrepressible protests from the majority of folks in this country who want a progressive future, it's quite possible that the next two elections may be the last.

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I was hard on Milbank for his coverage of Hillary Clinton, but he has clearly repented (unlike his old buddy Chris Cillizza, who also could be rated a target of this article, as I think about it). Milbank also didn't put up with Lizza's sucking up to his bosses, and even pointed out that Politico was sold to a right-winger, and it was at about that time that there was a turn in the coverage. Steve Inskeep also tried to defend NPR against criticism and let's just say it didn't go well.

More people are realizing the truth of what Eric says.

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Nice to see conventional wisdom under the bright light of day. Holding power to account is sometimes the result of good reporting but one should precede the other. Too often, the 'everything's a nail' gets in the way of fairness and accuracy.

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With a few exceptions, I believe that much of the political press write conventional wisdom stories for the benefit/admiration of each other. “Good point, Joe, I was just saying that the other day to Peggy!”

As Carlin said, “It’s a club and you ain’t in it.”

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I've read through a bunch of these comments and the general debate is over who is responsible for this bothsideism/Dem bashing - is it paper's owners, the editors or the reporters themselves? To me that's not the major issue. The major issue is that ONLY way to fight the creep of authoritarianism is through the media and so the issue is now how to get enough reporters in enough places on board with that to avert disaster.

These are very scary times. If MSM reporters continue to legitimize TFG and his minions and continue to paint a picture of the Democratic Party as being in disarray and not doing what's needed, the MAGA hat wearing, gun toting troglodytes will inherit the earth and that's just not good.

This is why I am grateful to our 21st Century Muckrakers and I hope they inspire a groundswell of more of the same.

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"If they’re so desperate to play up conflict for clicks, I asked Milbank, why don’t they play up the conflict between democracy and authoritarianism? It seems to me that’s a great story."

That's the question and has been for years. It's also why I'm not so sure the million-dollar media's innocent justifications are legitimate.

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"Democracy Dies In Clickbaits!"

Write on, Eric!👍

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I saw how Forge.AI did the sentiment analysis for Milbank, and they are part of FiscalNote, a leading tech provider of global policy and market intelligence. What does this say about American Democracy if our Beltway Journalism is so biased in favor of the bad-faith Republican Party and their leading Arsonists who are actively trying to destroy our government institutions and norms?

I'd hate to be a sophisticated investor trying to make profit with such a broken Journalism business covering our nation's foreign and domestic policy.

But for a large company, I could see how the broken Beltway Press limiting the political power of Democrats and their ambitious policy agenda could be advantageous for the corporation keeping their taxes low and less regulation. Do some deep pocketed folks and corporations LIKE our broken Beltway press having a finger on the scale for the GOP?

But as a citizen, I always am hopeful for a Beltway press who strive to report the political and policy news ACCURATELY.

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I suspect that whatever else the mainstream media is doing to maintain their "fair-and-balanced-both-sides" narrative, somewhere beneath their surface rationalizations is the awareness that telling the truth about 30-40% of their audience would be a financial disaster.

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