A new year brings promises of fresh starts, renewed commitments to achieving goals, and a national press corps completely in the tank for Democrats.
There’s nothing journalists like better than Republican-on-Republican attacks, and this week has been full of them. The prolonged standoff over the election of Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy as House speaker has prompted an eruption of breathless and gleeful reporting and commentary not seen since former President Donald Trump was diagnosed with COVID-19 in 2020.
NBC News presidential historian Michael Beschloss spit out a long Twitter thread in which he imagined a reality show featuring Mr. McCarthy and Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz, one of his fiercest opponents.
In Politico, there was a favorable description of how the Biden White House is viewing the proceedings, which framed it pretty much the way you’d guess the administration wanted it.
“[M]ake no mistake: this administration is about as distraught over all this as a flock of vultures happening upon a freshly killed gazelle,” Politico reported, no doubt quite pleased with that line.
Meanwhile, NBC used the occasion to run another glowing eulogy for Nancy Pelosi’s speakership, interviewing fawning Democratic members of Congress and saying that Ms. Pelosi “paved the way for the next generation of strong female leaders.”
Even Ms. Pelosi’s own filmmaker daughter might cringe at the gushing praise NBC put on TV disguised as news.
Over at CNN, there was a piece about Democratic Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of New York and his place in history if, as is expected, he becomes the first Black member to lead a political party in Congress. While summarizing his legislative and political history, CNN somehow neglected to mention that Mr. Jeffries has forcefully disputed certified election results numerous times in his career — an act for which they would brand any Republican as an “election denier.”
All this to say that less than one week into 2023, it doesn’t look very good for a sudden reformation of the corporate media into an unbiased body. Once the slim Republican majority organizes the House, they can get to the business of the people who elected them, which will not be viewed kindly by many in the media.
Most members of the new GOP-controlled House were sent to Congress to stand up to the Biden administration and stop the awful policies that are crushing livelihoods and squeezing family budgets. When Republicans refuse to pass progressive legislation, it will be irresistible for reporters to take President Biden’s side and cast the GOP as obstructionists. However, the lawmakers will be doing what their constituents want.
When Republicans demand action on the crisis at the southern border and look to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, the media will be forced against their will to cover an issue they long ago determined was not a story. It’s easy to predict how that coverage will go.
When House Republicans call for dismantling the regulatory state and increasing the production of domestic energy, look for the media to lecture about climate change and amplify the views of environmental extremists as though they are fact.
And when the Republican majority begins its investigations, expect the battle lines to be drawn with the GOP on one side and the media and Democrats on the other.
It’s unimaginable that the media will remain neutral if St. Anthony of Fauci is in the hot seat about the COVID-19 pandemic, and asked to explain his funding of gain-of-function research. Or his lies to the public about wearing masks. Or the lab-leak theory.
It is likewise unthinkable that journalists will be able to contain themselves if the topic is Hunter Biden’s laptop and the information it contains that links his father to the moneymaking schemes that involved selling access to the elder Biden to foreign businessmen. The laptop is a story that most reporters refused to cover in 2020, and almost all the ones who did write about it wrongly dismissed it as part of a Russian disinformation operation.
Yes, if history and the first week of this year are any guide, we will see more of the same news media we already know. For those who wish 2023 would contain more fair reporting, there’s not much reason for optimism since the media are reacting to the Republican infighting like children on Christmas morning.
New year, new media? Not likely.
• Tim Murtaugh is a Washington Times columnist and the founder and principal of Line Drive Public Affairs, a communications consulting firm where he advises political candidates and corporate clients.