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I certainly don’t agree with every point independent journalist Matt Taibbi makes in his opinion piece titled “The American press is destroying itself;” however, many of his conclusions are spot on.
We have always had rancor in the press. What we see happening is nothing new. Back in Lincoln’s day and even Washington’s, the press was often partisan and brutal in the way it covered people, especially people of influence.
Mark Twain is often credited with saying, “Never argue with a man who buys ink by the barrel and newsprint by the carload.”
What’s different today is that the press brutalizes not just people of influence, but anyone who dares to express an opinion.
It used to be fair game to engage people who took the time to write a letter to the editor. Today, the media draws attention to and shames people by taking 140-word tweets out of context.
What’s also different today is that journalists and publishers themselves seek to squelch opposing points of view, which is notoriously demonstrated everyday when Facebook and Google block speech that “fails to meet their community standards.”
In other words, these individuals and companies that have built huge platforms by taking advantage of constitutionally-protected freedoms of speech and the press, what to bully anyone from doing the same.
Taibbi wrote, “The American left has lost its mind. It’s become a cowardly mob of upper-class social media addicts, Twitter Robespierres who move from discipline to discipline torching reputations and jobs with breathtaking casualness.
“The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation.
“They’ve conned organization after organization into empowering panels to search out thoughtcrime, and it’s established now that anything can be an offense, from a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” out loud to a data scientist fired from a research firm for — get this — retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones!”
It is disheartening to read or listen to media seeking to get people fired from their jobs simply because those people dared utter an opinion vastly different from their own.
Americans value freedom of speech and debate so much that it was constitutionally protected from the very day the Constitution was adopted by the 13 original colonies.
What we are seeing today is not freedom of opinion. Rather it is a desire of people — and especially journalists — to hear their opinions coming from the mouths of others.
“Each passing day sees more scenes that recall something closer to cult religion than politics,” Taibbi wrote. “In a business where the first job requirement was once the willingness to ask tough questions, we’ve become afraid to ask obvious ones.”
His editorial is long, but worth the read. You can find it at Taibbi’s website.