Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
How the Legacy Media Lost My Trust

How the Legacy Media Lost My Trust

And the Trust of the American People

“The gods are fallen and all safety gone. And there is one sure thing about the fall of gods: they do not fall a little; they crash and shatter or sink deeply into green muck. It is a tedious job to build them up again; they never quite shine. And the child's world is never quite whole again. It is an aching kind of growing.” John Steinbeck, East of Eden

A few days ago, the most powerful, high-profile news media in this country were thoroughly humiliated by Jeff Gerth at the Columbia Journalism Review with a four-part series called The Press Versus The President.

Fair-minded and stubbornly objective, this awards-worthy piece of investigative journalism, begins the hard work of sifting through the past seven years to try to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.

For some of the last remaining real journalists like Matt Taibbi, who risked nearly everything to stand up for the truth, there was some relief in a reputable outlet like the CJR finally vindicating what he has been saying for years now— that the Russiagate story was a political ploy to target Trump that the media ran with.

But it was also a lie.

In one version of this story, the Columbia Journalism Review sends shockwaves through the mainstream news. The blue-checks elders on Twitter confess their complicity and beg for forgiveness. In that version, they cared more about the truth and less about clout and survival. They cared more about fairness and less about winning.

But the other version of the story is the right one: they said nothing at best, with David Corn’s barbaric yawp on Twitter the last gasp of the delusion, pretending he did the right thing all along misleading the public, falling for the scam.

On the Right, they were way ahead of the story, doing what they always do — shouting from the rooftops with no one in the mainstream able to hear them. For instance, Hamilton 68, a story Taibbi broke by sifting through the Twitter Files was on Tucker Carlson four years ago:

The cover-up of January 6th, I can promise you, will eventually unfurl just like the story of Russiagate should any journalists in the mainstream ever grow a pair to tell it. And again, Tucker Carlson has never shown even the slightest bit of fear confronting that which nearly everyone in the so-called establishment press studiously avoids.

How is it that I, a once-former blue-check Democrat and loyal Hillary Clinton/Joe Biden supporter began watching Tucker Carlson in the first place?

How is it I can withstand the hysteria that arises from my friends and family should I dare mention Carlson’s name in their presence? Well, it all started with the truth.

Mark Twain said a lie travels halfway around the world before the truth is putting its boots on. But he also said if you tell the truth you never have to remember anything. I have found that I care about the truth. I care enough to seek it out, no matter where it takes me.

I first found Tucker Carlson in the Summer of 2020. I had just learned the unbearable truth that journalists in the mainstream had gone completely silent on the protests erupting on the streets in nearly every city. I understood why they would avoid the looting and the destruction in mostly Black cities. But why were they ignoring the bizarre nightly rituals in Portland and Washington by mostly white kids, a kind of strange bacchanalia of social justice warriors coming of age and feeling their newfound rapture?

Why were they ignoring what was actually happening? Why was it such a brave act for Michael Tracey to cover the destruction of mostly minority-owned businesses? Why were there suddenly so many journalists being fired, canceled, and sent into exile on Substack? What was going on and where could the truth be found?

Well, I found it on the Right. I did this out of desperation because of what had happened to the Left. The first thing I found was Tucker Carlson not flinching even a little to report on what was actually happening on the streets. My side would call that racist, to even report on it, to notice it, to care about it. If you were worried about the curfews, the broken glass, the theft you did not care about the plight of Black men at the hands of police and you did not care about systemic racism. You were a bad person, a RACIST.

This Tucker Carlson video was the first major news outlet to talk about what was actually happening on the streets. My friends were sympathetic to the protesters, understanding their cumulative rage over decades of oppression and discrimination, but it was still the job of the press to tell the people the truth, not to gaslight them. This was a major red-pill moment for many.

Yes, it was the pivot away from the COVID hysteria to the “systemic racism” hysteria but still, it was obvious to me they were covering up the truth. Why? Well, we would eventually find out why but Tucker Carlson already knew.

In this video, he doesn’t spare anyone, not even Trump, not Nikki Haley or Mike Pence. That makes him unique on cable news. He goes after everyone.

Carlson told his audience two years ago that the protests were encouraged and heightened, and not stopped, specifically to bring down Trump. He also told us that it was planned to help take Trump out of office but that they would lie about it later. They didn’t exactly lie so much as they bragged about it in TIME magazine.

But that is not “what Democracy looks like,” nor is it what “journalism” looks like. That is what a coup looks like, a well-funded, organized coup by the establishment to bring down a president they could not control and did not like.

Our country forever changed after the Summer of 2020 but our press and media were MIA. Then and now. They went completely dark on all of it.

Maybe that’s because they know what fate awaits them for reporting the truth. They knew about the Tom Cotton essay at the New York Times that led to the resignation of Bari Weiss. They knew about the forced resignation of the editor at the Philadelphia Inquirer for the headline, “Buildings Matter too.” They knew they could lose their jobs, their status, everything just for speaking the truth.

We watched the resignations, the firings, the cancellations, the accusations that were based on the idea that intent no longer mattered. We were living through yet another wave of mass hysteria in the wake of the Me Too movement but we had no one, at least not on the Left, who would tell that story.

The debate over gender ideology and Critical Race Theory has birthed a massive silent majority who are freaked out about what is happening to the nation’s young. Everywhere they look they see members of the glassy-eyed cult foisting their newfound zealotry on their kids. Those of us who have no problem with drag shows don’t really understand why how this has suddenly become the job of the Democrats or Hollywood - to push it on our kids.

It isn’t just that. Desperate parents turn to the media for answers and all they get back are the talking points of the Biden administration, the comply or we’ll call you a bigot directive.

In turn, this has birthed an entire industry of what they call “heterodox” writers and podcasters, most of them are here on Substack but all they, we, are doing is telling the truth the mainstream media is too afraid to tell.

These writers made people like me feel sane. But many of them remained steadfast in their refusal to appear on Tucker Carlson’s show, or on the Right, choosing to align themselves, still, with the cultural elite who have abandoned more than half the country.

You know you can really trust someone if they appear on Carlson’s show to get their message out because you know they care about the many people who watch it. Matt Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald, Michael Schellenberger, Batya Ungar-Sargon. If they don’t, you know they’re still playing the game of the Left. They’re just drawing the line in a different place. And they will get us nowhere.

I don’t always agree with Tucker Carlson. Sometimes his elbows are a little too sharp for me. But I’ll take someone who is unafraid to tell the truth, sharp elbows and all, than whatever it is the media on the Left has become. Sensitivity readers? Editors who are afraid of their own staff? New codes of what words can and can’t be used?

With Carlson, you know not getting bullshit. And believe it or not, that’s the same thing Trump offers. He boasts and exaggerates, sometimes even outright lies, but overall, he’s giving it to the people straight. And that’s why they trust him and why they don’t trust the legacy media.

It took me a long time to escape the feedback loop that was telling me only what I wanted to hear. The internet gives us the ability to curate our own reality so that we can pretend life is as we want it to be. But that leads to everything we’ve seen go down in the past seven years — hysteria, madness, witch hunts, the erosion of trust in our institutions. All because the mainstream media narrative they control was threatened.

Whatever story is at the top of the news, it’s worth taking the time the scrutinize it. Your day should begin with Real Clear Politics, which shows opposing headlines from each side. Then you can see who is pushing what idea and why. Megyn Kelly, Ben Shapiro, and Sharyl Attkisson are some of those voices I have come to trust over time knowing I’m getting an honest take on what they really think.

How We Got Here

As a devoted Hillary Clinton supporter, I too was caught up in the frenzy of 2016. I donated to Jill Stein’s fund to find out whether the voting machines had been hacked by Russians. I bought it all, my friends, and believed I was battling Putin’s army every day on Twitter.

We all felt a great injustice has been done. How could Queen Hillary have been denied the Iron Throne?

It was you, James Comey, and your press release that herded the undecideds toward Trump. It was you, Vladimir Putin, meddling in our election so you could install your Russian Asset. It was you, Bernie Sanders for fracturing the party in two.

And, most destructive of all, it was YOU media. You obsessed on her emails for an entire year and for what? Now it was the end of the world. Now it was Armageddon. Now it was Hitler himself in the White House.

While all of these factors no doubt contributed to her loss, the truth was much simpler. The Hillary campaign screwed up. They turned down Facebook’s offer to help them use Zuckerberg’s shiny new toy that could target the exact right voters in the exact right places using the exact right advertising. Trump’s campaign, having only one long-shot play, relied almost exclusively on Facebook.

Hillary was eyeing Georgia, not Wisconsin. Had she allowed Facebook to help her drive voters from those key swing states, she might not have lost. She blamed everyone as our government set about undoing the results of that election through impeachment and sabotage, and the media lost our faith by chasing one lie after another to protect her and the Democrats.

Worst of all they believed then and still believe now that to confront the truth about Russiagate and the media is to give Trump an inch. Their job is to prevent him from ever holding office again. The truth must take a backseat. But it comes at an enormous cost.

I Ain’t Like That No More

I used to be the kind of person who watched Rachel Maddow every night. I thought Keith Olbermann was brave and honest. I shared every headline from the New York Times, NBC News, and the Washington Post because they were legitimate outlets that had gained our respect and trust over time.

I’m old enough to remember when there were three main sources of network news. CBS, NBC, and ABC. I remember when it was a major scandal that Jessica Savitch slurred her speech for a second and ended her career overnight.

I remember Dan Rather and the Killian documents. His career was destroyed because he was following a narrative he wanted to be true and he got sloppy.

Back then the objective was to get the story, no matter where it led. Get the story even if people hate you after. Get the story even if you have to seduce and lie to a source. Get the story because that is the only way to maintain the trust of the American public.

I admired movies like Broadcast News that were harbingers for what was to come. Manufacturing news to make the narrative you wanted was strictly forbidden, unethical, and frowned upon by filmmakers and members of the Left.

One of the best is Michael Mann’s The Insider about the corporatization of CBS News’ 60 Minutes. CBS Corporate forces them to edit the segment, to bury the story of the whistleblower saying cigarettes were designed to be addictive.

He built the trust of his source with the promise the story would come out. When CBS tried to bury it under pressure, Pacino as Lowell Bergman becomes the whistleblower destroying the credibility of 60 Minutes.

The spine of all of these prophetic criticisms of the nation’s news was that outside forces were corrupting their strong desire to tell the truth, at any cost.

Whether they did it out of fear or because they were “good soldiers” for the Left, doing the bidding of the Democrats, or they were social justice warriors themselves and have decided objective reporting of the truth doesn’t get them what they want — it all leads us back to the same place. They have abandoned the American people so the people have abandoned them.

They’re not journalists anymore so much as social media influencers performing in an ongoing melodrama on Twitter. They’re playing at being journalists now, echoes of their former glory, surfing on decades of credibility.

But it’s over for them. America has turned away to an astonishing degree. They know by now that they can’t get any kind of truth from people like Nicolle Wallace or Chris Hayes or even Jake Tapper. They always get the same thing every time - whatever talking points the Biden administration demands.

Jeff Gerth’s reporting stands, etched into the concrete wall that used to represent journalists who held the powerful to account. We want them on that wall. We need them on that wall.

Politicians are supposed to be afraid of journalists in every interview and at every press conference. But there is no difference between the politicians and the media now and the public has caught on to the game.

Recently, Boris Johnson visited the United States. Tucker Carlson invited him on his show and at first Johnson accepted. But a few hours later his publicist called and said Johnson would not be appearing on his show. That, my friends, is fear.

Every week Matt Taibbi and Walter Kirn sift through the current events of the day. They are funny. They are honest. They are always trying to find the answers, not demand we accept their version of events. Their conversation about the CJR is one for the ages.

Theirs is the antidote to what has become of the once-mighty American media, whose sounds of silence now in the wake of this story are deafening.

Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Free Thinking Through the Fourth Turning with Sasha Stone
Essays on politics and culture from Sasha Stone's Substack. A former Democrat and Leftist who escaped the bubble to get to know the other side of the country and to take a more critical look at the left.