Once upon a time, there was this crazy notion that journalists were supposed to uncover and report facts. But that seems long ago and far away indeed. In this age of fake news and fake “fake news” and relentless spin and distortion, those who pass as journalists often simply repeat what people have said without making any attempt to cut through the bullshit. As Media Matters has reported several times, this has had a devastating effect since the ascendancy of the 45th White House Occupant; most media outlets have willingly transmitted his evil lies without debunking them — which has had the effect of helping him spread and amplify his “message”, as it were.
Sometimes we simply lose sight of exactly what real journalists do — or what they’re at least supposed to do. Fortunately, there are still journalists who are courageous and responsible, at least on occasion. There have been at least two excellent recent instances.
The first comes from Mehdi Hasan, a British reporter for Al Jazeera, who cornered a hired liar for the 45th White House occupant (Steven Rogers), and confronted him about several specific lies. The hired liar tried to weasel out of it, but Hasan held his feet to the fire as few if any American journalists would ever do. Watch the clip here.
Okay, but Hasan is known to be left-leaning. Is it possible for conservatives to exercise similar journalistic integrity and responsibility? Yes, indeed; and the BBC’s Andrew Neil, a leading conservative journalist in the U.K. proved it. He chose, for whatever reason, to interview Ben Shapiro, the arrogant and pretentious pseudo-intellectual American right-wing cult figure who has a hard time separating facts from feelings, about his recent book, The Right Side of History — which we just might encounter again in a future post. Since the book, among other things, opines the loss of civil discourse these days, Neil confronted Shapiro about his own blatant lack of civil discourse. And Shapiro responded by… being extremely uncivil and storming off the set. (You can watch the interview here. Be warned though, if you have never heard Shapiro’s voice, that it sounds like an entire class scraping its fingernails on the chalkboard.)
Included in his petulant tirade were some rather common reactionary tools. For one, he branded Neil a liberal, which Neil found quite amusing given his resume. Shapiro also gave a schoolboy pissing contest retort: “I’m popular and no one has ever heard of you.” A good illustration of his egocentric and arrogant worldview, assuming that if he hadn’t heard of Neil, no one else had either — a conclusion he even repeated. (Note: Shapiro’s own clickbait factory, The Daily Wire, had previously done at least one segment about Neil. Doesn’t he even read the shit he publishes himself?)
He then exited in a snowflake snit, leaving Neil to comment, “Thank you for your time and for showing that anger is not part of American political discourse.” Shapiro, meanwhile, swiftly retreated to his sanctum and made a desperate attempt at damage control by sheepishly acknowledging that the interview didn’t exactly cast him in the best light, and that he was mistaken to call Neil a leftnik. But this display of faux humility is very much at odds with his usual persona. Whatever. At least Neil demonstrated an all too uncommon example of self-policing on the right.
Neil and Hasan are both of British origin. And it is admittedly more difficult to find journalists of their diligence on this side of The Pond. But there are a few of them out there. They just need to be put in the spotlight more, and maybe others will follow their lead.