Is it really that bad?

Last week I argued that we must begin to face the scary reality that American institutions have become so corrupted by questionable influences that they can no longer be trusted. While we must avoid real extremism, we must be ready to accept the label of ‘extremist’ if we are to be faithful to Christ and resist succumbing to the propaganda regime that has taken over the country. I concluded by asking: “Is it really that bad?”

I would say, “Yes, it is.” As evidence I will present a few observations on the reporting of the news. It would be possible to right a lengthy book on the subject.

I will start with something ‘mainstream’ – sort of. Let me start with David Rubin, host of ‘The Rubin Report’. He is a man in a same-sex ‘marriage’, so that puts him socially in the ‘mainstream’, but his talk show is regarded as ‘conservative’. His great quality is his honesty, openness, and willingness to let people speak. He is a believer in ‘free-speech’ which seems to be a ‘conservative value’ these days. Shortly after the November 3 election he interviewed Megyn Kelly. Megyn Kelly, who has had major slots on both NBC News and Fox News, has also fallen afoul of Trump. Megyn Kelly was disappointed with the results of the election; nevertheless, she saw, as a ‘silver lining’, that now we can clearly see that the institutions we once thought we could trust, have become corrupt and ‘politicized’. She mentioned both FBI and the mainstream media, including her former employer, Fox News. She was of the opinion that we are better off knowing the reality of the corruption than continuing in our naïve trust.

Speaking of the FBI, “The National Review”, while it is conservative, has long been regarded as ‘mainstream’. My father, now deceased, was an old-time liberal Democrat who respected ‘intelligent conservatives’. He regarded “The National Review” as ‘respectable’. Further, “The National Review” opposed Trump in 2016 and was often critical of him during his presidency, but also often supported him out of loyalty to the Republican Party. Nevertheless, in “The National Review” I first met with the claim that the Mueller “Russian Collusion” probe was effectively an attempted coup directed against the duly elected President, namely Trump.

Next, I can distinctly remember that shortly after the Trump victory in 2016 I read an article in the mainstream press in which the author lamented that ‘we, the press’, were to blame for Trump being elected, because we made the mistake of trying to be fair to him, following normal journalistic standards and telling both sides of the story. The author argued that those normal standards no longer apply in the case of Trump, who was judged a ‘manifest danger to the republic’. That abandonment of standards of fairness was evident in the main-stream media coverage of Trump.

Over the years I have regularly looked at ‘main-stream news’ sources, chiefly the daily “Oregonian” and whatever the Google News algorithms send up. At the same time, I have looked at other news sources, from ‘conservative’ to ‘right-wing’, and even an occasional ‘left-wing’ article.

During the course of recent years the increasing uniformity of ‘main-stream news’ has become evident, especially since the pandemic hit. They have been feeding us a ‘party line’, like in Communist China or the former Soviet Union. Indeed, Dennis Prager recently remarked that he has read the New York Times pretty much his whole adult life, but now it is like reading the old Soviet, “Izvestia”, with which he was familiar.

During the time of the ‘mostly peaceful protests’ in downtown Portland since this past summer a sensational video about protesters ‘burning Bibles’ appeared online. The video was verified as authentic but showed clearly only one Bible being burnt. The New York Times dismissed the matter as mere Russian disinformation; they just happened to burn one Bible because it was the fuel they had on hand. Indeed, the video did come from a news outlet was funded by the Russian Government. Nevertheless, the video clearly showed the disrespectful and blasphemous speech of those involved. It was clearly intentional. Even if only one Bible was burned, the ‘many Bibles’ headline better captured to the gravity of what happened than the New York Times dismissal. In the end, I found that the Russian ‘disinformation’ source gave a more accurate account of what was happening in Portland than the New York Times. That was a rather disconcerting discovery.

Really, the mainstream press is no longer reliable. It is now necessary to look for alternative sources. Whatever the source, news reports must be examined with a critical eye.

It is even more necessary actively to look for alternative sources because the big social media have assumed an outsized role in the effective mass distribution of ‘news’. Facebook, Twitter, and Google (YouTube) have more and more begun to censor and even ban news sources that dissent from the ‘party line’. “LifeSiteNews” was recently banned from YouTube.

Even if this control of information is not coming directly from the government, it is coming in collusion with one political party. It is not complete, but it is reminiscent of the control of information that has characterized communist countries, not the ‘free world’. One can legitimately ask the question: “Is the United States of America still the ‘Land of the Free’? Is the United States of America still as safe refuge for people fleeing persecution in their native countries?”

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Fr. Joseph Levine graduated from Thomas Aquinas College and after a long journey was ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Baker, Oregon. He currently serves as pastor of St. Peter Catholic Church in The Dalles on the Columbia River.