Unfreedom of the Press (2019) takes a radical look at the state of American journalism in the age of Trump. Right-wing commentator Mark R. Levin calls out what he considers the fabrications, lies and propaganda being disseminated by the modern mainstream media. In addition to examining the sad state of affairs in journalism today, Levin also travels back in time to uncover the roots of the sickness that afflicts the majority of the American press.
In the liberal democracies of the West, it is common knowledge that press freedom is one of the tenets of a healthy society. But America’s media has been sick for many decades.
Our story begins in 1947, when the citizen-led Commission on Freedom of the Press released a report on the state of the American press – a report that sheds light on our current media landscape, too.
The Commission concluded that, while the availability of mass media had greatly expanded in the preceding decades, the quality of its content had decreased. Not only had the press become much more inflammatory and sensationalist, it had become outright irresponsible in much of its reporting.
But ending on a more positive note, the Commission emphasized the importance of the media equipping people with knowledge, in order to promote the values of a free society.
Fast-forward to the present, where more modern efforts have been undertaken to define the responsibilities of a free press. In 2007, for example, former journalists Bill Kovach and Tom Rosenstiel published a book called The Elements of Journalism, wherein they concluded that the most important duty of the press is to equip citizens with information that allows them to be “free and self-governing.”
One of the key indicators of whether this is the case is diversity amongst journalists. A tapestry of different ideologies is a characteristic of a genuinely free press, where a balance exists between opinions representing different intellectual strains.
Sadly, the American media today falls short of this ideal. A 2014 Indiana University study found that while 28.1 percent of journalists identified as Democrats, only 7.1 considered themselves Republicans.
This is hardly a balanced playing field in terms of intellectual diversity.
And these imbalances are reflected clearly in public opinion. Gallup polling now shows that while nearly 80 percent of Democrats trust the media, only 20 percent of Republicans can say the same.
These statistics bring to light a very worrying phenomenon – that the vast majority of the modern media landscape shares the ideological mindset of the Democratic Party.
And this has dire consequences.
One is the extremism-redefined principle. This entails that if enough coverage is given to what would normally be considered extreme left-wing positions, these views will eventually become considered mainstream. This is just one of the implications of the stranglehold that the “Democratic Party-Press” has over American media today.