Trump, Clinton and Obama: The Media’s Truthfulness is Lacking
By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
Throughout this presidential election, the constant theme that emerges is the absence of truth in regard to reporting on presidential candidates. The media has failed miserably in keeping the public properly informed about the candidates seeking our nation’s highest office.
Almost all reporters belong to the Society of Professional Journalists (SBJ). Its mission is to ensure that the concept of self-government, as outlined by the U.S. Constitution, remains a reality in future centuries. The American people must be well informed in order to make decisions regarding their lives, local communities and national communities.
Journalists should provide information in an accurate, comprehensive, timely and understandable manner. SBJ’s core mission is to promote the flow of information, be constantly vigilant in protecting the First Amendment (freedom of speech and of the press) and espouse the high standards of ethical behavior in reporting.
Where’s the Journalistic Code of Ethics?
Part of SBJ is its code of ethics. It seems that today’s journalists have discarded that ethical code in favor of political expediency and partisan politics. Journalists have failed to recognize the special obligation they have to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government. Their role is to ensure that the public’s business is conducted in the open and public records are open to all people.
If part of the code of ethics is to serve as watchdogs over public affairs and government, why haven’t journalists looked deeper into the nefarious affairs of the Clinton email scandal and the Clinton Foundation itself?
Once the scandal broke courtesy of the New York Times in March 2015, journalists gave little coverage to this huge potential breach of public trust by Hillary Clinton and her surrogates. When Clinton presented her case at a U.N. press conference in March, her explanations changed as the months progressed. Even after the FBI decided not to seek an indictment, Clinton continued to issue conflicting, untrue statements.
Last week, the conservative group Judicial Watch released a batch of close to 300 emails after a lengthy legal process. These emails may indicate a conflict of interest between her tenure at the State Department and the Clinton Foundation’s dealings around the globe. Former President Bill Clinton, her husband, heads The Clinton Foundation.
Why Hasn’t the Media Investigated the Clinton Foundation?
There has been ample evidence of irregularities between the Clinton Foundation and Clinton’s tenure at the State Department. Clinton’s use of a private email server and email to conduct all government business should be sufficient cause for any journalist to probe into the foundation’s business practices.
For someone seeking the nation’s highest office, shouldn’t we know more about the Clinton Foundation and its relationship with Hillary Clinton while she served as Secretary of State? Corporations and countries that had business with the State Department also donated heavily to the foundation headed by former President Bill Clinton, which is a potential conflict of interest.
Media Fails to Show Link between NYPD Commissioner and the Clintons
On Thursday, Clinton met with New York Police Department Commissioner Bill Bratton, his successor James O’Neill, Los Angeles Police Department Chief Charles Beck, Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez, and other senior law enforcement officials among others. The discussion involved the difficulties in policing across America.
Bratton has been the most outspoken law enforcement critic against a Trump presidency. “Mr. Trump scares me, scares the hell of out me, being quite frank with you. And I just don’t get it in terms of the support for him,” Bratton said. “The lack of depth on issues…the ‘shoot from the hip’…I’ve just watched his whole campaign and I just shake my head.”
What wasn’t disclosed after the law enforcement discussion was that Bratton, after his retirement in September, will take a position with Teneo-Holdings, a U.S. global advisory firm led by President Douglas Band. Band served as Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton, who later created and built the Clinton Global Initiative.
Recent email revelations show Band pressed top Hillary Clinton advisors Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills to secure a connection at the State Department for Nigerian billionaire Gilbert Chagoury. Chagoury was also a major donor to the Clinton Foundation.
Part of ethical journalism is to provide accurate, fair and thorough reporting. It took me less than five minutes to find the links between Clinton, Teneo-Holdings and the Clinton Foundation. With the resources available to the media, why didn’t they provide this information to the public to place Bratton’s remarks into context, allowing the public to make their own decision about Bratton’s ethics?
Media Too Enamored with Donald Trump
Journalists should apply the same vigor and standards to all presidential candidates. This rule means holding Republican candidate Donald Trump to the same ethical journalistic standard.
Unfortunately, the SPJ Code of Ethics fell by the wayside as mainstream media sought higher ratings and increased profits. They erred in their journalistic investigation to hold those seeking power accountable and to give a voice to the American people.
The media failed to investigate Trump’s business dealings, various bankruptcies and his corporate enterprises. As a result, an unvetted Trump went though the presidential primary.
It’s only now that news sources are beginning to cover Trump in depth, which should have been done last year. Maybe if the media had done a more thorough job, the American people would have had other, more suitable presidential candidates, instead of one candidate receiving free media exposure.
The media were too consumed with Trump’s reality television persona. They allowed him to set the stage on how and where he would be interviewed. Other candidates were not permitted this leeway.
Early in the campaign, but especially during the many debates, Trump never faced media scrutiny regarding his policy pronouncements. All too often, the media was fixated on Trump’s bombastic, over-the-top rhetoric instead of focusing on information of substance.
Media Barely Covers Trump’s Ignorance on Vital Issues
In one of the Republican debates, Florida Senator Marco Rubio schooled Trump over Trump’s lack of understanding of the “nuclear triad.” concerning America’s ability to deliver nuclear weapons via strategic bomber, intercontinental ballistic missile or submarine.
The coverage on this topic lasted a day. Trump then made another over-the-top comment, which incited media coverage and allowed Trump to again determine the media narrative.
Obama Given Free Pass By the Media
Journalistic ethics have definitely been asphyxiated in how the media covers the White House and the Obama administration. The key component in journalistic ethics is to serve and recognize the special role journalists play as the watchdog over public affairs. They hold government agencies accountable for their actions, ensure government employees conduct the public’s business openly and keep public records open and transparent.
President Obama has repeatedly stated that his administration “is the most transparent administration in history,” but has the media held him at his word?
Recent History Littered with Scandals Ignored By the Media
If journalists are to be the watchdog over public affairs and hold the government accountable, where was the media oversight into the abuses at the Veterans Administration? Veterans died waiting for medical care.
The media didn’t report on the VA scandal and the attitude of VA officials. The VA Director Robert MacDonald stated, “But what’s the problem? After all, at ever-popular Disneyland, do they measure the number of hours you wait in line?”
In 2015, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally dumped 3 million gallons of toxic sludge into the Colorado River. In affected states, the EPA and media sources didn’t warn residents about the health and environmental impact of this pollution.
The media offered little coverage about how the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) targeted conservative groups. At the same time, the IRS stymied official Congressional inquiries and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that looked into nefarious acts committed by agency officials.
The ATF tracked weapons to Mexican drug cartels and arrested suspects, but then the ATF lost track of the weapons. The weapons caused deaths on both sides of the Mexico-U.S. border, including the murder of a U.S. border patrol officer. The press brought very little attention to this situation.
Other agencies faced serious scandals with little or no coverage by the media. Now with the recent horrific flooding in Louisiana — the worst natural disaster since Hurricane Sandy — President Obama has yet to respond or interrupt his vacation. Only now — after more than a week since the flooding began — the president is traveling to the region on Tuesday. That is a far different press coverage than was given to a previous president in a similar situation.
The Media’s Lack of Interest in Iran Nuclear Deal
The media’s current inability to hold the federal government accountable has extended into U.S. global strategy with the Iran nuclear agreement of 2015. Throughout the negotiations, the Obama administration repeatedly made false assertions regarding this deal, especially concerning with the release of American hostages in Iran this past January.
At first , the media told the American public that the nuclear agreement deal with Iran did not involve a ransom to secure the release of American hostages, but the financial payment was a different aspect of the nuclear agreement. On Wednesday, State Department admitted to the public that the agreement with Iran did involve a ransom.
Journalists Must Regain Public Trust
If journalists and the media want to regain the American public’s trust, they need to go back and relearn their journalistic ethics. Journalists must ensure that the free exchange of information is accurate, fair and thorough. They need to hold everyone to the same ethical standards. Otherwise, we will witness the destruction of the very fabric of our country.