The liberal agenda has taken some wild turns in recent years and it seems to be getting worse. Recently, Leonard Downie Jr., a former Washington Post editor, wrote an op-ed in the Post calling for journalism to move beyond objectivity, which was met with shock. New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, who was a guest on Real Time With Bill Maher, reacted to this opinion, calling it “the end of the United States.”
Maher reacted to the piece in disbelief, saying that objectivity has always been something journalists have strived for, even though it’s impossible to obtain. But Downie suggested that the standard of objectivity “was dictated over decades by male editors and predominately white newsrooms.”
This prompted Stephens to reply that if this were to become the standard, it would not only be the end of serious journalism in the United States, but the end of the United States itself. He then criticized liberals for their hypocrisy, noting that they want to throw out anything that was created by a white person, like the polio vaccine. He even went so far as to say that Einstein’s theory of relativity no longer holds because Einstein was white.
It’s clear that journalism is in a troubling state, and abandoning objectivity won’t help. It’s up to journalists to remain impartial and objective in their reporting, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. Journalism should not be used as a tool to push a political agenda.
Stephens’s message was clear: abandoning objectivity would be a disaster for the country. It’s time for journalists to stand up for the truth and report on it objectively, despite the current political climate.
BILL MAHER: I have a newspaper man here today, so I thought I would ask a little bit about what’s going on in journalism because I saw something that I thought was rather groundbreaking in the Washington Post, your competitor over there from The New York Times, Leonard Downey, he used to be, I think, the executive editor there. Okay, he wrote an editorial about objectivity which I thought again was, kind of, a sea change.
I mean, objectivity, I remember in the past always was something that was, of course, impossible to obtain in journalism but I never remember anybody saying we’re not trying. If you got accused of not being objective they would say “well, we’re humans, of course, we are, we try, we get as close as we can, we can’t help it if some bleeds in.”
Now apparently, new journalism is we don’t even try and we’re not trying and we don’t think that is a goal. He said the reason he said “the standard was dictated” — talking about objectivity — “over decades by male editors and predominately white newsrooms.”
So, that may be, I’m sure true, but– so the concept of objectivity should go? Are we not throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
BRET STEPHENS: If he were to get his way that would be not just the end of any serious journalism in the United States, I think it would be the end of the United States.
MAHER: What? Wow. That’s dramatic.
STEPHENS: I mean this is Trump’s– let me explain for a second what I mean. Hang on a second—
RUBEN GALLEGO: Alright, I’m listening.
STEPHENS: This is Trump’s America because what it means is truth is whatever you claim it is. Truth is whatever your lived experience is, truth is—
STEPHENS: — whatever your narrative is. No, actually, that’s not the truth and newspapers exist to at least seek a standard of accuracy and truthfulness that is not what Ruben or Bill or any of you in the audience happen to think it is.
I thought that was the battle we spent six years fighting the Trump Administration about. That you couldn’t just say it was true, that you sold in 90 percent of your condominiums and your fabulous new development—
STEPHENS: — even if it wasn’t true. So, this is, I mean, what he’s talking about is a trend in newsrooms which I think is incredibly damaging and all of this business “Well, you know, it was white guys who got on the bandwagon of objectivity,” what exactly does that mean?
So, anything that a white guy happened to have come up with at some point in time is therefore suspect “let’s throw out the polio vaccine because it was a pair of white guys who came up with it.”
MAHER: It is silly.
STEPHENS: How about Einstein’s theory of relatively no longer holds because Einstein was manifestly white?
Erica Carlin is an independent journalist, opinion writer and contributor to several news and opinion sources. She is based in Georgia.