Perhaps there never was a time where we could really trust the news media to present straight facts without an agenda, but in these days of interconnectedness, we can immediately test the integrity of our journalist class for ourselves.
This story in the ever declining Sydney Morning Herald is an interesting case in point. Some facts are presented but an agenda is subtley slipped in:
New York: Chaotic scenes have broken out in Washington as Republican politicians stormed a restricted area on Capitol Hill, disrupting the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump’s dealings with Ukraine.
So far, factual reporting.
The “sit in” by around 20 Republican members of Congress delayed planned testimony on Wednesday local time (Thursday AEDT) from a senior Pentagon official responsible for Ukraine policy.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence Laura Cooper was due to speak in a closed-door session at 10am local time. But four hours later the Republican protest was still underway and the hearings had not started.
All of the Republicans eventually left by 3pm.
The Republicans, who chanted “Let us in! Let us in!”, refused orders to leave and had pizza delivered to the secure, underground area of the Capitol to sustain them during the action.
Some brought phones into the area, which is strictly forbidden.
Still factual. This is what we want from our news media.
But here comes the “problematic” part (underlining, mine):
The protest followed damning testimony the previous day by the top US diplomat in Ukraine, William Taylor.
“Damning” why? By whose standard?
We are offered this next paragraph by way of explanation:
He said the Trump administration had endangered Ukrainian lives by withholding $US$391 million ($571 million) in military aid to pressure the country to announce an investigation into Trump’s potential 2020 Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Do you know who else withheld military aid to the Ukraine?
The remainder of the article continues to report facts about the “sit in”, none of which are particularly interesting.
There’s this footnote, however:
The closed door hearings are aimed at deterring witnesses from co-ordinating their testimony and to discourage grandstanding by members of the committee.
Much of the most dramatic testimony, however, is quickly leaked to the press.
The main and only piece of information that matters in the entire story is whether anything material has been revealed to confirm the Democrats’ claim of illegal behaviour by Trump.
That we are offered nothing but a description of a standard operating procedure of the Office of President when dealing with foreign powers (temporarily delaying transfers of aid), suggests we are dealing with a big nothingburger (as our ex-colonial cousins might say).
That the reporter couldn’t bring himself to mention the known fact that Biden did the same thing to the same country when he was in office, tells us everything we need to know about the reporter’s motivation.