Years ago when I was running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, a patient was referred to me for decreased vision. This patient was aware my campaign and was an unrepentant liberal. Thus, our meeting began with a spirited but cordial discussion over our political differences. Eventually we agreed to disagree.

Joe Bentivegna MD

Our attention then turned to the real reason for his visit, his eyesight. I examined him and concluded that changing his glasses would result in minimal improvement in his vision and that if he wanted to see better, he needed cataract surgery. Without hesitation, this patient consented to put his eyesight in my hands.

I am not recounting this story to market my skills as a physician. I am telling it because even though this patient knew I had strong political differences with him, it never even dawned on him that it would affect his care. This patient knew that I was a member of a profession that promised to always put his interests first, regardless of his race, social class, insurance status, gender or political views.

Perhaps there was a time when journalism commanded such respect, but not anymore. While journalists have always been left of center, most took pride in their work, and accurately reported events free of political bias. The mantra of journalism once was, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

But with the rise of Donald Trump, many journalists have heaved objectivity out the window. The inflection point occurred when Jim Rutenberg, a reporter for the so-call paper of record, The New York Times, wrote the following on August 7, 2016, several months before Trump was elected: “If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?”

Rutenberg then answers his own question: “Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career.”

And that is exactly what happened; the textbook of American journalism has been thrown out. The attacks on President Trump by the media have been brutal and unrelenting. A Harvard study concluded that over 90 percent of the press coverage of Trump is negative. In fact, a former editor for The New York Times Jill Abramson in her recent book, The Merchants of Truth states “the more anti-Trump the Times was perceived to be, the more it was mistrusted for being biased.”

Media bias was truly obvious when a web site called BuzzFeed reported recently that “anonymous sources” had informed them that there was evidence that Donald Trump had directed his former attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress. Major news outlets immediately started chortling that Trump’s impeachment was imminent without bothering to see if the story was accurate.

That was until a spokesman for the Mueller investigation made the following statement: “BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the special counsel’s office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s congressional testimony are not accurate.”

Perhaps after President Trump leaves office, journalism will return to its roots. But for now, President Trump’s accusations of “fake news” have a ring of truth. And as for the liberal patient who trusted me with his sight, he got an excellent result from his surgery, as did his wife – who was even more liberal than he was.

Joe Bentivegna is an ophthalmologist in Rocky Hill.

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6 Comments

  1. Yet the media will tell you they are doing this in your best interests and to shut up as they have your welfare at heart as they know better what is good for you. Plus the fact that nothing ever happens to them as they continue to work and who knows they may even get a bonus because their bosses at the NYT, CNN, NBC, CBS,etc.are in the tank with them. Very bad for the USA to let this happen as they are destroying one of the pillars of our democracy “Freedom of the press”.

  2. Dr. Bentivegna misdiagnoses the news. . The profession sorts out multiple voices and multiple sources and viewpoints. They check sources and facts and sometimes the facts are contradictory. Mistakes are inherent. And the decisions journalists make, every word, every sentence, every organizational choice, are inherently subjective. So no matter what a journalist says or does, someone will accuse him or her of bias if the story doesn’t conform to the the reader’s preconceived notions. Journalism isn;t eye surgery, nor should it be.

    1. You are correct, it is extremely difficult to report an event in a purely objective fashion. It fact, it is probably impossible, but many in the industry have departed far from that and many have abandoned all attempt at objectivity. There is no difference between the editorial section and the news section. The issue of objectivity has be around as long as the industry and I don’t think too many would agree that is has not gotten worse, much worse, and obviously, many do not, do the “fact-checking”. BuzzFeed got caught (again), but I would bet the the page views on the web-site have quadrupled. That’s a lot of money. And, if they take the position of “deny, deny, deny”. Lying or not verifying stories before publication has no repercussions, since the credibility of the press is so low right now.
      Now I may be wrong and you may be right and all of the “mistakes” by the MSM are honest mistakes. But check out the biggest “mistakes” in the last two years and you will see that they are almost exclusively done to the detriment of the right, the Republicans, the Conservatives. I don’t think that most people would conclude that this is statistically likely that this would happen if these were “honest mistakes”
      My suggestion would be that they “tell it like it is” and announce their positions. Be honest. Most journalists act as activists for their cause, and they should admit it, and totally drop the pretense of objectivity. All of our news sources are private companies,and they can say whatever they want, and advocate for their positions, that is fine, but to represent themselves as “fair and balanced” is just dishonest.

  3. Journalism has long lost its claim as an admired “profession”. Not a new development. What is fairly new are news media affiliating with major Parties. Long gone are “independent news” media. As well as independent reporting by skilled Journalists working their trade.

    CT is a good example of the “new Journalism”. Every major newspaper has a political bias – typically Democratic. And we have no widely read State newspaper. Indeed, some of the best Journalism in CT is from individual locally supported blogs.

    Yet another change is now journalists have no restraints writing on topics without seeking out acknowledged professionals in the subject matter they’re writing about. Every journalist is a born “economist” or “foreign affairs specialist”. Would that it be so.

    Lets encourage the CT Mirror to be “independent” and focus on CT news.

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