CNN is at the forefront of media coverage that often portrays US President Donald Trump in a poor light. Photo: AFP / Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto
CNN is at the forefront of media coverage that often portrays US President Donald Trump in a poor light. Photo: AFP / Jaap Arriens / NurPhoto

If Google News were a person, I would take him or her out for a cup of tea and some cream crackers and suggest: “You’re losing your way, buddy.” The once-helpful news-provider behemoth has in recent weeks sunk to new lows of bias, and worsens mainstream-media credibility in ways unforeseen even a year ago.

In more than 25 years as a professional journalist, I have not seen such media-credibility-mauled times – the “I’m a journalist” answer to livelihood queries invariably these days causes some atmospheric chill in conversations with strangers. So I just say, “I do a bit of writing.”

With its latest version of Google News, the US$490 billion Google Inc seems keen to bring journalism into more disrepute, to maybe being on an occupational par with bandits and bank robbers.

The new Google News has more overtly unleashed a sinister agenda under watery claims of “bringing accuracy” in news. Its search algorithms give crude prominence to the anti-Donald Trump media, shutting out more objective voices and choices, as well as so-called right-wing outlets like Breitbart News.

“Right-wing”, “left-wing”, “loony-fringe”, “fake news”, “credible” or whatever divisive labels are stuck to current news-media machinery, the mostly forgotten key distinction is between “honest” and “dishonest” journalism.

And for its enthusiasm in further battering the media’s reputation, Google’s nemesis could be another multibillion-dollar penalty from US regulators – after European Union regulators slapped Google’s Alphabet with a $2.7 billion fine.

In the bygone days before the 2016 US presidential election, some semblance of objectivity was paraded out for readers. But after former standard-bearers of journalism like The New York Times and The Washington Post lost credibility by the suicidal blurring of news and opinion – in misreporting the presidential campaign and presidency of Donald Trump – Google News now fuels news distortion by becoming a more blatant platform for biased anti-Trump voices, such as the apparently demented CNN.

So instead of earlier choices of hundreds of stories on a news happening from Google News, I get CNN and New York Times versions of what is actually not happening – particularly with the tempestuous, epochal, revolutionary presidency of Donald John Trump. And no, I am not a “right- or left-wing” journalist, just another among perhaps millions hoping to see more objectivity and honesty in news coverage. So I switched to the less sinister but less limited Bing News choices.

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Two employees, known colloquially as Googlers, ride colorful Google Bikes at the Googleplex, headquarters of Google Inc in the Silicon Valley town of Mountain View, California, on April 7, 2017. Google Inc and mainstream media are riding together down a suicidal road.

Not that the media always enjoyed universal respect and adulation, after the town news crier went organizational when German publisher Johann Carolus (1575-1634) launched the world’s first newspaper, Relation aller Fürnemmen und gedenckwürdigen Historien (Account of All Distinguished and Memorable News).

But credibility slurs hit crisis levels over the past year in the US, and the infection spreading worldwide, with media sections surrendering basic ethics of accurate reporting in their demonize-buffoonize Trump attack.

By not directly knowing public figures (we know how even the people we have “known” all our lives can surprise us), obviously  impressions on political leaders etc are based on media inputs and maybe gut feeling. Inaccurate inputs lead to inaccurate perceptions, more so when media output is based more on poisonous cynicism, or worse, and less on healthy skepticism.

The continuing vicious, unbalanced news-media negativity against Trump’s presidency is a dangerous backlash of him being a unique phenomenon in history: defying all odds, defying pompous media punditry and becoming the first largely self-funded novice politician elected to the highest office in the United States, a rare volunteer head of state (President Trump donates his entire salary) in his first attempt to serve in public office. And even more uniquely, succeeding after waging a courageous battle against dishonest or biased powerful sections of the media.

Corrupt or weak politicians bribe or boot-lick the media – it’s part of their shameless survival kit. But it takes rare strength of mind, iron will and integrity of convictions to face such an unprecedented media onslaught as against Trump.

Corporate media houses backing the right anti-corruption side need media funding from non-corrupt sources. Investigating finances of some leading media professionals and news organizations in the US might throw up some interesting realities about the anti-Trump media hysteria.

The hate-Trump disease spreads worldwide. In August, the Mumbai-based Times of India even published a cartoon of President Trump wearing Nazi swastika labels. I have never come across a racist or fascist statement from Trump – it’s the deviant media that give his offbeat economy-healing policies this dangerous, inaccurate slant. And as fallout, the real racists and violent fascists run riot in the streets.

By accessing Trump’s communications from the original source – whether his highly effective Twitter account or from White House releases  – I see the mangled, maybe deliberate news distortions, and the malignant misreporting, misinterpreting, misrepresenting what he said. Don’t blindly believe whatever is reported. Check the original source of news.

Media sections often deride President Trump’s effective use of Twitter as his ‘rants’, forgetting that the real rants are the grossly biased, inaccurate anti-Trump news reporting disease.

Honest opinions can be wrong or unpopular, and I could be mistaken about Trump’s rare courage and sincerity to serve his country (I don’t think I am), but there is no mistaking the fact that ground reality and the mainstream media have suffered a divorce in their reporting on the Trump presidency. I see the “fake media” being an unprecedented propaganda machine in the dirty work of sabotaging a legally elected president in the world’s most powerful democracy.

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People protest racism and hate in Chicago on August 27, 2017. Whether genuinely motivated, misinformed, gullible victims, or tools of corrupt forces, how many of the anti-Trump brigade bother to check if and when he actually made racist or hate statements – and how much he is misreported and misrepresented in the media?

If King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table were around these days, instead of hunting for the Holy Grail, Sir Galahad and Co might be spending mornings searching for free and fair media sources. Searchers share options, such as this list (the credible media choices here include Asia Times).

With deeply entrenched corrupt forces venomously trying to maintain the status quo – such as with the H-IB visa manipulation that the White House detailed on April 17 –  the mainstream media prove the saying about birds of a feather flocking together.

Apart from honest criticism – crucial journalistic responsibility in a democracy – the vicious news-media campaign of falsehood, inaccurate reporting, and unbalanced, lopsided bias against Trump (for example, the ridiculous “Russia influencing elections” witch-hunt, while remarkably ignoring the laundry list of serious criminal and treasonous accusations against Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee) is proof that the 45th president of the United States is succeeding in doing the good he vowed to do for his country.

“To straighten the crooked,” an Enlightened Super-Scientist said 2,500 years ago, “you must first do a much harder thing: straighten yourself.”

And so self-correction is safer, necessary and overdue media medicine for more efficient, quality, credible news journalism that the world needs: For this, the hard work of practical training for the mind to be in tune with reality helps to go beyond apparent realities, and at least having good volition.

Whatever credibility crisis afflicts the town news crier, the truth ultimately prevails – whether certain dishonest media houses survive or not.

Raja Murthy is an independent journalist who has contributed to Asia Times since 2003, The Statesman since 1990, and formerly the Times of India, Economic Times, Elle, and others. He shuttles between Mumbai and the Himalayas.

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