News and Analysis

Hype and Spin: Counting Down The Top 5 Non-Stories of 2021

Much of what the media engage in isn’t so much journalism as selective misdirection. By highlighting inconsequential and ephemeral stories, and ignoring stories of national importance, the media act as the Left’s propaganda service. The past year saw the media hype, spin, and emphasize numerous non-stories that fit their political agenda. Here are a few of the worst examples.

The Most Overreported Stories of 2021:

5) Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are so charming

When a Republican is president, the media act like an opposition research house; when a Democrat is president, the media act like an uncompensated PR firm. Few things illustrate this better than fawning media coverage of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ love of ice cream, tennis shoes, and furry creatures.

The spirit of sycophancy began last year, with just days to go before the 2020 election, as a reporter yelled out an urgent question to the milkshake-wielding Democratic candidate: “Mr. Biden! Mr. Biden! What flavor did you get?!” Little changed after the inauguration. Again as President Biden walked out of Cleveland’s Honey Hut Ice Cream in late May 2021, a reporter asked, “Mr. President, what did you order?” Biden replied, “Chocolate chocolate-chip,” eliciting the unbridled adulation of the press pool. The soft-serve softballs continued, as The Washington Post printed a hard-hitting exposé in May revealing that President Biden likes Coke Zero, orange Gatorade, chocolate chip cookies and, yes, ice cream. (Curiously, the media had a different reaction to President Donald Trump’s love of Diet Coke and fast food.)

When it came to trying to make Kamala Harris seem charming, the vice president gave the media less to work with, but they tried. They continued their gushing coverage of Harris’ love of wearing Converse Chuck Taylor sneakers. CBS News personality Jane Pauley began her interview with the second couple by asking, “What’s the story” behind her fashion choice. Her husband, Douglas Emhoff, said her shoe choice proves “she’s down to Earth.” Yet when Vogue magazine featured a picture of Harris wearing the aforementioned sneakers, the vice president’s office went to war, telling numerous legacy outlets that the diva felt “blindsided” by the overly casual photo choice.

Others tried the same task with the first lady, “Dr. Jill Biden.” Vogue, which famously  snubbed Melania Trump, ran a cover story extolling Mrs. Biden as “a first lady for all of us.” Others claimed “Dr. Jill” was “bringing fashion back to the White House” … after four years of a first lady who was literally a supermodel.

The press even used presidential pets to try to bolster the Bidens’ image. In March, a “reporter” asked, “We were promised a White House cat. What happened to that?” (White House spokesperson Jen Psaki replied that undoubtedly “the cat will break the internet, but I don’t have any update on its status.”) Late this year, numerous news outlets dutifully featured stories about the Bidens’ new puppy, Commander, including CNN and NPR (at your expense).

He likes ice cream! She likes Converse chucks! They’re not bad folks, folks.

4) Inflation is good, actually

The legacy media have a curious habit of presenting any Democratic politician’s greatest failing as a strength. When President Clinton lied to the American people (and then perjured himself), the media rolled out numerous stories about the positive aspects of bearing false witness. (Moses was not consulted.) Now that the U.S. has the highest inflation rate of all the world’s developed economies — “the largest 12-month increase since the period ending June 1982,” according to the Biden administration — the media have channeled William Jennings Bryan to claim inflation is the poor man’s best friend. CNN ran a story earlier this month titled “Why inflation can actually be good for everyday Americans and bad for rich people.” As this author reported:

One day after the Federal Reserve announced that decades-high levels of inflation show no signs of letting up, CNN released a story saying that “inflation can actually be a good thing for working-class Americans,” because inflation “empowers workers.”

Days later, New York Times columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman, asked, “Is there any good reason to believe that inflation hits low-income households especially hard?” New York Times editorial writer Sarah Jeong wrote that “all the stuff you see about inflation in the news is driven by rich people flipping their s**t because their parasitic assets aren’t doing as well as they’d like.”

Inflation has been called “the cruelest tax,” because it falls heaviest on the poor and those on fixed incomes. The fewer dollars you have, the easier it is for inflation to raise the price of necessities out of your reach. The cost of groceries, gasoline, rent, new or used vehicles, and home heating have all skyrocketed, and the Biden administration has stopped pretending the trend is “transitory.” It’s time the media stopped pretending inflation is helping anyone except the employees of the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

3) Border Patrol agents “whipping” Haitian “migrants”

Acts of police brutality are in such short supply that the media must often invent them. One such example occurred this September, when the legacy media engaged in a fallacious feeding frenzy about Border Patrol agents in Del Rio, Texas, allegedly hitting Haitian illegal immigrants with whips. As this author reported at The Daily Wire:

The controversy began on September 19, when the El Paso Times published a story claiming that a Border Patrol “agent swung his whip menacingly, charging his horse toward the [illegal immigrants from Haiti] in the river who were trying to return” to U.S. soil illegally. The next day, Sawyer Hackett — the executive director of a political action committee founded by failed 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Julian Castro — tweeted photographs and a video which he claimed showed the “Border [P]atrol is mounted on horseback rounding up Haitian refugees with whips.”

Eventually, the facts emerged: The Border Patrol doesn’t carry whips; agents twirl their reins to keep illegal immigrants from being trampled by their horses; and no evidence has surfaced that the Border Patrol’s reins touched anyone. But by then, the story had already gone viral. CNN alone made numerous false allegations about the Border Patrol agents:

  • Erin Burnett reported on an alleged “video of border patrol agents on horseback confronting Haitian migrants with whips” on the September 21 episode of “Outfront”;
  • CNN anchor Laura Jarrett misled her viewers about “disturbing new video of Border Patrol agents on horseback trying to stop migrants from crossing the border into the U.S. — look at that, using whips,” on the September 21 episode of “Early Start”; and
  • The network’s top-rated personality, Chris Cuomo, shared erroneous “reports of people being beaten,” claiming the images “smack of a bygone era, of slavery.”

The damage had been done. The White House announced it would end Border Patrol agents’ use of horses in the border’s forbidding desert, although agents rely on the steeds to keep the border safe and, often, to save the lives of illegal immigrants left to die by their human smuggling cartel. President Biden personally vowed, “I promise you, those [Border Patrol agents] will pay. There will be an investigation underway now and there will be consequences.” (The DHS’s Office of Inspector General quietly stated in November that the office never opened an investigation.)

No scandal is complete until CNN absolves itself of wrongdoing. Oliver Darcy told Brian Stelter on “Reliable Sources” that “this wasn’t something where major news organizations were running with this” — which, given CNN’s ratings, is arguably true.

2) Republicans killed democracy by voting Liz Cheney out of her leadership role

Civics are a mystery to most Americans, especially journalists, who spent most of this spring arguing that “our democracy”™ depends on who holds one position: chair of the House Republican Conference. When Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to remove Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) from the chamber’s fourth-highest-ranking leadership position, the media insisted the GOP had shredded the Constitution (which, for once, it presented as a bad thing).

“This is existential, not just for the GOP; it is existential for democracy,” said CNN’s Dana Bash. “This is a hair-on-fire emergency,” agreed CNN commentator and anti-Catholic pundit Amanda Marcotte. Joy Behar of “The View” called Cheney “the Joan of Arc standing up to the heretics” of the Republican Party. In all, CNN covered Cheney’s loss three times more than the U.S. gasoline shortage caused by a ransomware assault; four times more than the Israel’s conflict with Hamas in the Gaza Strip; and infinitely more than America’s uncontrolled border with Mexico, according to the Media Research Center.

In reality, Cheney staked out a position far outside her party’s mainstream, then defied her leadership when they asked her to kindly spend more time discussing her party’s legislative agenda. The top House GOP leadership — Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) — supported Cheney during a January challenge to her position. Unfortunately, in her haste to fill the media’s vacancy for a John McCain-style “maverick,” Cheney chose campaigning against her party’s base over serving their interests. After months of burning bridges, she paid the price in an internal election, and she now stands at odds with the voters who matter most to her political viability: Wyoming Republicans. A poll taken in early December showed Cheney’s Trump-endorsed challenger, Harriet Hageman, attracting more than twice as many votes as the present incumbent. The media will have to find a new way to present Liz Cheney as the champion of democracy after she loses the next election.

1) Kyle Rittenhouse’s skin color

It’s not every day that a white person shooting three other white people is described as a racist attack, but the Kyle Rittenhouse trial embodied 2021’s peak Woke reporting. As the small city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, descended into an arson-fueled conflagration, which CNN infamously described as “fiery but mostly peaceful,” Kyle Rittenhouse (who had long family ties to the city) went to, in his words, defend the area. In the end, he had to defend himself against a sexual predator leading a mob — and did so with deadly force. The legacy media lied about virtually every aspect of the deadly events that took place in last August 25, as this author reported:

Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA) described Kyle Rittenhouse as “a 17-year-old boy who was driven by his mother across state lines with an automatic weapon. Frankly, she should have been detained for child endangerment.”

Nearly every word of that is incorrect: Police in Antioch, Illinois, said the rifle Rittenhouse used “was purchased, stored and used in Wisconsin” and never crossed state lines. Rittenhouse —  who worked as a lifeguard in Kenosha, where his father lived — borrowed the weapon from a 19-year-old friend named Dominick Black, whom police have charged with two counts of giving a dangerous weapon to someone under 18 resulting in death. And the AR-15, which the NRA calls “the most popular rifle in America,” is a semi-automatic rifle; it is usually illegal for private citizens to own automatic weapons.

The most malicious media smear came as numerous commentators called the 17-year-old student a racist terrorist. Tin-voiced Tiffany Cross of MSNBC’s “The Cross Connection” branded Rittenhouse a “little murderous white supremacist.” ABC News called Rittenhouse “an alleged white supremacist.” The Washington Post’s daily podcast said on November 9 that acquitting Rittenhouse might “embolden anti-black figures” into believing “if you shoot them, you might be able to get away with it.” Writers reported that people only casually following the story thought Rittenhouse shot black people.

After his acquittal, Rittenhouse tried to clear the air about his apparently “progressive” racial views. As The Daily Wire reported, Rittenhouse told Tucker Carlson:

“This case has nothing to do with race. It never had anything to do with race. It had to do with the right to self-defense,” Rittenhouse said. “I am not a racist person. I support the BLM movement … I support peacefully demonstrating.”

This year’s media coverage follows the lead of then-candidate Joe Biden, who released a digital ad last September flashing an image of Rittenhouse while denouncing “white supremacists.” Rittenhouse responded this November that racial allegation constitutes “actual malice, defaming my character for him to say something like that.”

Should he pursue legal action, Kyle Rittenhouse may win the Nick Sandmann Memorial Award for media malpractice. That would be an act of justice.

Honorable Mentions:

“60 Minutes” smear of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R)  

On April 4, “60 Minutes” aired a segment in which news personality Sharyn Alfonsi accused Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) of a pay-to-play scheme in which DeSantis rewarded a campaign donor with an exclusive contract to dispense the COVID-19 vaccine. The popular grocery chain “Publix, as you know, donated $100,000 to your campaign,” Alfonsi shouted. She then edited out 353 words of his 420-word response — coincidentally, the part where he noted that CVS and Walgreens distributed the vaccine first, and that Publix had been the first chain equipped for a broader public health mission. One political commentator called the segment “one of the more blatant political hatchet jobs in the past couple years.” This smear, clearly intended to malign a potential frontrunner for 2024 Republican presidential nomination, should never have been approved by producers, much less aired as fact.

Anything Dr. Anthony Fauci said

He’s flip-flopped repeatedly on masks, seems to have lied to Congress about gain of function research and, when confronted, says that he Mussolini-like personally embodies science. Yet the legacy media continue to treat Dr. Anthony Fauci like the Oracle of COVID. It’s time his decades of (erroneous) doomsday prophecies receded like the lethality of the latest variant.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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