Politics & Policy

Understanding the Media’s Ugly Weekend

Kim Yo-jong (upper right) sits near Vice President Mike Pence at the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, February 8, 2018. (Photo: Yonhap/via Reuters)
What’s behind the fawning over North Korea — one of the world’s most brutal regimes?

When it comes to whitewashing North Korea, one mainstream-media article is a problem. Two is a travesty. But what about three, then four, then five?

What if some of them adopt a seemingly celebratory tone as they recount alleged diplomatic triumphs over Vice President Mike Pence?

What if others fawn over the propaganda of one of the world’s most brutal regimes?

That was this weekend — article after article, tweet after tweet. By Saturday evening, Federalist contributor James Hasson had catalogued a stunning series of examples:

There is a conversation to be had about whether Pence’s trip to South Korea made an incremental positive or negative difference in American–South Korean relations. But relative to the immense, generations-long challenge of dealing with the North Korean nuclear program and the generations-long challenge of North Korean brutality and aggression, it’s the most minor of conversations. When BuzzFeed is the voice of reason, that’s a sign that prestige media has lost its way.

The extraordinarily high stakes of America’s confrontation with North Korea demands sober judgment and cool-headed analysis. It demands the best from the American media. The Trump administration’s actions towards the Kim regime may well be the most consequential actions the president takes — more important (depending on the outcomes) than judges, taxes, or DACA. Yet how can we have confidence in news judgments and diplomatic analysis when this is what a news weekend can look like?

Thoughtful members of the media lament the decline in public trust. They rightly point to bad-faith partisan attacks as a partial cause. But they can never, ever stop looking in the mirror. If they want to know why countless millions of Americans don’t trust their reporting, these last two days could serve as Exhibit A to the collective American complaint.

READ MORE:

Media Fawn Over Kim Jong-Un’s Sister

The True North of America’s Media Coverage

The Winter Olympics’ Diplomatic Game

David French is a senior writer for National Review, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, and a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

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