Attorney General Barr calls mainstream media ‘basically a collection of liars’
Attorney General Bill Barr on Friday issued a scathing critique of the mainstream media’s coverage of riots and violent protests after the death of George Floyd during an arrest in May. Barr accused most of the mainstream media of being “basically a collection of liars.”
“Right on the street it was clear as day what was going on, anyone observing it, reporters observing it, it could not have escaped their attention that this was orchestrated violence by a hardened group of street fighting radicals,” Barr told Townhall. Nevertheless, “they kept on excluding from their coverage all the video of this and reporting otherwise and they were doing that for partisan reasons, and they were lying to the American people.”
The Attorney General said the media “has dropped any pretense of professional objectivity and are political actors, highly partisan who try to shape what they’re reporting to achieve a political purpose and support a political narrative that has nothing to do with the truth.”
“They’re very mendacious about it,” Barr added. “It’s very destructive to our republic; it’s very destructive to the Democratic system to have that, especially being so monolithic. It’s contributing to a lot of the intensity and partisanship.”
Even though Barr criticized the mainstream media as a whole, he granted that on the level of individual journalists, there are some exceptions. “I think there are a handful of reporters in the mainstream media that still have journalistic integrity, and there are some, but the overwhelming majority don’t have it anymore,” he pointed out.
He said the reporters covering his Department of Justice “do understand some of the issues. But, on the other hand, some of them have essentially adopted the same methods and ploys as what I refer to more generally as the national media and that is they’re not because, probably somewhat because, of their own orientation but also what their editors say, they’re not really interested so much in what really happened but in pursuing a preformed narrative that suits some kind of ideological agenda. That’s what it’s all become.”
Barr had joined the administration of President Donald Trump as Attorney General in 2019. He had previously served in the same capacity under President George H.W. Bush for just over a year.
Barr is no stranger to criticizing the mainstream media. In February, he argued that “the corporate – or “mainstream” – press is massively consolidated. And it has become remarkably monolithic in viewpoint, at the same time that an increasing number of journalists see themselves less as objective reporters of the facts and more as agents of change.”
“These developments have given the press an unprecedented ability to mobilize a broad segment of the public on a national scale and direct that opinion in a particular direction,” the Attorney General said.
“When the entire press ‘advances along the same track,’ as Tocqueville put it, the relationship between the press and the energized majority becomes mutually reinforcing,” he continued. “Not only does it become easier for the press to mobilize a majority, but the mobilized majority becomes more powerful and overweening with the press as its ally.”
“This is not a positive cycle, and I think it is fair to say that it puts the press’ role as a breakwater for the tyranny of the majority in jeopardy. The key to restoring the press in that vital role is to cultivate a greater diversity of voices in the media.”
A recent Gallup poll has found that 86 percent of Americans see “a great deal” or “a fair amount” of political bias in the media. “Although 56 percent of U.S. adults see at least a fair amount of bias in their go-to news source, they are much more concerned about bias in the news other people are getting (69 percent) than about their own news being biased (29 percent),” Gallup reported.
Among Republicans, 71 percent have an unfavorable opinion of the mainstream news media. On the other hand, only 22 percent of Democrats and 52 percent of independents express the same sentiments.
Since Trump launched his campaign for president in 2015, he has been an outspoken critic of the mainstream media.
At one press conference in 2018, for instance, Trump called CNN’s Jim Acosta “a rude, terrible person” after the reporter interrupted the President several times and eventually refused to give up the microphone in order to let somebody else ask a question.
“CNN should be ashamed of itself having you working for them,” Trump said. “The way you treat (former White House Press Secretary) Sarah Huckabee is horrible, and the way you treat other people are horrible (sic). You shouldn’t treat people that way.”
A little later, after another reporter had already started to ask his question, Acosta stood up again, beginning to talk to the President without a microphone.
In response to Acosta’s behavior, Trump said, “OK, just sit down please. When you report fake news, which CNN does a lot, you are the enemy of the people.”
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