Sharpe to the Point: Should Journalists be Activists?

Jim SharpeOctober 26, 2020
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When I was young, “Truth, Justice and the American Way” was Superman’s creed, but I also felt it was the foundation of a principled free press.

I’ve worked with plenty of conscientious journalists since I joined the media at age 16, but lately many journalists seem to have zero interest in that code. They favor scoring political points over fair reporting and envision a justice that’s often couched in highly self-serving terms, debasing the very American traditions that support their right to speak truth.

Waffling between journalist and activist, they’re what I call “journactivists.” (Not to be confused with intactivists, crypto-Marxists or any of the other movements on society’s growing “ist” list.)

We media types can, and should, be activists from time to time. We should agitate for accountability, transparency and fair play. Reporters point out smoke to actively warn the public and commentators, like me, may theorize about what kind of fire it is, but nobody in the media should be pouring gasoline on it.

The politics some journactivists push are designed to produce pandemonium. And it’s because they hate America – and freely admit it. On July 4, State Press columnist and ASU poli sci student Alexia Isais tweeted the “CCP [the Chinese Communist Party] has done more good in the world than the USA ever has.” Followed by: “… death to America.”

Is Isais, a woman of color, aware of the CCP’s heinous record on minorities and women? Aren’t those 1 million Uyghurs in Chinese reeducation camps prisoners? Maybe the world is wrong and they’re pampered guests bingeing on Cobra Kai and endless avocado toast.

Ten weeks later, a 17-year-old boy allegedly opened fire on a DPS trooper in Phoenix with a Draco –  an AK-style pistol with a standard 30-round clip. Isais’ caring response was: “… police aren’t actually human… they can all go fall into the abyss and society would be better without them.”

Maybe performative outrage and immoderate politics isn’t surprising coming from college students, but what’s up with the seemingly all-growed-up local reporter who, during the press conference after the shooting, presented DPS Director Heston Silbert with this loaded, off-camera (and, thus, anonymous) question: “We’re right on the cusp of November. One presidential candidate is the ‘law and order president’ and a lot of people are saying it feels like a potential reach to try to connect this with [an earlier law enforcement ambush in Los Angeles]. So I gotta ask: Is politics playing a role in this press conference?”

The implications are dumbfounding: A) The press conference was a clandestine pep rally for President Donald Trump.
B) Silbert was fibbing that attacks on law enforcement are up. C) Officers are trying to get themselves shot so that the “law and order president” gets a second term.

Wow. If “C” is true, cops must love Trump more than he loves himself. And that’s saying something.

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