A ‘Bloodbath’ of Journalistic Ethics

The legacy media got caught over the weekend twisting President Donald Trump’s use of the mundane economic phrase “bloodbath” into an instigation of violence — an act of yellow journalism that one media expert told The Washington Stand will only “further damage their credibility as self-appointed guardians of democracy and truth.”

Speaking at a Dayton rally to endorse Ohio Republican Senate candidate Bernie Moreno, President Trump warned Ohio voters that China hopes to destroy the U.S. auto market during a second Biden term — something he plans to stop by imposing robust tariffs against the Beijing electric vehicle market. He addressed his remarked specifically “to China” concerning “those big monster car manufacturing plants that you’re building in Mexico right now.” China’s largest electric vehicle producer, BYD, plans to expand into the U.S. automobile market by opening manufacturing plants in Mexico. China has funneled many of its products into the U.S. through China, as the U.S. removed all tariffs with Mexico when it adopted NAFTA in 1993.

“If you’re listening, President Xi,” if you think “you’re going to get that, you’re going to not hire Americans, and you’re going to sell the cars to us? No. We’re going to put a 100% tariff on every single car that comes across the line, and you’re not going to be able to sell those cars if I get elected. Now if I don’t get elected, it’s going to be a bloodbath for the whole — that’s gonna be the least of it.”

The term “bloodbath” is regularly used in the financial sector to describe an industrial contraction. The Merriam-Webster dictionary lists one of the definitions of “bloodbath” as “a major economic disaster.” They held special resonance in Ohio, home to 86,000 auto manufacturing jobs, the third largest auto-producing state in the nation behind Michigan and Indiana. Ohio has lost 276,474 manufacturing jobs, many to Mexico or China, between the adoption of NAFTA in 1993 and 2018, according to Public Citizen. Business Insider noted last December that China’s aggressive expansion into the Mexican auto market “is alarming U.S. officials.”

Democratic campaign operatives pounced on Trump’s use of the term “bloodbath” to insinuate he wanted to foment a blood-drenched revolution if he lost the election. The same operatives have said he will foment a blood-drenched revolution if he is elected. The Biden campaign promptly wrenched the president’s remarks out of context to create a digital campaign ad titled “Bloodbath,” which recycles other erroneous statements, such as falsely claiming Trump praised rioters at the Charlottesville and January 6 D.C. riots.

The legacy media followed the Democratic Party’s lead, producing such headlines as:

  • CBS News: “In Ohio campaign rally, Trump says there will be a ‘bloodbath’ if he loses November election.”
  • NBC News:“Trump says there will be a ‘bloodbath’ if he loses the election.”
  • Politico: “Trump says country faces ‘bloodbath’ if Biden wins in November.”
  • Rolling Stone“Trump Says There Will Be a ‘Bloodbath’ and Elections Will End if He Isn’t Reelected.”
  • New York Times: “Trump Defends His Warning of a ‘Blood Bath for the Country.’”

“Its hard to avoid that the so-called objective media uses a lot of the same language in their Trump stories as Biden-Harris press releases, in addition to quoting the Biden-Harris press releases,” Tim Graham, executive editor of the Media Research Center, told The Washington Stand. MRC has long documented the bias, misinformation, and political collusion the legacy media provide to secular-progressive causes in general and the Democratic Party in particular.

The headlines alone may mislead an untold number of individuals. Only 41% of people read beyond a headline, according to a 2014 study from the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and the American Press Institute.

Even well-informed sources inside the Beltway sometimes fall under the sway of legacy media misinformation. “I didn’t realize this until I went to do the research: It’s a conversation about Chinese automakers trying to use Mexico to get cars into the United States,” admitted former Trump chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney on “NewsNation Prime” Sunday.

In some cases, the reporters have walked through the revolving door between politics and journalism, serving in partisan roles in the Democratic Party before taking on the mantle of putatively neutral (and certainly well-compensated) journalists on major networks. On ABC’s “Good Morning America” Monday, former Clinton aide and Democratic campaign operative George Stephanopoulos told his viewers that President Trump had delivered an “incendiary speech … warning of a bloodbath for the country if he’s defeated.” At NBC’s “Today,” Trump’s remarks were reported by another individual connected to a Democratic administration: Laura Jarrett, the daughter of President Barack Obama’s most intimate adviser, Valerie Jarrett.

Experts warn that cherry-picking words and phrases, and placing them into a false context, is the antithesis of journalism. “If you’ve stripped enough context away, any piece of truth can become a piece of misinformation,” said Jaime Settle of the College of William & Mary in NPR article attacking The Daily Wire.

When former Vice President Mike Pence went on “Face the Nation” Sunday to announce he would not endorse President Donald Trump in the general election, he thanked host Margaret Brennan for playing the full clip of Trump speaking about the Chinese auto manufacturing sector. “I want to commend you for putting that into context,” said Pence.

Some media talking heads seemed to cling to the left-wing, anti-Trump narrative despite the facts. Kristen Welker, host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” and moderator of the 2020 presidential debate, asked Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), a Republican who voted to impeach Trump, “Even in the context of talking about the auto industry, does it cross a line for you?”

Others simply encouraged journalists to ignore the context and use any word or phrase as a cudgel against the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Ana Marie Cox of The New Republic confessed on MSNBC, “We can’t look at what he is saying and think, ‘Oh, well, we’re going to be accurate for this. We’re going to say he was referring to the auto industry.’” Media Research Center journalist Jorge Bonilla said Cox appeared “the most forthright” by admitting the left-leaning media willfully ignored accuracy in order to demonize the 45th president.

The legacy media have a long history of twisting, seizing, and pouncing on Republicans, especially Trump, said his colleague at the media watchdog MRC. “The bloodbath freakout is just the latest in a long string of freakouts stretching back to 2015,” Graham told TWS.

He believes President “Trump has a freakout strategy: He goads the press into wild overreactions that further damage their credibility as self-appointed guardians of democracy and truth.”


Ben Johnson

Ben Johnson is senior reporter and editor at The Washington Stand.

RELATED ARTICLE: Trump ‘Bloodbath’ Hoax Shows Just How Pathetic The Media Has Become

EDITORS NOTE: This Washington Stand column is republished with permission. All rights reserved. ©2024 Family Research Council.

The Washington Stand is Family Research Council’s outlet for news and commentary from a biblical worldview. The Washington Stand is based in Washington, D.C. and is published by FRC, whose mission is to advance faith, family, and freedom in public policy and the culture from a biblical worldview. We invite you to stand with us by partnering with FRC.

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