The morning of the day a mob supporting President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol earlier this week, a Washington Post columnist authored a piece that was quite remarkable in admitting what he and his fellow travelers in the national media did more than four years ago.
His kind, wrote Ruben Navarrette Jr., "declared war on Trump."
In hindsight, he said, "The media should absolutely never go to war against a politician — especially if that politician happens to be president of the United States."
Navarrette said correctly that the then-candidate Trump had first declared war on the media, but he did not take time to analyze why that happened. He did not discuss the increasingly leftward tilt of the media in editorial commentary and in what used to be called straight news reporting.
He did not admit that campaign finance data has shown that more than 90% of campaign donations from mainstream media members support Democrats, that another study showed only about 7% of journalists are Republicans and that a 2020 Pew Research study revealed about eight in 10 Americans believe news organizations tend to favor one side when presenting the news. And he did not disclose that much of the behavior of the media was ingrained at higher institutes of learning, where the political breakdown of instructors is similar to that of the media.
For the first time in memory, though, a president held up a mirror to that media. And, until Navarrette's lone admission, instead of making them reflective, it only made them mad. It drove them to criticize him more, to print half-truths and sometimes downright falsehoods about him, to be complicit in covering up good news from his administration and to be part of a cabal that covered up news that was damaging to his opponents.
In other words, that mirror caused them to be everything journalism is not supposed to be.
"The damage we did was to ourselves, our reputations, our credibility," wrote Navarrette. "The media's war against Trump also appears to have damaged — maybe destroyed — how the public perceives our role in this democracy."
Since the despicable acts at the Capitol — that resulted in the deaths of at least five people and the injury to more than a dozen law enforcement members — the media has solely blamed Trump. This page also has made clear it believes he has complicity in what happened because he continued — even up to the morning of the acts — to mislead his supporters about the amount of election fraud that has been exposed and how the election might be overturned.
What we have not seen is any admission by any member of the media of their complicity. If the national media, as Navarrette admitted, has destroyed their credibility over the last four years, where should people have gone to find the truth? Many of those people looked to Trump, who is the sworn president of the United States but is a notorious truth stretcher.
Trump cannot dodge his role in Wednesday's events, but if the media hopes to regain any credibility more members must admit their share of the blame not in the actions themselves but in how what they did for the last four years led up to the Capitol breach.
Navarrette, patting himself on the back in the piece, said he's "come to hate both political parties with equal passion. My only agenda is the telling of uncomfortable truths.
"Now," he said, "whenever I get the chance, I'm going to tell the truth about [President-elect Joe] Biden."
Navarrette went on to lightly admonish the former vice president for not naming more Hispanic members to his Cabinet and for already backtracking on the immediate actions he might take on immigration once he is inaugurated. But he didn't mention the much more serious problems involving the president-elect's, and his family's, previous dealings with China, problems that have been swept under the rug by journalists like him that he now seeks to admonish.
Finishing in high dudgeon, he attempted to separate himself from the rest of "the liberal media," which he said "is these days made up largely of Democrats who now simply act as party cheerleaders or political operatives."
"I don't roll like that," Navarrette said. "I'm a perpetual critic who hammers people in power, no matter that party they belong to. ... You see, being a naysayer is in my job description. That's because I'm what they used to call a 'j-o-u-r-n-a-l-i-s-t'."
If you listen, you can probably hear the collective groan from conservative newspaper readers and pundits.
We'd like to believe Navarrette will follow through and be as hard on Biden and Democrats as his fellow travelers were on Trump. For those of us who have had to walk a line for the past four years criticizing the personal antics of Trump while praising what was praiseworthy about his administration and its policies, we will tell you it's not easy.
So we'll believe what he says when we see it.