The return of the gatekeepers: how the press corrected the narrative in the 2020 election
President Donald Trump speaking during a COVID-19 press briefing on September 18, 2020. (Screenshot)

The Washington Post reported on July 13, 2020 that President Donald J. Trump had made more than 20,000 false or misleading claims during his presidency's first term. "The coronavirus pandemic has spawned a whole new genre of Trump’s falsehoods. The category in just a few months has reached nearly 1,000 claims, more than his tax claims combined. Trump’s false or misleading claims about the impeachment investigation — and the events surrounding it — contributed almost 1,200 entries to the database."

In a recent stunt, President Donald J. Trump released his own footage from the Lesley Stahl 60 Minutes interview in which he walked off the sound stage after refusing to answer her questions.

CBS News on Thursday called out the White House for violating their agreement and posting President Trump's full 60 Minutes interview online ahead of its Sunday air date.

“This was not a rally. This was not just a campaign speech to the public," Stahl told Vice President Mike Pence. "This was supposed to be an interview, and the same with the president. And I feel that you both have insulted 60 Minutes and me by not answering any of our questions and by giving set campaign speeches that we’ve heard both of you give at rallies and not answering our questions.”

"The White House's unprecedented decision to disregard their agreement with CBS News and release their footage will not deter 60 Minutes from providing its full, fair and contextual reporting which presidents have participated in for decades," CBS News said in a statement.

It's the first of many times recently that the public has seen an outpouring of support from the media in regard to the blatant lies and half-truths put forth by the Trump administration.

The media is counting the falsehoods Trump releases instead of simply retweeting, reposting, resharing, and regurgitating the headlines. Is this enough to say the gatekeepers have returned? Has the media reached their limit of sensationalizing Trump's stories in order to get ratings and are we nearing the precipice of holding every individual accountable regardless of whether or not they bring ratings to our networks? Did it take a pandemic or a corrupt democracy demagogue to stop smearing the American press for good?

Take the Hunter Biden laptop story for example. In a Sunday article for The New York Times titled, “Trump Had One Last Story to Sell. The Wall Street Journal Wouldn’t Buy It,” insiders recalled the White House’s secret, last-ditch effort to change the narrative, and the election — even though it didn’t work.

“Giuliani’s complicated claim that the emails came from a laptop Hunter Biden had abandoned, and his refusal to let some reporters examine the laptop, cast a pall over the story — as did The Post’s reporting, which alleged but could not prove that Joe Biden had been involved in his son’s activities,” The New York Times reported.

"The McLean group's failed attempt to sway the election is partly just another story revealing the chaotic, threadbare quality of the Trump operation — a far cry from the coordinated 'disinformation' machinery feared by liberals. But it’s also about a larger shift in the American media, one in which the gatekeepers appear to have returned after a long absence," The New York Times journalist Ben Smith wrote Sunday.

Smith continued, "It has been a disorienting couple of decades, after all. It all began when The Drudge Report, Gawker and the blogs started telling you what stodgy old newspapers and television networks wouldn’t. Then social media brought floods of content pouring over the old barricades. By 2015, the old gatekeepers had entered a kind of crisis of confidence, believing they couldn’t control the online news cycle any better than King Canute could control the tides. Television networks all but let Donald Trump take over as executive producer that summer and fall. In October 2016, Julian Assange and James Comey seemed to drive the news cycle more than the major news organizations. Many figures in old media and new bought into the idea that in the new world, readers would find the information they wanted to read — and therefore, decisions by editors and producers, about whether to cover something and how much attention to give it, didn’t mean much."

Smith continued, "But the last two weeks have proved the opposite: that the old gatekeepers, like The Journal, can still control the agenda. It turns out there is a big difference between WikiLeaks and establishment media coverage of WikiLeaks, a difference between a Trump tweet and an article about it, even between an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal suggesting Joe Biden had done bad things, and a news article that didn’t reach that conclusion."