Bill Ackman Learns the Hard Way

One of the most valuable lessons I learned from M. Stanton Evans about the modern media is that the predominant method should be understood as “ventriloquist journalism,” that is, prestige reporters at the premier outlets like the NY Times, Washington Post, and the TV network news bureaus don’t really report at all. For every issue or event that occurs, the media already know what they think is the narrative of the story, and call sources merely to get the quotes they want to fill out their pre-conceived copy and headlines.

Most veteran reporters are very skilled at getting “sources” to provide the exact quote they are looking for to fill out their copy and validate the pre-conceived story line. The typical method is to ask the same question over and over again, in slightly amended form, until you say something close to what they want. It takes discipline not to give in to this technique, which I became very familiar with during my years in Washington when reporters would call me looking for a quote that would open a wedge between conservatives and the Bush Administration. After a while you realize quickly that the “reporter” is not looking to learn anything at all that might influence the direction of the story. In dozens of media interviews over the years, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I experienced a reporter who was truly attempting to learn new facts or understand a different point of view about the issue. (One of those rare instances, incredibly, was with a producer for The Daily Show back during the Jon Stewart years. But they didn’t end up inviting me on after all.)

And so Bill Ackman notes in a long tweet today how he cooperated fully with a Washington Post feature reporter, and his disappointment that the result is a hackish hit piece. Here’s Ackman’s opening:

Ackman’s mistake here was his presumption that the reporter’s “intentions were good, and . . . that her goal was to write a story that was accurate.” No it wasn’t, and it is doubtful that her bias was “unconscious” (though that would make it worse if true), and just as Ackman has come to see the rot of DEI on campus, I hope he now recognizes the rot in our major media, and why millions of Americans positively hate the media, and cheer whenever there are mass layoffs and huge financial losses for media outlets.

A little more:

There’s a lot more from Ackman after this, and curious readers are encouraged to read the whole thing.

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