The line between neutral, unbiased journalism and political advocacy continued to be blurred in today’s social media-fueled news cycle and media environment. As mainstream media outlets and networks lose sway with younger Americans, online-based news aggregators and websites fill the void. NowThis News is one of the latter, which has a significant political bias towards progressive and left-leaning causes.
In a recent video, which headlined NowThis News’s homepage, the website highlighted the progressive grassroots organization Women’s March. Women’s March is a progressive organization that made its name organizing anti-Trump protests across the United States. Officially, according to its website, Women’s March is “a national movement that has inspired women to run for office, trained women in direct action, and made women everywhere acutely aware of their power.”
The NowThis News video on Women’s March did not mention the internal turmoil and external controversies that the organization has undergone since its first event in 2017 when at least 400,000 protesters marched in Washington, D.C. to protest the Trump administration. This past July, three co-chairs of the organization, Tamika Mallory, Linda Sarsour, and Bob Bland, stepped down from their positions due to allegations of anti-Semitic rhetoric and resulting public relations fallout. Mallory was criticized for attending a Nation of Islam event, where Nation of Islam figure Louis Farrakhan publicly espoused anti-Semitic views and opinions. Sarsour’s anti-Israeli political views were a target of criticism, in addition to her and Mallory’s public statements about Farrakhan’s positive influence in society. Due to those controversies, at least one state chapter publicly criticized the national organization and it led to internal discord in the organization’s 2019 marches.
Instead, NowThis News’s video ignored the Women’s March’s internal struggles and reshuffling of its board after anti-Semitic controversies and highlighted the organization’s 2020 goals. The organization’s goal is to oust President Trump in the 2020 election and focus on the progressive platforms of reproductive justice, climate justice, and immigration. The video quoted the organization’s statement at length, and the video’s description was a glowing review of the organization, which read as follows:
“The 2017 Women’s March inspired hundreds of women to run, millions more to vote, and dozens to win elected office. The 2020 Women’s March marks three years of resistance to the Trump presidency, three years of training new activists, and three years of building power. Find out more at womensmarch.com/2020”
It appears that this is a ringing endorsement of a politically-active organization from a news website, which violates journalistic ethics and integrity. Journalists should remain politically neutral, not politically active, but NowThis News violated the long-held journalist integrity rules that used to govern journalism in politics without an apology or hint of shame or embarrassment.