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‘Woke Millennials’ Taking Control of Mainstream Media: Author Amber Athey

Democrat-run, legacy mainstream media outlets are increasingly beholden to younger radical progressives, according to journalist, author, and political commentator Amber Athey.

“They thought the woke millennials were on their side … [and] quickly learned that ‘wokeism’ does not accept anything but 100 percent fealty,” said Athey during an interview with Epoch TV’s “American Thought Leaders.

Woke millennials want the left-wing organizations to adhere to their version of political correctness and truth. And if they don’t, they will even be attacked as being racist, transphobic, sexist, etc., said Athey, Washington editor for The Spectator and author of “The Snowflakes’ Revolt: How Woke Millennials Hijacked American Media.”

Those who work in mainstream media are “overwhelmingly” of a wealthy background, are registered Democrats, and believe in far-left causes or have ties to left-wing activism, she stated.

Mainstream media outlets do not want to offend their audience, most of whom subscribe to far-left ideologies, and even run the risk of getting canceled by their own radical staff, Athey said.

In 2020, The New York Times was forced to apologize for running an opinion piece by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that advocated for activating the military to calm the streets during rioting in multiple cities. The op-ed, headlined “Send in the Troops,” was taken down after the newspaper’s staff revolted and readers threatened to cancel their subscriptions.

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) attends a press conference in Washington on July 1, 2020. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The newspaper issued a statement on June 4, 2020, vowing to “expand our fact-checking operation” and reduce the number of opinion pieces. To explain how Cotton’s piece came to be published, they blamed a “rushed editorial process” for an op-ed that “did not meet our standards.”

These vocal millennials are the same ones that orchestrate woke mobs in colleges to shut down conservative speakers, fulfill diversity quotas, conduct “racial sensitivity” training, and diversity requirements for undergraduate courses, said Athey.

The same tactics employed at universities were used to shame the newspaper to cancel Cotton.

Woke Guidelines and Activism

While there may be good reporters within any of these outlets, they are restricted by the editors and company policies, which are increasingly dictated by woke ideology, Athey said.

Many media outlets have become more like activists and often don’t present both sides of a story.

“They actually derogatorily refer to this as ‘both sides-ism’ and what they mean by that is they think that one side is so irredeemably wrong and actually harmful to the fabric of society, that their views don’t deserve air time,” said Athey.

Even if the other side is presented, the outlet will have political commentary or guests that color and destroy the argument presented by the opposing view because the woke believe that if you don’t do that, “then you are guilty of actually perpetuating the harmful ideology of the right,” she said.

For the most part, mainstream media does “activist journalism,” which is investigating a topic with a certain outcome in mind. Athey says this can be acceptable if the outlet is open about being biased and the reporter does not change the findings when the facts contradict their hypothesis about the story.

“But what activism journalism shouldn’t do—which is where I think the left goes too far—is if they’re investigating something, and they don’t like the outcome: they either lie about the results, or they choose not to publicize them,” Athey said.

If a news outlet is open about its activism, like MSNBC, it is OK; but when the media claims to be unbiased but clearly has an agenda, such as in the case of CNN, no one trusts them,  she said.

Athey says conservatives should not work with left-wing news outlets who are ’bad faith actors” because they distort what conservatives say.

Media Landscape

The current mainstream media that dominates American airwaves consists of “financial behemoths” like The Washington Post, owned by billionaire Jeff Bezos; CNN, owned by Warner Bros. Discovery; The New York Times; and even the Wall Street Journal, which is part of News Corp., said Athey.

“All of these news organizations are actually corporations; they’re big businesses,” said Athey.

The Washington Post building in Washington on May 16, 2019. (Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

Many of the reporters don’t go out to the community to get first-hand news but get “a lot of their information directly from Democratic sources, whether that means activists or the DNC, members of Congress, and even left-wing cultural institutions like Big Tech,” she added. 

This news structure was made particularly clear when media outlets referred to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s Parental Rights in Education bill as the “Don’t Say Gay” bill because they were parroting a left-wing activist group that coined the phrase on Twitter, she said.

“And all of a sudden, all of the media—in lockstep—in their headlines started referring to that as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill.”

“There really is a sort of echo chamber that exists in the media, because so many of them are not interested in truth … they’re interested in ideology and profit,” so they kowtow to the “woke mob” and cancel culture, she added.

News During Trump

The mainstream media’s role used to be focused on “speaking truth to power” or holding the government accountable. But when real estate billionaire Donald Trump started campaigning for president, everything changed, Athey said.

An enormous swath of the media, particularly after Trump won the presidency, decided that their job was now “to protect democracy, to oppose a dictator, to oppose authoritarianism. It was no coincidence that The Washington Post changed its slogan at that time to ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness,’” she said.

With the emergence of independent news that didn’t toe the narrative, along with Trump’s calling out of the media for false reporting on him and his supporters, fact-checking came onto the scene, with legacy outlets critiquing and deciding what was true and what was false.

“This only added to this volatile cocktail of left-wing activists joining media outlets, because they were able to use these new rules to push their own ideology,” said Athey.

Independent News

She said there is a huge opportunity for independent news outlets because “there is such an appetite among the American people for outlets that are still committed to these traditional journalistic principles like truth and objectivity and seeking to be unbiased.”

While the internet opened more opportunities for independent news sources, it has also shown that the Big Tech companies have too much power over what stories are even seen by the public—such as the case of Twitter and Facebook trying to squelch the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop scandal in the lead-up to the 2020 presidential election.

“There’s a lot of work for conservatives and independent media outlets to do to make sure that their content is getting to the audiences that they want it to reach,” Athey said, adding that that will mean getting control of web-hosting services, which the left currently controls.

Hunter Biden, son of U.S. President Joe Biden, attends an event at the White House in Washington on April 18, 2022. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Leveling the playing field

In order for conservatives to ensure that the news they gather gets out to the public, people have to stand up to the “woke mob” and be very united in their support for people and publications that get attacked by the left, Athey said.

The left has “used that cultural phenomenon as a means of silencing their political opponents, and we as conservatives have to stand up for each other,” she said.

The right is “fractured” in this regard while the mob gets its power from staying mostly in lockstep. Besides building unity against the mob, conservatives have to stop “playing the game,” she said.

“Conservatives need to stop giving interviews to these outlets. They need to stop giving scoops to these outlets. They need to stop treating these outlets as if they’re anything but left-wing propaganda machines,” Athey said.

“These people despise us, they hate us, and I think we should freeze them out,” she said, citing DeSantis’s press team. DeSantis does not give interviews to mainstream media outlets because he knows they will spin what he says.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks during a press conference at the Assault Brigade 2506 Honorary Museum in Hialeah, Fla., on Aug. 5, 2021. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

“DeSantis only operates with media outlets that are fair to him.”

To determine what is true, Athey recommends reading everything and checking the sources the outlet uses for authenticity and accuracy—which does require effort.

“People have to be committed to digging more for themselves.”

Senior Editor


Jan Jekielek is a senior editor with The Epoch Times and host of the show, “American Thought Leaders.” Jan’s career has spanned academia, media, and international human rights work. In 2009 he joined The Epoch Times full time and has served in a variety of roles, including as website chief editor. He is the producer of the award-winning Holocaust documentary film “Finding Manny.”

Masooma Haq


Masooma Haq began reporting for The Epoch Times from Pakistan in 2008. She currently covers a variety of topics including U.S. government, culture, and entertainment.

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