The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dishonest and Unwatchable

It began with bogus accusations that Donald Trump and members of his campaign staff "colluded" with the Russians to somehow win an election that almost every member of the four constituencies guaranteed he would lose. It's now more than obvious that the collusion accusations are, to quote a CNN staffer, "bulls**t." So now the trained hamster's meme has begun to shift. First, it morphed into an equally ridiculous accusation of 'obstruction of justice' centering on an FBI investigation, the then-head of which, admitted to leaking information to the NYT is an effort to get his friend and mentor, Robert Mueller, appointed as special counsel. That worked, but Mueller's objectivity has recently been called into question.

So over the last few days, members of the mainstream media have begun to whine that they are "under threat" by a president who fights back when "fake news" becomes the predominant form of communication espoused by outlets like CNN. The whiners have now jettisoned even the semblance of objectivity and revel in their blatant bias as a sign of some warped moral or political imperative.

It used to be that the mainstream media media was like a school yard bully, viciously attacking anything GOP and doing it with impunity. A GOP scandal got headlines for weeks on end. A Dem scandal was either buried or mentioned in passing, disappearing within hours or days. Context and accuracy ... forget that. Data was relevant only when it was damaging to GOP legislative efforts.

But today, things have changed and the school yard bully has encountered a target who not only fights back, but does so with a level on venom (and 'uncouthness,' if that's a word) that even surpasses that of the bully. The media bully doesn't like that, and the cycle of viciousness escalates.

Michael Goodwin comments:
In the sixth month of Donald Trump’s presidency, we are witnessing an unprecedented meltdown of much of the media. Standards have been tossed overboard in a frenzy to bring down the president.

Trump, like all presidents, deserves coverage that is skeptical and tough, but also fair. That’s not what he’s getting.

What started as bias against him has become a cancer that is consuming the best and brightest. In rough biblical justice, media attempts to destroy the president are boomeranging and leaving their reputations in tatters.

He accuses them of publishing fake news, and they respond with such blind hatred that they end up publishing fake news. That’ll show him.

CNN is suffering an especially bad case of Trump Derangement Syndrome, even trying to make a virtue of its hostility to the president. In doing so, executives conveniently confuse animus with professional skepticism, and cite growing audiences as proof of their good judgment.

The bottom line matters, and there is certainly an audience for hating Trump all the time. But facts and fairness separate major news organizations from any other business looking to make a buck, and a commitment to them creates credibility and public trust.

That’s how CNN sold itself for years — boring but trustworthy. Now it’s boring and untrustworthy.
I would add ... dishonest and unwatchable.


An intelligent counterpoint, offered by Chris Stirewalt, is well-worth considering:
... watching a politician throw away a good opportunity to enact policies important to his supporters for the sake of belittling a television personality is stunning [Stirewalt is referring to Trump's running battle with the MSNBC co-hosts of Morning Joe]. Blowing up a week of forward progress bought dearly by Georgia campaign volunteers, congressional aides and donors large and small is the height of solipsism.

Maybe we are wrong and many of those tens of millions of Trump voters want exactly this: Crude insults, misdirections, distractions and a pointless, endless war with the press. We tend to think not.

A cottage industry has sprouted up in Washington around the business of explaining why foolish things the president does are either secretly genius or perfectly defensible on the grounds of being better or only as bad as things Barack Obama did. Regardless of which political tribe to which you belong, this should stop at once.

Not only is it enabling the worse impulses of a president with obvious impulse control problems but it further suggests that nothing matters other than partisan victory. The president and the country deserve better than that.
It's also reasonable to argue that the country deserves better, more honest, and more accurate media coverage, but that's not gonna happen.

Stirewalt is correct. Donald Trump creates significant problems for himself; he makes dumb mistakes; he sabotages his policy efforts; he erodes his staff's ability to defend those policies. His style is—in a word—unpresidential and is worthy of criticism. But is is not, in and of itself, a reason for the four constituencies to conduct a slow motion coup.

If Trump is as bad as the four constituencies claim, he will be unseated in the 2020. But if he accomplishes even a small percentage of his policy goals, he may actually provide benefit to a country that sorely needs a strong economy, a more rational immigration policy, a less intrusive government, better healthcare that is based on pragmatic realities, not fantasy, and a stronger posture to face our international enemies. I suspect that the thing that frightens the four constituencies the most of the outside chance that Donald trump actually accomplishes those things.