Friday, November 18, 2022

On Media and Trump: "Trump and the Media Are One and the Same"; and on Not Taunting the Alligator

White House photo by Benjamin Applebaum of Trump and press in Oval Office, 21 March 2017, at Wikimedia Commons

In the wake of the announcement of the former reality t.v. show host who fomented insurrection in the nation's capital and was twice impeached that he's running for president again, there's continuing good commentary on the role the media have played in putting wind in this man's sails, and what the media could and should do now — though some signs already tell us the media is not learning and does not want to learn, to paraphrase George W. Bush on the nation's children: 

As Marcy Wheeler writes, "Welcome to the Jim Jordan and James Comer Look the Other Way Committees, Brought to You By Access Journalism," look at how the mainstream media are already — not! — challenging the absurdity of the made-up Hunter Biden narrative:

This Hunter Biden obsession has been allowed to continue already for three years not just because it has been Fox’s non-stop programming choice to distract from more important matters, but because journalists who consider themselves straight journalists, not Fox propagandists, choose not to call out the rank hypocrisy and waste of it all.

For any self-respecting journalist, the story going forward should be about how stupid and hypocritical all this is, what a waste of government resources.

We’re about to find out how few self-respecting journalists there are in DC.

Parker Molloy, "The Good, the Bad, and the WTF Headlines Covering Trump's Announcement," offers a valuable run-down of the good, the bad, and the WTF headlines we've seen up to now covering the recent announcement of the doubly impeached former reality t.v. show host who fomented insurrection at the top of the U.S. government, with a valuable definition of what constitutes "good" headlines:

To me, though, a “good” headline is one that makes clear what the stakes are: Donald Trump lost the 2020 election and then tried to find questionably legal (and often just outright illegal) loopholes he could use to retain power.

That’s it. That’s the most important thing these headlines (and the articles, themselves) can have in them.

Margaret Sullivan, "If Trump Runs Again, Do Not Cover Him the Same Way: A Journalist’s Manifesto," on how the rules of traditional journalism have to change when candidates are essentially running against democracy:

As Trump prepares to run again in 2024, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the lessons we’ve learned — and committing to the principle that, when covering politicians who are essentially running against democracy, old-style journalism will no longer suffice.

And Robert Reich, "Trump's Last Bark?," on how the media make (and can break?) Trump:

Trump and the media are one and the same. Without the media, there’s no Trump. (And you might say, without Trump there’s not nearly as much media.)

Trump was never a set of policies or principles as much as an outburst, like a dog’s bark. And if that outburst isn’t reported on (or elicits yawns rather than excitement) it didn’t happen.

Also, continuing warnings about the need of those of us concerned about the future of U.S. democracy not to underestimate what a bitter right-wing movement increasingly aware of its minority status is capable of doing now: As Damon Linker, What Comes Next for the Radical Right?," notes,

The more it falls short at the ballot box, the more it will be tempted by tyranny and civil violence.

David Rothkopf, "GOP Authoritarianism Isn’t Going Away After the Midterms":

Yes, many prominent election deniers lost their races, but a disquieting number of them won at both the national and local levels. And the GOP supermajority on the Supreme Court isn’t going anywhere—which means more fundamental rights are threatened, and partisans will have friends in high places should they want to distort election results in the future.

In fact, vis-a-vis that GOP supermajority on the Supreme Court, I predict even more defiance of the majority's wishes regarding issues like abortion, the church-state line, etc. The Supremes are an elite institution designed precisely to do as they damned well please with impunity. Their very raison d'être is and always has been to bolster the minority of Americans who wield power unfairly over the majoriity, due to their economic status, skin color, and so forth. There have been periods when the court behaved in ways countering that foundational mission, but those periods stand out precisely because they are exceptions to the rule and not the norm in American history.

Dan Rather and Elliott Kirschner, "Don't Taunt the Alligator":

It's important to remember that movements are often at their most volatile when they are in their end stages. For all the weaknesses of the man who birthed MAGA, he remains a combustible force. His act has seemed over before, only to rebound. The poisonous political environment he fomented has spread well beyond him. 

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