Friday, January 13, 2017

Be Ready To Deal With It

Only a moment or two into President-elect Trump's news conference on Wednesday, we were told

.... the irresponsible decision of a few news organizations to run with a false and unsubstantiated report, when most news organizations resisted the temptation to propagate this fake news, can only be attributed to media bias and attempt to demean the president-elect and our incoming administration and the American people are sick and tired of it.

And that wasn't even the short-fingered vulgarian and vulgar talking yam Donald Trump. It was spoken by the alleged adult in the room, failed governor Mike Pence, our incoming Vice President. However, the report alleging attempts by the Russian government to recruit Donald Trump is not "fake news," which, as The Guardian explains, "is completely made up, manipulated to resemble credible journalism and attract maximum attention and, with it, advertising revenue."  It is not even clear that the intelligence is inaccurate- Pence himself refers to it, accurately, as "unsubstantiated," following the false accusation that it is "false."

Once he began to speak, President-elect Trump, more inclined to trust Vladimir Putin than US intelligence agencies, would claim "today, we’ll get back to real news, to real facts" in his ongoing effort to convince Americans that the mainstream media must always be doubted and he to be completely trusted.

Steve M., noting a New York Times' headline "Trump, in New Style of Fighter, Takes the Ring," recognized the inroads Trump is making with the media and will continue to make unless a backbone is grown. He commented

I understand the arguments against publishing the dossier. But if you're going to criticize BuzzFeed, remind your readers -- and yourselves -- that Trump is at war with you, and with all norms of responsible presidential conduct. Object to the publication of the dossier if you must, but couple that objection with a reassertion of the fact that the press has an obligation to hold Trump accountable, and to be very aggressive in that effort. Don't act like apple-polishing grade schoolers trying to rat out a misbehaving classmate to the teacher.

When Trump attacked Jim Acosta of CNN (which, of course, didn't publish the specific allegations in the dossier), it might have been a good idea for Acosta to walk out and for colleagues to join him in solidarity. Maybe the press should refuse to attend any future press conferences unless Trump vows to refrain from playground-bully abuse -- not that he'd keep that promise, but just getting him to make a small, phony concession would be a start. And if he refused and that meant no further press conferences, the hell with it. It seems obvious that Trump intends to use them as ego trips for Trump and opportunities for him to abuse his enemies in the media. Don't play along. Deny him that.

He wrote that Thursday morning.  Media Matters' Matt Gertz found that several hours later, on Thursday night, Newt Gingrich appeared with Sean Hannity and

urged (incoming Press Secretary Sean) Spicer to learn “a couple of big lessons” from the incident. First and foremost, he suggested that Acosta be banned from reporting on Trump events for 60 days “as a signal, frankly, to all the other reporters that there are going to be real limits” for proper behavior...

Gingrich went on to explain his theory of the press under the Trump administration. “You don't have to think of The New York Times or CNN or any of these people as news organizations,” he explained. “They're mostly propaganda organizations. And they're going to be after Trump every single day of his presidency.”

“And he needs to understand that that's the case, and so does Sean Spicer in speaking for him. And they simply need to go out there and understand they have it in their power to set the terms of this dialogue.” He added, “They can close down the elite press.”

Whatever Gingrich believes constitutes the "elite press," we have a pretty good idea of Donald Trump's criteria. On November 22, ardent Trumpist Hannity, who never talks out of turn, remarked

So until members of the media come clean about colluding with the Clinton campaign and admit that they knowingly broke every ethical standard they are supposed to uphold, they should not have the privilege, they should not have the responsibility of covering the president on behalf of you, the American people.

As Jay Rosen puts it "In other words, the mainstream press should not be allowed to cover Trump." If you can't say anything good about Dear Leader, don't say anything at all.

Media organizations are businesses which traditionally compete against each other. But if there is no cooperation- or at least a common understanding- of the threat they are under, they will find that they are among the first casualties of an Administration which demands praise at every turn and equates dissent with disloyalty.

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