The Death of the Media
The Reliable Sources email thingie was strangely compelling reading last night (it’s too long to block quote, so Imma put it between cutlines):
Dale, who fact-checks every word that Trump says, is an indispensable resource right now. He caught Trump’s claim that “we are looking at putting in a very major tax cut for middle-income people. And if we do that it’ll be sometime just prior to November.” A new middle class tax cut?! Congress is not even in session.
For this reason, and a thousand others, I labeled the president “Mr. Misinformation” on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources.” The segment was all about the plague of smears, scams and lies that still exists on Facebook and Twitter, two years after the “fake news” virus was first diagnosed. The companies are trying to address these problems — but it amounts to an overwhelming game of whack a mole. Here’s what Donie O’Sullivan and Philip Bump told me on the show…
Bernstein: “This is a new territory of untruth”
“Look, we have had presidents in the past who have lied. There’s no question about that,” Carl Bernstein told me. “But what we have never had is a president of the United States who uses lying and untruth as a basic method to promote his policies, his beliefs, and his way of approaching the American people and engaging with the world.”
Bernstein’s point: Trump’s “default position is to use untruth to go toward his objectives.”
My question: Are journalists doing enough to document and debunk Trump’s dishonest tactics?
Four new examples to examine
— Much of Trump’s talk about the migrant caravan has a conspiratorial edge. A new example: “Democrats want caravans. They like the caravans. A lot of people say, ‘I wonder who started that caravan…'”
— On Friday night, NYT reporter Emily Cochrane asked Trump about evidence for his claims that the “caravan” is full of “hardened criminals.” His reply? “Oh please, please, don’t be a baby…”
— Trump tweeted on Saturday night that “all levels of government and law enforcement are watching carefully for VOTER FRAUD,” even though cases of voter fraud are vanishingly rare. “Cheat at your own peril,” he said, even though his own voter fraud commission was dissolved in January…
— WaPo’s Glenn Kessler tweeted on Sunday: Trump “tells audiences the opioid bill passed ‘very little Democrat support.’ The vote was 98 to 1, with only Utah Sen. Mike Lee (R) opposing it. The House passed it 393 to 8. Even a rare bipartisan achievement can’t be celebrated?”
There’s a remarkable consistency in Comrade Trump’s lies: all the time and about everything. Large things, small things, it doesn’t matter; he’s the guy who exaggerates to the point of absurdity (see the 1M jobs in the post below) and it crosses into being an outright lie.
While some of us think that he’s a strategic liar, I’m still of the opinion that he lies reflexively. He lies because he can and no one checks him on it.
The difference might be meaningless if visions like those of Scissorhead 9K is right:
We’ll know that the media will have, once again, failed spectacularly to unite against what is clearly an advancing fascist coup and a direct threat to a free press (as Exhibit A in the case for showing how they’re on the wrong track allow me to present a headline in today’s Guardian, once a real newspaper; “Ann Coulter says the left has lost its mind. Should we listen?”)
We’ll know that the Trump juggernaut really is basically invulnerable to any previously accepted norms of political gravity. This is another way of saying that in spite of everything, Trump is now the new normal. If a legal US resident journalist can be literally dismembered and flushed down the toilet (guessing, but why the hell not?) in a Saudi consulate, and literally be sacrificed, openly sacrificed, on the altar of capital, the game really is over.
Because if that’s possible, if they can lie and agitprop their way out of this one, then any fucking thing at all is possible, laws or no laws, constitution or no constitution, elections or no elections.
Thanks 9K – I think your prediction is coming true on Saudi Arabia, and you could be onto something for whatever follows. And I will note that even though all the morning email thingies are still coving the crime of Crown Prince Bone Saw, the story has already dropped into 4th item or lower in most of them.
I still do not understand why the media continues to cover Trump excessively, especially because they know that he is lying.
I don’t have an answer, but I do think that the best way to deal with a narcissist attention whore is to cut off the attention. If I were Brian Stelter (and thank blog I am not), I would turn to issues and leave the personalities behind. It’s another variation on Molly Ivins’ rule: pay no attention to what they say, but examine the record of what they’ve actually done.