Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Political Notebook 4: Media rare

If this isn’t the weirdest US election ever, then I don’t ever want to see what would take that title. There’s terrible media performance, actual events that are the exact opposite of what “should” happen, and the miasma of petulant disgust expressed for “both the candidates”, even though one of them will nevertheless win. Where’s the reset button?

Chief among the problems with this election is the truly shockingly bad performance of the news media that repeatedly fails to do its job, allowing Donald, who repeatedly and brazenly lies, to do so without consequences. This isn’t the failing of any one journalist or network or medium, the plague is on all their houses.

The video above is the first in a new web series from GQ called “The Closer”, in which Keith Olbermann takes on Donald in Keith’s inimitable style, something we haven’t see for many years [full transcript and links are available on the GQ site]. When GQ announced the series with a teaser video (https://youtu.be/bQueaSlvjCw), they said:
He's been watching this absurd election, waiting, wondering why no one is saying what needs to be said. So he's going to do it himself. Introducing GQ's new Special Correspondent, Keith Olbermann, in a series called The Closer. Stay tuned. As you might have guessed, he has a few thoughts to share.
There’s no telling how many people will watch the series—that depends, of course, on how often they’re shared—but it’s well past time that the Donald was called out on his lies and his outrageous statements. Even President Obama has complained about how the news media isn’t holding Donald accountable:
Donald Trump says stuff every day that used to be considered as disqualifying for being president. And yet because he says it over and over again, the press just gives up and then you say, well, yeah, you know, okay. They did stuff — I was opposed to the war in Iraq. Well, actually, he wasn't, but they just accept it.
Meanwhile, Donald launched into a fauxage when Hillary Clinton said that “half” of his supporters were in “a basket of deplorables”, something she said just before that line was “grossly generalistic”. When Donald’s fans started shrieking, Hillary did apologise—for the specificity of the term “half”. She also put it into context:
I was "grossly generalistic," and that's never a good idea. I regret saying "half"—that was wrong. But let's be clear, what's really "deplorable" is that Donald Trump hired a major advocate for the so-called "alt-right" movement to run his campaign and that David Duke and other white supremacists see him as a champion of their values. It's deplorable that Trump has built his campaign largely on prejudice and paranoia and given a national platform to hateful views and voices, including by retweeting fringe bigots with a few dozen followers and spreading their message to 11 million people. It's deplorable that he's attacked a federal judge for his "Mexican heritage," bullied a Gold Star family because of their Muslim faith, and promoted the lie that our first black President is not a true American. So I won't stop calling out bigotry and racist rhetoric in this campaign. I also meant what I said last night about empathy, and the very real challenges we face as a country where so many people have been left out and left behind. As I said, many of Trump's supporters are hard-working Americans who just don't feel like the economy or our political system are working for them. I'm determined to bring our country together and make our economy work for everyone, not just those at the top. Because we really are "stronger together."
Donald’s attack on Hillary Clinton over the “half” remark sounded awfully familiar to the Chicago Tribune’s Eric Zorn:
It was reminiscent of Trump's hyperbolic assessment of moderator Megyn Kelly's exchange with him at a Republican primary debate in the summer of 2015: "She had great anger when she was questioning me … she became very angry," he said, even though viewers plainly saw that Kelly was calm and measured when pressing Trump on remarks he'd made that were critical of women.
Donald, of course, also said about Kelly, "there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her… wherever", so he’s not exactly the best judge of other people, though he clearly enjoys smearing them.

It’s not just about Donald, either: The news media have also allowed Donald’s surrogates to lie that voters don’t want to see Donald’s tax returns when, in fact, they do.

So, where does this leave us? Will we ever get a hard look at Donald? Will journalists call him out on his lies, rather than let him get away with them? And what about the allegations of fraud and corruption against Donald—will they ignore all that so they can blather on and on about Hillary’s health or emails some more?

I’m not holding my breath for better journalism, however, maybe all this public shaming will finally get them to do their jobs. Maybe.

Why this matters: If the newsmedia don’t hold Donald accountable, if they don’t call him out on his lies, if the don’t keep the pressure on him about his promotion of white supremacists and other fringe extremists, and if they instead continue to give oxygen to Donald Inc.’s latest conspiracy theories about Hillary Clinton’s health or other absurd allegations from the “alt-right” folks, then we will end up with President Donald.

Finally, other things I saw and forgot to share:

25 Logical Reasons to Vote for Donald Trump – Trust me, you’ll want to follow the link.

Donald Trump and His Family Are Profiting From His Campaign

The Rhetorical Tool That Allows Trump To Incite Violence Without ‘Inciting Violence’

Donald Trump Insult Generator – A quick and easy way to insult like Donald

Who Said It: Donald Trump or The Onion? – This is actually harder than you might think.

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