I sure hope this isn’t a revelation: American journalism continues to fail America. I’m a news junkie. Cable news is always on in my office. But I don’t obsess so much on the news itself as our news media’s consistent inability to report it. And that’s even as it happens right in front of us! That’s what’s so damned frustrating about our press. Too many of them are Chicken Little squawking the sky is falling. That would awesome – if they really were worried about the sky.
The Sky Is Falling!
Though tasked in the Constitution with being the People’s final check on power, our news media kowtows to power. That is, they kowtow to right wing power and to the acorns right wing power keeps dropping on their heads. With each acorn, the right tells the news media “The sky is falling!” and the news media repeats it. Meanwhile, off to the side, the sky really is falling and it’s the right wing making it fall. By “sky”, I mean “our democracy”. And by “making it fall”, I mean they’re propagating The Big Lie. Right when America needs journalists and journalism to get our story right, most of them have turned into Chicken Little squawking “The sky is falling”. The problem is, they keep pointing to the acorns.
“Both sides do it” brand journalism has so completely undermined journalism itself, that Americans have a hard time trusting it and journalists. The fact is both sides DON’T “do it” (whatever “it” is) and never, ever have. Conservatives are not like progressives and progressives are not like conservatives. Conservatives want to live in the past. Progressives want to prepare for the future. Conservatives are excellent at marching in lock step with each other. Being mostly the same kind of people (white, Christian), they want the same thing. Progressives, being much more diverse, want a variety of different things. Diversity will never march in lock step with anything.
Republicans Don’t Like Democracy
That’s why Republicans make good fascists and Democrats are still every bit the way Will Rogers described us a century ago: “I’m not a member of any organized political party,” Rogers famously said, “I’m a Democrat”. Both sides are not the same. They want completely different Americas. And both sides have different plans to accomplish their desired ends.
It would never occur to Democrats to overthrow our democracy. No Democrat would spend the time plotting and planning for “fake electors” to change an election’s outcome. Instead, Democrats go door to door looking for votes and voters. You know, retail politics! And, while Democrats have gerrymandered in the past, they never gerrymandered with the willfulness with which the Republican Party gerrymanders. And Democrats, as far as I can Google, have never suppressed Republican voters.
Both Sides DON’T Do It
“Both sides do it” is an acorn that Republican use to distract journalists.
Journalism schools are supposed to teach skepticism – a “back it up or it’s bullshit” way of thinking. Instead, American J Schools seem to have substituted cynicism for skepticism in their curriculum. Receipts almost don’t matter. While journalists insist they do – and won’t report anything as truth without receipts firmly in hand – they WILL report what both sides say (without receipts) as if both sides were honest actors.
But, our press knows, both sides aren’t honest actors.
The Liar In Chief
During the four years of Trump’s presidency, our news media counted over 30,000 lies. The takeaway should have been “Don’t trust anything this man says, it’s likely he’s lying!”. Instead, at the end of each day, our news media “zeroed the meter”. When the next day’s reporting began, the press reported as if “Trump may have lied yesterday (and every day before that!) but it doesn’t mean he’s lying today!”.
Oy… You’d think getting burned repeatedly would teach the press something.
The Coup D’Etat
We are now in our seventh year of active coup d’etat. Personally, I point to June 25, 2016 as the day the coup plotters officially set their coup in motion. That’s the day current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy entered a GOP leadership meeting with “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” This happened a month before the Republican Party officially nominated Trump. Yet, despite knowing their POTUS candidate posed a grave national security threat, the Republican leadership chose to keep they’re secret about Trump a secret. Why would they do such a thing? Let’s extrapolate: they had already chosen to ally with Putin as a means to seize and hold onto political power. Illegally.
Trump And Putin
Throughout his presidency, Trump maintained a beta dog relationship with Putin. The press scratched its head – still does. How to explain Putin’s hold over Trump? Why would Trump give away our secrets to Russian Ambassador Lavrov? Or favor Putin’s intelligence over our own? Why does Trump do everything he can to deny and obscure the depth of his relationship with Putin?
But the press answered their own question in 2017. That’s when the Washington Post’s Adam Entous wrote about the June 2016 GOP leadership meeting. He’d heard the recording someone made of it! IOW, Entous heard – and reported – that the GOP knowingly nominated Trump despite what they knew. That was not an acorn.
That was evidence the sky was falling. What a shame our Chicken Little press missed it.
Trump had no choice but to attempt to hold onto power. He’s a traitor and he knows it. Everyone around Trump – who enabled him and never said a word about Trump’s treachery – they’re co-conspirators in Trump’s criminality. That’s how conspiracy works! The majority of the GOP now supports The Big Lie despite knowing that’s what it is.
The Big Lie IS The Sky Falling
The whole point of The Big Lie, don’t forget, is to undermine the integrity of every American election from local to presidential going forwards. And the mission these authoritarian thugs want to accomplish is permanent minority rule (by them) and the end of democracy in America. The GOP wants to rig every election (just like Trump keeps projecting). It won’t matter how We The People vote, the right wing will control the outcome regardless.
Our news media loves elections because they’re horse races. They adore endless prognostication. Polls? Love em! Even if they aren’t really measuring anything or they’re measuring something meaningless. Yes, Joe Biden’s approval numbers are awful. Yet his numbers aren’t dragging down the rest of the Democrats’ numbers. “Hmmmmm,” wonders our press, scratching their head hard enough to produce a divot in their scalp, “How can that be?”
Being Chicken Littles, our news media keeps obsessing over the acorns instead of the sky. Look at the sky and you’d see we’ve never observed a sky like this – where one party is actively working against democracy itself. We’ve never had a sky with pandemic in it at the same time Russia was invading Ukraine and climate change was both flooding us out and roasting us alive. Unless a poll question frames the world that way – how it actually is (versus some generic world), it’s not measuring anything worth measuring.
But then, you’d have to be intellectually curious enough to want to know what any poll was actually measuring. Far easier to see all the other Chicken Littles running around like they were headless, squawking about acorns while the sky crushes them.