The core conceit at play when a “journalist” like Chuck Todd (which means we’re using the term “journalist” as loosely as we can) insists that “both sides do it” is that both sides do what they do for entirely political reasons. That is empirically untrue.
To act politically is to attempt change. If you are acting politically, you are trying to change the current situation. You’re trying to motivate people to alter what’s happening now — how they’re doing what they’re doing — so that they’ll do what you want them to do in the way you want. You want them to vote against all forms of gun control, for instance. Because you’re desperately afraid that gun control nuts will literally take your weapons away, you resort to all sorts of “persuasion” to stop that from happening. All those acts of persuasion — that’s you being political.
By contrast, when parents mourn their dead children — shot to death in their school — they’re NOT acting politically. When they turn to their political leaders and say “This must stop” — that also is NOT a political act. To see their desires realized out in reality, that WILL demand political action (they’ll have to affect change. But the thing they want to see happen — their children returning from school at the end of the day, not bullet-riddled — that’s NOT political.
It takes politics to negotiate the varying and conflicting needs of different people. But, the common good — the goal everyone’s after — that’s NOT political. It has to be reached via political means. And that, right there, is the source of the confusion.
The dimwits like Chuck Todd see people reacting to politics impacting their lives and call those reactions political.
The Republicans have gerrymandered everywhere they could (as Democrats have also done) for entirely political reasons. When Democratic voters get deliberately under-served as a result, their anger at what’s been done to them isn’t a political reaction, it’s a reaction to dishonesty, corruption and possibly even a crime being perpetrated on them. An African American voter being denied their right to vote is being denied for a political reason — but their anger, resentment and insistence that justice be served — that’s NOT political.
What the Republican Party & Donald Trump are doing to America — dragging it backward in time to the 1850’s — is entirely political. It’s a power grab.
That’s the thing our Main Stream News Media cannot get through its thick head. The reason someone becomes a Democrat is very different from the reason someone becomes a Republican. The reason one goes to a Trump rally is very different from the reason one watches bits and pieces of it on TV instead — with bile and disgust rising in one’s throat. The bile isn’t political. Neither is the disgust.
The Democrats reacting to stolen elections (via voter suppression and Russian involvement) aren’t being “political”, they’re being CRIME VICTIMS. The Rule Of Law could feel equally aggrieved. Ditto the Constitution. They’re both crime victims — and any Democrat rushing to their aid -isn’t doing it for political reasons.
Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign took a hit when she was cornered into showing receipts for how she would pay for getting every American health CARE. The grinding irony — this is never a question Republican candidates ever have to grapple with. How we’re gonna pay for the next Republican tax cut is always obvious — it’s coming from what’s left of the Middle Class’s hide. It’s coming from the poorest of the poor.
Maybe I’ve answered my own question already. Why doesn’t America’s news media ever hold Republican candidates (or working politicians) to the same standards of proof as they do Democratic candidates? Perhaps it’s because our MSM knows going in that Republicans never have receipts. They want everyone to take what they say as gospel truth.
For instance — that America is a “center-right country”. Perhaps the people who’ve shown up at the polls until recently (around 55% of the total electorate in 2016) leaned center-right. Historically, older people vote in larger numbers than younger people (which is a terrible reflection on us — they should be motivated to maintain our Democracy, not made deeply cynical about it!) But there’s a reason why Republicans — historically — do everything they can to suppress as much of the vote as they can: they know that when more Americans vote, they vote for Democrats.
Beto O’Rourke’s near success in taking Ted Cruz’s senate seat was an object lesson in 1) how to beat Republicans in seemingly impossible places and 2) when you get more Americans out to vote, number 1) becomes a lot more possible. That’s because America (when it actually votes) is a center-left country. Beto didn’t go after the red necks and rich shitheads who always show up to vote, he went after those who don’t normally show up (in large part because they’ve felt disenfranchised — which they were). And they were disenfranchised with purpose — to wipe out their vote — to make their NOT showing up to vote as reliable as RWers showing up. Then — the icing — we told ourselves that THIS was written in stone: just how it is.
The American public has been bamboozled by bullshit.
What conservatives and right wingers are good at is “marketing” (aka “stoking fear” — “Be Afraid” is very much the Republican Brand). They’re good at selling messages: “Americans love their health insurance” (no — they love the doctors they love & going through the insurance company is the only way to get those doctors — not the same thing). “Mission Accomplished” (no, it wasn’t — not by a long shot).
Do Republicans ever have to pay for their bullshit — or even explain it? Have you watched any of the last three years? Donald Trump has gotten away with “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” and having his head so far up Vladimir Putin’s ass he could be Putin’s uvula. And yet — when the White House press corps gets their shot at Trump (and they get LOTS of shots), do they EVER challenge him on the obvious treachery?
No — they don’t. In fact, when they then talk to the hosts in the studio, they act as if treason, too, is just how it is now. They look at poll numbers — wondering if maybe a misinformed, disinformed & propagandized American public doesn’t care about “maintaining their Republic” anymore. Talk about shitty framing!
Our news media ask if Democrats are over-stepping — wanting to maintain The Rule Of Law and the Constitution. That’s because the news media insists that the Democrats standing up for The Rule Of Law and the Constitution is just “politics”. No. No, it isn’t. And that’s the news media’s problem. “Both Sides Do It” journalism insists on seeing everything as political. They insist that politics motivates everything.
Nothing could be further from the truth of course. Hey, look — I answered my own question again. The news media marks Republicans on a curve because they’ve bought the Republican lie — that just because Republicans do everything for calculated political reasons, the Democrats must be doing it for the same reasons too. The news media isn’t marking Republicans on a curve — they’re dropping Democrats two grades just for sitting down to take the test.
Then acting like everyone’s being graded the same.
Ever hear someone massacre a joke? They trip all over the set-up and blow the punch line then wonder why no one’s laughing. That’s America’s news media — except it’s not a joke they massacred, it’s the truth.
While everyone has a story, not every can tell a story — or tell their story. What most of America’s journalists don’t seem to get (it’s not evident in their reporting) is that Trump-Russia IS their story. They’re not just neutral observers in this dumpster fire, they’re both witnesses and active participants. Their very neutrality, in fact, has been turned against America.
Russia is attacking us as we speak. We are living through World War Three — a Cyber War, an Information War, an Intelligence War — no less threatening to our security and future as a bombs n bullets war. Instead of ammo, the Russians fire lies, propaganda & misinformation at us — and they use our own news media to do it. And our news media — unaware to see that THEY are indeed PART of the story — continue to go along with it. They continue to repeat Russia’s misinformation & disinformation.
Lies mingle with Truth to create a new-fangled concoction of half-truths — like a poisonous slurry that’s about to swamp us all.
Good storytelling demands that the storyteller have PERSPECTIVE. To gain perspective, you have to continually add to your story’s foundation. As you learn new info, you make it part of the story. When you learn that Trump lies more than he tells the truth, you make “Trump’s a liar” part of the story. You don’t start every day’s reporting by assuming he’s telling the Truth. That would take the story backwards.
By the same token — when you report breathlessly about all the ways Trump is betraying the country and then turn to the subject of election 2020? Trump doesn’t suddenly STOP being that traitor. He’s the TRAITOR who’s “running for office” again — by using Russia to guarantee his win — just as he did in 2016. Our MSM keeps saying “Russia meddled in 2016” as if “meddled” is some vague abstraction with results no one could possibly identify.
That’s our MSM normalizing what should never be normalized.
When Fusion GPS first got hired by the Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump, they did their “due diligence”. They got ahold of every bit of publicly available material on Trump: video, newspaper stories, magazine articles, radio interviews — everything. What they found there — in publicly available material — so concerned them about Trump’s obvious criminality (at the very least he laundered Russian mob money through his Atlantic City casinos) that they contracted with former MI6 intel pro Chris Steele whose contacts inside Russia were unequaled.
Fusion saw the story — and incorporated it into their narrative.
Our MSM, on the other hand, keeps (even now when so much of Steele’s raw intel has been proven correct) referring to Steele’s output as “unverified”. That might have been so two years ago. It’s not true today. To say it is to distort the story significantly.
The whole basis for storytelling is “add information”. Learn something new about the story? You add it to the story — and make it part of the storyTELLING.
And yet — on MSNBC & CNN, we still get reporters who refuse to add information to the story — or do so grudgingly then wonder why everyone else always scoops them.
Maybe our reporter class should go back to basics. Learn how to tell a joke. Get good at it THEN return to reporting. Otherwise they’ll continue turning our Democracy into a joke — and ain’t no one gonna laugh at that.
Let’s cut to the END of the chase, shall we? Both sides DO NOT “do it”. Both sides DO NOT commit TREASON in order to hold onto power and impose a permanent state of minority rule. Both sides don’t do it because one side doesn’t HAVE to. They can sell their ideas to America.
That would be the Democrats. They want to govern. They want to solve America’s problems by empowering as many Americans (of very variety) as possible because, Democrats know, THAT is American Exceptionalism.
The other side — Republicans — want to drag America back to the 50’s — the 1850’s — when everyone who wasn’t white, Christian and male knew their place. That’s the America conservatives want to conserve. Except for white, Christian men however, no one else (who grasps what they’re up to) could possibly want that. Consequently, Republicans have to use “other means” to win elections.
Republicans have to cheat. They have to restrict voting wherever possible because anyone who doesn’t look like them might not vote like them. C’mon — if all those migrants fleeing Central American drug violence (born, as it was, on American city streets) were guaranteed Republican votes? They’d all be limo’d across the border, given an American passport and dropped off at the first job center. Republicans have to suppress the vote. They’d already be an extreme minority party otherwise.
When Republicans knowingly took Russian money, when they knowingly repeated Kremlin talking points, when they SHOWED UP IN MOSCOW on July 4, 2018 — they were acting both politically (to further their political goals) AND criminally.
By contrast, when the FBI began to investigate Trump’s involvement with Russia back before election 2016? That WASN’T political. Same token — when Obama sat the Gang Of Eight down in September 2016 to relate the IC’s profound concern that Russia was using active measures to impact election 2016 on Trump’s behalf, Moscow Mitch McConnell acted FOR POLITICAL REASONS when he told Obama he’d attack Obama’s TELLING AMERICA THE TRUTH as “political”.
How’s that for bitter irony?
When Republicans deny sworn testimony, when they insist Trump has done nothing wrong, when THEY repeat Kremlin talking points as Senator John Kennedy from Louisiana did Sunday on Meet The Press, they’re acting POLITICALLY. Their goal is a political goal.
That, American News Media, is where “The Politics” ends.
Yes, Democrats are political creatures too. Yes, Democrats DO act politically when it benefits them. And, yes, prosecuting the president and the Republican Party WILL reap significant political benefits for the Democrats.
However — if the Democrats were acting out of politics, this effort would have died already. It isn’t political tribalism driving Americans toward impeachment (50% of us want Trump impeached AND removed), it’s righteous indignation at a president and his political party. What We The People — and the Democrats — are responding to is an assault on our whole way of governing ourselves. Our reaction to this political assault on our system isn’t itself “political”. It’s a reaction to wrong-doing, immorality and outright criminal behavior.
The victim saying “Ouch!” or “Hey, stop victimizing me” isn’t being political. They’re being “a victim” — and not by their choice either. That’s how you can tell it ISN’T politics. Are the Democrats reacting to violations of the law that harm not only themselves but America?
Not A Revelation — The story we’re all living through (the extended Republican-Russian coup d’etat dressed up as a bad reality series) is light years beyond what our befuddled Main Stream News Media can handle. “Both Sides Do It” journalism has so distorted their perspective that they don’t see the threat to their own existence staring them in the face. In theory, members of the press have a Constitutional mandate to be the final check on power in our system of government.
In practice, the American press are too obsessed with getting access to be a check on anything. The ghost of Judith Miller (the New York Times reporter who carried water for Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby back when Libby was put on trial for outing CIA officers) still haunts American journalism. Miller sacrificed her journalistic integrity in order to secure access within the Bush-Cheney White House. She lost all perspective and became Dick Cheney’s mouthpiece/apologist instead of a professional reporter, sacrificing the story itself in the process.
Judith Miller insisted that it wasn’t her job to judge the illegal behavior her access gave her access to. She worried that reporting it too quickly (or reporting it at all) would compromise her access to Dick Cheney. So, she compromised her integrity instead. She chose not to report that Cheney had outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent (compromising every agent she was handling) to pay her husband (Ambassador Joe Wilson) back for contradicting BushCo’s bullshit claims that Saddam Hussein was arming himself with nuclear weapons.
Republicans have no use for the Rule Of Law — because they’re criminals and the Rule Of Law cramps their style. It’s not like they’re subtle about their disdain.
It’s the American News Media’s disdain for the Rule Of Law that confounds. What did the Rule Of Law ever do to journalists to warrant it? As citizens — better informed than most — you’d think journalists would be leading the charge against Trumpian assaults on the Rule Of Law — and journalism. But American journalists are either deeply cynical or emotionally inert.
They’re among Trump’s most consistently enabling enablers. When Trump says things that clearly violate the Rule Of Law, people to whom following it is important run instantly to its defense. “Hey,” they might say in protest, “What you’re doing is violating/looks like it’s violating The Rule Of Law!” Instead, most journalist seem befuddled — as if it’s possible the Republicans could be violating the Rule Of Law — and if they are, what of it?
The Constitution obligates journalists to DO something when power over-reaches. Rolling over isn’t one of them. Neither is shrugging it off.
No one makes anyone BE a journalist. You’d think a dedication to the truth would be every journalist’s calling. And while most journalists can certainly pay lip service to “just wanting the facts”, they need to DO SOMETHING with those facts other than “report them”. If the facts say (if they even suggest) that someone has violated the public trust — never mind the law — that alone should set off every journalist’s alarm bells.
The Rule of Law is an artificial construct. We made it up. It only works though when we follow it. The rules of journalism — we made those up too. They’re flexible — so long as the truth is being served. Journalists play at neutrality but no one is truly neutral. That’s not a flaw. It’s a fact of life — one that journalists should acknowledge rather than deny.
When journalists (like NBC’s White House reporter Kelly O’Donnell) insist on giving every info-bite they report equal weight — regardless of whether it’s true or bullshit — they destroy the audience’s ability to discern the truth — because Kelly O can’t seem to tell herself what’s true and what’s bullshit. To her, if words tumble from Trump’s bloated orange lie-hole, they must be true because the president said them.
The fact that the words Kelly repeats aren’t true — that doesn’t matter to Kelly O. In that instance, clearly, the truth is secondary to Kelly O. She refuses to get involved with what is or what isn’t true. The president said it — that’s all that matters to Kelly O.
And if the president violates the Rule Of Law — well, that’s not Kelly O’s problem either. What’s The Rule of Law to Kelly O but an abstraction she wants no part of anyway? Every time Trump violates the Rule Of Law — or the Constitution — or even common decency — it’s no different than if he had done something normal to Kelly O. Or every reporter like her.
The greatest damage Trump has inflicted on us is the demonstration of how fragile our Democracy really is. Even worse, our ability to agree upon a mutual truth has probably been destroyed forever. The way back — if we can get back — will be through The Rule Of Law. Following it. Respecting it. Nurturing it.
You’re hot. You think: open the window — that will solve my problem. But your house is on fire. Opening the window will solve nothing.
That’s OUR problem. Our house is on fire — the Republican Party is trying to burn it down. And, while the Democrats are desperately trying to put the fire out, the Main Stream News Media either chases the arsonist like he was a cartoon action figure — oblivious of his Russian friend and the can of gasoline HE’S carrying — or they worry about whether or not Democrats are just doing this because they hate Donald Trump. In other words, “because of politics”.
“Both Sides Do It” brand journalism IS part of our problem because, by its nature, it always points at the wrong problem. It sees vague corruption instead of the corruption at hand. The corruption at hand is just “how it is” because “both sides do it” even though it flat out isn’t so: both sides do NOT do it.
Both sides don’t because both sides aren’t the same. If you can’t see that simple, empirical fact, then not only can’t you see the problem, you are a big part OF the problem.
When “news broadcasters” get on their “news broadcasts” and report things Trump does or says and then turn to the “news analysts” on set and ask that lazy-assed question “What do YOU make of…?”, what almost always comes back is something that REFUSES to look at the most obvious (though admittedly horrible explanation) — that Donald Trump is a traitor actively betraying every single American in real time.
That answers the question “Why does Trump kowtow to Vladimir Putin?” Find a fact that contradicts it — and good luck with that.
The solution to our problem is Donald Trump gets frog marched out of the White House in irons today. Everyone in Trump’s cabinet gets the same treatment. Ditto every Republican leader in Congress. In fact, until we (in the words of Donald Trump) “figure out what’s going on here”, we should put every Republican member of Congress under “house” arrest until we can accurately assess where their loyalties REALLY lie.
Mind you, all that’s only IF we want to SOLVE our problem.
We won’t do anything of the kind, I bet — and we’ll pay the price.
There ARE voices in the media who DO see the problem and SEE the very hard, very unpleasant but very real solutions demanded. Malcolm Nance just nailed it on a very good AM Joy segment on MSNBC. This does come down to loyalty — to us or to Russia. There’s no middle ground.
And it absolutely is NOT political. It’s moral. It’s human. It’s American. At its core, this whole crisis comes down to a very real question: who are we?
The answer is — A diverse nation struggling to answer and very high ideal. Before we can be that thing however, we need to dispense with the group of people who convinced all the rest of us that THEY were the keeper of that very high ideal. Turns out THEY were full of shit.
Our problem is racism. Our problem is misogyny. Our problem is bigotry. Our problem is religious intolerance — not “of” religious people but BY religious people. Our problem is one segment of America — its shrinking white base — seeing that it’s hold on American Culture and American politics was over and then doing something immoral and illegal to stop from losing their hold.
Our problem isn’t “politics”, it’s one side USING politics for its own ends against not just “the other side” but everyone else. THAT’S our problem.
The Right Wing money (the Kochs, the Mercers etc) made an unholy alliance with Russia (and Saudi Arabia). In the case of the Mercers, they even worked hand in glove with the very people attacking the election — Russian intelligence. No one on that side of the equation ever asked themselves “But, is this good for America?” If they did, by “America”, they meant “me”.
The way most of our news media reports the story we’re all living in frustrates the crap out of anyone with an ounce of perspective. There’s plenty of very good reporting — but good reporting without context can become mediocre reporting or even bad reporting. It’s awesome so many journalists are boring into the Trump-Ukraine story in such detail. But if you don’t see either its connections to the Trump-Russia story or you DO see it but fear reporting it is too complicated, then you’ve made yourself part of the problem.
You’ve under-reported the core fact that we WILL eventually get to BECAUSE it’s the core fact: ALL ROADS LEAD TO PUTIN exactly as Nancy Pelosi said. That’s not hyperbolic. It’s a stone cold fact.
We’re living through an active CYBER WAR directed against us. That’s a fact. It’s also a fact that we’re not telling ourselves that we’re under attack in a cyber war. Or, rather, it’s a fact that our news media isn’t REPORTING that fact to its audience. If you don’t report the right story, the audience never realizes its actual problem and they worry about one thing while the other guts them.
The answer is both simple and complex. Pull back the camera as far as you possibly can. Get to the core WHY. “WHY” is this happening? WHO is it most benefiting? Where’s all the MONEY going? Who gets to keep POWER?
The answer also relies on action — on those suddenly woke to DO something about their wokeness. That includes the news media. They’ve confused “neutrality” and “just the facts” with total disconnection. Incorrect. All facts have weight. They don’t all have the same weight. More importantly, lies are NOT facts and should not be treated like facts. When you treat bullshit like facts, you immediately corrupt the “fact pool”. You leave a giant turd floating in it.
Fishing out the turd will solve one problem. It will not solve THE problem you created because now the pool has to be drained. If you don’t, you’ll be left wondering why everyone who swims gets sick. The answer? Because you never solved THE PROBLEM.
By the time Adam Schiff gavelled the House Intel Committee’s business closed yesterday, the case he and the Democrats were making was well past being made. Never mind what any Republican says about acts being bad (maybe) but still not impeachable. Divorced from politics, the information we’ve learned during the past two weeks — much of it from career diplomats wth no political axes to grind — paints one picture and one picture only: Donald Trump isn’t just unworthy of the office of President Of The United States, he’s a goddamned criminal to boot.
When the talking heads and pundits finally got to have their say, they first had to get past their own amazement at what they’d seen to get to their assessments. As amazed at they were at the picture of Trumpian malfeasance being painted, they were equally amazed by the Republicans’ questions and questioning of the witnesses.
Now, c’mon — watching Devin Nunes throw ludicrous charges around at people — as his defense of Trump tells a story if only we’d listen to it. If we pull back the camera just a scosh (the news media understands that technical term), we see Devin obstructing justice every second of every day. Seems kinda basic to ask “WHY?” No one — not even Devin — does anything for no reason.
And, while Devin’s devotion to Trump seems a little extreme, even THAT demands explanation. Under oath.
Out here in reality, that sort of behavior speaks volumes. That behavior is being practiced by every Republican — irrational denial of the undeniably true. It’s not tribalism at work. At its core, it’s not political either (though a political bent does contribute to it). It’s criminal. It’s a willful intent to not just violate The Rule Of Law but to undermine the integrity of the Constitution.
What our MSM can’t wrap their heads around is the insidiousness of what happened — how we got here. They love a good “smoking gun” because it requires the least amount of explanation. All they have to do is point at it and imagine the Pulitzer on their mantle. But what Vladimir Putin launched against us — and it was very much part of a concerted plan against us — is all based in intelligence active measures. It’s equally happy with chaos as a solid, identifiable result — say, a traitor in the White House.
Disinformation, misinformation and propaganda rely on the press to spread them. While it’s easy to get a provocative lie to motivate a crowd to action, if you can get the news media to broadcast the lie for you? Not only does it get a far bigger crowd riled up, it legitimizes your lie because the NEWS MEDIA was spewing it. That’s the secret to Donald Trump’s media success. Even now — today — 13,000 known lies into his presidency — and the NEWS MEDIA still quotes Trump as if his words WEREN’T outright lies.
Just because your hair’s on fire as you report the lie, you’re still a journalist speaking the words — without saying THEY’RE why your hair’s on fire. It creates confusion not because the audience is stupid but because YOU are using the language of the media (sounds & images) incorrectly. You’ve placed your camera too close to the subject so that vital information is happening outside the frame.
To put it simpler, MSM — you’re missing the story. While it’s a stone cold relief that you finally see Russia prominently here, you still don’t see Russia prominently enough. That’s because you’re still grappling with Trump’s relationship with Russia; though you see a relationship, you don’t see the depths of the relationship. You don’t see the HEART of the relationship. They WHY there even is a relationship and who controls the relationship accordingly.
Strange behavior doesn’t just happen. And definitely not en masse. Republican intransigence in the face of incontrovertible evidence of criminality can’t be explained by mere tribalism. Make no mistake — with Republicans (feeling cornered and increasingly isolated in the culture), this goes far beyond groupthink to groupcriminality.
It’s not a coincidence that virtually every silly Republican defense of what Trump does and has done sounds like mob underlings covering for Da Boss. After three years of this bullshit, some of out here in the Public Courtroom get it. This jury member doesn’t need to see more proof (though I’m always happy to get it). The Big Picture is clear. The dots connect clearly, the picture they make unmistakable.
But, as we know, our Main Stream News Media likes to have EVERY dot connected before they commit. If there’s a smidgen of room to give any benefit of any doubt — they want to give it, no matter how ludicrous.
The Republicans are licking their lips because they think they can kill not just impeachment dead in the Senate, but all resistance to their minority rule coup d’etat. They expect it all to go away even though the Republicans in the Senate will have shrugged off staggering evidence of not just criminality but outright treason. Mitch McConnell and the GOP actually believe that they’ll just sail through another campaign season, slightly bruised but ready to set sail into full on RW authoritarianism.
They don’t expect We The People to do anything. Oh, they expect us to come out and vote — in massive numbers. But, as we speak, Moscow Mitch is expecting the same help from Moscow in 2020 that he KNEW the Republicans got in 2016. Remember — it was Mitch McConnell who refused to let President Obama tell We The People that our IC knew for a fact that Russia was actively trying to impact the election on Trump’s behalf.
And, to this day, Mitch McConnell has done zilch to protect our electoral systems. There are no coincidences.
Mitch McConnell is a traitor who’s about to lead the defense of a CO-CONSPIRATOR with the fate of the Republic hanging in the balance.
That’s what’s really happening here. That’s what a “news media” should be reporting. But, to do that, they’d need perspective. They’d have to see the Republicans for what they are and — here’s the hard part — call them out for what they are. Criminals…