Giving Liars The Benefit Of The Doubt Isn’t “Journalism”, It’s Just “Stupid”

This shouldn’t be rocket science (yet it is to our MSM): giving a liar the benefit of the doubt tells the liar his lies are working. 

For some reason – perhaps because their Normalization Blinders are bolted on too tightly again – our MSM persists in repeating Donald Trump’s words as if they COULD be true.  Do they figure that “just because” those words flowed from the bloated orange gob of the shit-gibbon currently occupying the White House that there’s the remote chance they could be true?  I guess that “could” be possible – but considering the Washington Post has counted over 12,000 lies so far – it makes giving a liar that obvious the benefit of the doubt look… the word “stupid” shoves its way to the front of the line like Donald Trump at a meeting of world leaders.

And yet, there are STILL “journalists” convinced that at any second Donald Trump will “pivot” and become “presidential”.

The ache for normalcy is that strong.

The problem is, giving known liars and criminals any benefit of any doubt 1) encourages them to keep doing what they’re doing and 2) it normalizes their lies, making it (as so many in the MSM still report “different” rather than, say corrupt or dishonest or lying. 

Asking “But, what if…” may seem like a fair and balanced question if not for the context. Context is everything.  “But what if the Big, Bad Wolf decides he’s not hungry enough to eat Red Riding Hood right this second, (having already chowed down on Grandma)?”

“But, what if Hitler only said he hated Jews?”

“But, what if Donald Trump isn’t a traitor?”

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If I Were “Benevolent Dictator”, Here’s How It Would Be…

No one sees it coming, least of all me. Just like that — political leaders across the world & spectrum get the fates they deserve. The World’s eyes (getting REALLY desperate) turn to me of all people.

“Dude,” the World says, “We’re totally screwed. The ball’s yours if you want. Got anything?”

“Okay,” I say after a long, thoughtful beat. Here’s the deal I want:

  1. My job title: “Benevolent Dictator”. It’s not up for discussion. Now here’s the thing — no one has to call me this. In fact, I’d rather they didn’t. It’s a little OTT. I just need the World to understand that, until my work is finished, that’s who & what I am.
  2. My pay — zero. It ain’t about the money. If I do MY job correctly, money will land in my pocket through a thousand different streams (all of them 100% legit).
  3. What I Want — The End of CRONY CAPITALISM. That’s another non-negotiable point. We need to rethink almost everything about our culture. More exactly, we need to start SEEING our culture for what it is, for what it must be and for what it can never be again. Money is not our problem, GREED is. Greed undermines capitalism more than an army of communists and socialists. Take THAT to the bank.
  4. What I Want (continued) — A return to HUMAN DECENCY as the basis for how we view one another — and more importantly how we treat one another. For starters, we bury the ludicrous notion that America is “a Christian country”. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution are larded with Humanist thought born of the French Enlightenment. There’s far more Jean-Jacques Rousseau in our foundational docs than there is Jeremiah. To that end, we recognize religious texts as literature, not history and definitely not a basis for morality. We have science to cover the “nuts & bolts” of how we got here and CRITICAL THINKING to cover the rest.
  5. What I Want (Continued) — We put every fact we have about Donald Trump & the Republican Party on the table. We admit to ourselves what the Republican Party tried to do to us — install permanent minority rule; even though they hated Donald Trump, they cynically hitched their shit-wagon to him despite knowing he was bought & paid for by Russia — because THEY, too, were bought & paid for by Russia. And Saudi Arabia & the UAE & Israel (and who the hell knows who else).
  6. What I Want (Continued One Last Time) — We retrain our news media as far away from Both Sides Do It journalism as possible. We make selling False Equivalences career suicide. We return critical thinking & especially PERSPECTIVE to all journalism school curriculum.
  7. What I REALLY Want — As quickly as I can, I will remove as many men as possible from positions of power. Those that remain will have to demonstrate that they really do know how to play well with others. That means no unilateral “I alone can fix it” toxic male thinking. Deal breaker. I insist that we hand as much governmental power as they want over to women (African American women especially — if not for them, this Democratic Republic would have been toast years ago). I’m not saying women are perfect — though, as Benevolent Dictator I could — I’m just saying they cannot possibly do worse than men. And to make sure men don’t ruin what women try to do with their unhelpful suggestions — I want to give women the purest shot we can. Once women are ready to rock ‘n roll? I’m handing over the reins of power.

That’s my deal. I’m ready to sign — and get to work — whenever YOU are, World…

America’s News Media Failed America The Same Way Their Imaginations Failed Them

Failure of imagination is a very real thing.  We’re living in its shadow so it must be real.

Remember the fable about the ant and the grasshopper?  The Grasshopper’s happy because there’s food aplenty right now so why not hang out?  Why work like the Ant is — gathering food for the winter?  The Grasshopper’s problem isn’t laziness.  When he needs to eat, he’ll go eat.

His problem is he can’t imagine that there’ll be a tomorrow — and tomorrow, he might NOT have all the food he has now.  The Ant almost can’t deal with what “is” he’s so obsessed with what might be or could be his future.

When the talking heads on pretty much any American cable news show start yammering away at each other — wondering why, say, Donald Trump has such a beta dog relationship with Vlad Putin — they’ll entertain the possibility that they don’t know why it is.  They’ll also entertain the possibility that it’s completely innocent — so they’ll give him the benefit of the doubt.

But there’s a third very distinct possibility in the mix that keeps getting short shrift or NO shrift:  Trump kowtows relentlessly to Vladimir Putin because Putin owns him outright.  Though Lawrence O’Donnell was forced to retract his single-sourced story last night that Trump hides his tax returns to hide the fact that Russian oligarchs co-signed his Deutsche Bank loans — it was too soon to report it (that’s what we’ll have to live with until it’s fully proven) — no one is saying or thinking “Gosh, I wonder if that means the whole story is screwed up!” 

When Fusion GPS’s Glenn Simpson testified before Congress (remember when the GOP was trying to undermine every bit of the Steele Dossier’s integrity?), he described how Fusion, upon being hired to do the oppo research on Donald Trump (hired, remember by the conservative Washington Free Beacon, Jeb Bush supporters), they first did their due diligence.  They got ahold of everything they could that even just mentioned Donald Trump in passing.  They got & read every magazine article, newspaper article, saw or listened to every radio and TV interview.  To find that material, Fusion did what any ONE of us could do all by ourselves — they bought, rented, borrowed from the library.

What Fusion found, doing its due diligence, convinced them that Trump had been mixed up with Russian mobsters for years.  And, being good journalists by training, Fusion grokked that if Trump was messing with Russian mobsters, he was likely dirty as hell.

So, Glenn Simpson testified, they hired Chris Steele to do the deep dive because no one had the Russian bona fides that Chris Steele had — he was the Russia desk at MI6.  Steele’s integrity as an investigator was well known to American investigators including the FBI.  The FBI had hired Steele when they after FIFA’s Sepp Blatter for corruption.  They knew Steele was a pro. Everyone did.

That America’s news media still can’t handle the Steele Dossier — most don’t get how different the intelligence world is from the “real” world.  The idea of “raw intel” freaks them out because it’s so grey and their world is so black and white.  Intelligence analysis requires Big Picture thinking.  You have to see what’s there knowing a whole lot of the picture is missing.  You’ll never “see it” but you’ll need to know what it probably is; you’ll have to IMAGINE IT.

That’s the leap most American journalists can’t seem to make.  Maybe their Normalcy Bias Blinders are bolted on too tightly. 

More likely they simply lack the imagination to think of it — until it’s already happened or happening.  Then, what a coincidence, it’s the most natural thing in the world to them.

Our news media’s lack of imagination (best expressed by the question “What do YOU make of this?”) has metastasized into an outright cancer.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump’s a liar — our news media still faithfully report every word he says without prefacing it with “This is probably a lie but the POTUS said it so we’re telling YOU what he said”.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump’s a racist — yet our News Media still asks if Trump is a racist; they’ll even report him insisting he’s the least racist human on the planet with a straight face. 

The preponderance of the evidence says Trump’s a rapist and a thief and a fraud.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump owes Vlad Putin big.  The preponderance of the evidence says Trump and his whole corrupt family are traitors.

We will get there — to the Big Reveals.  One way or another, we’ll get there.  And each time, huge swaths of our News Media will be shocked to their socks by the revelations.  They shouldn’t be shocked.

They wouldn’t be.

If they had any imagination.

Why Our News Media Sucks — Steve Kornacki Edition

I consume a lot of news — not so much for the news as because the storyteller in me hates watching the story of all our lifetimes get fumbled so completely by America’s Main Stream News Media. As I’ve blogged here, American journalism is infected with a number of diseases, “Both Sides Do It-ism” being the most pernicious. We live inside a false narrative that Donald Trump is a legitimate POTUS because our MSM keeps that fallacy alive.

Our problem isn’t so much Donald Trump being an asset of Russian intelligence — which he absolutely is; it isn’t a question — our problem is that the whole Republican Party is also a Russian asset — being fully bought & paid for both with cash & secrets kept. And, our other problem — the Fourth Estate, charged with being the final check on power has failed us miserably whether through failure of imagination or utter lack of journalistic talent. Or, the other possibility — they never had an ounce of integrity to begin with.

Look — I’ve made TV shows & feature films. I’ve auditioned and hired hundreds of actors. Whenever I can, I like to read with actors myself (giving them more to work with than our casting directors might do). Reporters are no different from actors. They’re just actors who’ve learned how to share a microphone because how they “act” can impact how an interview turns out or how they report a story. Trust me — they’re actors reading from a script, most of them. Which brings us to Steve Kornacki…

I’m sure Steve’s a lovely guy to work with. He seems upbeat, like he’d be a fun hang. But that ain’t what we’re here to talk about.

Most of the time, Steve works the numbers. His co-workers always seem amazed by the fact that Steve has all these numbers at his fingertips but Steve’s not compiling those numbers, he’s just reporting them — then adding a gloss of “analysis”. Steve’s great at pointing at the numbers. They seem to excite him like nothing else. And he can bore in deep on just about any number in front of him. But for all Steve can tell us about a grain of sand, what is made of, he can’t tell you where that grain of sand is. He has no idea whether it sits on a desert island or in the middle of the Sahara Desert.

Like a lot of numbers guys, Steve has no perspective about the numbers beyond the numbers themselves. That stunning lack of perspective is what makes Steve Kornacki so ordinary. He’s like a lot of modern American journalists.

The problem is this — Why can’t (why won’t) the Steve Kornacki’s report the Trump Russia story faithfully? Why do they insist on normalizing behaviors that should never have been normalized under any circumstances? Our MSM acts like they’ve only just stumbled over Donald Trump’s racism. Um, no, folks — Trump’s been racist since he dropped from Mary Trump’s rancid womb.

What does it take for a person in America’s Main Stream News Media — Steve, for instance — to accept facts as facts? Why would a reporter — Steve, for instance — make statements that reveal either 1) he hasn’t read the full Mueller Report or 2) he read it but was too stupid to understand it and too much of a male to ask questions? I offer this video as proof.

Here, Steve mixes it up with the always excellent Zerlina Maxwell. Steve literally leans in — the nice guy gets offended at being contradicted even though Zerlina brings nothing but receipts. Steve leaps in to inisist that the Mueller Report exonerates Trump of collusion — though (if ya read), that’s not even remotely what it says. Zerlina points out — she’s not voicing an OPINION about Trump’s complicity in stealing an election, she’s talking facts, evidence & a raft of serious-as-a-heart-attack accusations.

What, Steve Kornacki, is so hard about doing your damned job?

The American Museum Of MSM Mediocrity Is Open For Business… Care For A Tour?

The bad news: America’s news media has not lived up to its Constitutional obligation to be the final check on power. But, on the bright side, there’s now a brand-spanking-new museum to highlight every bit of their crushing failure: Welcome to the new AMERICAN MUSEUM OF MSM MEDIOCRITY.

Now, meet your tour guide — the “HEWITT-BOT 2000”

HEWITT-BOT 2000: Hello, human. I am Hewitt-Bot 2000. I am a reasonable facsimile of Hugh Hewitt — a man whose continuing appearances on Main Stream Media outlets defies all rational explanation.

We are pleased to have you here with us today to celebrate all the extraordinary mediocrity in American News Media. First, please follow me into our Entrance Hall — where you’ll find our “SALUTE TO SALIERI, PATRON SAINT OF MEDIOCRITY”…

We hope you appreciate how important mainstream news media mediocrity is to us here. Actually, our other Patron Saint — CHUCK TODD — was supposed to be here to greet you today but he overslept.

First let’s enter the HALL OF FALSE EQUIVALENCE.

Here in the Hall Of False Equivalence, we equate things that have no business being equated. Over on the far wall is the “EVERYTHING WEIGHS THE SAME” exhibit…

Here at the Museum of MSM Mediocrity, we believe that every piece of information, no matter what, weighs exactly the same as every other piece of information. Think of it this way…

A giant barbell and a tiny feather may not look like they weigh the same — but they do if we say they do! They both have weight, don’t they? Boom — THEY’RE THE SAME!

These Things Weigh The Same…

Still not getting it? How about this… We all know Bernie Madoff is a thief.

He stole BILLIONS of dollars and ruined people. He’s a criminal! But, hey — so is JEAN VALJEAN, the hero of Victor Hugo’s “LES MISERABLES” Jean stole bread to feed the hungry…

But, here at the Museum of MSM Mediocrity, we say “A thief is a thief is a thief”. And voila! Another FALSE EQUIVALENCE is born! Steal a billion or feed the hungry — it’s all thievery as far as we’re concerned!

Now, follow me into the next hall where THE HUGH HEWITT SHRINE awaits…

People ask me all the time — “Hewitt-Bot 2000, how can someone as intensely mediocre as Hugh Hewitt keep getting air time on all these major news outlets?” And we always tell them — “Why do you think? Hugh has naked pictures of everyone!”

TO BE CONTINUED…

There’s A Difference Between Storytellers & “Storytellees”; That Difference Is Why American News Media SUCKS…

First things first. Journalists are storytellers. News is a story about what’s happening (theoretically out here in reality) right here, right now. As news anchors all over the world put it as they start yakking — “Here’s what’s happening now“.

Then they proceed to tell you the story.

Except way too many journalists are piss-poor at telling stories. Well… let me be fair — I don’t know how good or bad they are at telling stories in general; what I know is they’re piss poor at telling the “Donald Trump Is A Traitor” story. They don’t know how to approach it, let alone “tell” it.

It seems odd, doesn’t it, that professional storytellers would be so incapacitated by the greatest story they’ll ever get to tell? It starts with their forgetting that THEY’RE storytellers to begin with — albeit storytellers reliant on their sources. But how storytellers approach a source is different than how a storytellee approaches a source. Storytellees don’t have sources.

Let me go a little deeper. When I set out to write a story, I need as much control over as much of the story I can get — so I can FRAME IT the way I want to. I want to frame the story one way vs another because facts are not generic. In and of themselves, facts are independent things. String a bunch of facts together, connect the dots in other words, and those facts paint a picture. Or they present a mosaic-like image, if you prefer.

A storyteller — in composing that mosaic — needs to make choices. Some facts belong and others either don’t belong (they’re not relevant to THIS mosaic) or they aren’t facts. They’re bullshit or too unsubstantiated to have value — so, therefore, don’t make the cut. A storyteller needs to have this sorting process at work constantly in their minds — especially as they’re doing their research. They need to be hyper-critical.

Storytellees, by comparison, are there to soak it all in. Unless a fact or detail strays too far outside their own experiences of life and people, they’re happy to accept it as part of the storytelling. They’re there to listen (critically, one hopes), not story-tell.

Something bizarre happens however when Storytellers fail to act like storytellers and act like storytellees instead. Because they’ve turned their critical faculties off (aside from that last fail-safe one when a story’s details fail to pass any smell test whatsoever), they miss essential details any storyteller relies on. They lose perspective — and therefore any ability to successfully tell that story. You cannot accurately describe what you cannot actually see (one way or another).

The perfect example of the storyteller turned storytellee is NBC’s reporter Kelly O’Donnell. I’m sure Kelly’s a lovely person. That’s not the question. She’s far too credulous — like a storytellee. Watch virtually any Kelly O’Donnell stand-up and, aside from her professional demeanor, all she’s ever doing is repeating back what “her sources” told her.

I bet Kelly’s sources go to her as often as Kelly goes to them. That would mean (if I’m right) that Kelly’s sources are using her as much as Kelly’s “using them”. What Kelly doesn’t get though about this set-up: Kelly’s purpose is “information transmission”, her source’s purpose is “message control”. Without that context, Kelly’s information SOUNDS neutral (Kelly’s intent) while not actually being neutral at all — it’s one-sided. But Kelly has failed to report that fact.

WHY?

In Kelly’s defense (and — bending over backwards to be fair here — it applies to a whole bunch of other reporters across multiple news networks) Kelly has lost sight of how her sources are using her; she’s been too busy patting herself on the back for having sources to begin with. To get those sources, Kelly agreed to put whatever critical faculties she has on hold. She’s agreed to not question their veracity or motives. She’s agreed to not question their information — regardless of how true, false or politically motivated it is.

Kelly has followed the Judith Miller Paradigm to a “T”.

Quick digression — Judith Miller:

Judith Miller worked in The New York Times‘ Washington bureau before joining Fox News in 2008. While at the Times, she gained notoriety for her coverage of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program both before and after the 2003 invasion, which was later discovered to have been based on inaccurate information from the intelligence community. The New York Times determined that several stories she wrote about Iraq were inaccurate, and she was forced to resign from the paper in 2005.

Miller herself refused to accept any responsibility. Her defense: It wasn’t her responsibility to “critique” the information she was passing between her “inside sources” and the American public, it was her responsibility to just “pass it along” all steno pool like. Miller’s “lackadaisical” approach to journalistic integrity killed her reputation deader than dead. She’s now a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute For Public Policy — carrying water for them full time. At least Judith finally is plying her trade on the up-and-up.

Miller’s willingness to trade access to Dick Cheney for her integrity had an even consequence. Miller actively took part in Dick Cheney & Scooter Libby’s deliberate outing of Valerie Plame as CIA. Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal that her source in the Plame Affair was Scooter Libby.  The fact that Libby was doing something stunningly illegal — its political motivation crayoned all over its giant sleeve — was, apparently, irrelevant to Miller.

It wasn’t her “responsibility”, I guess, to tell THE TRUTH. It was her “responsibility” to tell Dick Cheney & Scooter Libby’s “truth” regardless of how untruthful it was.

The process of Judith Miller-ing news gathering — of sacrificing integrity for access is the crux of the problem. It’s what causes storytellers to become storytellees instead. The moment they go critical-faculty-free for access, they put their storytelling into a near-permanent cocoon-like stasis.

If not for the fact that journalism is the only job mentioned in the Constitution — it’s obligated to be the final check on political power — none of this would matter. But journalism IS mentioned in the Constitution and it IS purposed with this very high mission. If you don’t want to do the mission, what the hell are you doing in journalism? If you don’t want to be an actual storyteller, please — let us know now. Our future depends on it.

Let’s Prepare For The Disappointment Now: At The End Of The Day, The Press WILL Let Us Down

Now, I don’t mean EVERYONE in the Main Stream Media. But ALMOST everyone. We shouldn’t be here — at the precipice of our Republic going down the toilet because of Republic-ans.

If we don’t pull this back from the brink and an honest history of our times never gets written, the story will never be told of how a foolish notion — that “both sides do it” — was the basis for the complete and utter failure of the American Press to uphold their Constitutionally mandated duty to be the final check on power. We need to know where this ludicrous need for false equivalence comes from. That’s what “both sides do it” is — it’s the Mother Of All False Equivalences.

It’s like saying Bernie Madoff is a thief — he’s a rich guy who stole from other rich guys. Jean Valjean (fictional though he is) stole bread because people were hungry and needed it. Poor guy. See? Both rich guys AND poor guys BOTH “steal”. Both sides do it.

Never mind proportion or perspective. Both sides do it.

This ludicrous idea has sailed past abstraction and now sits like a giant dodo bird atop American journalism — holding it down while death circles overhead like crows in a Boschian hellscape. Sight unseen it gives every piece of information (true or untrue) equal weight. A lie by Donald Trump has equal weight to the truth spoken by someone else. They’re both the same. The primo example of how this works and looks — any time there’s a conversation about climate change — and a denier is given either equal time or an equal screen.

Images have a vocabulary. Video has a vocabulary. Two images presented side-by-side in a 50-50 setting are understood to be absolute equals. It might not be what the broadcaster intends but that’s how our brains perceive it. And the name of the game isn’t what you meant, it’s how you were perceived. That’s why schmucks like Donald Trump can shrug off their horribleness as “just a joke!” Suddenly it’s on us for not getting it. For not perceiving what wasn’t a joke as a joke.

We desperately need our press — all of it, every last bit — to see the picture in front of them for what it is. We need them to stop giving the benefit of the doubt to thieves and criminals who are using that very benefit to undermine the press’s ability to ever report The Truth accurately again. We need the press to unbolt the normalcy bias blinders from its eyes and recognize how much THEY THEMSELVES have normalized both unacceptable and downright criminal behaviors. Because actual crime has been committed in their faces — in front of their cameras even — it can’t be a crime: that seems to be their take. They’re wrong about that. Completely and utterly wrong.

And they can’t see it.

As they say in French: “Voila le probleme!”

That won’t end well — for us or for them. Both sides don’t do it. If they did, they’re not doing it now — and that’s more important than anything. However American News Media acquires perspective, they need to get it Amazon Primed to them right bloody now.

We can’t afford for them to let us down.