Why Do Journalists Think Americans Can’t Do Two Things At Once?

I don’t know about you, but my life’s complicated. My days are complicated – usually because I have more than one thing to do.  Being an adult with a little life experience under my belt, I’ve learned how to multi-task on a macro level.  For instance: I can earn a living AND raise a family – both at the same time!

The way our MSM seems to think of us, we can only focus on one of those two things.  Either we’re going to worry about getting and keeping a job or we’re going to worry about having kids and getting them into adulthood in one piece without killing them. Good thing we’re all equipped to do both.

Are journalists incapable of doing two things at once?  That’s the impression they give when, Chicken Little-like, they run around squawking that the Democrats can’t impeach Trump for high crimes, misdemeanors, extreme corruption & treason while also governing.  If those journalists would put down their smart phones for two seconds and looked at the world, they’d SEE Democrats passing legislation (that Grim Reaper Mitch McTreason proudly kills) while also actively investigating the most corrupt POTUS in the Republic’s history.

Frankly, I wonder sometimes if most journalists can even do ONE thing at a time (that one thing being JOURNALISM).  That Donald Trump is corrupt and a criminal with deep ties to Russian mobsters should not be a surprise.  In fact, THAT should have been our collective starting place for Trumpism – it is nothing but a criminal enterprise, a mom n pop money laundering shop..

When the Republicans first tried to undermine the integrity of the Steele Dossier, they hauled Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017, Simpson testified about Fusion’s process.  Fusion was hired initially by the Washington Free Beacon, a right wing publication whose owners were Jeb Bush fans to do oppo research on Trump.

Simpson explained how Fusion first did their due diligence.  They got their hands on every book, every magazine article or newspaper story, every TV show, every interview, every snippet of video with Donald Trump’s face in it and they read or watched it.  They got it from Amazon and used book stores and ebay and even the Public Library.  The picture of Trump that emerged from all this publicly available material convinced Simpson that Trump was a long-time criminal who’d used his Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money.

That, Simpson explained, was why they contracted out to Chris Steele, former head of MI6’s Russia Desk.  No one in the west knew anywhere near as much about Russia or had the network of connections that Steele had. 

Due diligence shouldn’t be seen as “extra credit” that journalists can take or leave.  Due diligence provides not only background but context.  Due diligence provides perspective.

Having perspective allows you to see a subject from multiple points of view – not as in “everyone has an opinion”, but as in seeing the WHOLE picture (or as much as one can), one can see much more clearly what is and what isn’t. 

That’s really the question.  WHY doesn’t our press have the necessary perspective to report the biggest story any of us will ever be part of? 

When we get to the post mortem part of the exercise, in addition to examining how the Republican party became this corrupt, we’ll need to inspect how and why our news media repeatedly normalized not only immoral behavior but outright CRIMINAL behavior.

We The People will have to do two things at once.  Imagine.

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Dear Stephanie Ruhl: FFS, Hon – Stop Giving Our Lying Scumbag POTUS The Benefit Of The Doubt!

Hey, Steph – sorry to call you out like this but today you said & something so egregious that it demanded comment.  Frankly, this applies to lots of your fellow journalists; they need to listen up, too.

You’re a talented financial journalist, Stephanie.  Your bona fides there are top notch.  But when you wade into politics, you lose your way.

You say things that betray a troubling lack of perspective.  You seem to believe that in politics “both sides do it”.  Oy.

In a discussion this morning on your air with Rick Stengel re the implications of Trump’s extortionate actions toward the Ukraine, you stopped Rick mid-sentence to ask: “But, wasn’t Trump elected to let Trump be Trump?”  Oy again.  Do you not see the inherent problems in that question – hell, do you not see the inherent problems in that way of THINKING?

First of all – it dives right into the false narrative that Trump is the legitimate president who was legitimately voted into office in a free and fair election completely untouched by Russian influences (or the influence of other countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel).  It ignores the whole context in which election 2016 took place – a context we now know was steeped in Russian money and propaganda all designed to make Donald Trump president despite what the American People wanted.

The Mueller Report was NOT the uber-document on Trumpian corruption and treason.  It’s scope was limited from the get-go – except for the counter-intelligence part of the investigation (which started the whole thing).  Even so, the Mueller Report doesn’t say there “was no proof” that the Trump campaign conspired with Russia regarding Wikileaks, it said there was insufficient proof to convict (a different benchmark entirely) but that the investigators could not complete their investigation because of all the Obstruction Of Justice.

The Report suggested that the Congress remove Trump from office via impeachment so that he could be prosecuted for all the crimes he’d clearly committed.  Remember all those other criminal matters that got spun off?  Some of them are still percolating – the ones, that is, that Bill Barr didn’t squash.

Bill Barr is another apparent blind spot for you, Steph’.  You report on activities that CLEARLY indicate profound corruption in every which way.  You even speak that word yourself.  And yet – each time Barr or anyone else in the Trump White House pushes further into uncharted corrupt waters, your first impulse – even as you point to its outrageousness – is to accept it as the new normal.

Why do you persist in doing that?  Oh, right… because both sides do it.

No, love, they don’t. 

You pointed out a few minutes later to Rick Stengle that most Americans don’t know everything Rick Stengle knows.  You allowed that when Trumps base (with whom you are obsessed) hear Trump get up at the United Nations and lie about how America is burdened by having to pay for the bulk of defending the Ukraine from Russia – they’re gonna think, “Yeah – I agree!”

And then you said this:  “How are they supposed to know the truth?”

FFS, Steph – that’s where YOU come in, don’t you get it?  That’s where YOU – as the Fourth Estate, charged in the Constitution with being the final check on power – are supposed to step forward SPEAKING TRUTH TO POWER]

You however insist on giving Power the Benefit Of The Doubt instead.  And therein lies your problem and consequently OUR problem.

Why would you give a liar the benefit of the doubt that he might not be lying this time?  Wouldn’t a more skeptical “journalistic” approach be to assume he might be lying – and demand he back up everything he says until he becomes trustworthy?

Would you, Stephanie, a talented financial journalist give the benefit of the doubt to a financial criminal who you see right through?  Would it not offend you – knowing the absolute truths you know – to give such a fraud “the benefit of the doubt” you KNOW he does not deserve?

Wouldn’t your time on air be better spent reporting on the evidentiary case against him?  What good can come of air time spent framing the story from a lying, corrupt point of view – as if it was valid?  That’s what giving the benefit of the doubt does – it validates because it asks “Okay, but what if this utter bullshit were true?”

It’s not true.  It was never true and never will be true.  It’s like taking flat earthers seriously.  But worse.

It is absurd that even as Donald Trump tries to commit the same crime in 2019 and 2020 that he committed in 2015 and 2016, the bulk of our press still doesn’t get it.  They see the far flung pieces of Trumpian corruption but refuse to connect the dots.

Please try to grasp this concept, Stephanie (it could, some day, make you as good a political reporter as you are a financial reporter): a crime committed right in your face is still a crime.

Stop giving it the benefit of the doubt. Please?

Thanks,

Signed: A Wanna-Be-Loyal Audience Member 

Dear MSM – Connecting Dots Isn’t Rocket Science – Except Apparently To YOU…

“Gosh. I wonder what it could be,” said the American Journalist…

Storytelling, at its core is simple dot-connecting. We start at the beginning and connect the dots all the way to the end – with lots of zigging and zagging in between.  The image that all those connected dots ultimately form – that’s our story. 

As the dots connect, they form the larger context for each of the dots.  They aren’t just dots floating in space.  They’re part of a much larger picture.  Dot Number 2 and Dot Number 50 are related if distantly.  They’re both part of the same context.

Journalists are storytellers first and foremost.  The difference (in theory) between them and regular joe’s who write blogs is “rigor”.  Journalists need to back up their stories with multiple sources.  Or one really, really good one.  The point of all that rigor is to make sure the dots connect correctly.

But too many American journalists bore so deeply into the one point they focused on that they forget that a larger context even exists.  Or they started connecting dots already infected by “Both Sides Do It”.  When that happens, perspective is impossible.  Then you get mavens of journalistic malpractice like NBC’s Chuck Todd.  Chuck is good at connecting dots.  Problem is, he connects dots that shouldn’t be connected because, though they’ll make a picture, it’s not a real picture. 

For example – Bernie Madoff is a thief.  He stole billions (from rich people).  Jean Valjean, the hero of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables is also a thief.  He steals bread to feed people who are hungry.  In Chuck Todd’s world, that means “both sides do it” because Bernie Madoff and Jean Valjean are both thieves.  Scale (perspective) never enters into it.  Chuck Todd regularly compares things of wildly different scale and insists they’re the exact same thing.

So – putting the Chuck Todd’s of the journalistic world aside, the rest of American Journalism needs to remind itself that a picture made up of connected dots remains a picture regardless of whether you stop looking at it.  When you turn from one part of the larger story to another – those dots don’t suddenly disconnect.  They STAY connected.  The story THEY tell remains valid and true.

Just because you go from a story about Donald Trump and his curious relationship with Vladimir Putin (and Putin’s “possible” impact on election 2016) to a story about Donald Trump trying to extort the Ukraine as part of his 2020 campaign strategy doesn’t mean the “Putin Cheats For 2016 Donald” dots aren’t related to the “Extort The Ukraine As Part Of The 2020” dots.  You have to bring all the connected dots with you from story to story – especially because you want to see if the dots from one story connect to any others.

The answer here is – YES!  All dots connect.  And all dots lead to Donald Trump being a Russian intelligence asset working against America’s interests and for his own interests and Russia’s. 

Today, the three Republicans trying to primary Trump all accused Trump of committing Treason.  They see clearly now how the dots all connect.

Dear American News Media: Never Mind What The Democrats Are Doing To Prep For Trump In 2020, What Are YOU Doing?

I’ll answer my own question (it’s why I asked): NADA.

The overwhelming bulk (the perfect word) of the American News Media is happily zooming down the same idiotic, Democracy-destroying path THIS election as they did in 2016. Despite whole mountain ranges of evidence, most of our MSM still refuses to accept an ounce of responsibility for their piss poor 2016 performance.

They still think Donald Trump is just a “different” kind of president.

On their talking head panels, the MSM Talking Heads worry themselves sick about how the Democratic nominee will handle Trump’s bully-in-the-schoolyard tactics. If I remember correctly, Hillary Clinton stood up to it. The MSM, on the other hand, not so much.

Trump’s campaign should have been over the instant “Mexicans are rapists” tumbled from his bloated, orange lie hole. How in hell’s name did Trump’s campaign survive that? It wasn’t because Mexicans accepted it — or Democrats. It was because the MSM accepted it. Donald Trump moved past it — and so did they. They stopped asking Trump about it which, to him, meant they’d accepted it as part of “the deal”. That was just who Trump was — a, you know, “different” sort of presidential candidate.

The correct answer remains: “No, he’s not a ‘different’ sort of presidential candidate (there’s no such thing), he’s a RACIST, BIGOTED kind of candidate”.

Since 2016, has the American press gotten better? No — they still ask out loud if Donald Trump is a racist. Like it’s a question.

It isn’t, of course. Which bring me to my next giant bone in need of picking — because it’s another way the press is repeating its past mistakes to our collective detriment. The nature of storytelling is simple. Every scene should add information. Each following scene then builds on the new information — and adds new information of its own. Voila! Storytelling!

The whole mechanism breaks down however when you don’t add the new information to the mix — you kinda toss it aside — and keep returning to Square One as if the new information never existed. It’s a bit like a flat earther seeing irrefutable proof that the world is round — and agreeing with it — then going back to the flat earth way of seeing things as if the proof never existed.

In point of fact, our Main Stream Media has been so damnably lazy about covering Trump, it’s enough to make one a conspiracy theorist. The Truth about who Donald Trump really is is not a mystery. When Glenn Simpson of Fusion GPS testified before Congress (one of the earlier hearings where the Republicans were trying to undermine the integrity of ‘The Steele Dossier’), he described Fusions process. Fusion had been hired first b6y the Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump. The Beacon’s owners liked them some Jeb Bush.

Step one, Simpson testified, due diligence. Fusion got its hands on every book, magazine article, radio interview, TV show — everything they could — finding it online, in book and video stores — even at the public library. All publicly available material. What Fusion found in that publicly available material that ANYONE (any member of the press could have found themselves) convinced them that Trump had been part of numerous criminal enterprises involving his Atlantic City casinos and the Russian mob.

That was why Fusion GPS hired Chris Steele, former head of the MI6’s Russia Desk. His deep background on Russia and Russians was unmatched.

Just wondering: Has anyone in the MSM done even the same due diligence since then?

Has the MSM fully embraced the idea that without Russia, Donald Trump wouldn’t be POTUS? If they haven’t they’re going to have a helluva time making sense of what Russia does in 2020.

To be honest, I don’t hold out much hope for the MSM. I’m not even sure their hearts are all in the right place. I know that with too many of them, their heads are right up their asses.

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?”

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.

Dear American Main Stream News Media: There’s A Difference Between “COMPLEX” & “COMPLICATED” — Trump-Russia Is Complex; It Is NOT Complicated…

Let’s try and make this simple. Love is complex but it should never be complicated because the act of loving, itself, is simple (regardless of how complicated some people make it). Same token — the Trump-Russia story. It’s staggeringly complex with a million moving parts and (by design) lots of layers to make connecting all the dots challenging if not impossible.

But the motivations underlying the Trump-Russia story are NOT complicated. It all comes down to GREED.

Nothing complicated about greed.

Vladimir Putin might just be the richest man in the world. That, apparently , is not good enough. He also carries grudges. Being a former cold warrior, Vlad’s been licking his wounds since his beloved Soviet Union bit the dust. Putin grew up a Soviet but a Russian Nationalist first. His dream — restore Greater Russia to its glory years.

There’s another facet to Putin (because he’s a complex character though a simple man: religion. Though he grew up, in theory, a godless communist, Putin sees the Russian Orthodox Church as an essential component of All Things Russian. As this piece from the Catholic Herald pointed out in 2015, “In his speeches [Putin] presents himself as defender of Christian values abandoned by the degenerate West… More recently the president has presented himself in a new role – as the potential saviour of Middle Eastern Christians.” The man thinks he’s a bloody crusader taking back the Holy Land from the filthy Moor.

So — WHY Putin would attack us — 1) National Pride, 2) Religion, and 3) Greed. See? Simple. Complex but simple.

Putin’s a spy by nature. He understands how to run intelligence ops. He knows you need to layer relationships and targets so as to create as much deniability as possible. The espionage world is extremely complex. But its goals are always very very simple. Uncomplicated.

Donald Trump was born a greedy pig and a sociopath. He grew up unloved by a racist, criminal father and a cold mother. He has no capacity for empathy — none. That makes Trump another complex character with uncomplicated motivations. Greed, lust, more greed. Donald Trump is that simple.

The Trump-Russia story has layers of complexity to it. But each layer is uncomplicated. Trump wants a Trump Tower Moscow. He’s been laundering money for Russian mobsters forever (the whole point of his casinos) because Trump is a criminal on pretty much every level. Simple.

Putin wants revenge. He wants all the sanctions lifted. He wanted them lifted especially while Rex Tillerson was still Secretary of State (the whole point of moving Tillerson from Exxon-Mobil to State was so that America would help Putin get richer by pumping his gas for him.

Mitch McConnell wants power and money. He, too, is owned by Russia (having taken millions from them into his PAC). Mitch is also owned by he big RW donors — especially the Kochs & Mercers. They wanted Mitch to hijack the judiciary from Obama — and he did.

The RW money wants to create permanent minority rule because they see that white, Christian male hegemony is over. If White, Christian men want to hold onto power in America, they’re going to have to cheat to keep it. Hello, voter suppression and gerrymandering — all meant to circumvent the will of the majority.

Nothing here — motive-wise — is complicated — as complex as it is.

And yet — our Main Stream News Media cannot seem to tell this story… can’t seem to figure it out. They can’t even decide for themselves if he’s a racist — they keep asking whether or not he is. Wait till they really have to wonder aloud if Trump is a traitor.

That sound you hear is their heads exploding — in the future.