There was a terrific Monty Python sketch called “The Argument Clinic” where — pure theatre of the absurd — a customer (played by Brian Jones) goes to an argument clinic where he pays to have an argument with an argument counselor played by John Cleese. Right off the bat, Cleese’s counselor is disagreeable and argumentative but, has he started the customer’s argument session or is he just arguing on his own time? At one point, they argue over what constitutes an argument versus, say, just back and forth gainsaying. In the end, bringing the whole absurd idea around again, Jones, exasperated by Cleese, mutters on his way out the door “What a stupid concept”. Arguing — all by itself — is easy. Any idiot can do that. Making a real, valid point however — that’s much harder to do — in part because not everyone has a valid or justifiable point. This is what makes social media such a lure but also such a losing proposition. Everyone brings their point of view to the par-tay. It’s remarkable how few of those points of view actually have a valid point.
Even if we stripped away the shield of anonymity from social media, I bet few of those extreme positions would change. Fewer might get expressed out loud — because cowardice or because insincere — but they’d represent the very same political positions. The racist thugs who don’t care that The Big Lie is a lie have a very distinct point of view. Does their point of view have a valid point though? Corruption has a point of view — as do the corrupt. But does corruption or the corrupt have a point (other than self-enrichment at everyone else’s expense)? No. The guy who steals your car or breaks into your house or molests your kid — he has his reasons for doing what he’s doing. If you got to face that bastard in court, you’d present your side of what happened — describing a crime victim’s point of view. They were living their life quite happily until the criminal who victimized them entered the picture. What valid point — what reason — might this criminal have for doing what they did? As valid points go, this is a null set.
Donald Trump has his point of view. Does Donald Trump have any sort of “point”? We could ask the same question about Vladimir Putin but we’ll get a very different answer. Of course Putin has his point of view. But, Putin also has a point. We may not agree with his point — the restoration of “Greater Russia” and the diminishment of American power and liberal democracy — but Putin has one. He’s even stated that point out loud. That he resorts to nefarious means to achieve his points? It’s part of his larger point. Trump isn’t trying to achieve anything other than his own enrichment and staying out of prison.
“Both sides do it” brand journalism — in love with its own false neutrality — credits every argument with being valid just because the people arguing it say so. This was how we got years of talking heads segments on the cable news networks where climate scientists and climate science deniers were pitted against each other. In those segments, the climate scientist would sit on one side — taking up 50% of the screen — while the climate science denier took up the other 50% of the screen. In the visual language — which we all now understand because visual information flows at us constantly — that means the argument is between two equal points. Fifty-fifty. It’s up to the audience to decide who’s telling the truth and who’s being deceptive, between who’s right here and who’s wrong. The fact is, it’s NOT a fifty-fifty. The climate scientist has it 100% right while the denier has it 100% wrong. But a NEWS show is telling us (even if unintentionally) that bullshit could be true. It’s up to us.
Nothing good can come from news organizations refusing to call bullshit “bullshit”.
Anonymity exacerbates bullshit’s potency and the speed with which it spreads. “I heard that…” is how someone with bullshit in mind intends to put that bullshit into YOUR mind. It’s the tell that a pointless point of view is trying to weasel its way into the conversation.
The fundamental flaw of “both sides do it” journalism is that it’s inherently untrue. Democrats and Republicans both seek public office and both want to run he country “their way”, but aside from that? The two sides — conservative and progressive (let’s stick a pin in “Democrat” & “Republican”) — have almost nothing in common. They see the world in diametrically opposite terms. Conservatives value the past as much as they fear the future and any prospect for change. The past isn’t an abstraction for conservatives, it’s their goal; they want to take America back into a time in its past (the 1850’s) where everyone knew their place — men, women, Black people… . The problem with democracy and everyone voting — from the Republican point of view — is that when more Americans exercise their right to vote, they vote against Republicans. Who can blame them? No one wants to return to an era when only white, wealthy, land-owning, Christian men held power — except white Christian men.
Both sides did not condone slavery. The Republican Party that Lincoln joined is not the Republican Party that worships Donald Trump. Hell, it’s not even the same political party that, until Trump, revered Saint Ronnie Reagan. In her terrific history of the Republican Party “To Make Men Free”, historian Heather Cox Richardson describes a party that, if you only read its founding principles, you’d swear was the modern Democrats. When Teddy Roosevelt felt his progressivism shining brightly inside of him, he quit the GOP and formed a third party (the Bull Moose Party) because the Republicans had already strayed far beyond their principles. When the Republican Party formed itself, it WAS the “progressive” party.
Eisenhower was probably the last Republican with a conscience. The next Republican to take the White House was Nixon. Until Reagan, Nixon was the Republican rallying point. On the day he resigned from office — because of Watergate — Nixon’s approval rating sat at 29%. That same psychotic faction now sits above 30%. They’re nowhere near half of us however nor will they ever be. That will be our saving grace. When Eisenhower warned us about the “military-industrial complex”, it wasn’t progressives that Republican president was worried about, it was fellow Republicans.
Eisenhower was a decent man. But, decency aside, it still took him years to finally condemn Joe McCarthy in public. Both sides do not declare war on other Americans’ patriotism the way Republicans — excuse me, the way CONSERVATIVES do. Only one side does that — and, ironically, Republicans aren’t shy about questioning each others’ patriotism either.
Both sides don’t live in the past. Both sides don’t emulate the past. Both sides don’t revere the past. Both sides don’t harbor a secret desire to return to slavery days again. Both sides don’t see diversity as terrifying. Both sides don’t preach Christianity from one side of their heads while hypocritically contradicting every last bit of it. Both sides don’t stand with racists.
By the same token, both sides don’t stand with RAPISTS either. Only the GOP does that. Only the GOP.
Both sides don’t favor profits over people.
By the same token — both sides don’t back a living minimum wage. Only the Democrats back that. Only one side favors free public education all the way up through college or trade school. Only one side prefers to see as many Americans as possible saddled with massive student debt. Only one wide believes health CARE (not insurance, CARE) is a human right. It ain’t the Republicans. One side believes every single eligible American should get to vote — and that their votes should be counted. Again — NOT the Republicans.
One side believes that the best possible America will arise when the most Americans possible benefit from our freedoms. One side believes in altering how America thinks of “Infrastructure” to include what it always should have — the human infrastructure that keeps our whole society running. Only one side believes in fairness across the board, believes that rich people should pay their FAIR share in taxes.
Only one side believes in a woman’s right to choose her own reproductive future. Only one side believes that racism and bigotry and misogyny are evils.
Only one side declared Cultural Holy War against the other (a war Newt Gingrich declared on the left — a war the right is still waging).
Only one side saw demographic oblivion in a diversifying America — and made the CHOICE to undermine our democracy as a result. Only one side cynically hitched its wagon to Donald Trump even though they KNEW for a fact that Russia owned him.
Only one side — having chosen to commit treason alongside Trump — has done everything in its power to obstruct every facet of oversight or investigation into what Trump and the Republican Party did. Only one side has perjured itself and lied on a regular basis.
Only one side took part in the January 6 Insurrection. Only one side now calls what happened a “non event” or just “regular tourism”. Only one side is doing everything in its power to restrict voting rights in the face of the most secure election ever — where more Americans voted than ever.
Only one side refuses to vaccinate itself or its children. Only one side doesn’t care if it infects you or me or everyone they know — including their children.
I could go on.
Both sides do not behave like thugs, bullies and pirates. Only Republicans are good at marching in lock step like the wannabe Nazis they are. Democrats are still every bit the group of whom Will Rogers famously said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”.
When our run-in with history finally begins to slow down a little (which won’t be until we’re well into the punishment phase a few years from now), we’ll need to turn our focus on the news media and the myriad ways they failed America. They confused skepticism with cynicism — the most visible evidence of “both sides do it” and painted every American with the exact same brush. They see a bully trying to take away another American’s right to vote the same way they see the American who’s being bullied of their vote. They’re both just being “political” from our press’s point of view.
We The People deserve far, far better from our news media. They’re not going to fix themselves; hell, most of them can’t even see how deeply complicity they were in creating Trump. It’s going to be incumbent on all of us — the progressives — to “help” our news media become all they’re capable of becoming. They’ll kick and scream every bit of the way, like the recalcitrant children they are.
Our news media’s absurd obsession with “bi-partisanship” is a direct outgrowth of their absurd obsession that “both sides do it”. Once you’ve convinced yourself that the only thing separating Democrats from Republicans is the letter affixed to their last names, you’ve already false equivalenced yourself into a corner. The problem with “both sides do it” brand journalism (other than the fact that it’s complete BS) is that, by its nature, it can’t aggregate information — including its own reporting. Our news media insists — in the face of its own reporting — that Republicans are entirely honest actors. In fact, it’s not at all unusual for our news media to turn from a story about how the Republican Party — as a whole — is doing everything it can to make voting hard as hell for everyone not white, not voting Republican to a story about the January 6 Commission and which Republicans should be on it — as if the Republicans GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy is considering as his five selections aren’t themselves guilty of helping PLOT the insurrection the Commission will be tasked with investigating. See the problem there? Good. Our news media doesn’t.
How much imagination does it take to connect dots like Missouri Senator Josh Hawley entering the Capitol building on January 6 with this particular salute —
— with what Trump was doing outside the White House (telling the crowd — some of whom had trained for and helped plan what they were about to do) that he would be “right there with them!”?
How much imagination does it take to connect all those Republican attempts to restrict voting rights after an election where the voting was as secure as it could be with the Republicans refusing to acknowledge that Joe Biden won the election fairly and squarely (unlike Donald Trump)? How could a treasonous, sexual-assault-enabling toadstool like Ohio’s Jim Jordan — who, as of this morning, has volunteered to sit on the Commission — sit on such a Commission when he insists that Trump is the actual POTUS? That’s not a guy with “a different opinion”, it’s a seditionist committing open acts of sedition when he should already be sitting in a prison cell BECAUSE he’s a seditionist. But then, it’s “funny” in America what white people get away with. Literally.
Every Republican politician who has taken money in any way, shape or form from Charles Koch, the Koch Brothers (when there was two of them still), or Koch Industries understands what’s being asked of them. Money in politics always comes with strings. Or, in the case of Republicans, rope.
What that means is that, on some level, every single Republican in Congress understands that their Party has now openly committed to seizing power and asserting permanent minority rule whatever it takes. There’s no grey here. One either IS or ISN’T faithful to our Constitution and the oath taken to defend it from all enemies foreign and domestic. Imagine what America would be like if we actually punished people when they took huge, steaming craps all over their oaths of office. The GOP might already be extinct.
Over the course of four hard years, Trump laid waste to the very structure of our government, harmed or destroyed vital alliances that even our own armed forced begged him not to do, cozied up with authoritarians and did everything just south of giving Vlad Putin a happy ending in public. And, really, not a single Republican tried to stop him. Or questioned the fact that it was happening. Really, how much imagination does it take to connect this dot?
There is no justification for any Democrat to push bi-partisanship. One cannot be bi-partisan with people actively working against your interests. It’s not how bi-partisanship works. Ever. The reason garbage like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema push bi-partisanship is because they’re corrupt — owned by the very same money that owns the Republicans. One way or another, Koch money is doing both Manchin’s and Sinema’s talking.
We’ll know McCarthy’s “choices” shortly. Our news media insists that we’ll soon know McCarthy’s “intentions” going forward. Our news media are idiots because McCarthy’s intentions are crystal clear. Some of us have been aware of them for a long, long time — that’s because we actually read the news, (apparently) unlike most of the “journalists” cranking it out.
If only our news media could aggregate the story they’re reporting. If only our news media did its due diligence the way Fusion GPS did when they were hired (by Trump-fearing Republicans) to do oppo research on Donald Trump. If only Republicans hadn’t gutted campaign finance laws and made dark money the root of our politics — making it easy for Russia to put money wherever it wanted to. If only so many Republicans — including Mitch McConnell — hadn’t been filling their campaigns’ pockets with Russian cash (as if Russian cash didn’t have huge strings attached to it). If only conservatives weren’t so hell bent on conserving America circa 1850. If only Democrats acted like Republicans and behaved ruthlessly when in power (but then, if Democrats did that, they’d already BE Republicans, so never mind). The most frustrating thing about the mess that we’re in is how preventable it was! At so many points in the story, a rush of patriotism would have stopped what Trump and the GOP were/are doing dead in its tracks. Even a quick hit of journalistic integrity would have done the trick.
But, hey, a boy can dream, can’t he?
At the very center of our story are TWO THINGS: 1) Vladimir Putin’s desire to see a “Greater Russia” returned to its “glory days” (plus a desire to be even richer than he already is) and 2) the Republican Party’s appreciation for the demographic peril it faced and its deeply cynical, anti-democratic response.
Putin’s not some “riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” as Winston Churchill described Russia. He’s a highly trained, highly skilled intelligence officer (who was smart enough to navigate and end up running the intelligence service which he used to leverage Boris Yeltsin OUT of the presidency and him INTO it). He’s corrupt to his bone marrow — if only because he has to be just to survive. Putin’s less a “head of state” than a crime boss with a government at his disposal. Aside from petroleum, Russia has ZERO to offer the world’s markets. And, in the pantheon of corruption, nothing corrupts quite like oil. Putin himself has two problems: 1) he needs to destabilize Western democracies because they pose a threat to his dream of a Greater Russia. Putin wants places like the Ukraine to be part of Greater Russia, not NATO. Problem 2) Putin can’t bank his enormous stash o’ cash in Russia because, as he knows, Russian banks are corrupt; that means he MUST “bank” his cash in the West where, if the West took its head out of its ass, it would realize Putin is incredibly vulnerable.
Evil doesn’t pay for itself. Someone has to cash flow it. Literally. Or the people perpetrating the evil will find something better to do with their time. That’s the thing, ya see — most evil is incredibly banal. At least, it starts that way.
Check out the “murderer’s row” of banality that is the current Republican Party (that’s BEEN the GOP for a generation at least). Kevin McCarthy? Matt Gaetz? Jim Jordan? Devin Nunes? Ron DeSantis? Marjorie Taylor Greene? These mediocrities all think white supremacy’s a “thing”.
But, more importantly, check out the Right Wing money and what IT has been up to. The Koch Brothers (back when there were two of them; now it’s only Charles carrying the libertarian flame) and the Mercers understood what was coming. They’re very smart people,. Deeply conservative, too. The thing they wanted most of all to CONSERVE was America how it WAS — back when nobody questioned the idea that white people should run everything (and be the only ones voting). Charles Koch saw demographic extinction in the GOP’s future. America as a white majority country is over with. Take away judicial interference a la Bush v Gore or outright theft (Donald Trump) and the Republicans can’t win the White House ever again. The House of Representatives is too mercurial to control but gerrymandering can greatly undermine the majority’s pro-Democratic will. That left the Senate and the judiciary.
The Senate’s structure mimics the Electoral College’s big nod to racism. Why exactly are there TWO Dakotas while Washington, DC and Puerto Rico can’t get statehood? Is it because there were sooooooo many Dakotans? Let’s be real. The reason there are as many western states as there is is to limit the influence urban areas have over our politics. The west was always deeply conservative. But things change; look at California. This is where Ronald Reagan started his rise. That could not happen today. Hell,, Reagan couldn’t even get elected by Republicans today never mind Democrats.
Literally EVERYTHING the Republican Party has done since that moment has been either in service of treason or an attempt to cover up that treason. Once you lap over into treason, everything you do — except confess — is in furtherance of your treason. And everyone who even SUSPECTS that you’re a traitor is obligated by law to DO something about it other than “fret”. Thoughts and prayers don’t count either. Telling someone. THAT is a citizen’s OBLIGATION.
What the Republican Party has done is truly monstrous. It’s unfathomably awful. It borders on the unthinkable. It’s not hard to grasp why most American journalists haven’t yet grasped the full, unfathomable monstrosity that it is. And yet, there it is! Having had their perspective sucked from them by “both sides do it” journalism, most journalists relentlessly insisted that other than a few details, Republicans and Democrats were exactly alike, both parties doing everything for entirely political reasons. That has NEVER been true. Modern Democrats (we now represent the values the Republican Party claimed when it launched in 1854) are the diverse, hard-to-organize crowd Will Rogers said “wasn’t an ‘organized’ political party” . That’s what diversity does — it’s harder to organize but produces far more exciting, resourceful and just-plain-BETTER problem-solving for our collective problems.
E Pluribus Unum is what makes America great. Conservatism, greed, corruption and racism don’t.
Diversity and progressivism do not threaten America’s future. Treason, on the other hand…
After five years of Trumpism in our politics, America’s news media have finally acknowledged that Trumpism is a very real threat to our democracy. If you demanded specificity, most journalists would probably point to all the obvious instances of Republicans drafting anti-democratic legislation in nearly every state. They’d be right, of course. Most of those journalists are very clear about the terrible implications of what the GOP is doing and what those implications mean: the Republican Party is trying to discount every other vote except theirs. If they can’t outright STOP Black, brown, young or LGBTQ people from voting then they’ll simply refuse to COUNT those votes. Same end product: the Will Of The People to expand the democratic franchise as far as possible will be circumvented by an angry, racist, white minority who want to keep all political power for themselves. But then, after reporting this, most reporters, upon turning to the next story — the battle over the filibuster, for instance — will report it as if the previous story didn’t exist. So, in one moment, Republicans are destroying democracy while, in the next, Democrats are being asked why they won’t work with Republicans.
One of the most painful, frustrating experiences American journalism subjected their news audience to flows from the idea that, in American politics, “both sides do it”. This fallacious framing is pure cynicism. It ascribes the same motives to the Republican suppressing a Democrat’s vote as it does the Democrat whose vote has just been suppressed: they’re being “political”. Oy. That’s as stupid as ascribing the same motives to the car thief and the car thief’s victim who wants his car back. “You want your car back? What are you, some kind of car thief?” That’s the implied question. “Both sides do it” turns healthy skepticism — something every journalist must have in their arsenal — into unhealthy cynicism. Except our motives are all different. If Democrats thought and acted like Republicans, they’d BE Republicans.
The simple truth is, progressives and conservatives (never mind their political labels) are different creatures. We think differently. What’s most important to us is different. Conservatism wants to preserve the past for as long as possible because the past represents a kind of “Golden Age” in their minds. Progressives, on the other hand, want to fix what the past got wrong and make THAT our collective future. We will almost always favor people over profits. The commonweal is way more important to us than anyone person’s bank account. We understand that it takes a village to do literally anything — especially when it comes to money.
American journalism has gotten it into its head that, at all costs, it must be “neutral”. To a degree, they’re right. Journalism’s job is straightforward reporting of the facts with as little bias as possible so that the news audience can draw their own conclusions. But, as new information enters the environment, the environment must adapt and evolve. If new information says it’s raining outside, you may want to take an umbrella with you when you walk out the door. This morning’s weather forecast will be useless by this afternoon. But, American journalism — because they think “both sides do it” — has become obsessive over old weather forecasts — as if this morning’s forecast still applied to right now even though, clearly, the weather is entirely different.
American politics have always been ugly. We forget that because we have no sense of our own history; we’ve gotten it into our heads that, in the past, we were all “Kumbaya” despite our differences. We’ve never been that. Hell pro-slavery Southern Democrat Preston Brooks nearly beat abolitionist Republican Charles Sumner on May 22, 1856 to death on the Senate floor. Quick reminder: per Heather Cox Richardson’s excellent “To Make Men Free: A History Of The Republican Party”, Lincoln’s Republican Party and the modern GOP are diametric opposites now of what they were then. Modern Republicans are Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) who always opposed racial justice in America. But, as bad as it has been in the past — up to and including attempted homicide — the introduction of Trumpism into our body politic (into Republicanism in particular) — ratcheted up every terrible impulse every Republican ever had.
Same goes for our journalists.
“Mexicans are rapists” should have been the end of Trump’s presidential bid as it would have been for literally any other candidate. “Pussy grabbing” should have iced the “Trump Will Never Be POTUS” cake. And yet, both those very real concerns for a presidential candidate were outdone by “But, her emails!”, a tempest in a teapot if ever there was one. “Mexicans are rapists” wasn’t just a single statement addressing a single issue (Trump’s appreciation for fellow rapists), it was an opening to a wider discussion because what Trump revealed was clear: HE’S A RACIST who, without even thinking about it, regularly says racist things.
But, let’s bore in on racism itself as an example of what I mean. Our news media thinks its an open question as to whether anyone is or isn’t a racist. They think it’s as easy as asking a racist if he’s racist. Except racism (like beauty, ironically) isn’t up to the subject, it’s up to everyone around the subject — the beholders either of the beautiful person’s beauty or the racist’s racism. And it’s not subject to a vote either. It only takes one racist victim to make a racist. If anyone feels anyone else is being racist toward THEM (no one gets to proxy here), then that’s the end of it. Mind you, this does assume we’re all being honest actors, so obviously I’m excluding any and all Republicans.
Our news media struggles with whether or not Donald Trump — with a whole freakin’ HISTORY of doing and saying racist things — is or isn’t a racist. That’s because they bore in on each instance of racism as if stood all by itself, unconnected to any other moment in Trump’s life. Trump’s niece Mary Trump did a wonderful job of contextualizing her uncle’s psychopathology. She doesn’t question whether or not her uncle’s racist because she’s heard him say racist things. Same goes for whether or not her uncle’s a scumbag.
If you looked only at a dot on a page, you might think that dot was everything — the whole universe. A professional, compulsive journalist would, understandably, make that dot the sole focus of her existence until she’d explained it. But, if that compulsive journalist can only see that one dot — even down to the microns of ink intertwining with the microns of paper fiber — while she may be giving us a new, profound understanding of one thing, she’s missing the boat on literally everything else in the whole universe. Or, can we say “missing the big picture”?
A tile is one thing, the mosaic it sits inside of is something else entirely. Donald Trump was the first president EVER to have been impeached — for election fraud no less — and then run in the very same election he was impeached for cheating in! But, during the election, very few journalists connected those dots for their news audience — even as Trump was actively cheating in the very same way. But then, Trump cheated to become POTUS in the first place. If not for Russia, Trump does not win in 2016. What about that piece of the mosaic?
Our news media continues to this day to scratch its head over the hold Trump has on the Republican Party. While, sure, there are Republicans who just plain adore Trump’s authoritarian bent (they’ve always hated the gamble that elections present), it’s not ideology connecting these pirates. It’s treason — pure and simple. Our news media should know this because THEY have reported it. In 2017, the Washington Post reported on a conversation that took place in 2016, a month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their presidential candidate. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walks into a room of Republican leaders a month before the convention and says out loud (it was recorded and the recording was played for the Post’s reporter) “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” For the record, no one in the room questioned McCarthy’s truthfulness. They all seemed to take it as a given that McCarthy was spot on — that Russia was paying Rohrbacher (among other Republicans) and Trump (the guy they were about to nominate to be POTUS). Their issue wasn’t THAT Trump was compromised, it was “how are we going to keep this terrible information a secret?”
That’s why, per then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan, the Republican leadership agreed to keep the secret that their presidential nominee to be was a Russian intelligence asset “in the family”.
It shouldn’t be a question of “Is Trump a traitor” just like it shouldn’t be a question “Is Trump a racist?” Hell yes and hell yes!
The Big Picture shouldn’t be as hard to see as we make it. And connecting dots shouldn’t be the challenge it is either. For the record? The connect-the-dots picture up top? It’s a dinosaur.
The press loves a horse race more than anything because, in theory, horse races are easy to cover whereas covering the Republican Party’s attempt in plain sight to seize power forever? That would take perspective and the ability to aggregate a story — two things “Both Sides Do It” brand journalism just doesn’t “do”. Our news media is at least TWO YEARS behind in the storytelling we’re all living through. They still think Republicans are honest actors — even as more and more FORMER Republicans tell them — on their own air ffs! — that they AREN’T. If your storytelling (which is what news reporting is) mis-frames the story it’s covering at the jump? You’ll end up covering some other story while thinking it’s this one. Too bad for your “news” audience. Alas, our news media walks around with blinders on; thinking both sides do it because both sides are really the same is deeply cynical. And it’s wrong. That’s why the news media is already whipping us to a frenzy about the Republicans retaking the House, the Senate and who knows what else in the 2022 election. Yes, Republicans are passing legislation all over to restrict voting rights. They’re using the new Census data (which is worth a whole other conversation about how good its numbers actually are considering the influence of Trumpanistas on the process this time) to redistrict where they can — and to further the damage gerrymandering does to our representative democracy. They’re still contesting the last election’s outcome. That alone should tell our news media EVERYTHIING. Good thing (most of) the Democrats are actually there to hear it.
All that vote-restricting legislation — though it WILL impact EVERYONE — is aimed squarely at DEMOCRATIC voters. Republicans are doing this on the one hand because they’ve ALWAYS done this. As Trump himself said out loud, when more Americans vote, it’s bad for Republicans. We see voter suppression as a campaign tactic when, in fact, it’s a violation of civil rights. That IS the intent of any voter suppression effort. It’s not using ideas to sway voters, it’s using “other means”. Oh, they might not be “illegal” in and of themselves, but then, we ain’t talking about petty thievery where it’s obvious. We’re talking CIVIL RIGHTS VIOLATIONS. Seen from THAT “altitude”, the GOP’s efforts take on a whole other dimension: a criminal one because it’s deliberately intent on violating other Americans’ rights.
The Trump Department of Justice famously refused to look into any real instances of civil rights violations — especially as they pertained to voting. That’s a key distinction by the way — Jeff Sessions may have been the Attorney General but the DoJ was Trump’s. That (we’re now learning) got even worse when Rod Rosenstein ran the DoJ for a while and then worse still when Bill Barr plopped his rotund ass down in the AG’s desk chair. The Department of Justice stopped being The Peoples’ Top Cops and, instead, became Donald Trump’s. As we’re also now learning, Bill Barr deliberately lied to Congress, to Judge Amy Berman Jackson and to We The People — on multiple occasions. Here’s where it gets good though. He did it for one reason. It’s the very same reason actual Republican members of Congress actively supported (and still support) the January 6 insurrection. It’s the very same reason Lindsey Graham insists the GOP can’t do anything without Trump. In a sense, Lindsey’s absolutely right. The GOP can’t do ANYTHING without Trump because they’re stuck to him. Stuck to each other.
At the end of the day, this is a story about TREASON. But — you have to understand that THAT is what the “card game” we’re all playing in is actually about. Our news media, though it can see the treason and even cover the treason (“There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”) cannot put treason on its radar never mind into its imagination. If you can’t see treason, you can’t see the traitors. If you can’t see the traitors then you will be eternally baffled by the Republican Party’s continuing love affair with Trump — who their own internal polling says is driving them off an electoral cliff.
In that internal polling, Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and virtually everything they’re doing is more popular than Donald Trump. That’s not going to improve. During four years in office, Trump achieved his ceiling. It’s begun to shrink — and it’s not going to stop shrinking before election 2022. If the GOP, as Lindsey Graham says, needs Donald Trump in order to “grow” then it’s facing a conundrum. It CAN’T grow. There’s nobody left in the population in which to grow — especially as you contract more and more into your reactionary whiteness. In an election — even WITH gerrymandering and voter suppression kicked up to “11” — you STILL have to advertise. You STILL have to have more voters (even GIVEN the likelihood of a “boost” from the Republican-run electronic voting machine company’s internet-connected back door) than the Democrats. What — even starting now — do the Republicans have to sell to anyone not already tribally committed to how they’ll vote?
Even if Mitch McConnell could stand in Joe Biden and the Democratic Party’s progressive agenda (which scares Mitch and the Koch money behind him because it’s “socialism”), the positives of having Democrats in power are already registering strongly in polling. Republicans taking away unemployment benefits because they’re closer to a living wage than the crap salary they got before (because of Republican policies) won’t win them any friends among all those workers. It WILL make them vengeful voters come election 2022. Anger motivates voting like nothing else — as we know from experience. But, Mitch himself is a walking-talking-turtle-tell.
Mitch is kinda the poster turtle for the horribleness that’s about to befall pretty much the entire Republican Party — because of the card sitting not in Joe Biden’s hand, but in ours — in We The Peoples’ hand. We now have a functioning Department of Justice. Sometimes I chuckle when I think of Merrick Garland’s moderate judicial temperament — how well it may have served Republicans from time to time had they allowed Garland the SCOTUS seat Mitch handed to Neil Gorsuch instead. That moderate approach — just the facts & the law — will make Garland a deeply problematic Attorney General for the Republicans — a fact they know; it’s why the Republicans slow walked not just Garland’s nomination but the nominations for every top DoJ position. The slow walking is now over — and, as one of its opening moves, a fair-minded, just the facts & the law DoJ reveals, Merrick Garland sees “his” DoJ as OURS.
Let me repeat that: Merrick Garland doesn’t see the DoJ as his, he sees it as OURS. And he’s already begun to approach the law — and the rule of law itself — with US and OUR needs in mind. So, when I say “Garland’s” DoJ, I mean OUR DoJ. That DoJ takes civil rights very, VERY seriously. They’ve demonstrated that by charging all four of the cops responsible for murdering George Floyd. They demonstrated that by charging Derrick Chauvin with violating the civil rights of a completely different young, Black citizen. That should be seen as a shot across the bow of every racist on every police force in America. If your racism motivates you to violate anyone’s civil rights — especially when you’re on duty as a cop — you’ve got a problem.
Side note? Defending yourself against federal charges costs a bomb and a half. Think any of those racist cops can afford it? Even with GoFundMe pages? Think they’ll be able to afford it if they’re competing with hundreds of other racist cops?
We all know that racism stands behind every bit of Republican-written vote-limiting legislation. That presents a problem now because, when challenged in court, none of it will stand because it so clearly violates civil rights, a cause the Justice Department itself now sees in criminal terms. And, hey — we’ve no idea WHEN indictments might start flying from Fulton County, Georgia where Trump’s coercive phone calls to Georgia’s attorney general are under intense scrutiny. Same goes for the SDNY and Manhattan where various bits of the legal machine are just revving up, liberated at last from Bill Barr’s corrupt oversight. And then there’s writer E. Jean Carroll’s civil suit against Trump and the discovery process yet to come!
As we stand here today, the Republican Party itself is lying to itself how bad the Trump Brand is — and how badly that brand is impacting the Republican Brand (such as it is). That brand is about to take a series of massive (repeat MASSIVE) hits. Donald Trump and the Legal Process can’t go anywhere near each other if Donald Trump is to survive. But that is precisely the thing that’s changed — and, though it’s taking longer than we want it to, it IS beginning to work in the only way it can: slowly but deliberately.
If we can see the connections between the January 6 insurrectionists and members of Congress, so, too, can the FBI and the DoJ (now that the DoJ is inclined to see). If we can see connections to the Trump White House, so can they. If Team Biden can see Russia’s malign influence on our elections enough to publicly warn them, then so can our DoJ — and the FBI it’s part of. Remember all the obstruction of justice that occurred during the Trump years — including INSIDE the DoJ? That’s not happening now. In fact, with Garland at its helm, the opposite is happening. The obstruction itself is now being examined under an electron microscope. Think Bill Barr’s sleeping well at night these days? Then you’re not paying attention.
Bill Barr arrogantly thought he could stay above all this. How wrong he’s already proven to be (thank you, Judge Amy Berman Jackson!) Once Merrick Garland starts pulling threads on Trumpian corruption (which is the exact same as Republican corruption), he won’t — by nature or law — be able to stop. And we all know what that corruption is knitted with: TREASON.
We WILL get there and sooner than we think. Think Russia played no part in the January 6 insurrection? Really? Hey, what about Rudy G’s dance with Russian-backed Ukranians? What about the FBI warning Rudy he was being USED BY RUSSIA — and then Rudy ignoring them? Hmmmmmm… I bet our DoJ could get to the bottom of that. I bet OUR DoJ can AND WILL get to the bottom of a lot of things whose bottoms need “getting to”. Why DID current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy think Putin pays Rohrbacher and Trump? Why DIDN’T he contact the FBI (and don’t give me this “it was just idle chatter” bullshit — in that context, no, it was not “idle chatter”) ? Why did Kevin and the rest of the GOP leadership in that room go along with then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s admonition to “keep it in the family”?
From Bill Barr to Kevin McCarthy to Paul Ryan to Mitch McConnell — they all knew Russia owned Trump. They, too, were owned by Russia — or were willing to LET Russia own Trump even as they made him their nominee.
If I can see this, so, too, can Merrick Garland.
If I can see — and it’s all evidentiary — that but for Russia Donald Trump would NEVER have become POTUS than so can Merrick Garland. So can my — our — Department of Justice. If I can see countless Republicans have lied or perjured themselves to protect this fact (and one doesn’t have to know the whole plan to have conspired in it) then so can Merrick Garland. Say, what DID Donald Trump say to retiring Judge Anthony Kennedy that made him do this? Here’s a thought — let’s have OUR Department of Justice put everyone connected to this moment — including Kennedy’s son (who was Trump’s banker at Deutsche Bank) and Brett Kavanaugh (whose got his own perjury issues) under oath and ask them questions. If it were up to THIS citizen, he’d have HIS Department of Justice “Benghazi” every last one of these pirates.
The Democrats can’t count on this card in their calculus going forward. It’s not theirs to play. It’s ours. But, the fact is, we are now playing that card — and it will impact the game’s outcome absolutely.
The most delicious irony of all will be watching shits like Mitch McConnell quake in their loafers as they walk into the DoJ for questioning — knowing it’s Merrick Garland who’ll be questioning them (one way or another). Joe Biden would have picked a good person for this post regardless. He’d have chosen someone who understood — unlike Trump and the GOP — that the DoJ is OURS and it’s his job to respect that fact which he does. Imagine (with that context in mind) the scenes to come of every Republican who so much as suspected what his fellow travelers was up to but said nothing suddenly realizing the trap they’re in.
See something, SAY something is how a good citizen stays out of trouble. See something, say NOTHING is where co-conspiracy to commit treason begins.
If you obsess on just one or two dots (even three) of a connect-the-dots picture, you’ll never know what the big picture is. To make matters worse, having no sense of a bigger picture, you’ll probably take that “small picture” view of a much larger thing and project all kinds of conclusions that, no surprise, get everything utterly wrong because, well — you had no perspective! America’s news media, to this day, have not connected the dots on their picture of Donald Trump. Actually, they haven’t connected a single dot — not from the instant Trump oozed down that golden escalator and announced his candidacy by insisting “Mexicans are rapists”. At that point, one shouldn’t have had to ask “Is Donald Trump a racist?” He told us unequivocally that he was. All the news media had to do was listen to him. Quick side note: it’s not up to a racist or the racist’s friends or even the media to decide “who’s a racist”. It’s up to the racist’s victim. If someone says, “That person was racist towards me”? then whoever they’re pointing at IS A RACIST. See how the dots connect?
But you have to want to connect dots to see the pictures they form. “Both sides do it” journalism insists it’s not journalism’s job to connect dots — that’s for journalism’s audience to do. Okay, fair enough. But, asking for the audience, is journalism presenting the stone, cold, literal truth or are they presenting a “truth” already compromised by mis-framing? In the current climate, to claim Republicans are honest actors in a debate about American democracy is horribly, HORRIBLY mis-framed. They’re not and haven’t been for a generation — at least going back to Newt Gingrich and the open culture war he declared on the left and Democrats when he was Speaker of the House. Yet, every day, the news media frames every debate — about immigration, about the pandemic, about the economy — about the The Big Lie itself — as if the Democrats and their desperate battle to protect every American’s right to vote was just “another point of view” one could have — as is the Republicans’ blatant attempts to restrict voting for everyone — but especially for Black people, brown people and young voters. “Both sides do it” journalism insists on seeing a criminal attempt to infringe on voting rights as “just another way to run a campaign” as if everyone could or might do it. It’s perverted our viewpoint to such an extreme that we now think of Republicans openly CHEATING to win elections as “just another way to ‘win” elections”.
No, it’s not.
How the hell did we get to a place where we shrug off the GOP’s relentless attempts to seize political power from the majority? It doesn’t help that the news media asks why but, either doesn’t stick around for the answer or, worse, assume (cos lazy) that Republicans behave the way they do “because it’s just how they are”. For five years now, through darkening circumstances including losing the White House and the Senate (having driven the economy into a ditch in large part by totally mismanaging the pandemic), Republicans have become not less devoted to Trump and Trumpism, not more. For five years, our NEWS MEDIA has stared at that fact while scratching its head, unable to CONNECT THE DOTS. Why, they wonder, scratching so hard now they’re carving literal furrows into their skulls, is Trump sooooooo beholden to Vladimir Putin? Why, oh why, doesn’t Trump ever stand up to Putin? Why did Trump always seem more interested in protecting Russia’s interests instead of our own?
Is it really so hard to connect those dots? Really?
How much EVIDENCE does a “journalist” need before they’ll draw a conclusion, say, about how Donald Trump bankrupted his Atlantic City casinos even though he had all those Rich Russian oligarch pals “giving him money”? Hmmmmmmm… can’t imagine why… . Faced with those facts, Fusion GPS (when hired to do oppo research on Trump for the Marco Rubio-backing Washington Free Beacon) became so alarmed (being ex-journalists with some experience reporting money laundering) that they hired Christopher Steele because his bona fides inside Russia were so rock solid. These former journalists wanted to know the truth behind what their due diligence had uncovered (their due diligence being a survey of every piece of PUBLICLY AVAILABLE material on Trump) and whether Trump, having laundered money for Russian mobsters (all with strong ties to Putin), was now fully owned by them.
Dishonest scumbag though he is, Donald Trump can be shockingly (if unintentionally) forthright. He projects literally everything terrible about himself usually onto other people. It’s hardly difficult to spot. He keeps telling us who and what he is. The news media refuse to take him at his word — to this very day.
On the one hand, it could just be mediocrity at work. In any given profession, the majority of pros will be good enough to be pros but, otherwise, unremarkable. Mediocre. It’s probably a good thing most people are mediocre. It’s their mediocrity that helps the good performers stand out. Watergate attracted a lot of Woodward & Bernstein wannabes to journalism. That’s swell so many people were so aspirational. Too bad 99% of them simply didn’t and don’t have the chops. That doesn’t stop them from thinking they do — every day when they do the thing they call “journalism”. On the other hand, if it’s not mediocrity, that means it’s probably a total failure of imagination.
If you can’t “imagine” that Republicans are being entirely disingenuous when they wonder if Joe Biden really is POTUS then you can’t imagine Republicans. You’re thinking of some other group — “normal Republicans” from some time in your past. You definitely don’t have THESE pirates on your radar. If you can’t imagine that Vladimir Putin literally OWNS Trump, literally RUNS Trump and literally has his hooks in the entire Republican Party, then maybe you’re in the wrong line of work. Hell, even if those things weren’t true — that Putin owns Trump and the GOP — it would simply be good journalistic practice to definitively rule them out. Not just because you can’t imagine it but because, like Fusion GPS, you did your due diligence.
No journalist (to my knowledge) has revisited that reporting? Why? Isn’t it good enough? Isn’t it valid? Isn’t it, maybe, revealing of something pertinent to now? Imagine if American journalists were to aggregate the Donald Trump story… imagine if — instead of returning to a weird ‘square one’ ever day, they BUILT a portrait of not only Donald Trump but his circle and the Republican Party as a whole that shifted and changed and evolved as more and more new information got added. The point of the exercise would be a truthful, realistic picture of what is — of what we know.
When we get to the part of the story (and we will) where the indictments and subpoenas and charges start raining like fire onto the hapless Republicans, the news media will act as if it was shocking. It shouldn’t be. Any real journalist or storyteller worth a damn should have seen it coming from a thousand miles off. Because it was there; in fact, they already reported it.
Oh, by the way, American news media? The connect-the-dot picture up top? It’s a dinosaur…
The American news media trying to tell the story of what Donald Trump and the Republican Party did and are still doing to America is a lot like the notion of a couple of blind guys who’ve no idea what an elephant is, trying to make sense of one for the very first time. In the blind guys’ defense, they’ve never encountered an elephant before; they’re entitled to their bafflement. America’s news media knows exactly what the Republican Party is and what Republicans are — they’ve been covering them differently than they cover Democrats for a long, long time apparently because they recognize how different they are, “both sides do it” be damned. America’s news media has it in their heads — because Republicans put it there — that Democrats are as cynical as Republicans (and Republicans are cynicism’s poster boys), that Democrats do things for the very same power-mad, greedy-to-their-toes, white hegemony defending reasons Republicans do. Over the course of Trump’s presidency, the news media allowed itself to be lied to relentlessly — and accepted it as “just how President Trump is” as if Trumpism was some kind of “new normal” we’d all have to get used to. No actually — we don’t have to get used to it.
The Post reported: McCarthy said upon entering the meeting, “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” That got a few laughs. But no one questioned it. No one said, “Whaaaaat? Kevin — are you kidding? If you’re not, WHY would you say or even THINK such a thing?” As a matter of fact, no one in the meeting seemed the least bit shocked or even surprised. No one picked up a phone to call the FBI, that’s for sure. If anything, calling the authorities and doing what was their PATRIOTIC DUTY would have been a good thing. Instead, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan committed everyone present to an omerta: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
To my knowledge, not a single journalist has stuck a mic in either Kevin McCarthy’s or Paul Ryan’s face and demanded what the flying eff that conversation was about — and WHY Kevin thought Putin paid Rohrbacher and Trump and WHY Paul Ryan insisted everyone present keep that problematic secret a secret. You’d think — considering what transpired DURING the Trump presidency — especially Trump’s odd relationship with Vlad Putin — that the question would occur in every journalists mind organically. And yet…
This is what journalistic failure of imagination looks like. There’s a “dot one” big as a house and a “dot two” that’s even bigger. Their connection seems more than obvious. Except to American journalists who apparently cannot imagine that dot one could possibly connect to dot two. To be fair, good journalists require receipts before making accusations in print. In “espionage world” however — the world where Russia launched a still ongoing cyber war against us — receipts don’t necessarily exist; if they do, no one’s going to see them. In the same way the existence of a distant exo-planet must be inferred from how its physical presence alters the light being emitted from its star, evidence of Trump’s relationship with Russia must be inferred from HIS behavior in and around Putin.
Unfortunately, even pictures speaking thousands of words can’t convince our news media of the obvious.
What makes this sad situation even worse is that journalists themselves can’t abide other journalists who DO show imagination. To this day, some “journalists” still think of Christopher Steele’s raw data output — “The Steele Dossier” — as unverified rubbish. Um, no actually… Not understanding that one must view raw intel data differently than, say, a deposition hearing where everyone’s sworn in, most journalists fell down the rabbit hole of “knowability”. Without a literal smoking gun to wrap their minds around, they couldn’t imagine how the Donald Trump dot connected to the Vladimir Putin dot. But, even that roadmap was laid out for America’s news media by former and respected members of their ranks!
On August 22, 2017, former Wall Street Journal reporter and co-founder of research firm Fusion GPS Glenn Simpson was called before the Senate House Intelligence Committee (then being run by the Republican Senate). The Republicans were desperate to cast the Steele Dossier as rubbish because, in fact, it wasn’t and isn’t. Simpson explained how the Dossier came about. In the lead up to the 2016 election — during the primaries — the backers of conservative newspaper The Washington Free Beacon (Marco Rubio supporters) hired Fusion GPS to do oppo research on Trump — something political operatives and their money have done forever. As part of their normal due diligence, Simpson explained, his team got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could that had anything to do with Donald Trump. They found every book about Trump, every newspaper or magazine article. They tracked down every TV appearance, every radio interview. To get their hands on this material, Simpson testified, his team went to every bookstore they could, they combed Amazon. They even went to the public library.
What Fusion found in publicly available material shocked them — these professional journalists who had covered financial corruption their whole careers. And, while the dots themselves did not spell out “Trump Launders Russian Mob Money Via His Atlantic City Casinos”, they might as well have — that’s how loudly the alarm bells started ringing inside Glenn Simpson’s and Fusion’s head. To investigate further (the Free Beacon was now gone, Rubio having dropped from the race; the bills now went to a Democratic donor), Fusion subcontracted out the Russian side of the investigation to an English research outfit called Orbis which was run by the Chris Steele, the highly respected former head of the MI6’s Russia desk. No one had better, more reliable contacts inside Russia than Chris Steele. No one.
To see the value of Steele’s work product you have to remember 1) it’s raw intel and 2) there’s way, WAY more to what’s in the Dossier than just whether or not Donald Trump watched a bunch of Russian hookers piss on the Moscow hotel room bed where Barack Obama had recently slept. There are plenty of other uncomfortable details. Their ick factor may not be as high, but their treason factor far surpasses it. Steele’s work product confirmed what Kevin McCarthy thought about Trump: that Putin owned him outright. One plus one equals two.
Hey, look, American journalists — there’s one story proving another one’s veracity! Or, with Donald Trump and the GOP is that still just not good enough?
How in the hell did America’s news media get it into their heads that “both sides do it”? Nothing has been more destructive both to journalism and journalists than this idiotic, deeply cynical, perspective-free point of view. Do both sides do it because they’re the same? Or is it just a freak of nature that “both sides do it” despite being nothing like each other? What’s the “it” both sides are “doing” anyway? For starters, no — both sides aren’t the same. If Democrats were “like” Republicans they’d BE Republicans. But Democrats (that’s modern Democrats, not the Democrats of the Democratic Party that opposed Lincoln and ultimately became the Dixiecrats which ultimately became the Southern Strategy oriented “modern” Republican Party) are utterly incapable of marching in lock step like Republicans. Republicans are capable of all believing one thing right down to the chorus and response. Democrats, on the other hand, suck at marching in lock step. They can’t even agree on what “lock step” actually is.
The modern Democratic Party is still every bit the group about which Will Roger famously said, “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. When you’re the party of diversity and inclusion, you don’t exclude anyone. You simply don’t think that way. Put ten Democrats in a room, you’re likely to get ten different opinions. The trick, as always, is negotiating a compromise that everyone can live with while quietly hating. Democrats are idealist but pragmatic. That’s the nature of progressivism: it lives in the real world of data points while never surrendering its aspirations. How do we get ‘there’ from ‘here’? That’s the question.
Also worth noting, the Democrats, being diverse, are not the doggedly dogmatic “Christian” party Republicans are. That’s why Republicans so good at goose-stepping together: they can all agree on the same dogma.
Democrats do not do things for the same reasons Republicans do. Democrats, by their nature, favor people over profits. Republicans, by their nature, do the exact opposite. They always favor profits over people. Modern Republicans are very much the Democrats who opposed Lincoln. They haven’t changed a bit; down deep, plenty of people who proudly stick that “R” next to their names would probably vote to bring back slavery if they could only find a way to get it onto a ballot. The only difference is, this time, they’d make a point of enslaving more of us.
As we stand here today, the Republican Party has declared open war on our democracy. Can’t blame them, really… what good is democracy to you if no one will vote for you? But then, who except for white, Christian men see the 1850’s as a “Golden Age”? The RW money grasped in the post Reagan years that the Republican Party faced demographic extinction. It was never a question of adaptation to changing circumstances. Change is anathema to conservatism. Instead of changing themselves, they set out to change the rules. That is not the same thing as “governing”.
But, “Both Sides Do It” refuses to “judge” anyone. It divorces itself from taking sides in any way — even when taking sides is necessary. “Both Sides Do It” assumes that everyone has a point of view. Fair enough — in fact, I agree. Everyone does have a “point of view”. But not everyone point of view has “a point”. I have a point of view about being molested twice by the religious director at the temple my family attended when I was a kid. So does the guy who molested me. If you sat us both down and asked us: “What happened?”, we could both tell you a different side of the story. BUT — just because my molester has a point of view here, that does not mean he has a point. That’s a completely different thing.
Not every point of view is justified. In other words, not every point of view has a “point”.
Hey, remember how our NEWS MEDIA used to entertain discussions about “the climate debate”? Remember when it WAS a “debate”? It shouldn’t have been, of course. Still, because of “both sides do it” and the compulsion to invent false narratives, our news media would put a climate scientist on one side of the screen and a science denier on the other — presented visually as a total “50-50”. Regardless of the information flowing, VISUALLY, the image says both sides have the same validity. Who’s telling the truth? Don’t know — it’s a 50-50.
That happened because our news media refused to “take sides” and call obvious bullshit what it was: BULLSHIT. Instead, our news media regularly gave bullshit credence.
When you automatically give every argument, sight unseen, the benefit of the doubt, you are setting yourself up for failure. Inevitably, some of those arguments benefitting from your largesse are total bullshit. When you ask the question — as too many American journalists do (in their own way) “Yeah, but what IF bullshit was true…?”, you automatically give bullshit credence it does not deserve. It didn’t give itself legitimacy, the journalist supposing it “could” have legitimacy did that.
Once you spray bullshit with the patina of legitimacy, it never goes away. That bit of bullshit might supersede reality. Next thing you know, bullshit rules everything. And everything is bullshit. Every time a journalist sticks a mic in a Republican’s face, they treat that Republican as an honest actor; it’s what they’re supposed to do. But when you stick your mic in a liar’s face — and they lie to you as expected — it doesn’t serve anyone to act as if the lie is true. Now, either the reporters giving Republican arguments credence know they’re being lied to — and allowing their Republican interview subjects to get away with it — or they’re ignorant that they’re being lied to in which case, they’re too ignorant to be working as journalists.
There is good news on the horizon. Slowly, more and more members of America’s Fifth Estate are opening their eyes not only to the actual story they’ve been mis-reporting now for five years but to the fact THAT they’ve been mis-reporting it because they repeatedly treated Republicans as honest actors when, clearly, they’ve been nothing of the sort.
“The sun sets in the west,” Lester Holt said while delivering the keynote address at the 45th Murrow Symposium while achieving the Murrow Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism, “Any contrary view does not deserve our time or attention”. Abso-tutely, Lester! Your duty “is to be fair to the truth” first not every dumbass argument spewed by dumbasses.
Donald Trump is what happens when bullshit becomes not only pervasive but president. Our news media is what happens when bullshit becomes mistaken for journalism.
I’m old enough to remember when saying things like “Donald Trump’s relationship with Russia is mighty suspicious!” would get eye rolls because I was desperate to make a mountain from something less than a molehill. Alas, Trump’s relationship with Russia was never a molehill. It’s not a mountain either — it’s the whole freakin’ mountain RANGE. For the life of me, I cannot get why storytellers (that’s what journalists are — they’re storytellers in real time) can’t for the life of THEM figure out how to aggregate a goddamned story! The American Press can’t say that they had no idea Donald Trump “might be” a traitor when they themselves reported that possibility themselves a year into Trump’s presidency! For real! The Washington Post (and most other papers) published reporting about a conversation that took place between the GOP leadership a month before the Republican Party made Trump their presidential nominee (in other words — the convo they were reporting on took place A YEAR BEFORE; the Post became privy to a RECORDING of the meeting, giving it solid, evidentiary support. Current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into the meeting and said out loud: “There’s two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”. No one present disputed McCarthy. Quite the contrary. Then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — like everyone else in the room — seemed both unsurprised and unfazed. No one demanded to know why McCarthy thought this or what put such an insane idea into his head. Ryan led them to decide they wouldn’t talk about such things outside rooms like that. “That’s how we know we’re family”, Paul Ryan said, sounding for all the world like a mafioso — and not the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States Congress.
In a civil case — compared to a criminal case — the standard required for conviction is 51%. The preponderance of the evidence and not some “smoking gun” suffices. Our news media has gotten it into their heads that their job is to be an absolutely neutral arbiter of events. Just the facts, ma’am. That’s swell. But, as the facts add up, they paint a picture — and either we accept the picture being painted or we don’t. If we accept the picture, we need to incorporate what we’ve just learned into the larger picture of what we know. And what we know should be the evolving story basis for all reporting. Instead, our news media heard “Mexicans are rapists!” — and squawked about it for a few minutes — then moved on when “Pussy grabbing” became the next topic. In short order, our news media move move on from “pussy grabbing” to “But, her emails!” Strangely, “But, her emails” aggregated — we heard about it constantly; it WAS the starting point for the press’s stories about Hillary Clinton.. “Mexicans are rapists” and “Pussy grabbing” did not aggregate. Our press still wondered aloud “Is Trump a racist?” and “Is Trump a rapist?”
Yes and yes — hell, Trump even confirmed it for them! And, STILL — to this day — many “journalists” will shift uncomfortably in their seats like the hemorrhoid they’ve been nursing just flared to life if they have to ask “Is Trump a racist?” As if it’s a question! For the record, it’s NEVER up to a racist to decide if he’s a racist. How the hell would HE know — he’s a racist FFS! The only people with the perspective to tell you whether or not someone’s a racist is the racist’s victim. And if they claim racism — do NOT dismiss it out of hand. That would be racist of you.
The press could have established the truth about who Donald Trump is and even the likelihood of his criminality — and even his treachery — if they’d bothered to do the same due diligence Fusion GPS did when hired back in 2016 by the publishers of the Washington Free Beacon. They were Marco Rubio backers and wanted to get some dirt on Trump so they hired Fusion GPS, the research company started by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Frisch. When called before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, August 22, 2017 — then under Republican control bent on undermining the integrity of the Steele Dossier — Glenn Simpson testified that before formally beginning their deep dive into Trump, they did their “due diligence”: they got ahold of every piece of publicly available material they could — newspaper articles, magazine pieces, radio interviews, TV shows. They got them from Amazon and other online merchants and used bookstores and even the Public Library. What Fusion found — hiding in plain sight — was the kind of info ANY JOURNALIST could find easily if they’d just get off their asses.
Fusion got the distinct impression that Donald Trump had laundered Russian mob money through his bankrupt Atlantic City casinos. THAT’S why they sub-contracted the Russian part of the inquiry to someone who might could answer those questions about Trump and his relationships with Russian mob money. Christopher Steele had run the Russia desk at Britain’s MI6. He had perhaps the best Russian contacts of any Westerner outside Russia. Steele’s work product, by the way, has passed most every smell test it’s been subjected to. This is raw intel data — never intended for uninformed eyes because uninformed eyes won’t contextualize so as to extract the value. Steele — a better American patriot than any Republican — was so concerned by what he learned that he became obsessed with getting his work and its assessments under the noses of someone willing to do something. Chris Steele had no personal ax to grind. And yet, some people in our press, to this day, will frame the Steele Dossier from Trump’s criminal point of view.
During the entire 2020 presidential campaign, our news media seemed to completely forget the fact that Trump was the first person EVER to run for office after BEING IMPEACHED for attempting to cheat in the very election he was now running in. Think about that — both because it happened and because our news media forgot about it — even as Trump continued to cheat his way to victory. Talk about your “patterns of behavior” and “preponderance of the evidence”. There should not be a question as to WHY Trump acted the way he did. This picture alone — coming when it did after the meeting where Trump sperm burped Putin’s whole name in real time (that’s what it sounded like to me) — should have been the end of Trump’s presidency.
Donald Trump is a racist because he has victims who’ll call out his racism. The same goes for Trump’s other crimes. We don’t need to end up getting shot by Trump on Fifth Avenue to know he’s standing there — on Fifth Avenue — and he’s got a gun. If we go to Fifth Avenue — or anywhere near Trump — we might could get shot. Trump’s a traitor, too. We need to stop waiting for Vlad Putin to put up a YouTube video where he spills it all like we really were living in the worst reality show ever and it needs to wrap up cos the season is over.
Trump epitomizes “White Man’s Bamboozlement” — white guys getting away with crap non-white people could never get away with. Republicans used to be better at hiding that fact from everyone else. Trump liberated them from caring whether the rest of us know or not. The Republican Party, by its own admission, is now the Trump Party. The Trump Party is a treasonous criminal enterprise. Therefore, the GOP is now a treasonous criminal enterprise.
Want to know WHY almost the entire Republican Party is still in bed with Trump, still perfectly happy to let him brutalize and abuse them? Because they’re all co-conspirators in a massive crime bent on destroying our democracy. Throw in treason — still a capital offense here in America — and you can see why this is “all or nothing” for the GOP. There’s no going back anymore. There’s only the hopelessness of the mission: permanent minority rule. That dangerous idea is about to get crushed. The wave Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are riding today as the first cash begins to flow through the Covid-19 Relief Plan into the pockets of 85% of Americans won’t crest for a long, long while. It certainly won’t crest before 2022 so, please, put all concerns about the GOP taking the House in the mid-terms completely out of your head. These are not normal times, stop thinking normal things will happen.
Our news media definitely wasn’t up to covering Donald Trump. They’re even less qualified and capable of covering the aftermath of Trump and Trumpism.