Maybe this is another fatal flaw in “both sides do it” journalism. The problem with “neutrality” is that in refusing to judge anything (“just here to report the facts”), you end up giving everything you report equal weight. Because you won’t call out a lie, you give it equal validity with the Truth. How can a news audience discern what “is” from what “isn’t” when the reporters on the ground refuse to differentiate between the two?
We now see reporters in the WH Press Pool asking Trump harder (but still not hard enough), direct questions — then getting flummoxed as, like yesterday, Trump responded to NBC News’ Peter Alexander’s question about helping to quell peoples’ fear by telling Peter Alexander what a terrible journalist he was. When Trump went on to the next reporter, that reporter asked THEIR question — letting Trump GET AWAY with what he did to Peter Alexander. And the Coronavirus update went on — filled with even more misinformation, disinformation and…
Let’s be real. Trump’s now using these daily updates to replace his rallies. It’s not a coincidence that, as Trump tries to lay the blame for his failures on China (by calling the virus Chinese), Bill Barr is grabbing for more unrestrained power — asking Congress to approve new, sweeping powers to arrest and hold people indefinitely. Donald Trump intends to remain in power past January 20, 2021 — the day on which his term expires. In point of fact, Donald Trump will LOSE ALL PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY on that date. He won’t have the Constitution on his side — at all. It will treat him as of that date — and everyone in his administration — as ordinary citizens, subject to the same rules. There will be no executive power to hide behind.
Trump may try to. His followers may try to. The chain of command will not respond. It better not. It sure sounds like it absolutely won’t. It’s just not set up to work the way Trump ultimately wants it to. And while coronavirus & Covid-19 will make responding to Trump harder — Trump has already set in motion so much misery, economic ruin and death that no one will be untouched. No one except the hardest hard core Trumpanistas will even think about going along with him.
This can only end one way. Coronavirus will do what the truth could not: it will destroy Donald Trump.
But, in the meantime, it is incumbent on every one of us — the press especially — to mitigate that as much as we possibly can. Every time Trump gets to use the news media — and a crisis — as a campaign event, we are doing ourselves great harm and making the inevitable more catastrophic and bloody. We KNOW for a fact that Trump is lying to us daily. We have to ask why.
That is — our news media has to ask. They’re the ones with the microphones & the cameras. They’re the ones in the room. They have to be us more than ever — and, as of now, they are letting us down.
CNN & MSNBC run “Breaking News” banners all day for news that broke hours before. It ain’t breaking all day. The same logic should apply to Trump’s daily lie-athons. If Trump says something that’s “breaking news” now, it will still be “breaking news” five minutes from now. Between Trump’s utterance & broadcast though, there needs to be fact-checking so that either Trump’s lies are cut out or they’re marked in real broadcast time with some clear, visible, unmistakable disclaimer that what Trump is saying to America is 100% certified bullshit.
The press pool needs to take all attention off of Trump. Washington Post columnist (and former Republican) Jennifer Ruben had a great suggestion this morning on AMJoy — the pool reporters need to stop asking Trump anything. Direct all questions to the experts. When Trump jumps in, ignore him and direct the question back to the expert. The adults in the room need to stop treating the infant like one of them.
But, ya see, that’s when “both sides do it” bites even the most intrepid reporter on the ass. “Both sides do it”, ya see. How can they treat an infant like an infant? That would be “judging” & they’re all just there to report the facts.
See the problem?