The News Media’s Failure Of Imagination Is Killing Our Democracy

We live in a news world where a big slice of the news audience is better informed about what’s happening than the news people reporting the news. Maybe that’s because, unlike the news media, those of us in the cheap seats — untouched by the whorish need for access — can see all the players for who and what they are rather than what they can do for our careers. You’d think a crisis like this would force every person calling themselves “a journalist” to set aside the old rules of engagement. You’d think a man relentlessly lying to their faces for four plus years would eventually cause some sort of dynamic response. Aside from scratching their heads harder and longer? Most journalists have learned exactly nothing from their experience with Donald Trump.

Eventually, we’ll understand why most of our news media couldn’t aggregate the Donald Trump story which would have had them reporting on Trump as a stone cold criminal even before he was sworn in — just like Fusion GPS sorta kinda did. Fusion, the commercial research/political intelligence firm founded by former Wall Street Journal reporters Glenn Simpson and Peter Fritsch, was hired in 2016 by the publishers of Jeb Bush-backing Washington Free Beacon to do oppo research on Trump. As Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 27, 2017, before beginning their formal work, Fusion did its due diligence: they got their hands on every piece of publicly available material they could on Donald Trump. They got and read magazine pieces, newspaper articles, they listened to radio interviews, watched TV shows and movie appearances. They spent a fortune on Amazon, visited actual book stores and even went to the public library to find what they needed. What Fusion found there — in publicly available material that ANY reporter could find (had they the motivation) — convinced them so completely that Donald Trump was a money laundering criminal in league with the Russian mob that they went and hired an English company called Orbis because its owner used to work for the British MI6 and had the best contacts bar none inside Russia.

Fusion demonstrated imagination — and did something about it. So did Christ Steele. When HE looked inside Russia to answer Fusion’s questions, he was deeply troubled by the answers coming back. He was even more troubled when the American government failed to heed his red flag warning that Russian intelligence was coming at us, cyber war style and we were doing nothing to stop them.

Because HE had imagination — and could extrapolate not only what Russia was doing but what our non-response to it was doing consequently — Chris Steele did everything in his power to put his work product (raw intelligence!) into the right American hands that could process it correctly and react accordingly and do it now.

Failure of imagination has haunted the American press especially where the threat of right wing terrorism is concerned. How easily do American journalists prick up their ears every time a Republican shouts “socialism” compared to when a Republican behaves like an authoritarian shit? They’ll jump right into a discussion about single payer universal health care with “But, isn’t that socialism?” but never even think to question Republicans and the legality and morality of their actively engaging in voter suppression. That, too, is failure of imagination.

When our news media failed to remind its news audience every day of the 2020 campaign that, for the first time in American history, a president was running for re-election having been IMPEACHED for CHEATING in the very same election in which he was running, that was a failure of imagination. When they relentlessly wondered aloud why Trump so relentless sucked up to Vlad Putin — their inability to answer their own question was a failure of imagination. That the news media even now can say that what Trump is doing is treasonous — and yet still ask aloud “Will he run again in 2024” is proof that they are utterly incapable of imagining a functional and functioning Department of Justice.

You’d think the possibility of making one’s bones on the greatest story anyone will ever get to cover would inspire more journalists to journalistic greatness. But to see oneself winning a Peabody or a Pulitzer takes incredible imagination (if one really has a shot at one).

No wonder achieving that kind of journalistic greatness can only ever be a dream for them — requiring imagination. Some circles are just plain vicious.

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.

Connect-The-Dots For Dummies

I should be sympathetic to our over-burdened Mainstream News Media. How do you cover a story that’s always in Breaking News mode? Maybe part of the reason the story’s always IN Breaking News mode is because the American News Media lack the perspective to see the picture their dots are connecting until the very last dot gets joined in. “Oh, hey, look — It’s an elephant!

If CNN or MSNBC (broadcast news media show significantly less perspective than their print journalism) had been able to connect the dots about Donald Trump sooner, the Republic might have been spared this extended moment of Imminent Demise. We literally teeter on the precipice because our News Media 1) accepted and normalized Donald Trump’s racism, sexism and bigotry, 2) refused until it was undeniable that Donald Trump had an unsavory relationship with Russia, 3) remain blind to the possibility that the GOP’s loyalty to Trump has less to do with party & more to do with all the Russian money they’ve taken in (plus the likelihood that there’s blackmail aplenty keeping them in line), and 4) suffer from an extreme case of normalcy bias that blinds the MSM to how much THEY themselves have normalized what should never have been normalized.

It’s not that all the pieces haven’t been there. Fusion GPS was the business intelligence firm (run by former Wall Street Journal writers) that got hired (initially by the conservative Washington Free Beacon) to do opposition research on Donald Trump (the Free Beacon’s owner was a Jeb Bush supporter), the first thing they did, according to Fusion founder Glenn Simpson in his Congressional testimony was their due diligence. They got ahold of every piece of publicly available material on Trump. They went to libraries. Spent money on Amazon. They watched video and listened to radio appearances. What Fusion found — in publicly available material — convinced them that Donald Trump was a criminal who’d laundered Russian mob money for years. So, Simpson testified, he contacted Chris Steele — the former head of MI6’s Russia desk.

Any of the rest of the American press could have done similar due diligence. Having that info at their fingertips would surely have informed their reporting. Donald Trump was never a “different” president (a ludicrous assertion to begin with; no one – NO ONE – does things because they’re “different”), he was and is a criminal. Criminality and the desire not to get caught were and remain his motivations.

Seen from thirty thousand feet (a favorite media expression), the picture the dots form (should) become apparent. Yet the overwhelming majority of American journalists still seem incapable of imagining such a view. In part, I suspect, it’s because they get so focused in on the story they were covering; that’s a very good thing.

But then they forget that their story isn’t THE story, it’s part of a much larger story — with connections to lots of other stories. Maybe a better analogy would be a mosaic. Journalists like MSNBC’s Ken Dilanian bore in so deeply into their PIECE of the mosaic that they can no longer see that it’s just a piece of a larger picture — and that the unknowns inside his story can be understood IF seen in the context of the larger picture.

The Ken Dilanian’s of the journalistic world won’t commit to anything unless the gun is smoking still. On the one hand, it’s a solid journalistic practice. Ah, but — Ken won’t draw any conclusions until all the dots are connected, i’s dotted, t’s crossed and every last doubt put to bed. What if he’s wrong?

It’s true — sometimes you can never see the actual proof that a thing is — seeing the thing itself. Sometimes you have to discern the truth from the indications being given off by everything around it. Take our first-ever “snapshot” of a black hole…

It’s a remarkable accomplishment — this image. But the thing about it is, we STILL can’t “see” the black hole itself. We can’t because light can’t escape the black hole. All we can see are the particles approaching the black hole’s event horizon. As the particles speed up, they heat up. We’re seeing the light those particles emitted as they flowed to their own destruction 85 million years ago. We’re seeing the black hole’s event horizon — and NOT the black hole itself.

The black hole’s presence has to be inferred from the data surrounding it.

To leap back to earth — Donald Trump’s treason can be inferred from all the data surrounding IT. Or, as I like to think of it —