What Both Sides Actually DO Do…

When all this is done & dusted, I want us to promise ourselves that we’re going to enshrine in law the illegality of “Both Sides Do It” journalism.

The Chuck Todd-ification of American journalism has not worked out well for us because (Duh!) it’s based on bullshit — and the nincompoop notion that everyone and everything is political. It’s not. If a Republican mugs me, my issue is with him mugging me, not his political affiliation.

Similarly — when a Republican violates the Constitution or commits treason, my objection is entirely to the fact that he’s committing a crime. The fact that the crime is being committed against me — a law abiding registered Democrat who demands that the Constitution be upheld — STILL isn’t political.

Ironically, the Republican has behaved politically at every step along the way.

When a reporter like Chuck Todd gets his hands on a story though — if the Democrat is objecting to the Republican (even the Republican was literally murdering him), Chuck would insist that the Democrat is objecting solely because the guy trying to kill him had a different political affiliation.

I’m watching live right now as Katy Tur debates the idea that we’ve come to see actual RIGHT & WRONG in political terms. That’s insane. The fact that Republicans refuse to even read transcripts — that the press knows (having read them) are filled with actual EVIDENCE OF CRIMINAL BEHAVIOR) should tip them off to that fact. This isn’t about politics.

Both sides do not commit treason as a means to hold onto power.

But one side clearly does. One side continues to defend a president whose ties to Russia are flat out treasonous. I’m old enough to remember when that word could NEVER be uttered on a cable news set without creating a firestorm of controversy.

Now? Who DOESN’T speak the word “treason”?

That’s no because the word suddenly got popular, it’s because treason is actually afoot.

I sure do wish CNN & MSNBC would get this through their thick skulls — only one side commits treason to hold onto power.

Only one side stands between traitors and the end of our Republic.

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Dear MSM — No, It ISN’T About POLITICS

This picture is not political. It depicts a crime happening en flagrante. A CRIME against the Constitution & We The People.

The most insidious form of “Both Sides Do It” journalism is its insistence that, no matter what, it’s always about politics.

Democrats objecting to Republicans suppressing Democratic votes (they never do seem to suppress votes evenly between Republican voters and Democratic voters) is — in this view — political rather than legal. Those stolen votes are… what? Collateral damage? When a Democratic voter loses their right to vote — because a Republican TOOK it from them — the only politics being played are by the REPUBLICAN. The Democrat here is the VICTIM OF A CRIME.

That little analogy goes Big Time with Donald Trump. It’s the exact same deal. Trumpified.

What most Democrats objected to as Trump plowed his way through the Republican field back in 2016 was his racism, his misogyny, his corruption. We objected to hearing a presidential candidate say that “Mexicans are rapists”. Our objection, MSM, wasn’t POLITICAL, it was MORAL.

The fact that we were Democrats (while most Republicans stayed silent or quickly bought in) was relevant. Not because of our political affiliation but because of our morality. As usual, the MSM ate the icing and forgot that a cake even existed.

Even today, a cable news show could play thirty seconds of Trump talking about anything. The talking heads would get their shot — and the Democratic Congressperson on the panel will state the obvious: Trump lied, lied, LIED.

The news panel’s host will (with one or two exceptions) flip it to whatever Republican Talking Head is there — “Is that true? Did the president lie?”

The rest of the conversation is irrelevant. The Talking Head Host just assumed (on the audience’s behalf?) that the Democrat’s take wasn’t motivated by the truth, it was motivated by politics. To get to the truth? We need to hear the other side, too.

Both sides DO NOT DO THIS. Both sides do not commit treason to win elections. They don’t.

Both sides do not suppress the other side’s votes to win elections. They don’t.

Both sides do not wage political campaigns based on fear and outright hatred of the other to compel their voters. They don’t.

Both sides do not obstruct justice as easily as they breathe. They don’t.

Both sides do not put forward ludicrous explanations that couldn’t pass smell test in a shit factory. They don’t.

Both sides do not make excuses for a president who consistently behaves in ways that would get any other citizen arrested. They don’t.

Both sides do not have a relationship with Vladimir Putin that is so flagrantly, obviously, how-in-our-faces-does-it-have-to-be TREASONOUS that it boggles the mind we don’t call it TREASONOUS yet. Both sides absolutely, positively do not.

What the MSM cannot get through its titanium skull is that one can object to Donald Trump, to Republicans and their outright corruption, as a concerned citizen first and a Democrat second. It’s possible to think country over party. Why, we should be demanding, does our Main Stream News Media think every single American thinks like a goddamned Republican?

Both sides do not do it. Both sides do not always — ALWAYS — play politics.

And, while we’re at it – Chuck Todd is an idiot.

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.

Why America’s News Media Sucks — The “Nicolle Wallace” Exception

By all rights, a left wing loon like me should detest Nicolle Wallace from a thousand miles away. But I adore her. I adore her show, Deadline White House on MSNBC. If you aren’t watching it or listening to it, you’re missing one of the few bright spots in the American News Media firmament — I’m also a Maddow fan, a Lawrence fan, a Joy-Ann Reid fan, an Ali Velshi fan and mostly an Ari Melber fan).

A good news show should be redolent of its host. Bad news shows work the same way of course. Meet The Press Daily is dopey as hell regardless of whether or not Chuck Todd is actually hosting it. I won’t go off on Chuck here — this ain’t about him). Accordingly, Deadline White House seems to flow directly from host Nicolle Wallace’s id.

Before she scored her own show, Nicolle co-hosted a season of ABC talk show The View. Before that she was GWBush’s White House Communications Director then served as a senior advisor for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign — tasked with handling Sarah Palin. She appeared frequently on network and cable news programs as the campaign’s spokesperson and defender. Nicolle has solid Orange County Republican bona fides.

I used to have family down in Orange County. I used to feel — driving down to San Clemente to visit — like we were driving into a strange foreign country with distorted values. That’s how different Republican Orange County felt from Democratic LA. On paper, I should watch Nicolle’s show the way I watch, say Alex Witt or Chuck Todd — with teeth gritted (Alex because she’s so mediocre, Chuck because he’s such a “Both Sides Do It” douche nozzle).

In 2016, Nicolle quit the Republican Party as it went Trumpian. Either the leap spurred something in her or she was always a softer version of an Orange County Republican.

Watching her show these days, if you didn’t know Nicolle’s past — deep in the Republican core — you’d be shocked to learn about it. She sounds so much like… like me. Yes, I’ll own it — I like Nicolle Wallace & her show because I agree with them. But I agree with the politics on a lot of MSNBC’s shows. Strangely, I rarely feel as justified after watching those shows. After watching Deadline White House, I often feel even more justified in my left wing loonie position than when I started.

That’s because Nicolle’s bottom line is receipts. Ya gotta bring receipts. Nicolle’s view of the news and the news landscape is fact-based, not feeling-based. Years of watching her convince me that this matter-of-fact, limited melodrama, relentlessly honest worldview reflects who she is down to her toes. The discussions are almost always smart, informed, savvy, clear-eyed and fearless.

And when it comes to pillorying Donald Trump and every Trumpanista, no one delivers a clean kill the way Nicolle does. She shies away from playing too much Trump on her show. But, when she does and the camera returns to Nicolle’s face — wow.

Sometimes there’s a laugh. It’s so particular, that laugh. It’s the laugh of a woman who knows she’s just had a man bullshit her. It skewers all by itself. But throw in Nicolle’s laser-like eyes — she’s good on camera, too — and you’ve got something that crosses rock solid news analysis with poetry.

How Many Republicans Does It Take To Screw In A Lightbulb? Zero — There’s No More House – They Burned It Down

I’m not the first person to compare Donald Trump to an arsonist who sets fires then calls the Fire Department — then does everything he can to get in the Fire Department’s way when they show up to put out the flames. Incompetence is bad. Malicious incompetence is worse.

Republicans going back to Lee Atwater — one-time head of the RNC, political consultant to Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush’s campaign manager — have taken not so much a Machiavellian approach to governing as the approach Sherman took to Atlanta — he burned down the idea of government for the people by the people of the people and put up instead a strategy based on culture war against the left and outright refusal to even compromise with anyone not a Republican.

WASHINGTON – MARCH 21: Paul Manafort, Roger Stone and Lee Atwater are young political operatives who have set up lobbying firms. (Photo By Harry Naltchayan/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

If you can measure a man by the company he keeps, measure Lee Atwater by the company he CO-FOUNDED — with Paul Manafort and Roger Stone.

Quick — If Lee Atwater, Paul Manafort or Roger Stone (or anyone in the Republican Party) had great ideas to sell, don’t you think they’d have sold them to us instead of always relying on cheating? The Chuck Todd’s of the world will insist that “both sides do it”. I dare anyone to point to a similar outfit that uses dirty tricks, deception & flagrant dishonesty to further Democratic Party ideals and goals. It doesn’t exist because it just isn’t how Democrats think.

Atwater wasn’t the first American political consultant to play dirty. We’ve done that since the Republic’s founding. Atwater however brought media savvy to the dirty. He made the dirty dirtier.

In his time, Atwater used racism to help elect George HW Bush (the Willie Horton ads) and the inference that House Speaker Jim Wright was gay. Atwater went after the voting rights act (cos isn’t that what Republicanism really is about?) and gave this honest answer to a journalist’s question about Atwater’s thinking (I’ve softened the language — taking out Atwater’s repeated use of “the N-word”)…

Y’all don’t quote me on this. You start out in 1954 by saying, “N-word, n-word, n-word”. By 1968 you can’t say “n-word”—that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busingstates’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me—because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this”, is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N-word, n-word”. So, any way you look at it, race is coming on the backbone.”

Whatever ya say, Lee, whatever ya say… Newt Gingrich picked up the mantle when Atwater was gone — cut down at 40 by a grade 3 astrocytoma — an aggressive form of brain cancer. Gingrich turned a hose running lighter fluid onto what Atwater had started. We’re still living in the ashes.

To Atwater’s credit, when an aggressive brain cancer cut his life short, Atwater had an actual “Come To Jesus” moment. He saw (most of) the error in his ways. He realized how greed (for money and power) had skewed his values — and, in the pages of Life Magazine, Atwater repented:

“My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The 1980s were about acquiring – acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don’t know who will lead us through the ’90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul.”

That “tumor of the soul” metastasized into Donald Trump. That sound you hear are the last embers of what was our Democracy flickering out.

It’s Time To Play “BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT”

The “Benefit Of The Doubt” Theme Song

Hi there, ladies ‘n germs — I’m your host Chuck Todd (excuse me while I roll my eyes thoughtfully as if I was physically capable of having thoughts) —

— And welcome to another installment of “Benefit Of The Doubt — the game show where we give the benefit of the doubt to folks who we probably shouldn’t ought to give it to. But, hey — that’s what I think journalism is cos otherwise, I’d have to do research and prep for interviews! Did I say “Welcome to Benefit Of The Doubt yet? I can’t remember — I get so easily distracted.

Tonight’s panel are, first, my co-worker over at NBC News, Chris Matthews —

Chris — say something to the folks!

CHRIS: I miss Bobby Kennedy.

[While Chuck rolls his eyes thoughtfully] CHUCK: Do you think… What I mean is… What if… Is it possible that Sirhan Sirhan was aiming at someone else that night in the Ambassador Hotel kitchen?

CHRIS: No. Sirhan was Palestinian. He said he hated Bobby’s position regarding Israel. It wasn’t really a question of— Now, wait a minute, Chuck — were you playing the game without saying?

CHUCK: Guilty! I bet if I hadn’t spent the whole time rolling my eyes thoughtfully, you’d have never caught me.

CHRIS: It’s true… Umm… could ya stop now, Chuck — it’s starting to weird me out.

CHUCK: I’ll try, but — now I’m just trying to see if my bangs are straight… I wish they hadn’t left those pruning shears on my makeup table… Our other panelist tonight is CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF: Hi, everyone. I just want everyone to know that the look on my face isn’t because I’m thinking about anything, I’m doing math — I’m figuring out how long much longer I can hold onto the fart now in the chamber. Not much longer to judge from my expression, right?

CHUCK: Thanks for the heads up, Wolf. I’ll just move my chair way over here. [As Chuck moves his chair] Our first guest tonight is Climate Change.

[Polite applause as Climate Change enters and takes the seat next to Chuck’s.]

CHUCK: Welcome, Climate Change! You’re really in demand right now. I feel like we were lucky to get you as a guest.

CLIMATE CHANGE: Well, I am trying to get around — what with the book coming out and–

CHUCK: What– wait– what? You have a book coming out? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

CLIMATE CHANGE: Probably cos you can’t read.

[Chuck flashes angrily] CHUCK: What? I can read just fine. Don’t blame me cos I bore easily. Wait — are my bangs straight?

CHRIS: Please, Chuck, I’m begging ya — stop rolling your eyes! In two seconds I’m going to start hurling last year’s St. Patrick’s Day’s corned beef and cabbage. And that disagreed with me then.

WOLF: I bet the gas was intense.

CHRIS: You know it was.

CHUCK: So, Climate Change — We know… what I mean is…

CHRIS: Chuck — stop rolling your eyes–

CHUCK: I’m trying, Chris, I swear it but it’s gone a little autonomic on me. I’m not that in control of it–

CHRIS: Well, I’m not that in control of what I’m about to puke up either.

WOLF: Please stop saying “puke”, it gives me gas.

[Meanwhile, Chuck has continued rolling his eyes]. CHUCK: Are my bangs…? Is it… Would you say…What if the climate deniers are on to something?

[Everyone stops to stare at Chuck]. CHUCK: What?

WOLF: Are you saying climate change isn’t real?

And… SCENE!

‘Both Sides Do It’ Is As Dubious As It Is Dead End

American journalism has multiple issues that prevent it from doing its job correctly.  Corporatism’s up there but we can’t blame corporatism for ‘Both Sides Do It’.

I’m curious — Is ‘Both Sides Do It’ (the market version of ‘False Equivalence’) actually taught at American journalism schools?  Is that where the Chuck Todds & Alex Witts & Andrea Mitchells & Wolf Blitzers & Chris Cilizzas of the world learned to ditch all analytical thinking and simply assume that all things are indeed equal?  They certainly couldn’t have ‘learned’ that from actually studying reality.  Or living in it.

The first thing ditched when a journalist tacitly accepts that ‘both sides do it’ is PROPORTION.  They could (and the Chuck Todds ALWAYS DO) ask the dopey ‘what if’ — “Well, what if this otherwise completely illogical, unbelievable thing were true…?”  The next thing they do — if there’s a shred of similarity — is “See?  Both sides DO do it!”

Yeah, Chuck Todd, they do.  Hey — didja know that humans and fish both ‘breathe’?  They do!  Both sides DO IT!  Of course, humans breathe air and fish breathe water but — that’s a minor detail, right — at least it always is where your storytelling is concerned:  “BOTH SIDES DO IT!”.

Let’s try on proportionality.  A man who steals because he is hungry vs a man who steals BILLIONS because he can.  Both men are thieves; BOTH SIDES DO IT.  The proportions aren’t quite the same though.

If journalism is an inquiry into The Truth, then any journalist taking up the mantle that ‘Both Sides Do It’ has just cut their vision of The Truth in half.  Maybe more.

Any journalist even ‘thinking’ that ‘both sides do it’ is a journalist who’s already left the building.

Bad enough as ‘both sides do it’ is as an ‘analytical tool’, it’s a hell of a lot worse as a basis for action — as in ‘both sides do it so here’s what WE should do…’.  There’s nothing of substance where the ellipse now is.  You can’t take ‘both sides do it’ and create actions to stop both sides from doing it.  It’s a dead end description — in addition to being inaccurate.

The way it almost always works — no, ALWAYS works — is we all turn to Liberals, Progressives and Democrats to ‘be the adult’ and step back from the precipice first.  No one ever looks to conservatives to make the first move because they know — compromise is not in any conservative’s DNA.  There’s a reason they’re conservative:  They want to CONSERVE something — the past is my guess.

Every time they compromise though, a piece of that past gets wiped away forever.  It’s no more than a memory now… .  Conservatives know that.  Newt Gingrich did.  newt-gingrichThat’s why his revolution allowed no compromise.  Compromise wasn’t just failure, it was extinction.  In response, Newt launched the full-on Culture War that got conservatives so crazed they thought joining forces with RUSSIA was an okay idea.  They thought taking Russian money and serving Russian masters was preferable to compromising with progressives.

Think about that.

One side does it for a specific set of reasons.  Conservatives and republicans ‘do it’ because they know the demographics are against them.  THEY ‘do it’ because their ideas appeal to fewer and fewer people — most of whom, it so happens, look just like them.  Conservatives do it because they dread losing power; they know it will never come back to them.  Not if Democracy works the way it’s supposed to…

Which brings us to Mitch McConnell — the man who has single-handedly destroyed the US Senate — the man who stood in the way of Barrack Obama telling America in September that our election was under attack from Russia — whose aim was to make Donald Trump president.

Mitch McC

Mitch, it turns out, has been taking Russian money forever… As in MILLIONS of it.  And we thought he was only the Koch Brothers’ lackey… Silly us.  Mitch literally robbed Barrack Obama — AND EVERY AMERICAN WHO VOTED FOR HIM — of the SCOTUS pick THEIR VOTE WON THEM.

‘Won’ them.  Or is winning different when Democrats do it?

DO both sides do what Mitch did?  No, both sides do NOT.   I rest my case.