America Has To Reimagine Its Democracy — And How Its News Media Reports On It

When history looks back at the Trump era — asking how the hell it could have happened — after they compile a massive list of all the Republican Party’s corruption, they’ll compile a similarly massive list of all the ways our news media normalized, spread and profited from the GOP’s corruption. Journalism is the only non-governmental job enumerated in the Constitution. It shouldn’t be the collecting pool for egomaniacs who like to be on TV. It shouldn’t base its reporting on the demonstrably false assertion that “both sides do it”.

Because it’s bullshit.

Our system (unfortunately) forces us to make binary choices. This or that. The legislative process itself is supposed to be about compromise but the final choice of whether to do or not do is “yes” v “no”. It’s just the nature of binary choices that they increase polarization and reduce nuance. Both sides may do “something” but they’re not doing the same something — because they’re motivated by different things.

“Modern” Republicans (an oxymoron if ever there was one) are good at marching in lockstep. Modern Democrats not so much. Up until the 2020 election — where Democrats have unified like never before — we were still the exact same group about which Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. See, American News Media? NOT the same thing. Unorganized people CAN’T march in lockstep together.

Both sides don’t oppress the other sides voters. Both sides don’t think it’s normal to use the courts to stop counting votes. Both sides don’t embrace herd immunity as the way to solve our pandemic problem. Both sides don’t acknowledge on the down low that Donald Trump is the worst thing to ever hit America but, hey, “tax breaks”, ya know?

Both sides are not cynical. Only one side is — and that, unfortunately for us, is the side our news media keeps emulating. “Both sides do it” is a cynical sledge hammer where scalpel-like skepticism is called for. It’s malpractice atop bad writing atop brain dead, perspective-free analysis.

When we get to the other side of the Donald Trump Debacle — and we will because the overwhelming majority of Americans are done, done, DONE with Donald Trump and his Corruption Meets Treason Meets Fascism road show. We’re hip now to the stone cold fact that Trump did not “win” election in 2016, Russia won it FOR him (not the same thing). We’re hip to the fact that Trump just tried to pull the exact same illegal stunt THIS time (he thought the Hunter Biden computer would be this election season’s “but, her emails!”). That stunt, by the way, is what got Trump IMPEACHED!

Don’t forget: Trump is the first POTUS ever to run for re-election having been impeached for cheating in the very election HE’S RUNNING IN. That’s quite an accomplishment.

The last four year’s debasement of our political system has made clear: relying on norms over enforceable laws is foolhardy. Everything must be spelled out for some people — what’s illegal and what isn’t. Even so, they’ll still try to violate the spirit of the law while keeping to its letter. Perhaps if we baked a respect for the commonweal into our education system, we’d “indoctrinate” some of the greed and selfishness out of people.

Ours is a government OF the People, BY the People and FOR the people. That’s how self-government works. We do it for US. Anyone who stands outside of that larger purpose — and then tries to manifest their disrespect for our purpose in reality — to our detriment — needs to pay a price. Funny thing? When you hit greedy people in the pocketbook, the feel it even worse than if you had cut off a limb.

Makes punishing them easier.

While having to punish people sucks, real problems begin if we DON’T punish those deserving of our collective punishment. Bad behavior becomes more viable. Cheating to win becomes “one more way to win”. If we had punished Richard Nixon instead of pardoning him, the surviving Nixonites like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort would have been less inclined to act so subversively — because their subversion carried real risk.

Unfortunately, we keep cutting Republicans slack. We forget who they are and what they’ve done. Take Bill Barr. Lying about the Mueller Report wasn’t Barr’s first time at the “fix Republican criminality” rodeo. He covered up the Iran-Contra scandal so completely we don’t even remember it anymore. He covered up his cover-up so completely that a bunch of DEMOCRATS even approved Barr’s nomination — as if he hadn’t, in the past, taken a great, steaming dump all over them and the whole idea of “justice”.

To this day, most of our news media members have failed to do the same rudimentary due diligence on Donald Trump that Fusion GPS did when they got hired to do oppo research on Trump by the owners of the Washington Free Beacon back in 2016. The first thing Fusion did, co-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017, was get ahold of every piece of PUBLICLY AVAILABLE information concerning Donald J. Trump. They got every book, magazine, newspaper, radio show, TV show, interview, snippet or blind item they could. What they found in PUBLICLY AVAILABLE material so convinced them that Trump was a Russian mob money laundering criminal that they hired Chris Steele to further investigate inside Russia.

Americans have already gone to the polls in record-breaking numbers because we want to preserve (and improve upon) our democracy. After we finish punishing the Republican Party for trying so hard to undermine that democracy, we will turn our gaze on the press.

I hope they’ll all be ready for their close up when the time comes…

The Rule Of Law Matters — Unless You’re A Republican – Or In The Main Stream Media

Not A Revelation — The story we’re all living through (the extended Republican-Russian coup d’etat dressed up as a bad reality series) is light years beyond what our befuddled Main Stream News Media can handle. “Both Sides Do It” journalism has so distorted their perspective that they don’t see the threat to their own existence staring them in the face. In theory, members of the press have a Constitutional mandate to be the final check on power in our system of government.

In practice, the American press are too obsessed with getting access to be a check on anything. The ghost of Judith Miller (the New York Times reporter who carried water for Dick Cheney and Scooter Libby back when Libby was put on trial for outing CIA officers) still haunts American journalism. Miller sacrificed her journalistic integrity in order to secure access within the Bush-Cheney White House. She lost all perspective and became Dick Cheney’s mouthpiece/apologist instead of a professional reporter, sacrificing the story itself in the process.

Judith Miller insisted that it wasn’t her job to judge the illegal behavior her access gave her access to. She worried that reporting it too quickly (or reporting it at all) would compromise her access to Dick Cheney. So, she compromised her integrity instead. She chose not to report that Cheney had outed Valerie Plame as a CIA agent (compromising every agent she was handling) to pay her husband (Ambassador Joe Wilson) back for contradicting BushCo’s bullshit claims that Saddam Hussein was arming himself with nuclear weapons.

Republicans have no use for the Rule Of Law — because they’re criminals and the Rule Of Law cramps their style. It’s not like they’re subtle about their disdain.

It’s the American News Media’s disdain for the Rule Of Law that confounds. What did the Rule Of Law ever do to journalists to warrant it? As citizens — better informed than most — you’d think journalists would be leading the charge against Trumpian assaults on the Rule Of Law — and journalism. But American journalists are either deeply cynical or emotionally inert.

They’re among Trump’s most consistently enabling enablers. When Trump says things that clearly violate the Rule Of Law, people to whom following it is important run instantly to its defense. “Hey,” they might say in protest, “What you’re doing is violating/looks like it’s violating The Rule Of Law!” Instead, most journalist seem befuddled — as if it’s possible the Republicans could be violating the Rule Of Law — and if they are, what of it?

The Constitution obligates journalists to DO something when power over-reaches. Rolling over isn’t one of them. Neither is shrugging it off.

No one makes anyone BE a journalist. You’d think a dedication to the truth would be every journalist’s calling. And while most journalists can certainly pay lip service to “just wanting the facts”, they need to DO SOMETHING with those facts other than “report them”. If the facts say (if they even suggest) that someone has violated the public trust — never mind the law — that alone should set off every journalist’s alarm bells.

The Rule of Law is an artificial construct. We made it up. It only works though when we follow it. The rules of journalism — we made those up too. They’re flexible — so long as the truth is being served. Journalists play at neutrality but no one is truly neutral. That’s not a flaw. It’s a fact of life — one that journalists should acknowledge rather than deny.

When journalists (like NBC’s White House reporter Kelly O’Donnell) insist on giving every info-bite they report equal weight — regardless of whether it’s true or bullshit — they destroy the audience’s ability to discern the truth — because Kelly O can’t seem to tell herself what’s true and what’s bullshit. To her, if words tumble from Trump’s bloated orange lie-hole, they must be true because the president said them.

The fact that the words Kelly repeats aren’t true — that doesn’t matter to Kelly O. In that instance, clearly, the truth is secondary to Kelly O. She refuses to get involved with what is or what isn’t true. The president said it — that’s all that matters to Kelly O.

And if the president violates the Rule Of Law — well, that’s not Kelly O’s problem either. What’s The Rule of Law to Kelly O but an abstraction she wants no part of anyway? Every time Trump violates the Rule Of Law — or the Constitution — or even common decency — it’s no different than if he had done something normal to Kelly O. Or every reporter like her.

The greatest damage Trump has inflicted on us is the demonstration of how fragile our Democracy really is. Even worse, our ability to agree upon a mutual truth has probably been destroyed forever. The way back — if we can get back — will be through The Rule Of Law. Following it. Respecting it. Nurturing it.

Giving a shit when it gets violated.

And, if you’re a journalist — reporting on it.