Dear Democrats And The News Media: One Cannot Be “Bi-Partisan” With Pirates, Perverts And Traitors

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.

Republicans knew at least a month before they nominated Trump in 2016 that he was compromised by Russia. Think about that. It matters. It also matters that our media — having reported this fact — has forgotten the fact that they reported it. To this day, not a journalist that I’m aware of (I keep Googling it!) has asked Kevin McCarthy what he meant when he said “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” That statement was recorded and played back for the Washington Post reporter who reported the story. It’s verifiable, you see? Hell — other newspapers like The Guardian picked up the story because it passed the smell test.

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.

American Journalism Sucks Because Too Many Journalists Don’t Get How Mosaics (Or Connect-The-Dots) Work

Hmmm… I wonder what it is…?

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.

Dear News Media: You Cannot Compromise With Evil So PLEASE Stop Asking The Democrats To Do It

America’s news media is what happens when journalism trades in perspective for access. On the one hand,, it’s understandable that a journalist denied access to a news maker will be handicapped. On the other, if gaining access means the journalist will have to compromise their integrity — a la the New York Times’ Judith Miller did to maintain access with George W. Bush and Maggie Haberman did with Donald Trump — the perspective gained from such access is instantly dubious. At least it should be. Alas, our news media is utterly incapable of self-analysis. That’s what happens when healthy skepticism — what should be every reporter’s stock in trade — hardens into flat out cynicism, a core belief that “both sides do it” — that both sides are exactly the same and therefore require no further distinction. They both act exactly alike for the very same reasons.

In other words, from the perspective of American journalism, Republicans gerrymander and suppress Democratic voters for the very same reason Democrats GET gerrymandered and have their votes suppressed. The Republicans — acting out of purely political ambition (to force America into a state of permanent minority rule) — are exactly the same as the Democrats who are, in fact, the victims of a crime. Voter suppression of ANY stripe is an attempt to violate another American’s most essential right — the right to vote. It’s the very worst kind of thievery in a democracy. But, that’s not how American journalism sees it — no matter what they say in their reportage.

It’s not that American journalists don’t see what Republicans are doing — it’s pretty hard to miss. But, “both sides do it” means you never have to aggregate a story’s emerging details into its evolving narrative because narratives never evolve. America’s news media not only knew Trump lied to them every day, they kept track of it! They tabulated his lying to them AND YET, every time Trump said something, their first impulse was to assume it was true BECAUSE THE PRESIDENT SAID IT.

Oy.

Our news media should never have moved on from “Mexicans are rapists”. But they did. Granted, their shock at Trump’s repellant racism turned into their shock at his repellant misogyny when he was caught bragging about “pussy grabbing”. Neither of those two shocks however could stand up to “But, her emails!” That is what happened. That is what our news media did: they gave far, FAR more weight to “But her emails” than they did to “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” put together. Racism, can we agree, is EVIL. Same goes for misogyny and sexual assault and rape and anyone who does them. But, our news media made peace with that evil because a larger evil — “But her emails” threatened.

The Republican Party — our news media tells us every day — are restricting voting rights in every state they can because of The Big Lie. Democrats aren’t doing this, but Republicans are. The whole point of the Big Lie is to deny the majority their will — again — but, this time, with the intention of making minority rule a permanent fixture of American politics. Atop this sits the fact that we KNOW that the people who planned and carried out the insurrection on January 6 acted with the express approval and outright involvement of Republicans in Congress and numerous people on Team Trump — up to and including Donald Trump himself. This isn’t just an inconvenience, it’s a federal crime and it demands prosecution from the top of the treason food chain all the way down to the very bottom.

But, let’s go further. The insurrection wasn’t an isolated incident. Considering everything Russia had invested in Trump, getting him into the White House and keeping him there, it doesn’t pass the smell test that Russia had zero involvement in the insurrection meant to KEEP Trump in the White House, the exact place Russia wants him. The moment we uncover THOSE connections, we’ll have broken through to this story’s “bottmest” line: treason. Donald Trump and the Republican Party have all committed treason — and they know it — which is why they will do literally anything now either to put Trump back into power or undermine the Democrats attempts to reveal the GOP’s treachery to the nation.

The hard core Republicans will not care that their party and its leader are traitors. Let’s stop worrying about them — except for the fact that they’re dangerous. Instead, let’s start prosecuting every single one of these criminals. That is our only choice now just as it’s the Republican Party’s only choice to destroy our democracy: if they don’t, the rule of law will finally come for them. They WILL be prosecuted not just for election fraud and obstruction of justice but for treason itself or for conspiring to commit treason.

Hey, let’s not forget — the Republican hierarchy KNEW a month before they even nominated Trump in 2016 that (as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it to a roomful of GOP leaders), “Putin pays [Rohrbacher and] Trump — swear to God!” Per then Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, the Republicans sided with corruption over patriotism. Did they go to the FBI with this unsettling information? No, they “kept it in the family”. That wasn’t just garden variety corruption they were keeping secret (it wasn’t just Spiro Agnew collecting literal bags of cash in the White House basement), it was a hostile foreign government’s direct OWNERSHIP of an American politician and his political party’s refusal to let America in on the fact that they knew.

How many times must the GOP negotiate with the Democrats in totally bad faith before journalists see a pattern? How many instances of corruption must they see before they accept that the person they’re reporting on IS CORRUPT? How many times will America’s news media allow itself to be lied to without demanding receipts in advance — or at all?

American news media still can’t fathom why the Republican Party can’t quit Trump. Every damned day, they scratch their heads and ask themselves: “why, even though Trump LOST THEM the White House, the House and the Senate, do Republicans like Lindsey Graham insist that, without Trump, they’re nothing? The reason American journalists settle on is “just because”. Republicans back Trump despite everything “just because” — “just because” Trump’s a Republican and the Democrats aren’t… “just because” Republicans always do what they do and Democrats always do what they do. As they contemplate the rage of possible explanations, of course they include “Cos Trump’s innocent but misunderstood”. That’s the one journalists wish were the case because it would be the easiest to report.

It’s not the American electorate clamoring for “bi-partisanship”, it’s the news media — a fact the news media itself reported on repeatedly. American voters — both Democratic and Republican — have expressed approval for most of what Team Biden is doing or proposing. Biden’s overall approval sits at 63% FFS! “Bi-partisanship” in Congress is not the same as bi-partisanship outside of Congress. Don’t forget, the structure of the Senate, like the Electoral College, is meant to over-represent conservative, rural states at the expense of populated, urban states. Why do you suppose there are TWO Dakotas? Because there are too many Dakotans for one Dakota? The only thing standing between Washington,, DC, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands and statehood is who lives there (and who doesn’t).

Our news media insisting the Democrats “make a deal” with Republicans is like insisting that James Bond cut a deal with Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Does Bond really think Blofeld will keep to his part of the bargain? The second Blofeld blows up the deal — which he will — Bond will look like a moron. By then, the news media will have moved on; they will miss the point of the story entirely. Instead, they’ll whine some more about how Democrats and Republicans should “find” a way to be bi-partisan because that’s what everyone (meaning they themselves) want.

An example of compromising with evil and what it will get you is the Judenrat. These were councils of Jews — formed by Jews during Nazi occupation of Poland mostly — who chose to work WITH the Nazis. They told themselves and the Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto that Jews choosing Jews for transportation to the camps was better than Germans choosing Jews. When you’re being loaded onto a cattle car like you were cattle? That distinction’s probably not gong to satisfy. As for the Jews ON the Judenrat? They all got sent to the camps, too. Sure, making a deal with Nazi Evil bought the guys making the deal a little more time — of living in hell and doing the Devil’s bidding.

Most of our news media still can’t or won’t connect the Donald Trump and Russia dots. Because they won’t do that, they can’t imagine that 1) Trump is a traitor, 2) the GOP has always known about it, and 3) the GOP has worked feverishly to obstruct justice right in the news media’s face. Their inability to see Donald Trump for the criminal he is could yet cost us the republic. Every time they follow him down another rabbit hole, they legitimize bullshit.

Whatever it takes to wean American journalism off the “both sides do it” teat, we gotta do it if only because it might finally pull the blinders from American journalism’s eyes. Both sides don’t “do it” and never, ever have.

One side is behaving like democracy-hating authoritarians and the other side isn’t. To compromise in any way with authoritarians is to give authoritarianism credence — as if it’s point of view and way of doing things deserved our consideration. The only thing that ever happens when you encourage criminals to act like criminals is criminality.

Or modern American Republicanism.

The Difference Between Icing And Cake

Icing: “Both sides have decent people on them!” Cake: one side is racist, violent and reactionary, the other isn’t. The whole trick to getting propaganda to work is convincing as many people as possible that icing is what matters. If the outside is pretty, sparkly and distracting enough, hopefully no one will notice that the cake underneath the icing is rotten. And yet, some people have no idea that the cake even exists. All they perceive is the icing. Those people are called “journalists” here in America. Back when this all started, one day they’d get whipsawed in one direction by “Mexicans are rapists” colored icing, then whipsawed inn the complete other direction by “pussy-grabbing” colored icing. Then, suddenly, it was some other colored icing and the news media could hardly keep up with it. Of course, if they’d been able to forget about the icing and look directly at the cake — as Fusion GPS did when they were hired to do oppo research on Donald Trump for the conservative, Marco Rubio-backing Washington Free Beacon — they would have seen with their own eyes that every bit of the Donald Trump cake mix was vile, pernicious, corrupt, compromised and (likely) treasonous.

Icing: “Donald Trump is our nominee for POTUS”. Cake: “There are two people I think Putin pays, Rohrbacher and Trump… swear to God!”

A month before the GOP nominated Trump to be their presidential candidate, current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a meeting of Republican muckety-mucks and said the above. The room did not erupt in chaos with people angrily demanding how Kevin got such an outrageous idea into his head. No one said, “Hey, if that’s even remotely possible, we need to get the FBI on the phone right NOW!” On the contrary, then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan — one of the most powerful Republicans in office at the time — made it emphatically clear that what Kevin had just said was not going to be discussed outside that “room”. That little secret — no one questioned that Trump (and Rohrbacher) were taking money from Moscow — was going to stay “in the family”. That’s cake right there — Treason Cake. How can it not be if 1) you know or suspect that your PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE is already compromised (or easily compromise-able) by a hostile foreign power and 2) you accept that fact as “who he is” and therefore “who YOU are”?

Cake is the aggregated reality we all live in. It’s four years of watching Donald Trump and everyone in his orbit take corruption to bold new heights even corruption never thought it could attain. The Republican Party — seeing demographic extinction in their future — deliberately hitched their wagon to Trump despite knowing he was owned outright by Russia. They’d set themselves on a course toward permanent minority rule years before. The Kochs and the Mercers (and the other big RW donors) directed Mitch McConnell to seize the judiciary and use it as the basis for the soft coup d’etat that started during the 2016 election. The whole point of denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing was to hijack the Supreme Court. That’s some serious cake.

Cake is the racism underlying the Republican Party’s bottom line. The former “Party Of Lincoln” is now the “pro-slavery party”. If they could bring slavery back, the GOP most assuredly would. Keep in mind — first and foremost, slavery is stolen labor. The slaver will eat the cost of clothing, housing and feeding a slave because the slaver knows he’ll make way more money from the slave’s work output. While Republicans know they can’t be that blatant anymore, the desire for slavery (free labor) drives their resistance to a livable minimum wage. People who can pay their bills and thrive economically (and therefore politically) can’t be enslaved. But, if one compromises their ability to pay their bills and thrive economically — and then make it impossible for them to ever acquire the wealth required to really thrive in America — one can “enslave them” without actually seeming to.

The restaurant business in America survives on the icing that diners should pay a significant portion of their servers’ wages. The cake is “no, the economic success of people in the food service industry should not rely on the kindness of strangers.”

Icing: America has the best health care in the world Cake: America doesn’t have a health CARE system, it has a health INSURANCE system — not the same thing. Whenever anyone walks in the door of our health system, the first question we ask isn’t “How can we fix you” — the proper question — it’s “How’re you gonna pay for this?” That’s unconscionable. It’s barbaric. It’s wrong.

Beware the icing eaters! They have a way of getting things really, really wrong…

We Need Moral Journalism NOW

Journalists are front line storytellers. While a novelist writes at some remove from whatever time they’re writing about — it takes time to think out then write a novel (never mind the time it takes to get it published) — a journalist works in the right-here, right-now. A novelist writing “morally” has time to line up all that morality — to structure their story so that the moral message gets highlighted just the way they want. That’s a luxury most journalists just don’t have.

Therefore if a journalist wants to write morally (we’ll get to why they’d want to bother momentarily), they need to have their moral way of thinking lined up in advance.

Here’s the trick: EVERY journalist should want to write “morally”. Going forward, if we don’t get turned into a Trump-branded authoritarian shithole, writing morally — meaning writing that’s framed from a moral perspective rather than a neutral amoral one — will be an employment prerequisite.

Somewhere, somehow American journalism got it in its head that journalists are obligated to be utterly neutral in their reporting. If by utterly neutral they mean “apolitical” then yes — by all means — American journalists should be “neutral”. But, if by “neutral” they mean “amoral” then absolutely not. “Apolitical” and “amoral” aren’t the same thing. That’s at the heart of American journalism’s confusion.

If a politician charged with upholding the rule of law violates the rule of law, it does not matter what that politician’s party affiliation is. Every other politician is obligated by the rule of law to report the offending pol’s offense. If they don’t, the rule of law starts to break down because we’re not enforcing it evenly or equally. Therefore — when those other politicians go to the media to describe what the criminal politician is doing, they’re NOT ACTING POLITICALLY.

They’re acting patriotically. They’re FOLLOWING THE RULE OF LAW.

Ah, but… how many times do our journalists frame that reaction to actual criminal behavior as merely “political”? How many times do our journalists ASSUME that the motive behind REPORTING A CRIME isn’t to report the crime but to gain political advantage. Right there — the truth gets distorted by the very people responsible for reporting it. They’ve equated reporting a crime to journalists & the proper authorities as a political act — and thus, “both sides do it”.

That’s really more “both sides get accused of it by a stupid news media who don’t ever seem to do their homework”.

Both sides do it journalism has no sense of perspective or proportionality. To them a crime is a crime is a crime. Bernie Madoff — stealing billions from billionaires — is no different from, say Jean Valjean (the hero of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) whose whole adventure begins when he steals bread to feed the hungry. Yes, both Bernie Madoff and Jean Valjean are thieves. Both were chased down by the Law. Framed that way, “both sides do it’.

But, really?

Storytelling can NEVER be divorced from morality. The whole point of storytelling is cultural self-analysis. Storytellers, as entertaining as they can be, are also part psychoanalyst. The best peer deeply into the cultural psyche and come away with remarkable observations about who we are and why we do what we do. That’s really why we love storytelling. We love seeing ourselves (however abstract) in the world the storyteller weaves. But, what happens when a culture’s storytellers lie to it? What happens when a culture’s storytellers — the fawning German right wing news media that supported Hitler, say — lies to the public about the politician they support? Lies become the truth.

That is, lies get taken for the Truth.

Nothing good can ever come from that dynamic. Lies are lies, Truth is Truth. There is no middle ground.

To report lies as if they were the truth is absolutely immoral. To report lies as if they “could be” the truth tap dances along the precipice. The only way to report lies as if they could be true is by using full transparency. The news audience needs every last bit of real perspective they can get — especially because the likelihood is that the lies aren’t true and never were.

It’s understood: on the one hand, it’s hard to tell your story when none of the interview subjects you need refuse to speak to you. But on the other — the cost of access to those interviews cannot be your soul or integrity. You’re going to need both of those things in order to conduct the interview. New York Times reporter Judith Miller became notorious for selling out her soul to (then) veep Dick Cheney. She lied in print to protect her source Scooter Libby — Cheney’s chief of staff. That kinda sucks as journalism.

It’s damned immoral, too.

I have a funny feeling America is about to enter a Great Moral Reckoning. Once it begins, it will gather momentum — and the momentum will gather momentum as we learn more and more just how corrupt Donald Trump was. The real momentum will gather when We The People realize just how corrupt and treacherous the entire Republican Party has been.

A reporter telling a story about white supremacists should absolutely do everything in their power to reveal the human being beneath their story. But that doesn’t include touting their vile, racist rhetoric as justifiable in some way just because you’re telling the story “neutrally”.

If you’re telling Evil’s story, you need to point out that it’s Evil. Telling a story about how “Evil is misunderstood” isn’t journalism, it’s you, the journalist, being stupid.

Worse — it’s the journalist being amoral which, in this world, is the exact same as being immoral.

There’s no middle ground in a war between Good and Evil. Similarly, there’s no middle ground in a war between Truth and lies. Both Good and Evil, Truth and lies have a “point of view”. They don’t all have “a side”. That is, they’re point of view cannot be justified.

Reporting that point of view as if it “could” be justified — say, by asking “Yeah, but what if fascism has a few merits?” — is giving credence to it. See, it says, fascism could have merits.

I won’t dignify such immorality with a response.

Why Do Journalists Think Americans Can’t Do Two Things At Once?

I don’t know about you, but my life’s complicated. My days are complicated – usually because I have more than one thing to do.  Being an adult with a little life experience under my belt, I’ve learned how to multi-task on a macro level.  For instance: I can earn a living AND raise a family – both at the same time!

The way our MSM seems to think of us, we can only focus on one of those two things.  Either we’re going to worry about getting and keeping a job or we’re going to worry about having kids and getting them into adulthood in one piece without killing them. Good thing we’re all equipped to do both.

Are journalists incapable of doing two things at once?  That’s the impression they give when, Chicken Little-like, they run around squawking that the Democrats can’t impeach Trump for high crimes, misdemeanors, extreme corruption & treason while also governing.  If those journalists would put down their smart phones for two seconds and looked at the world, they’d SEE Democrats passing legislation (that Grim Reaper Mitch McTreason proudly kills) while also actively investigating the most corrupt POTUS in the Republic’s history.

Frankly, I wonder sometimes if most journalists can even do ONE thing at a time (that one thing being JOURNALISM).  That Donald Trump is corrupt and a criminal with deep ties to Russian mobsters should not be a surprise.  In fact, THAT should have been our collective starting place for Trumpism – it is nothing but a criminal enterprise, a mom n pop money laundering shop..

When the Republicans first tried to undermine the integrity of the Steele Dossier, they hauled Glenn Simpson, co-founder of Fusion GPS before the Senate Judiciary Committee on August 22, 2017, Simpson testified about Fusion’s process.  Fusion was hired initially by the Washington Free Beacon, a right wing publication whose owners were Jeb Bush fans to do oppo research on Trump.

Simpson explained how Fusion first did their due diligence.  They got their hands on every book, every magazine article or newspaper story, every TV show, every interview, every snippet of video with Donald Trump’s face in it and they read or watched it.  They got it from Amazon and used book stores and ebay and even the Public Library.  The picture of Trump that emerged from all this publicly available material convinced Simpson that Trump was a long-time criminal who’d used his Atlantic City casinos to launder Russian mob money.

That, Simpson explained, was why they contracted out to Chris Steele, former head of MI6’s Russia Desk.  No one in the west knew anywhere near as much about Russia or had the network of connections that Steele had. 

Due diligence shouldn’t be seen as “extra credit” that journalists can take or leave.  Due diligence provides not only background but context.  Due diligence provides perspective.

Having perspective allows you to see a subject from multiple points of view – not as in “everyone has an opinion”, but as in seeing the WHOLE picture (or as much as one can), one can see much more clearly what is and what isn’t. 

That’s really the question.  WHY doesn’t our press have the necessary perspective to report the biggest story any of us will ever be part of? 

When we get to the post mortem part of the exercise, in addition to examining how the Republican party became this corrupt, we’ll need to inspect how and why our news media repeatedly normalized not only immoral behavior but outright CRIMINAL behavior.

We The People will have to do two things at once.  Imagine.

Dear MSM – Giving The Benefit Of The Doubt Is Not Journalism

It’s not a stretch to say that at least 90% of our Main Stream News Media has failed miserably in their reporting on Donald Trump.  From not doing their initial homework on Trump (as Fusion GPS did when first hired to do oppo research on Trump by the Washington Free Beacon – research that convinced them Trump laundered Russian mob money through his casinos) to regularly normalizing abhorrent, disqualifying behaviors (from pussy grabbing to calling Mexicans rapists), our MSM has consistently bobbled and dropped the most important ball to ever land in their hands.

It’s a stone, cold fact: If not for Russia’s direct influence on election 2016, Donald Trump would NOT be president today.  Literally everything about is candidacy & presidency is a criminal fraud – and treasonous to boot.  The evidence is massive.  Lots is right there in black and white in the Mueller Report. 

Even words seem too hard for our MSM to take in.  If you READ the Mueller Report – keeping in mind its context (Mueller was tasked with continuing a counter-intelligence investigation whose results we do not know yet and a limited-in-scope investigation into the Trump campaign’s relationship with stolen voter data and its movement to and through Wikileaks), you understand that the first question – was Team Trump complicit – is hampered by Team Trump’s relentless obstruction of justice.

And yet we STILL have “professional journalists” saying out loud that the Mueller Report DOESN’T nail Trump for conspiracy with Russia (on those particular accusations). 

It’s understood – the press wants to be “fair”.  Balanced.  They want to accurately present both sides of an argument.  Problem – that assumes all arguments have two sides.

What, I wonder, is the “other side” to the “Final Solution” argument.  What’s the “other side” to Pol Pot or Bashar al-Assad murdering their people?  What’s the other side to putting children in cages or poisoning Flint’s water?

There isn’t another side to those arguments.  Just like there’s no other side to rape or sexual assault.  There’s no other side to cruelty of any kind.  There’s no other side to deliberately undermining the greatest experiment in human self government ever. 

The core idea of trying to see the other side’s argument is completely valid – of course it is.  But there are limits.  Context dictates what those limits are.  A man who lies repeatedly, for instance, should be seen as a likely liar every time he opens his mouth, NOT as a likely truth-teller.  When the MSM presents everything Trump says without that context, they create the illusion that Trump could be telling the truth (when, in fact, he is deliberately flat-out LYING). 

“Yeah, but what if Trump believes he can make a deal with any world leader?”

Who gives a shit? And why are you framing the question from a traitor’s point of view?

Oh, that’s right.  The MSM is only just arriving at the word “treason” – and only because every Republican running against Trump in the “Republican Primary” such as it is, just accused Trump of TREASON on “Morning Joe”.

Think about that – it’s really remarkable: Three Republicans (Joe Walsh, Mark Sanford and Bill Weld) just got on a popular national news show (one they know Trump watches) and accused him of TREASON for trying to squeeze the Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter (for being a board member of a Ukrainian energy company).

It’s maddening that Trump could be so staggeringly guilty of so many crimes so staggeringly out in the open that our news media refuses to call out.  The instant they stopped asking about “Mexicans are rapists”, they normalized it.  Trump went from being disqualified to being “a different kind of candidate” who said disqualifying things yet endured.

It wasn’t We The People doing that.  It was Russia – and it’s most useful idiot, the American News Media.

Our MSM continues to carry Putin’s water to this day.  Every time they “Yeah, but what if…?” a Russia question or give the benefit of the doubt to a man who’s called THEM “the enemy of the people”, they are doing exactly what Putin wants them to do.  They’re giving credence to bullshit, lies and treason.

On the bright side though, when they get to the gulag reserved for the press, they can ask “Yeah, but what if I don’t mind sleeping on the top bunk here in the barracks?  What if I don’t mind being tortured or worked to death because America’s no longer a Democracy?”

Yeah, but what if…?

Why Our Main Stream News Media Sucks – “Benefit Of The Doubt” Edition

The most frustrating words to tumble from any reporter’s mouth is “Yeah, but what if…?” because what always follows is that reporter giving someone or something the benefit of the doubt it almost assuredly doesn’t deserve.

MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhl is a talented financial reporter. But her great still set constantly gets compromised by an incessant compulsion to ask “But,, what if…?” questions — the kind that ask “But, what if Hitler had liked Jews instead of hating them?” Great abstract question. Who gives a shit – it’s never going to happen! Ever. To even think of it would be a profound waste of time.

Every single day, Donald Trump does something that an American president should never do. He says something that a grown up should never say. He commits crimes, violates long-standing norms, openly betrays the country — hell, part of the running joke we’re all in on is the idea that Donald Trump does something bad, wrong or illegal every day. In a courtroom, this would be called “Preponderance Of Evidence”.

Think of it as a connect the dots picture like this one…

The preponderance of the available evidence says “It’s an elephant”. But, as the dots aren’t actually connected — and the elephant completely revealed — I guess one could think the picture could be something else but considering the preponderance of the evidence, you’d have to be a moron to go there. Seriously — a moron. It’s not a picture of anything else and was never going to be a picture of anything else. To ask “But, what if it’s a picture of a whale?” would be stupid. If we were to engage with you and your question, we’d have to point out how all the evidence points to the picture being an elephant.

Wasted time, wasted energy, wasted everything. That’s what happens when you give the benefit of the doubt to things that do not deserve any such benefit. And yet — every day, as you report on Donald Trump — you give him the benefit of the doubt. As if maybe he isn’t a racist… or a misogynist… or a corrupt criminal… or a traitor.

No, no, no, you surely think — “I’m just being objective”. Fair enough. Objectivity is essential to good journalism. Objectivity is perspective. But having perspective means you DON’T have to entertain things that your perspective deems unworthy. And having perspective means you KNOW there are plenty of things unworthy — of your time, your energy, your “but, what if…?” questions.

“But, what if…?” is not journalism. It’s you (or a journalist like you) being foolish and credulous. It’s you trading in your skepticism for a steno pad.

But, what if our country really isn’t facing an existential crisis because the president and his political party sold us out for money, power and permanent minority rule?

Connect the dots, damn it. Even simpler — Connect THE dot…

There’s A Difference Between Storytellers & “Storytellees”; That Difference Is Why American News Media SUCKS…

First things first. Journalists are storytellers. News is a story about what’s happening (theoretically out here in reality) right here, right now. As news anchors all over the world put it as they start yakking — “Here’s what’s happening now“.

Then they proceed to tell you the story.

Except way too many journalists are piss-poor at telling stories. Well… let me be fair — I don’t know how good or bad they are at telling stories in general; what I know is they’re piss poor at telling the “Donald Trump Is A Traitor” story. They don’t know how to approach it, let alone “tell” it.

It seems odd, doesn’t it, that professional storytellers would be so incapacitated by the greatest story they’ll ever get to tell? It starts with their forgetting that THEY’RE storytellers to begin with — albeit storytellers reliant on their sources. But how storytellers approach a source is different than how a storytellee approaches a source. Storytellees don’t have sources.

Let me go a little deeper. When I set out to write a story, I need as much control over as much of the story I can get — so I can FRAME IT the way I want to. I want to frame the story one way vs another because facts are not generic. In and of themselves, facts are independent things. String a bunch of facts together, connect the dots in other words, and those facts paint a picture. Or they present a mosaic-like image, if you prefer.

A storyteller — in composing that mosaic — needs to make choices. Some facts belong and others either don’t belong (they’re not relevant to THIS mosaic) or they aren’t facts. They’re bullshit or too unsubstantiated to have value — so, therefore, don’t make the cut. A storyteller needs to have this sorting process at work constantly in their minds — especially as they’re doing their research. They need to be hyper-critical.

Storytellees, by comparison, are there to soak it all in. Unless a fact or detail strays too far outside their own experiences of life and people, they’re happy to accept it as part of the storytelling. They’re there to listen (critically, one hopes), not story-tell.

Something bizarre happens however when Storytellers fail to act like storytellers and act like storytellees instead. Because they’ve turned their critical faculties off (aside from that last fail-safe one when a story’s details fail to pass any smell test whatsoever), they miss essential details any storyteller relies on. They lose perspective — and therefore any ability to successfully tell that story. You cannot accurately describe what you cannot actually see (one way or another).

The perfect example of the storyteller turned storytellee is NBC’s reporter Kelly O’Donnell. I’m sure Kelly’s a lovely person. That’s not the question. She’s far too credulous — like a storytellee. Watch virtually any Kelly O’Donnell stand-up and, aside from her professional demeanor, all she’s ever doing is repeating back what “her sources” told her.

I bet Kelly’s sources go to her as often as Kelly goes to them. That would mean (if I’m right) that Kelly’s sources are using her as much as Kelly’s “using them”. What Kelly doesn’t get though about this set-up: Kelly’s purpose is “information transmission”, her source’s purpose is “message control”. Without that context, Kelly’s information SOUNDS neutral (Kelly’s intent) while not actually being neutral at all — it’s one-sided. But Kelly has failed to report that fact.

WHY?

In Kelly’s defense (and — bending over backwards to be fair here — it applies to a whole bunch of other reporters across multiple news networks) Kelly has lost sight of how her sources are using her; she’s been too busy patting herself on the back for having sources to begin with. To get those sources, Kelly agreed to put whatever critical faculties she has on hold. She’s agreed to not question their veracity or motives. She’s agreed to not question their information — regardless of how true, false or politically motivated it is.

Kelly has followed the Judith Miller Paradigm to a “T”.

Quick digression — Judith Miller:

Judith Miller worked in The New York Times‘ Washington bureau before joining Fox News in 2008. While at the Times, she gained notoriety for her coverage of Iraq’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program both before and after the 2003 invasion, which was later discovered to have been based on inaccurate information from the intelligence community. The New York Times determined that several stories she wrote about Iraq were inaccurate, and she was forced to resign from the paper in 2005.

Miller herself refused to accept any responsibility. Her defense: It wasn’t her responsibility to “critique” the information she was passing between her “inside sources” and the American public, it was her responsibility to just “pass it along” all steno pool like. Miller’s “lackadaisical” approach to journalistic integrity killed her reputation deader than dead. She’s now a fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute For Public Policy — carrying water for them full time. At least Judith finally is plying her trade on the up-and-up.

Miller’s willingness to trade access to Dick Cheney for her integrity had an even consequence. Miller actively took part in Dick Cheney & Scooter Libby’s deliberate outing of Valerie Plame as CIA. Miller spent 85 days in jail for refusing to reveal that her source in the Plame Affair was Scooter Libby.  The fact that Libby was doing something stunningly illegal — its political motivation crayoned all over its giant sleeve — was, apparently, irrelevant to Miller.

It wasn’t her “responsibility”, I guess, to tell THE TRUTH. It was her “responsibility” to tell Dick Cheney & Scooter Libby’s “truth” regardless of how untruthful it was.

The process of Judith Miller-ing news gathering — of sacrificing integrity for access is the crux of the problem. It’s what causes storytellers to become storytellees instead. The moment they go critical-faculty-free for access, they put their storytelling into a near-permanent cocoon-like stasis.

If not for the fact that journalism is the only job mentioned in the Constitution — it’s obligated to be the final check on political power — none of this would matter. But journalism IS mentioned in the Constitution and it IS purposed with this very high mission. If you don’t want to do the mission, what the hell are you doing in journalism? If you don’t want to be an actual storyteller, please — let us know now. Our future depends on it.

Lessons In How Media Works — FOR THE MEDIA

I sure hope someone at CNN or MSNBC reads this. I know I can help them. I’ve got real world bona fides in my pocket, too. Having run TV shows, written and produced feature films, written scripts for computer games, advertising, blah-blah-blah-blah-blah, I know a thing or two about VISUAL storytelling. I know how the medium works.

That doesn’t mean you have to listen to me, CNN & MSNBC, it just means you wouldn’t be stupid to at least hear me out.

The “Biggie” — the mistake you make repeatedly as if you were absolute amateurs — understanding how FRAMING works. You don’t. That applies equally to visuals & storytelling. Framing eludes you.

Let’s start with visuals. A TV screen is like a canvas filled with information and visual vocabulary. Take THIS screen for instance…

This was Bill Nye debating climate science denier Marc Morano. I’m sure you know who Bill Nye is. Morano (to quote Wikipedia) is “a former Republican political aid who founded and runs the website ClimateDepot.com. ClimateDepot is a project of the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow  (CFACT), a non-profit organization based in Washington, D.C. that denies the scientific consensus on climate change. Morano’s in the “deny all the science” business, got it?

When CNN puts these two people on-screen together, they present them in a simple 50-50. Each man gets half the frame. Now, here’s the part where you need to pay CAREFUL ATTENTION, CNN & MSNBC — in the visual vocabulary, a 50-50 frame says that both arguments have equal weight. One is as true or likely as the other. All of Bill Nye’s science has the exact same weight — in terms of its rightness or wrongness — as Marc Morano’s science-less, data-less, fact-less, EVERYTHING-LESS bullshit. It doesn’t matter what Morano says, in fact. The more ludicrous his pronouncements the better, in fact, from HIS corrupt point of view because the point of the exercise isn’t to “INFORM” anyone, it’s to dis-inform EVERYONE!

Get it? The more nonsense Morano spews, the more he diminishes all the facts on the other side of that 50-50 screen. The shot itself diminishes the value of the Truth within it? How’s that for twisted?

While that particularly framing happens less frequently now — because climate denial gets less air time — when it does get air time? It still gets to claim equal validity. Of course, CNN & MSNBC could “frame” climate denial first before putting it on their air — that, too, is a possibility. They could point out that one of the two arguments being presented is real while the other is complete horse shit — let the buyer beware! — but they won’t. The other way they could frame the discussion correctly would be to re-imagine the screen presentation of the two sides relative to their truthfullness.

Instead of a 50-50, the screen would be 99.9% Bill Nye and <1% Mark Morano. Like this —

See how that would more accurately represent — in visual language — the relative weight of each person’s argument? See how it feels like a giant talking to an ant? Or an adult speaking to a stupid child?

Let’s move on to my other “framing” bugaboo (I know those CNN & MSNBC eyeballs have a low tolerance for boredom and sitting still. How else do you let “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” stand?) This one begins with that unfortunate disease spreading like an STD through America’s Journalism Schools: “Both Sides Do It” and its brother-disease “False Equivalence Reporting”. The symptom is a reporter repeatedly giving the benefit of the doubt to someone who absolutely doesn’t deserve any such benefit (example — Trump. Why would any reporter give anything that spews from Donald Trump’s anus-shaped mouth a shot at being true when every bit of data says even “hello” & “good-bye” coming from Trump are most likely lies)?

So — if we accept the premise that Donald Trump is a liar — then any time you (CNN or MSNBC) begin your reporting with something Trump says — but without telling your audience Trump is a known liar who’s probably lying right now — your context-free steno-pooling of Trump’s lies have just given those lies the look, feel & legitimacy of Truth. But, it’s not.

When CNN & MSNBC report — as they did today — that Trump gave a good, solid D-Day Memorial speech, they make it sound like Donald Trump is a normal president. But that’s NOT the correct context, is it? In fact, Donald Trump’s presidency has been anything but normal — and, in fact — everything in Trump’s pretty speech (written FOR him by other people) is contradicted by virtually everything Trump’s ever done as president or said over the course of his entire life. Throw in the fact that he’s a goddamned TRAITOR and it gets truly absurd.

Sorry, CNN & MSNBC, but pretty words spoken by a TRAITOR are still just pretty words. SPOKEN BY A TRAITOR. See how that’s actually the headline?

One last criticism while/if I have CNN/MSNBC eyeballs: storytelling works by adding information and then using that new information as the BASIS for ongoing storytelling. Think of it as moving a football down the field toward a touchdown. Adding information to a story is like running a play. All added yardage moves us closer to our goal.

And yet… the stunning majority of on-air “talent” at CNN & MSNBC are utterly incapable of performing this simple party trick. They keep returning to a kind of mental “Square One” where they’ve never learned ANYTHING beyond the information they started with: Donald Trump is “president” which means everything is normal.

Too bad that was never the case. Never mind… those same merchants of mediocrity then take that flawed starting point and — here’s the nutty part — continue to deny knowing anything beyond it regardless of all the actual information raining down on them. They ask questions steeped in ignorance (the worst — tossing out the info as if it required a Rosetta Stone to decipher to their talking head group with a generic “What do YOU make of it?” as if the mere thought of thinking about it themselves was horrifying).

You are allowed, CNN & MSNBC, to use information as you receive it. Refusal to accept and contextualize new information is not the same thing as “being fair as a journalist”. It’s sticking your fool head in the sand.

Quit flattering yourselves.

Now you know what Lesson Two will be all about…