Why Does Our News Media Insist On Equating Bullsh*t With Truth?

Some day, when the worst of Trumpism is behind us and American democracy is no longer under threat (or even duress), we owe it to ourselves to take a good, long, hard look at how our news media performed during this patch of time. Now, in their defense, America really hasn’t faced circumstances quite like the hand we’ve drawn here. On top of a Russian cyber war that put Trump in the White House in 2016, we’ve had a violent right wing surge across the planet that’s deliberately set out to wipe liberal democracy from the planet, massive climate change that’s already creating climate refugees, a violent, right wing near-putsch of our own and, last but hardly least, a worldwide pandemic. That’s a lot of news story for even a great journalist to wrap their mind around. Alas, our news media has not met the challenge head on. They’ve blinked — still are blinking like Chuck Todd signaling “I’m thinking!” to his audience — and resorted to old tropes instead looking at the events happening in front of them.

We owe it to ourselves to find that journalism professor at whatever J School it was who first proposed that “both sides do it”. We owe that academic a giant heap of scorn. I assume “Both sides do it” originated in academia among academics who couldn’t get hired as journalists themselves and so took to telling others “how to do” something. There’s an old comedy line (I refuse to source who said it because Woody Allen’s dead to me otherwise): “those who can’t do, teach and those who can’t teach, teach gym”. These journalism professors can’t even teach gym. Unfortunately they’ve taught a generation of journalists how to be cynical instead of skeptical and how to equate bullshit with the Truth.

After a reporter has reported that a certain person — a POTUS, say — lied to their face thousands of times, said reporter is entitled to characterize this liar as “a liar”. Actually, that reporter was entitled to describe the liar that way after just ONE lie. The reporter would have been reporting the truth. To NOT call them a liar then is to NOT report the truth. Now, why on earth would a journalist think that way? I suspect racism plays a large part here. Many white reporters are loathe to call out white people for bad behavior because we’ve already moved the goal posts where white bad behavior is concerned. If Kyle Rittenhouse was Black not white, he’d have never gotten to trial for killing two, wounding a third and nearly hurting lots of others with his semi-automatic weapon. He’d be dead already, shot down by the other white guys who were there that night with their guns, or the cops.

“Both sides do it” is fatally flawed walking in the door. It dispenses with all proportionality. A Republican who steals a million from the public kitty is the same as a Democrat who purloins a box of paper clips. Yes, both are thefts from the commonweal. No, they are not even remotely “the same”. But, our news media will hold up this fact as prima facie evidence that “both sides do it”. Therefore when Republicans do something — gerrymander, say — the automatic response is “both sides do it”. And yes — in the past, Democrats have gerrymandered Congressional districts. But they haven’t done it with the organization and purpose with which the GOP now is doing it. The Republicans clearly stated goal is to circumvent the will of any place’s Democratic majority by carving them into pieces and then attaching each piece to some far-flung Republican stronghold that will outnumber them. The whole reason to do this is to circumvent the majority’s will for the minority’s sole benefit.

Democrats do not do that. And Democrats don’t suppress Republican voters either. They don’t have to! Democrats can rely on the strength of their ideas to sway independent voters.

And Democrats aren’t working overtime to undermine every other democratic institution either. Have ya noticed the number of ex-Republicans disgusted by their party we now have versus the number of ex-Democrats with the same complaint? Do ya suppose that means something noteworthy? Our news media doesn’t. They think all the ex-Republicans in their ranks and amongst their punditry — all vocally outraged by what their former party is doing — are a sign of politics as usual. The news media seems to think it’s “normal” that one party backs anti-vaxism and gets violent if you ask them to put on a mask in a public space.

Republicans have become the “Feelings Over Facts” Party because facts are not their friend. Because they insist “both sides do it”, our news media immediately equates any Republican’s feelings with any Democrat’s facts. How a Republican “feels” about being vaccinated suddenly has equal weight to every fact a Democrat will put on the table about the very same thing. Nothing good can come from that. And nothing good has.

The Takeaway From Tuesday’s Election Should Be: In American Politics, Nothing Succeeds Quite Like Racism

Our news media still thinks it’s “journalism” to ask a racist if he thinks he’s a racist. It’s one of those stupid questions that’s so stupid, it’s shocking that anyone older than five would ask it. It’s like asking Hitler if he’s an anti-Semite. Really? You have to ask? And, what if Hitler denied being one? Would we take his word? “Hey, if the guy says he loves Jews — but in a “tough love” kinda way — who are we to question how he shows his love?” This is the view from inside the rabbit hole. Is an alcoholic in deep denial of his alcoholism really the best person to ask if he’s an alcoholic? Of course not! Racists are even more likely to pooh-pooh their racism as “normal behavior”. It’s the fact that we’ve normalized so much racism already that’s brought us to this precipice. And by “normalize”, I mean “accept”. We have accepted racism as a given because we think it’s up to the racist to decide whether or not they’re racist.

This is insanity!

Racism, like beauty, is entirely in the eye of the beholder. Where racism is concerned, it’s up to the racist’s victims to adjudge whether anything racist, bigoted, misogynistic or hateful has been directed at them. Only they have the proper perspective. But, America hasn’t figured that out yet. At least, our news media hasn’t…

Our news media — high again on “both sides do it” — saw the results through the lens they always see it through: as a rebuke of Progressive politics when the only vaguely progressive concept on the table was an initiative in Minneapolis to change their police department into a public safety office (which lost — a whole other conversation). The news media jumped on the Democrats for being oblivious of “kitchen table” or “water cooler” issues when the legislation they’re fighting for — the Progressives more than anyone — is all literally that: kitchen table legislation that polls incredibly well. “Gone too far left!” “centrist” Koch whores like Joe Manchin want to deny their own constituents the benefits of their tax dollars that they have said they want. The Democrats aren’t being hamstrung in these negotiations by the Progressives, they’re being hamstrung by two corrupt centrists negotiating on behalf of corruption!

Ah, but our news media is as oblivious of corruption as they are of racism. For months now, the news media focused on the bottom line number while the Progressives tried to explain WHY that number needed to be as large as possible because the goal was to level the playing field for ALL Americans. But, our news media doesn’t “do” nuance — which is why they never reported on it and reported on the “horse race” aspect — the number — instead. And, because THEY focused on the number, they accused the Democrats of focusing on the number — which FORCED the Democrats to focus on the number instead of the great things they wanted to talk about.

Meanwhile, the Republicans have been hard at work taking a sledge hammer to our democracy in plain sight. Most of the GOP now says out loud that they believe Joe Biden stole the election from Donald Trump. Get it? While the Democrats have been trying to craft legislation that will do what Americans say they want done, two centrists (representing WHO exactly in this negotiation since it isn’t their actual constituents) have stood in the way, refusing to articulate an actual position not connected to “a number”. Joe Manchin’s entire stance has been “well, that number’s too big!”, an argument he didn’t present when the Republicans were in power and robbing the American taxpayer in broad daylight. All while committing sedition, insurrection and treason to boot.

Our news media KNOWS what it means when a Republican throws down “critical race theory”. It’s not taught beneath upper level college and graduate school. When Glenn Youngkin made CRT and Toni Morrison an issue in Virginia, it wasn’t because he gives a rat’s ass about anyone’s education. In fact, what Youngkin’s after is the diametric opposite of education, enforced ignorance. This is white people in America refusing to look our collective history — including theirs — square in the face because it won’t be a pleasant experience for them. Contrition never is easy but then, that’s why contrition’s so important.

If the irony wasn’t so deadly, it’d be hilarious.

The Republican Party really has become like The Worst Bond Villain Ever. While Bloefeld had world domination in his sights, the GOP has permanent minority rule. While SMERSH has an army of people loyal to them (I’m guessing) because of a decent enough paycheck to make them overlook all the compromises they’ve made working for an uber villain, Republicans have race zombies whose brains have been rotted by dreams of white supremacy. There’s no killing them because there’s no killing the thing that drives them. As I’ve said here repeatedly, America is a great idea as yet unrealized. The flaw sits right there inside “All men are created equal”. The white, European, Christian, land-owning men who wrote or stood by “All men are created equal” didn’t mean “all men”. They only meant men exactly like them. But they did mean ONLY men. That kinda takes a huge, steaming dump on the whole experiment in human self government when only some of the governed are allowed to do the governing.

To their credit, the founders DID get it right when they put “E Pluribus Unum” on the great seal. Out of many one — diversity, in other words — has always been what makes America exceptional, not “some men are created more equal than other men”. The Republican Party, in Reaganism’s wake, saw demographic annihilation coming at them faster than they expected. Democracy itself was their problem! That’s what “originalism” is meant to counter: it doesn’t matter what current day America is, it only matters what 1780 America was like — in every single way right down to how they thought regardless of how wrong it was. If the founders were racists then racism should be baked into the rules — that’s originalism.

Glenn Youngkin’s win was evidence of the GOP adjusting their marketing on the fly. They know Trump is toxic to the one group of Americans they can still pull back into their tent — suburban white people (women especially) who want to do the right thing as a community but feel tribalism’s tug more distinctly. Rebranding racism as “concern for how we educate our children” is clever but obvious. At least, it should be obvious. But, our news media punches the clock everyday and then insists “both sides do it”. They insist on being neutral because they think neutrality at all costs is “fair”. The problem is who it’s being fair to.

If you learn that someone is a criminal but refuse to report on them as a criminal, you are mis-reporting the truth. Our news media reported Donald Trump’s criminal behavior constantly over the course of his 2016 candidacy: “Hey, Russia, if you’re listening…!” was a criminal act — literally. Just because we refused to prosecute it as such doesn’t mean it wasn’t a criminal act. Put it into the context of everything that follows —

— and suddenly this photo plus a back channel communication system between Trump Tower, Russian-owned Alpha Bank and the Kremlin doesn’t look quite so… well it wasn’t innocent to begin with. We’re already deep, DEEP into treason! And, just to remind ourselves: when the GOP nominated Trump to be their candidate in 2016, they did it KNOWING that Trump was compromised by a country at cyber war with us. Or, as current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy put it as he entered a room filled with GOP leaders: “There’s two people I think Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!”

The reason Donald Trump needs to be POTUS again isn’t because he loves the job. Oh, yeah, sure — he loves the power. Because of what the power will let him do: avoid getting prosecuted and punished for betraying America.

Those are the stakes now. That’s what the national GOP is after — using the rule of law and the Constitution to subvert the rule of law and the Constitution in order to shove permanent minority rule down our throats while they point at how they did it legally. Well, it ain’t legal and never was. In order to get the ship (of state) headed the way they needed it to head, first the Republican Party committed TREASON. But for Russia, Trump never becomes POTUS. Truly — take Russia entirely out of the Trump/GOP equation and Hillary Clinton beats whatever racist ape the Republicans toss onto the fire.

Oh, make no mistake — Mitch McConnell and the rest of his racist pals would have done everything possible to shove a broomstick into democracy’s spokes. But, they wouldn’t have been able to do it with Vlad Putin at their backs, kompromat in his pocket. Want to know why the GOP was and remains so loyal to Donald Trump? Yeah, yeah — his base counts for something. But it’s the threat of being tried for treason that really sits center stage. The thought of life imprisonment — or capital punishment (it’s still on the table as a punishment for treason) — that is what terrifies every single Republican. And if it doesn’t, it will.

Our news media still thinks Republicans are honest actors. They still think a Republican unable to articulate what “critical race theory” even is represents a reasonable point of view. Would they feel the same way if the ignorance spewing from the ignorant destroyed all their rights? Wouldn’t they kinda want to jump on that because — neutrality be damned — they know from personal experience that the person they’re interviewing is a liar and a dangerous liar at that?

Of course they would cos “skin in the game”. The news media’s failure isn’t one of politics (though politics play a part), it’s one of craft. They failed the craft of journalism and, in turn, American journalism failed America.

Every Time A Journalist Fails To Call “Corruption” What It Is, They Normalize Corruption A Little Bit More

Donald Trump Alleges Corruption in the GOP as the Desperate Fight for  Delegates Heats Up Video - ABC News

Here’s a question for every single American journalist — or journalist who’s working the American beat: how much corruption does it take for you to witness personally before you will call that thing “corrupt” professionally? Maybe I’m asking the wrong question… Do American journalists even recognize corruption as corruption anymore? That’s a terrifying thought — that America has already sunk to such a state of banana republicanism that we don’t even see corruption because corruption is everywhere we look because we made corruption “just how it is”. That is kinda how it is right now. The Republican Party no longer even pretends not to be corrupt. I refuse to scratch my head in bewilderment as Republicans push through voter restrictions in the face of an election that passed every corruption smell test. The Republicans aren’t reacting to how Trump lost, they’re reacting to the fact THAT Trump lost. Reporters remark on this fact every day and yet, they never seem to build that fact into the narrative they’re reporting.

Reporters also report endlessly how the GOP has willfully become a white, Christian, male-dominated grievance party. Republicans don’t have a problem with the fact that this is what they’ve become. They love who and what they are now. They’re unashamed and liberated. They spew demonstrable lies about literally everything including the coronavirus. Hell, our news media has even reported on treason at the GOP’s leadership level and not followed up their own story! If Republicans honestly thought “There’s two people Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump — swear to God!” on June 25, 2016 (a month before nominating Trump to be their presidential candidate), then why on earth did they go and nominate a man they agreed out loud was guilty of not just corruption but treasonous corruption?

Donald Trump provingwhat Kevin McCarthy said of him “Putin pays Trump”.

The problem: the news media — the one group that can “J’accuse!” the GOP of every bit of its corruption (it’s the press’s Constitutionally mandated job FFS!) — sees GOP corruption as “political” rather than what it is, criminal. “Both sides do it” brand journalism insists that everyone does the exact same things for the exact same reasons. Everyone wants power for power’s sake. Everyone lies. Everyone is either corrupt or equally corrupt. No one is thinking about the commonweal or the very real people with very real problems that democracy and self-government is supposed to service. This assessment of American politics simply is not true. But, once a journalist goes to this cynical place and takes up cynicism’s cause, journalism itself becomes useless.

Despite what Donald Trump said on the very day he launched his bid to be president in 2015, Mexicans are not rapists and it’s not okay to grab women by the pussy just because you’re rich. Despite what Trump says now, the 2020 election was not stolen from him. Despite what Trump insisted, “But her emails” was bullshit. That our news media followed Trump to this corrupt place was our news media first giving credence to Trumpian corruption and then normalizing it. “But her emails” changed how some voters voted. “But her emails” — by design — caused some voters to throw up their hands and not vote. Cheating Americans out of their true electoral choice in order to seize power illegitimately — what could possibly be more corrupt?

Every single voter or voting restriction legislation just passed by every Republican-run state government is an act of anti-democratic criminality. If you attempt to deprive any American voter of their right to vote or of having their vote counted, you are violating their rights and that is a federal crime! There are no built in “gradations”, no “you get to violate someone’s rights “x” number of times before we tell you to stop”. That’s because no American’s right to vote is any less valid or important than any other American’s right to vote. Violate just ONE American’s right to vote and you’ve crossed a line in the sand that demands the rule of law prosecute you.

When the news media bleeps Trump’s language, they’re insulting their NEWS audience. They’re deciding that certain truths — language, for instance — are too much for their delicate audience’s sensitivities. The fact that what the Republicans are doing is monstrously obscene, far more obscene than any one word could be, doesn’t matter. When our news media calls a traitor and a criminal an honest actor or “the former guy”, they’re mis-labling the truth. They’re giving credence to bullshit. Worse, they’re giving credence to criminality and normalizing it as part of our political process.

Nothing good can come of this.

We need our news media to put on its big boy and girl pants. We need them to report every politician’s words for what they are, not the bullshit kabuki they’re trying to sell it as. A news media that can’t do that is hopelessly corrupt.

Dear American News Media: I’m Just Here To Help!

Dear American News Media:

I’ve had a change of heart about you and me and our relationship. After using this space to criticize you relentlessly, I’ve decided to “go positive” toward you instead. Pointing out your many flaws (like when you fawn over power instead of interrogating it or cynically insist that “both sides do it”) has gotten me nowhere with you. You still fawn over power when you should be skeptical of it (and that’s because you’ve mistaken cynicism for skepticism) same as you did during the George W. Bush presidency. It’s strange though how that cynicism gets applied the moment Democrats assume the mantle of power. But, there I go again, criticizing when I mean to be giving positive re-enforcement. I see now this is going to be a harder habit to break than I realized.

Most of my notes here apply to MSNBC because I spend so much more time with them than CNN. Actually, aside from Chuck Todd’s hour of over-rehearsed tics, random twitching and “I’m being thoughtful” eye rolling, I’m pretty exclusive to MSNBC where cable news is concerned. That’s not because I love most of their on air talent — I don’t. MSNBC has a few truly exceptional news broadcasters/communicators on their team. I have zero problem with advocate journalism so long as its open about its advocacy and consistent in its morality. Nicolle Wallace evolved into a super star whose past — as the basis for her crisis of conscience — gives her point of view gravitas. She is what a “Come To Jesus” moment looks like when given two hours of cable news five days a week.

Rachel Maddow’s integrity is rock solid. Stories that seem to meander suddenly cut to the bone when seemingly disparate dots connect and a real sense of “the bigger picture” flashes to the surface.

Ali Velshi is a rock. He’s gone from being the H-POD to being a beacon of logic and humanity. I don’t know how he keeps his (second) marriage together considering his work schedule. His family’s loss is our gain. Okay — I can be selfish that way.

I’m thrilled for Joy-Ann Reid (righteous indignation + receipts = what journalism should be) and all the talented people flowing from her “space”: Jonathan Capehart and Tiffany Cross both bring intelligence, cultural insight, wit and grace to their time slots, MSNBC and American journalism as a whole.

Lawrence O’Donnell puts a great bow on most days. My only note is one I’m not sure he could do anything about. I agree with most of what Lawrence says. But then, I’m the choir. Something in me always feels like that’s who Lawrence is preaching to — people as sensible as he is. Personally, I don’t have a problem with that but it does feel like a loop. Whereas Joy-Ann Reid can persuade with her passion, Lawrence reinforces with his warm reasonableness.

Chris Hayes epitomizes both advocate journalism’s strengths and its weaknesses. Hey — bring receipts like Chris does and you can flail away. But, sometimes that flailing feels like, well, flailing. The problem though is less Chris than the entire news industry’s aversion to including ALL possible explanations for Donald Trump’s presence in American politics and his behavior.

Ari Melber has the potential to be better than he is. He seems especially resistant to drawing conclusions and connecting dots minus ironclad evidence or a literal smoking gun. He sees the legal angles clearly but, at the moment of truth, when he could step forward and boldly connect the important dots, he gets lawyerly cold feet.

For the year and change of Trump’s candidacy (he declared on June 17, 2015), the four years of his presidency and the (almost a) year since he lost re-election, our news media has framed Trump as legitimate candidate, president and former-president. He’s been none of those things — from legitimacy’s point of view. Our news media however, having succumbed to access journalism’s lure during George W. Bush’s presidency, can’t bring themselves to call anyone what they are. Hell, our news media still regularly bleeps foul language from the news because they think 1) their audience “can’t handle the truth” and 2) language isn’t part of the news. Though “journalists”, they feel how a person expresses themselves — with all the significance their word choices imply — is less important if that expression might offend certain people. That’s not journalism, it’s misguided nannying.

To blunt language is to blunt news’ impact. It’s sugar-coating at a time when the more truth we get — all bitterness included — the better!

When our news media “pussy-footed” around “pussy-grabbing”, they deep-sixed the truth in favor of “being sensitive” — but to whom? Every woman in America deserved to know exactly how Donald Trump thinks about women. If that view of women includes his thinking he can do whatever he wants to whatever woman he wants — that’s material. Look, just because someone has a point of view (and we all have points of view), that doesn’t mean their point of view has a point. A rapist (like Trump) has a point of view as he commits rape (“I’m raping because I want to and can!) but that doesn’t mean his point of view is valid where fairness and the rule of law are concerned. Mexicans aren’t rapists as a culture. Trump’s candidacy should have ended the day it started because he said that.

The fact that Trump did say it — and his candidacy didn’t end — that’s not on the Democrats, it had zero to do with them. It’s not on the Republicans either because the rest of the Republican field would have been just as happy if Trump and his campaign had imploded that day. It’s hard to say how many Republican contenders knew yet (as the Washington Post reported in 2017) that “there’s two people Putin pays — Rohrbacher and Trump”. The GOP still hadn’t embraced Trump the way they would eventually. Only the news media really “saw something” in Trump.

A cash cow.

I didn’t start out a news junkie; I’m just a humble storyteller and an occasionally successful screenwriter and film/TV producer. Something about Trump’s candidacy triggered my “Spidey-senses”. My storytelling senses, too. What stuck in my craw from the get-go was a growing perception that the news story I was living through was not the news story our news media was reporting. I started to think of it like icing and cake. The news media were all about the story’s icing when, really, they needed to be looking much more deeply at the cake. Take Trump’s relationship with Vlad Putin. To this day, our news media will scratch divots into their heads pondering why Trump is soooooo beta to Putin’s alpha.

Someone should write a saying about how pictures speak a thousand words — and then hand it to our news media. “Both sides do it” journalism however gives every piece of information equal weight — and they refuse to “judge” information or the people supplying it. That’s how liars spewing lies about climate science can be the same as climate scientists presenting conclusive data. Before being shamed into cutting the shit, our news media regularly presented climate science and climate denial as if both points of view had equal merit. Even if they didn’t mean to do that, our news media presented both points of view on screen as a fifty-fifty proposition. That’s what it says visually when two people argue, both with 50% of the screen — both points of view could be true.

This still happens every time our news media presents a Democrat’s point of view and then — for balance — a Republican’s. If the Democrat says “we need to these programs to help these people and we calculate it will cost this much, the Republican replying “That costs too much” isn’t an actual reply to the question. The people the Democrats are trying to help still need that help. That’s empirically true regardless. If it will cost x dollars to help them then the proper framing is “We need this amount of money to help this amount of Americans accomplish equity — a thing we know America needs to deal with”. “Costs too much” means “I’m choosing NOT to help all the people who need help”. The question is “why?” Where should that money go instead?

Our news media loves a horse race because races are easy to call. You just sit there and watch the horses run. But, America’s in a very strange place right now. There are horse races being run — and our news media is reporting on them (the “Will Joe Biden get his agenda passed by Congress” story is nothing but a horse race in our news media’s hands). But these races are happening while the race track is burning down around us. And the Republican Party set the fire.

I know for a fact that I’m not the only member of the cable news audience baffled by cable news’ inability to aggregate the story we’re all living through. Example: the news media itself kept track of the number of lies they believe Trump told in public. 30, 573 was the “official” tab according to the Washington Post on January 24, 2021. Those were lies told while Trump was POTUS. The WaPo, as far as I know, stopped keeping track; we have no idea how many lies Trump has lied while being former-POTUS. Whatever that number is, it’s a record. Yet, few in the news media framed Trump as a liar first — though, considering the amount of lying and Trump’s willingness to lie about everything no matter how small and demonstrably false — that, too, is baffling. You’d think that, after even just 10 percent of those lies — thirty-five hundred or so — you’d stop assuming Trump was ever telling the truth since there’s clearly no evidence of it while there’s ample and growing evidence that he lies.

Our news media still publishes Trump’s lies without framing them as such even while knowing that that’s what they are. Oh, sure — they do tell us they’re lies — but, if we see it from Trump’s point of view (knowing he’s lying), the point of the exercise isn’t to prove you’re not lying, it’s to blanket the world with the lie so as to turn the lie into “the truth”. Even when acknowledging Trump’s dishonesty, our news media continues to work to his dishonesty’s advantage.

Geez! I wanted to be positive here and, instead, I’ve criticized again. Did I mention yet what a hard habit this is to break?

Here — I’ll try to be positive. Kelly O’Donnell is someone I’ve been unkind toward in the past. And she epitomizes exactly what I’m talking about. Kelly (can I call you that?), I want to make amends because — hey, we’re both in show biz, right? The news biz IS show biz and the same principles that make my storytelling work also make yours work.

I mean this from the bottom of my heart (for what that’s worth): I want to help YOU, Kelly O, be the best storyteller you can be! Here’s a clip of Kelly O from August 17, 2017 after a terrorist attack in Barcelona. It’s early in the Trump presidency; his lying as POTUS is still newish (compared to his lying as candidate). But — context — Sean Spicer didn’t get up in front of the White House Press Corps and lie about the size of Trump’s crowd size for his health or because he really wanted to. Journalists like Kelly O’ had personally witnessed not just that Trump lied but that he lied about stupid things. And,, remember, this is well after “Mexicans are rapists” (a lie) and “pussy-grabbing” (another lie — his denial).

A storyteller adding information builds a platform from which to base the next part of the story. The goal is to tell the whole story, of course, by connecting dots as they become reasonably connectable. Once you’ve established that a person is a liar (inside your own head), how can you tell that person’s story as if they aren’t a liar? The fact is they could be and an honest telling of their story starts there — not after you’ve presented the lie. Context IS everything.

https://www.msnbc.com/deadline-white-house/watch/o-donnell-appears-it-is-incorrect-information-being-tweeted-by-trump-1027064387879

At the 1:07 mark, Kelly O’ reads a tweet Trump put out.

She then qualifies the tweet: “Especially in that last sentence,” says Kelly O, “That seems to be the voice of the president more than a staffer on his behalf”. “That seems to be” is Kelly O’ inserting herself into the story — putting herself into Donald Trump’s head because, I guess, she has such insight into how Trump thinks. Though Trump to that point had showed zero capacity for empathy, Kelly O’ makes him empathetic regardless as if he must be empathetic just because he’s POTUS and Kelly O’s reporting on him. But Kelly O senses there’s more to it. Good for her!

“But, then a curious follow up tweet,” Kelly O’ continues, “…where the President says” (and she reads the tweet) —

Kelly O reminds the audience that this echoes a story Trump told on the campaign trail (a place where he lied repeatedly of course and said outrageous, offensive things) even though, as president, Trump had access to copious information that proved the story wrong. Historians have found no basis in fact for this, Kelly O says, spinning a blatant lie into “it appears this is incorrect information being tweeted by the President at this time”.

Think about the difference between these two presentations of the same thing — a lie. One presents the lie as a lie. The other is Kelly O’ dancing around until the word “lie” can’t really be discerned anymore. No one lies by accident. They’re deliberate by definition and Trump deliberately lies as readily as he breathes. Yet Kelly O editorialized a Trumpian lie down into something Trump could have done accidentally. That’s really dishonest. And, when you consider what Trump did subsequently?

That makes Kelly O an enabler.

Ah, hell — I did it again! I’m so sorry, Kelly O — I really didn’t mean to criticize. You’re a nice person — anyone can get that just from watching you. From everything I’ve read, your colleagues like you. From your industry’s point of view, you’re at the top of your game. That doesn’t mean you’re AT the top of your game. Or maybe it does and the thing we’re comparing it to — the news industry’s game — has a “top” most industries wouldn’t brag about. What it means is that from mediocrity’s point of view, you fit right in.

You are tasked with covering the biggest, most compelling, most consequential story of our collective lifetimes. Our democracy’s survival hinges on you getting your job right. So far, you’ve let us and democracy down hard. But the game ain’t over yet! Hell, MSNBC itself has news assets that both see and perfectly articulate what’s happening to us. For my money, Jason Johnson and Elie Mystal are both Jeremiah’s we should be listening to religiously.

In my dreams, a day will come when I can step back from being a news junkie. Fascinating as it is, it’s exhausting. But, I know this: if the day comes when I can stop obsessing on the news, it will be because Progressives (the only adults in the room now) have finally cleared out all the dead wood — the stale, regressive, repressiveness of our racist right wing. When the day comes that we’re no longer under threat, I will relax. Finally.

I’ll miss a few of my regulars when that day comes: Nicolle and Rachel especially. But, as for the rest of you? I’ll assume you’ve gone off to greener pastures — and jobs you might actually be good at.

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.