Dear Broadcast Media: Stop Live-casting Trump's Coronavirus Updates RIGHT NOW! You're Aiding & Abetting His POWER GRAB!

Maybe this is another fatal flaw in “both sides do it” journalism. The problem with “neutrality” is that in refusing to judge anything (“just here to report the facts”), you end up giving everything you report equal weight. Because you won’t call out a lie, you give it equal validity with the Truth. How can a news audience discern what “is” from what “isn’t” when the reporters on the ground refuse to differentiate between the two?

We now see reporters in the WH Press Pool asking Trump harder (but still not hard enough), direct questions — then getting flummoxed as, like yesterday, Trump responded to NBC News’ Peter Alexander’s question about helping to quell peoples’ fear by telling Peter Alexander what a terrible journalist he was. When Trump went on to the next reporter, that reporter asked THEIR question — letting Trump GET AWAY with what he did to Peter Alexander. And the Coronavirus update went on — filled with even more misinformation, disinformation and…

Let’s be real. Trump’s now using these daily updates to replace his rallies. It’s not a coincidence that, as Trump tries to lay the blame for his failures on China (by calling the virus Chinese), Bill Barr is grabbing for more unrestrained power — asking Congress to approve new, sweeping powers to arrest and hold people indefinitely. Donald Trump intends to remain in power past January 20, 2021 — the day on which his term expires. In point of fact, Donald Trump will LOSE ALL PRESIDENTIAL AUTHORITY on that date. He won’t have the Constitution on his side — at all. It will treat him as of that date — and everyone in his administration — as ordinary citizens, subject to the same rules. There will be no executive power to hide behind.

Trump may try to. His followers may try to. The chain of command will not respond. It better not. It sure sounds like it absolutely won’t. It’s just not set up to work the way Trump ultimately wants it to. And while coronavirus & Covid-19 will make responding to Trump harder — Trump has already set in motion so much misery, economic ruin and death that no one will be untouched. No one except the hardest hard core Trumpanistas will even think about going along with him.

This can only end one way. Coronavirus will do what the truth could not: it will destroy Donald Trump.

But, in the meantime, it is incumbent on every one of us — the press especially — to mitigate that as much as we possibly can. Every time Trump gets to use the news media — and a crisis — as a campaign event, we are doing ourselves great harm and making the inevitable more catastrophic and bloody. We KNOW for a fact that Trump is lying to us daily. We have to ask why.

That is — our news media has to ask. They’re the ones with the microphones & the cameras. They’re the ones in the room. They have to be us more than ever — and, as of now, they are letting us down.

CNN & MSNBC run “Breaking News” banners all day for news that broke hours before. It ain’t breaking all day. The same logic should apply to Trump’s daily lie-athons. If Trump says something that’s “breaking news” now, it will still be “breaking news” five minutes from now. Between Trump’s utterance & broadcast though, there needs to be fact-checking so that either Trump’s lies are cut out or they’re marked in real broadcast time with some clear, visible, unmistakable disclaimer that what Trump is saying to America is 100% certified bullshit.

The press pool needs to take all attention off of Trump. Washington Post columnist (and former Republican) Jennifer Ruben had a great suggestion this morning on AMJoy — the pool reporters need to stop asking Trump anything. Direct all questions to the experts. When Trump jumps in, ignore him and direct the question back to the expert. The adults in the room need to stop treating the infant like one of them.

But, ya see, that’s when “both sides do it” bites even the most intrepid reporter on the ass. “Both sides do it”, ya see. How can they treat an infant like an infant? That would be “judging” & they’re all just there to report the facts.

See the problem?

Dear Journalists: Recognize That We, The News Consumers, Are Your Audience; If We Tell You We Have A Problem With You, LISTEN!

I had a little back-and-forth this morning (using my Mulligan Jesus Twitter account) with the Washington Post’s Philip Bump. Nothing significant. For some reason my tweet annoyed him enough to respond.

I view Bump the way I view most journalists – he’s a guy doing a job, sometimes well, sometimes not. I hold journalists in no particular regard. I’ve worked in show biz most of my life. I honestly don’t care how famous you are if you not doing your job screws with me doing mine.

Like a lot of American journalists — like too, too many of them — Bump refuses to take any responsibility for the way American journalism has covered & still covers Trump. They refuse to see how their relentless normalization of Trump — from “Mexicans are rapists” to “Pussy grabbing” to putting brown children in cages to even claiming the entire Russian investigation is a hoax — has destroyed their ability to report Trump.

Reporters like Bump will insist he’s been objective down the line. Perhaps. But object relative to what? To the actual Truth or to some “truthy” version of Truth?

Bump’s hardly the worst of the worst. Reporters like NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell fill that role. 3+ years in to a president notorious for rarely telling the truth and STILL Kelly O’ reports every word Trump says faithfully — like he was speaking Gospel Truth instead of total, unadulterated bullshit.

I don’t watch the amount of news (mostly MSNBC ) that I do for the “news” (except for “breaking news” — whatever that is), I watch it like a canary in a coal mine, tweeting my head off to warn that the environment is toxic in the extreme. One of the things I tweet about with neurotic intensity is how poorly our press has performed in telling the Trump story.

From the beginning, they’ve treated Trump as if he was a normal candidate and a normal POTUS. He was neither — because Russia was doing everything it could to make Trump POTUS. If we take Russia out of the Trump equation, he would never have made it through the Republican primaries in 2016. Trump is a Russian intel asset. Any discussion or analysis of Trump that doesn’t start there, is nonsense.

What Philip Bump – and most American journalists fail to grasp — is that if i perceive a news source is unreliable, I’m not going to rely on it — or, as with the Washington Post, pay my subscription. Yes, I’m just one customer. But if enough customers like me experience the same failure of faith, the Washington Post will go belly up that much faster.

That I perceive Philip Bump or anyone in our MSM as incompetent or incapable or inept is a problem for them, not me. “Well, you’re wrong,” as Bump tweeted at me (“…thank you for your wise assessment” is how Bump put it), misses the point entirely. My “opinion” is an opinion. It may be mis-informed but it can’t (cos it’s an opinion) be “wrong”.

My opinion is that Philip Bump needs to open his mind to constructive criticism. My opinion is that America’s press has failed to meet its Constitutionally mandated responsibilities. My opinion is that America’s press needs to do better.

Hey, Philip Bump — fight me on that. I dare you.

Integrity’s An All Or Nothing Proposition – You Either Have It Or You Don’t

In the movie Princess Bride, Wallace Sean’s Vizzini, confounded by their inability to outrun Cary Elwes’ Westley, repeats the word “inconceivable” with increasing consternation until, at one point, Mandy Patinkin’s Inago Montoya responds famously —

We have the exact same problem with the whole concept of INTEGRITY — never mind the word. A Democratic system of government relies on the integrity of its voting process. We think our voting system has “integrity”. That’s bullshit. There are several terrific citizen-journalist-investigators who’ve done deep, deep dives into the fact that our voting systems have pretty damned close to ZERO integrity (Jennifer Cohen and Mike Farb have been especially intrepid and indefatigable in their pursuit of the truth).

Our inability to see this core problem — this complete lack of integrity in a system — shouts volumes about our inability to see a lack of integrity in other humans. Isn’t that the way con men work, after all? The first thing they sell you isn’t a product, it’s bullshit — that they have integrity and you, dear rube, can absolutely trust them.

Donald Trump is a fabulist who has never understood that such a thing as “Truth” even exists. To a sociopath like Trump, the truth is whatever he thinks it is in that moment — whatever he says “the truth” is. Its connection to reality is irrelevant. Anyone who stands beside Donald Trump — knowing (and how can you not) that he lies as easily as he breathes — not only accepts Donald Trump’s lack of integrity, but demonstrates that they, too, have none. How can you stand with a liar and still have integrity?

It’s impossible. You just can’t.

When America stops standing by its word — when we pinball around erratically with no moral compass — we demonstrate that we AS A COUNTRY no longer have integrity (with the caveat being that our integrity has been under assault — if not completely DOA — forever and ever). Should we be surprised when Iran prepares for war against a schizophrenic foe whose word means nothing? Should we be shocked when every country with an agenda understands that with enough money, you can get the American government to do your bidding — even if it runs counter to America’s best interests?

Our news media doesn’t grasp how THEIR integrity lies in tatters. They don’t grasp that the moment they shrugged off “Mexicans are rapists” and then (as if that wasn’t enough FFS!) “pussy-grabbing” — they busted a cap in their own integrity as the final check on power. Even as every norm of behavior, decency, logic and longstanding tradition sloughed off around them, CNN, MSNBC, The WaPo, the NYTimes — pretty much our entire MSM — continued to turn a blind eye in the name of access. If they dared confront a blatant liar with his lies, they worried, he might not talk to them. Correction: he might not lie to them.

We’re living in an age where Joseph Goebbels’ famous “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth” has, ironically, become a kind of truth. It’s how things “are” now.

Can we even spell “integrity” anymore?