“Both Sides Do It” Journalism Is Immoral; It Needs To STOP

I just watched morning host Cris Jansing — while interviewing fellow host Joe Scarborough about his Harry Truman bio — ask if Joe DiGenova (one of Donald Trump’s LAWYERS!) suggesting execution for people with whom they disagree politically was just “some strategy”. The obvious answer is “No, of COURSE that’s not just “some strategy”. Wanting to execute people with whom you disagree is monstrous. It’s evil and indefensible. Yet Chris Jansing called it a “strategy”. What if executing political foes WAS a Trumpian strategy? What would Chris Jansing call it then? What would Chris call such an immoral strategy? Would she break down and call it “immoral”?

She should. But, the fact that we don’t know that she would? That’s as much a reflection on Chris as it is the school of journalism she practices: “Both Sides Do It”.

Journalists need skepticism in their tool belt. Too many think cynicism is just another brand of skepticism. It’s not. They’re two very different things. A skeptical journalist wants receipts for everything — or, hopefully, enough good circumstantial evidence that “equals” a receipt. A cynical journalist just flat out assumes the worst possible outcome because everyone’s a scumbag. End of story.

From that point of view, a thief is a thief is a thief no matter the scope of the thievery. Bernie Madoff stealing billions (albeit mostly from millionaires) is exactly the same as, say, Jean Valjean (the hero of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables) stealing bread to feed hungry people. A thief is a thief is a thief: both sides do it. Except, really, they don’t. Scale matters. Motivation matters. Patterns of behavior matter.

Yet something in “Both Sides Do It” can’t aggregate anything. While assuming the worst of people, it doesn’t aggregate the “worst” — the reasons for thinking the worst. So, if Donald Trump says “pussy grabbing” after insisting that “Mexicans are rapists”, “Both Sides Do It” journalism doesn’t add those two together. By the time Trump said “pussy grabbing”, most “Both Sides Do It” journalists had already forgotten “Mexicans are rapists” as if some “other” offensive candidate had said it.

That’s the normalization process at work. By the time Trump got to “pussy grabbing”, “Both Sides Do It” journalists had already normalized “Mexicans are rapists”. It was just something a “different kind of potus candidate” says. And, eventually — the kind of thing a different kind of potus says. To normalize evil is to be evil. That’s because evil never compromises with anyone. People always compromise with IT. And the moment you do? It’s “game over”. Evil just won.

Among “Both Sides Do It’s” worst offenders is NBC News’ Kelly O’Donnell.

Kelly is an award-winning journalist. She’s respected by other journalists. That’s a problem. She’s not just terrible at her job, she’s immoral and every time she gets on camera, she spews immoral journalism at us. Kelly thinks her job is to faithfully report whatever Donald Trump or his administration says without editorializing. In “normal world”, reporting about a “normal administration”, that would be one thing. That has NEVER been the case here. Reporting lies you KNOW are lies without FIRST pointing out that they’re lies is journalistic malpractice at best.

Is there a line in the sand for Kelly? Is there something Trump might say that was so deliberately cruel and egregiously incorrect that even Kelly might hesitate before repeating it? For instance — what if Trump spewed “And, by the way — people tell me Kelly O’Donnell eats children for breakfast!”? Would Kelly O repeat the president’s words faithfully because, well, “they’re the president’s words”? Or would Kelly O FINALLY draw a line in the sand?

Would Kelly O think “Hey, wait a minute — I KNOW I don’t eat children for breakfast (too much cholesterol!)” Would she say to herself “If I repeat these words, people might think they’re true — that I really DO eat children for breakfast!”? Would she put her foot down finally and say “Mister President, NO! I refuse to repeat what you just said because it’s bullshit!”?

I wouldn’t hold my breath. I guess that makes me cynical where Kelly O is concerned.

Yeah, okay — ya got me. I have zero faith that reporters/hosts like Kelly O’Donnell or Chuck Todd or John King or Wolf Blitzer or Andrea Mitchell or Alex Witt or Kris Jansen will ever bring enough perspective with them to work each day to evolve. Even as the Chuck Todd’s shake their heads in consternation, unable to fathom why Trump or Republicans do the seemingly inexplicable things they do, they’re looking for ways Democrats do the exact same things.

Except Democrats don’t do the exact same things. If Democrats did the exact same things as Republicans, they’d BE Republicans. We don’t. We never have. We’re still every bit the same group of whom Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. Diversity doesn’t not march in lock step. It does the opposite; that’s its strength. “E Pluribus Unum” — out of many, one — preaches the opposite of “Both Sides Do It”. There are no “both sides”. There’s OUR side. The American side.

We are engaged in a Great Moral Struggle. The American People didn’t just “vote Trump out of office”, we repudiated him. More Americans voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris than have ever voted for any presidential ticket — and by a margin of over six million votes. As for Trump’s number, let’s stick a pin in it. As any journalist with an ounce of perspective would tell you, when Donald Trump complains about something, whining about it relentlessly, pay attention to it: he’s projecting his guilt. If Trump’s accusing Democrats of voter machine fraud, it’s because HE’S COMMITTING IT HIMSELF.

As I wrote here, when you “own” the machines, when you have full backdoor access to them, when you your political interests are tied in to one of the two parties whose elections you’re always tallying — and your business is completely unregulated — it offers opportunities to the less scrupulous. People avoiding transparency (could Diebold and ESS — who make the majority of American voting machines — have tried any harder to resist hand-marked paper ballots for security reasons?) shouldn’t be given a pass just because they’re white, Christian guys running a business. But “Both Sides Do It” journalism refuses to aggregate or judge a story. They get the pass every stinking time.

One could probably count the number of times on one hand that ANY American broadcast journalist or news show host reminded their audience before a segment that Donald Trump was the FIRST POTUS EVER to run for re-election HAVING BEEN IMPEACHED for CHEATING in the very election he was now running in. It’s never happened before. It’s truly extraordinary.

And yet — it never even made it INTO most news stories about the election. Both sides DON’T get impeached for cheating in elections. Both sides don’t get impeached over blow jobs either but that’s a whole other story.

I have to wonder. If we transported the bulk of American journalists from today back to Germany in 1931, how would they “represent”? Would they sniff out Hitler for the monster he was? Or would they “Both Sides Do It”? Would Hitler’s authoritarian violence just be the “Both Sides Do It” counter to those pesky communists protesting? People did see Hitler for who and what he was. Just not enough people in the right places.

That’s what makes “Both Sides Do It” journalism so dangerous to our democracy. Its lack of perspective isn’t just a character flaw, it’s a fatal one. It TURNS political behavior INTO innocuous behavior when Republicans suppress Democratic voters and turns a victim reporting a crime into political behavior when Democrats react to having their votes suppressed. When journalists refuse to judge these acts — and call them what they are up front — crime and crime victim become one and the same thing.

Both sides do NOT do it. They never have. They never will.

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

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

Because it’s bullshit.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Makes punishing them easier.

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s The Question We Should All Be Asking: WHEN Did The GOP Collectively Decide To End Our Democratic Republic?

Yesterday, Lamar Alexander — Moscow Mitch McConnell’s Kentuckian partner in Senate Crime — gave the whole Republican game away. Yeah — the House proved its case beyond a shadow of a doubt. Donald Trump did everything he’s accused of. He did more — and we’re likely to learn about it. So what?

“So what?” is the Republican response to “But, the Constitution…” and “But, the Rule Of Law…” and “But, just basic logic says…”.

Let’s be clear — Mitch McConnell didn’t walk into that vote with any doubts how it would turn out. He has not a doubt how Wednesday’s vote will go. He can count — and he knows he can count ON every single other Republican there in Congress. Lamar Alexander put it plainly — “We all know that Trump 1) broke the law, 2) intends to KEEP breaking the law and 3) intends to break the law in order to UNDERMINE THE INTEGRITY of the election all the Republicans scream we should wait for.”

Our not-very-bright MSM keeps asking the same not-very-bright question: why, oh why does the Republican Party continue to back Donald Trump? WHY do they stay so loyal to him? How could they piss in the face of 70% – 80% of the country who wanted evidence and witnesses? It’s simple. Yes, on the one hand, the Senate is rigged to give real estate more say than human beings. Those Republican Senators don’t necessarily have to fear for their seats. But, don’t they have to fear for their souls?

“Juror” (sworn to impartiality) Mitch McConnell wasn’t the only Republican Senator to openly state how he intended to vote in this trial before it even began. Think of it — anyone with an “R” next to their name who took their oath seriously should have been horrified at the thought — because that meant their fellow jurors would be violating their oath — and perverting the solemn process they were now part of.

Please, say you’re laughing right now. Every Republican violated their oath during this trial. Every Republican knew they were doing it as they did it. Every Republican pretty much marches in lock step.

Hmmmmmm… Democrats never march in lock step — we’re too disorganized. What Will Rogers said early in the 20th century still holds true about us: “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. Republicans, by contrast, enjoy walking in lock step. They’re good at getting ORGANIZED like that.

Getting organized… you cannot march in lock step — even on a critical vote about a president everyone taking that vote KNOWS is guilty — without getting organized FIRST.

That means at some point in the past, a bunch of Republicans had to sit in a room together an GET organized — to march in lock step — to do the thing they’re not doing. Considering the extreme criminal nature of it — violating the Constitution in myriad ways — they had to CONSPIRE together.

No doubt, this criminal conspiracy started small. A handful of criminals — Mitch (representing the Money and the GOP’s deepest, darkest desires), Paul Ryan… Paul Ryan we know because when current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked into a room of muckety-mucks during the 2016 GOP convention and said “There‚Äôs two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump“, Paul Ryan said “Let’s keep that ‘in the FAMILY’.”

Ya mean like ‘Crime Family’, Paul?

At some point this conspiracy to defraud Americans of a free & fair election spread as far & wide as the Russian money did to Republican campaign coffers. Not a single Republican raised their hand to say anything. Not a one called the FBI.

Quick Reminder: we KNOW that the Russians hacked into the Republicans same as they hacked into the Democrats. They spent all their Democratic hacking finds during 2016. The betting is they’ve been holding their Republican hacking all along — using it and lots of other material as kompromat. Once you’ve started down that road, there’s no going back shy of a confession.

The Republican Party knows exactly — E X A C T L Y — what it is doing here. It’s calculated. It’s planned.

You can’t really wing a coup d’etat after all and expect to get away with it.