Donald Trump claims to be many things, but the one thing he can get credit for is being the master showman (at least for a period of time before the audience tires of him like with Celebrity Apprentice). As such he likes to come up with short quips that catch on with his followers to gain notoriety and get across whatever he happens to be selling at the time. Mind you these quips have little to no basis in reality, but for the dull-witted among us, they carry weight. These quips are usually in Hashtag form on Twitter. Hashtags have become the bumper-stickers of the 21st Century.
One hashtag this showman (who lack substance) has used a lot to this day is #DishonestMedia. The immediate context from this is of course the media is dishonest in their reporting of him. This accusation is as old as the presidency itself. John Adams was so incensed by how he was treated by the press (at the urging of Thomas Jefferson), he actually had people arrested for writing scurrilous things about him. Of course, Nixon had his “enemies list” that was comprised of many of the newspaper writers, editors and media personalities of the time. The one difference with Trump however, is he goes so far as to openly express his hatred of the media, using ad hominem attacks on them personally. One time he publicly joked about having some in the media killed because he hated them so much
As President, Trump is using his “Suppress Secretary” Sean Spicer to insist what the media portrays are lies and misinformation. Despite side by side pictures, on the ground reporting by experts, he and Trump insist that less than 400,000 people on the mall for his inauguration was actually a million and a half. The media is being dishonest by reporting otherwise and showing film of vacant stands, sections of the mall as the inauguration was underway as well as the Trump motorcade. It is almost… hell, it is Orwellian.
Now for this post I’m going to speak of media as in cable and network news, newspapers and internet blogs.
Is the media dishonest? Well I like to point out that if you improperly use Inferential Logic you can clearly say in Trump’s case that the media is dishonest because they are reporting on a man quantitatively proven to be the most dishonest man to run for and occupy the White House. If you report on dishonesty, you’re dishonest yourself. Now of course that’s pure bullshit so let’s go further.
There was a time where network news, in order to maintain access to the public airwaves had to broadcast in the public interest. In terms of politics, it had to be honest and balanced between the positions and/or candidates at hand. By FCC regulation, there had to be a firewall between advertisers and the news department. However, under Ronald Reagan the “fairness doctrine” was eliminated. In the years that followed the “liberal media” more and more came under control of corporate interests via actual ownership and advertising dollars. So as a result, over time a not so balanced presentation of the news came to being, usually siding with those you supported corporate interests. By the time cable news came to being, this was par for the course. Studies have clearly indicated that the “liberal media” over the past isn’t so much. Even during the Obama administration, Republicans were seen more on the Sunday Talk shows than Democrats. Oh, same goes for White Males than minorities or women. Here’s the study:
Now the joke is reality has a liberal bias and perhaps it does. But as far as network and cable news are concerned, and most likely because of corporate sponsorship, the news (even on MSNBC) leans more right than left.
So that being said, is the media in terms of cable and network news “dishonest”? No, but they aren’t completely balanced either. In fact Trump received an estimated $3 billion in free coverage from the “liberal media” in his run for the nomination and presidency. Now if something is beyond all doubt and is shown or talked about on air, they’re being honest. The only ones being dishonest would be those showing a kitten and saying it’s a puppy.
As for another Trump hashtag #FakeNews, to relate a story about an actual investigation or statement of interested parties regarding Trump and/or his staff isn’t fake news. It’s conceivable that nothing substantial will come from the investigations, but if 17 intelligence agencies say they believe something happened and are looking into it, that’s not fake. Saying it is fake is simply ludicrous. Fake news is saying that FBI is investigating a pizza place in DC where child trafficking is taking place despite the fact that there are no FBI investigations or complaints ever being made.
So what of the press. Established newspapers have had troubles in this information age. Indeed they like media required advertising dollars to survive, but they also require subscribers. So with “news” available via Facebook, Twitter, Blogs etc., fewer people will spend the money subscribing to a newspaper or magazine since a lot of the information there is suddenly free on-line.
But here’s the kicker. These papers and magazines (at least the established ones) still hold to journalistic integrity and ethics. Anything of a serious nature or accusation against a person, especially a politician doesn’t get past the editorial board to be published until multiple sources confirm the story. That was the basis of the Watergate reporting. So they do their due diligence, report the story and other internet sites copy, paste, to tell the same story that these reporters did the hard work to get and verify. Sometimes they will get it wrong, but when they do, they print a retraction and are open for lawsuits against them.
The New York Times, Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Atlantic, Esquire, Time Magazine, Newsweek Magazine are of the few remaining newspapers and magazines that do traditional investigation, verification and reporting. But in this internet age, they’re losing money to those who make use of their work. You will note that their articles are balanced and factual and do tend to lean left. But again, reality has a liberal bias.
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Finally we have the blogs. Blogs have no oversight, no rules, no restraints, whoever runs the blog has the say in what goes in it. That is true of both liberal leaning blogs and conservative leaning blogs. Now some blogs present themselves as news sources (Breitbart, NewsMax, The Daily Caller, The Blaze, etc.). They are nothing but glorified blogs printing without verification a political leaning of their choice. They are not true news and to say they are is being “Dishonest”. This blog you’re reading does have a liberal leaning, and I’ll admit I write in a style dismissive of the right. However when I can I try to be fair, I will post links and I’ll never claim to be the ultimate source of information. Like Randi Rhodes I ask you to do your homework rather than take my word for it.
The media playing tapes of multiple statements from Donald Trump in full context, showing his tweets, repeating his promises then showing him saying he’s doing something different, are not acts of a dishonest media, it’s showing what happened and what was said by Trump.
The media was envisioned by the founders as the 4th estate to hold your government accountable. No president including Obama has had an easy time with media coverage of their presidency but Trump takes the cake. Someone who’s secure in himself, his cause and his job has no need to engage in pointless squabbles with the media. Last president to do that was Richard Nixon and remember what happened to him.
As for the media, do your job. Stay on the offensive and hold this administration accountable for the American People. Give us reason to trust you are covering this man fully and accurately. As for all of you, subscribe to newspapers and read them. They’re pretty much all we have left now to keep us informed especially since Trump is wiping clean all relevant accurate data from the Government website regarding Healthcare and Climate Change. Almost as if he doesn’t want you guy to know something. Trump is the Dishonest President.