How the media’s vacuous, sexist and false reporting on Elizabeth Warren proves they work for Trump’s agenda

For all Donald Trump’s ranting and railing against the media, they are and always have been Trump’s most valuable asset, boosting his signal exponentially — largely on his terms —…

He’s a pathological liar and a lifelong racist, with a plethora of dangerous psychological symptoms. But when Sen. Elizabeth Warren announced her potential 2020 candidacy, much of the mainstream media eagerly let Trump set the narrative, recycling his racist taunts and questioning Warren’s grasp of reality — an over-the-top example of how well they serve his needs.

Trump is hardly alone. The media has persistently benefited conservatives in a similar fashion. The general press ethos of symmetrical “fairness” is vulnerable to asymmetrical exploitation and attack, as is liberal culture more generally. Witness the decades of bad-faith attacks on climate science promoted by the fossil fuel industry which has known about its own culpability at least since the 1970s.

On “Meet the Press” last weekend, Chuck Todd of all people said he wasn’t going to play the “both sides” game about the science of climate change — a sharp reversal from decades of their usual practice, as seen just a month earlier, of giving “equal time” to ideological industry shills. This comes three decades late, compared to James Hansen’s 1988 warning to Congress, and more than five decades late, compared to the first warnings to President John F. Kennedy in February 1961. But better late than never, right?

But that was just one show and just one issue — though the future of humanity hangs in the balance. With the 2020 presidential campaign just getting started, and Democrats taking over the House, the media’s “both sides” obsession — making absurd, baseless policies seem the equal of serious proposals — is a tremendous boon to the GOP. You could even call it their ace-in-the-hole. As, Bill Kristol, a lifelong beneficiary of this false balance logic, put it recently:

As a non-Democrat, I’m struck by how much the media seem obsessed by possible rifts among Democrats, narrow lines they’ll have to walk, stray utterances of their backbenchers, etc., than by the rather more massive fact that we have a president and administration in total meltdown.

Indeed, this vastly understates the media’s false balance response to Warren’s 2020 campaign announcement — an event that served to highlight just about everything wrong with our contemporary media system: its vacuousness, sexism, racism, classism, short attention span, lack of historical awareness and more.

Warren released a powerful announcement video combining her own personal story with the economic devastation of the American middle class, a terrain where she’s been fighting for decades.

“After my older brothers joined the military, and I was just a kid, my daddy had a heart attack and couldn’t work. My mom found a minimum-wage job at Sears and that job saved our house and our family,” Warren narrates over family pictures, a story that sounds like a fairytale today: “My daddy ended up as a janitor, but he raised a daughter who got to be a public school teacher, a law professor and a senator. We got a real opportunity to build something.”

Then Warren turns to the reality she’s struggled to understand, explain and fight against for decades now. “Working families today face a lot tougher path than my family did,” she says, as a chart traces the declining middle-class share of U.S. income, from the late 1960s to now, “and families of color face a path that is steeper and rockier, a path that is made even harder by the impact of generations of discrimination,” she says, as another chart shows how the wealth gap between black and white families has only grown wider over the past 30 years.

A lot of people saw that video for themselves, but not that many heard it analyzed, echoed and discussed — treated with the seriousness and respect it deserved, whether one agrees with Warren or not. As former Hillary Clinton campaign manager Robby Mook tweeted the next day:

“Without intervention or some counter movement, the savvy press are going to do a number on us in 2020,” media critic and NYU journalism professor Jay Rosen added, retweeting Mook. (Even though I don’t believe the “media only covers insult” statement is true.)…

Source: How the media’s vacuous, sexist and false reporting on Elizabeth Warren proves they work for Trump’s agenda

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Seymour M. Hersh · The Killing of Osama bin Laden

Would bin Laden, target of a massive international manhunt, really decide that a resort town forty miles from Islamabad would be the safest place to live?

 

…This spring I contacted Durrani and told him in detail what I had learned about the bin Laden assault from American sources: that bin Laden had been a prisoner of the ISI at the Abbottabad compound since 2006; that Kayani and Pasha knew of the raid in advance and had made sure that the two helicopters delivering the Seals to Abbottabad could cross Pakistani airspace without triggering any alarms; that the CIA did not learn of bin Laden’s whereabouts by tracking his couriers, as the White House has claimed since May 2011, but from a former senior Pakistani intelligence officer who betrayed the secret in return for much of the $25 million reward offered by the US, and that, while Obama did order the raid and the Seal team did carry it out, many other aspects of the administration’s account were false…

Source: Seymour M. Hersh · The Killing of Osama bin Laden

What the rich need now is hate, sweet hate

Humberto DaSilva

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In 2008 the Westworld economy crashed because for Wall Street moral hazard had become a board game. After blowing the biggest bubble ever enticing the guileless with mortgages they couldn’t afford, stockbrokers sliced these loans into derivatives that sold like packaged bologna to guileless pension funds, RRSPs, mutual funds, and 401Ks. European banks bought this toilet paper

Source: What the rich need now is hate, sweet hate

 

Pop Lyrics at a grade 2 level and falling

The rise of idiot America has been mainly for profit.

…Ten years ago, the most popular songs read between a third and fourth grade level, but the inanity only increased with time, and after a five-year downward tumble ending in 2014 (the last year of the study), chart-topping hits had a reading level equivalent to second or third grade. Broken into genres, the levels measured just 2.6 for Hip-hop/R&B, a tie of 2.9 for Rock and Pop, and faring best was Country at 3.3 — though declaring a winner in this insipid race to the bottom seems somewhat defeatist. Even further to that point, the most intellectually stimulating song, Blake Shelton’s Country hit “All About Tonight”, measured just 5.8, while wading deeply into the ludicrous was Three Days Grace’s “The Good Life”, at a level equivalent to 0.8 — begging the question, did they have to try to craft lyrics a kindergartner could easily read?…

Source: How Popular Music’s Lyrics Perpetuate American Idiocy

Donald Trump and the rise of tribal epistemology – Vox

This is a pretty good summary and exposition of what many of us have known for years. It’s basically an elaboration of the false-equivalency argument many of us have been screaming at journalists. Go to the link for the full article.

Thanks

PG

Journalism cannot be neutral toward a threat to the conditions that make it possible.

Source: Donald Trump and the rise of tribal epistemology – Vox

Truth, Lies and Democracy: Journalism in the Age of Trump – BillMoyers.com

By Olivia Ward | March 13, 2017

She calls herself a humble scribbler, but when I read in a recent parody by Canadian journalist Olivia Ward about how Donald Trump reacted to allegations about “The Russian Connection” by ordering the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan to close …

…In a speech immediately ridiculed by Donald Trump, actress Meryl Streep told the Golden Globe audience, “we need the principled press to hold power to account, to call him on the carpet for every outrage. That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in the Constitution.” Ironically, she called for supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists, whose main mission, until now, has been campaigning for those in the dungeons and torture chambers of authoritarian regimes. “We’re gonna need them going forward,” she said, “and they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.”

But therein lies the nut graph, as editors like to call the crucial piece of the story. Because safeguarding the truth has never in living memory been more difficult in the democratic world…

Continue reading: Truth, Lies and Democracy: Journalism in the Age of Trump – BillMoyers.com

The Media’s Addiction to False Equivalencies Has Left Them Vulnerable to Trump – BillMoyers.com

Decades of conservative efforts to work the press are paying off handsomely.

The front page of The New York Times carries a picture of President Trump on Feb. 25, 2017, a day after he criticized in a speech the FBI and journalists in New York City. (Photo by Robert Nickelsberg/Getty Images)

 

To merely make it through the day with one’s sanity intact is no small task during Donald Trump’s presidency. There are so many moving targets, and they proliferate so quickly, that it’s all but impossible to maintain any kind of equilibrium between outrages.

The phenomenon I find most difficult to stomach is Trump’s genius for upside-down attacks on the media. CNN spent the last two years sucking up to him, giving him billions of dollars’ worth of free airtime and hiring “analysts” whom Trump was paying to lie for him — and he nonetheless accuses the network of spreading “fake news” on those rare occasions when it actually reports real news. To Trump, it’s the real news that is “fake news,” and vice versa. Every day is Upside-Down Day.


The Times’ DC bureau is a particular problem: Its reporters and editors see themselves as part of the ruling establishment.


Mainstream media institutions have no idea how to deal with this situation. They know how to treat a president “respectfully,” saying things like he “misspoke” or, in extreme cases, “asserted, while failing to provide evidence,” when presidents lie. But they don’t know how to cover a pathological liar who has convinced himself of the truth of those lies and who is able to get millions of gullible Americans to believe them too. Trump may be Frankenstein’s creation, but the media long ago lost control of their monster.

Among the institutions trying to find their footing in our newly dystopian democracy, none is more influential than The New York Times. And none does a better job, or even comes close. The Times was among the first newspapers to call the president’s lies by their proper name, and much of what we know about Trump’s various machinations is due to its energetic reporting. But significant problems remain. They will not be easily fixed, since they’re tied to the paper’s DNA. The Washington bureau is a particular problem: Its reporters and editors see themselves as part of the country’s ruling establishment, along with politicians, lobbyists and various hangers-on. They can’t shake the old habits that continually allow The Times’ pages to be manipulated by the liars and charlatans who now run our government…

Source: The Media’s Addiction to False Equivalencies Has Left Them Vulnerable to Trump – BillMoyers.com

This Is a Fight Against Fascism—Our Resistance Tactics Have to Change | Alternet

“There are a lot of killers. What, you think our country’s so innocent?” — Donald J. Trump, Feb.

…Of course, I could be wrong about all this, and it could be that resistance leads Trump to have second thoughts, makes civil servants across the government push back vigorously against fascism, and revives both the Democratic and Republican parties to go back to their respective liberal and conservative roots rather than the two-headed neoliberal monster they’ve become. We could have a mass movement of compassion toward immigrants, Muslims, and poor and unhealthy people in this country. The media could become a repository of diverse opinion. We could see mass support for disengagement from our wars in the Middle East and retreat from our worldwide assault on human rights. Of course, all of that could happen, in which case, go ahead, participate, engage, remain hopeful that we can go back to the thing that we’ve lost, or make it even better, and I will accept that I’m wrong.
But I know that there is nothing to hope for from our entire (neoliberal) intellectual establishment; how can there be a chance for resistance to work in that situation? They, the country’s thinkers, especially those who consider themselves progressive, are the conveyors of the virus that has led to fascism. We are not yet ready to give up empire (we call it our “world standing”), and therefore the fascism that goes with it; we just want a nice human face on it, an Obama or a reformed Hillary Clinton.
Why do I think that resistance makes fascism worse? Because it creates the illusion, for a while (as under the Obama administration), that things are getting better, but they only get worse. Resistance legitimizes, and fascism, especially, thrives on it. The two missing elements in the Bushian version of fascism were the lack of a charismatic leader and the potential of a fascist militia, the first of which has at last come true and the second of which now seems a real possibility. I would say that it’s because America is fascist but also the world’s strongest power, and administratively already possesses total capacity to destroy any entity, internally and externally, the way it wants to, that resistance only strengthens the fascist regime because it gives it something to fight against. Fascism needs an enemy to build itself against, but what if the enemy were to retreat and disappear? What would it fight against?…

 

Source: This Is a Fight Against Fascism—Our Resistance Tactics Have to Change | Alternet

The Ways to Destroy Democracy | The Nation

By Richard J. Evans

…Whereas other politicians seemed to dither or to act as mere administrators, Hitler projected purpose and dynamism. They remained trapped within the existing conventions of political life; he proved a master at denouncing those conventions and manipulating the media. The first politician to tour the country by air during an election campaign, Hitler issued an endless stream of slogans to win potential supporters over. He would make Germany great again. He would give Germans work once more. He would put Germany first. He would revive the nation’s rusting industries, laid to waste by the economic depression. He would crush the alien ideologies—­socialism, liberalism, communism—­that were undermining the nation’s will to survive and destroying its core values…

…Few took Hitler seriously or thought that he would actually put his threats against the country’s tiny Jewish minority, his rants against feminists, left-wing politicians, homosexuals, pacifists, and liberal newspaper editors, into effect. Fewer still believed his vow to quit the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations. But within a few months of taking office, he did all of these things—and much more…

Source: The Ways to Destroy Democracy | The Nation

On Anti-Semitism, Israel, and the Palestinians | Common Dreams

Speech to this year’s J Street conference

So let me be very clear: to oppose the policies of a right-wing government in Israel does not make one anti-Israel or an anti-Semite. We can oppose the policies of President Trump without being anti-American. We can oppose the policies of Netanyahu without being anti-Israel. We can oppose the policies of Islamic extremism without being anti-Muslim.

Source: On Anti-Semitism, Israel, and the Palestinians | Common Dreams