Media postsMonday December 31, 2018
Some Shitty 2018 New York Times Headlines
Not a comprehensive study, by the way, just the ones I had lying around. I basically took the screenshots when I: 1) noticed, 2) cared enough/was incensed enough, and 3) had the time. But there is a theme.
It's the “Trump says” theme. He says North Korea is no longer a nuke threat, Germany is a captive of Russia, and, maybe most absurdly, he “laid down the law,” when at best he laid it aside. He threw it away. He stomped on it without even knowing or caring he was stomping on it.
Why is it a problem to simply report what a powerful person said? Here. From “Ike and McCarthy: Dwight Eisenhower's Secret Campaign against Joseph McCarthy” by David A. Nichols:
Sensing the chance to gain more headlines, [Joseph] McCarthy terminated his honeymoon and rushed back to take charge of the Monmouth investigation. Once back, he rolled out sensational charges every day. He was free to emerge from closed-door hearings and tell the press anything he wished, accurate or not, knowing that reporters would report whatever he said.
One hopes that in 2019 The New York Times and other responsible media outlets will try to avoid this construction as much as possible.
For NPR, ‘Trump Implicated in Felony’ Creates Dilemma for Democrats
So the president of the United States was implicated in a felony in federal court on Friday—for buying the silence of McDougal/Daniels in the run-up to the 2016 election regarding affairs with each of them. Here's the headline the next day in my hometown newspaper:
That's straightforward. Much of the rest of the mainstream press was less so. They prevaricated as much as possible.
Did anyone do this more than NPR? When I listened to Morning Edition on Monday, the focus of their broadcast, for the 15 or so minutes I listened, was on the dilemma all this causes for Democrats.
I shit you not.
NPR's national political correspondent Mara Liasson, in breaking down the matter, refers to Trump once; she refers to Democrats six times.
INSKEEP: Now, you said unindicted co-conspirator. Of course, the key word there is unindicted. He's not indicted here. He's just named for his involvement in a crime, or Individual One is. It is a matter of dispute whether a sitting president can be indicted by a grand jury, but he certainly can be impeached by Congress. Do Democrats want to do that?
LIASSON: Some Democrats do. Most Democrats don‘t. Democrats want to keep the right balance when they take over power in the House. They want to exercise oversight. They want to investigate the president and the administration in a non-showboaty way.
BTW: Some people might consider the key word “co-conspirator,” Steve.
Then Morning Edition’s crack team immediately went to a long interview with Jonah Golberg, senior editor at National Review, who also talked about what a dilemma all this was for the Democrats. Particular, he added, because of the demands of its base:
The base of the Democratic Party wants impeachment. They crave impeachment. They hunger for it. They're sort of like werewolves. At the full moon, they must feed. And if they must impeach over this stuff, they may in fact impeach over this stuff.
Rachel Martin brings up how the Clinton impeachment actually backfired against the GOP, to which Goldberg says:
I agree. I think politically it would be a bad idea. It was a bad idea for the Republicans to do it politically, but they sort of had to follow through on their own, you know, line of reasoning and consistency.
Got that? Dems are werewolves, Repubs follow a “line of reasoning.” And the illegalities of a Republican president create dilemmas for the other party. So glad NPR is here to help me make sense of the world.
NP Fucking R
Do I even bother?
Yesterday, NPR's “Morning Edition” spent seven minutes on a piece about a young woman from Minnesota, who claims a liberal background, voted for Hillary, and realizes, after two years of Trump, what bullies liberals are.
- The ICE workers she works with are nice.
- Though she's been sexually assault herself, and believes Dr. Ford, she thinks it wasn't Brett Kavanaugh who assaulted her.
- Democrats disturb people at dinner.
Basically she's following the GOP/Fox News line.
That would be my follow-up whenever anyone presents misleading or false claims during an intereview with a reporter: Where do you get your news? Of the above, 1) is misleading (ICE is just a gov't agency, full of people like you and me; you need to look at who's giving the orders); 2) is GOP/Fox spin on those events; 3) is true in a handful of cases.
I'd also be curious where NPR came upon this story: who pitched whom? And how much due diligence was done? What really stood out for me: The young woman, Alexa Gruman, never says “Democratic party.” She always says “liberal party.” Which isn't a thing. At all.
Seven minutes. The week after pipe-bombs were sent to Trump opponents, including former Pres. Obama; the week after 11 people were killed in a Pittsburgh synagogue over immigration issues; and the day after Trump announced his intention to executive-order the 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, we get seven minutes of this woman's cheerful idiocy. It's presented to us like it's news.
NPR's Motiveless Crime
I was listening to an NPR report this morning about the pipebombs sent to former President Obama, former U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, and financier George Soros. Since then, we‘ve learned bombs have been sent to former Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, and many others. The Manhattan offices of CNN were also evacuated due to a bomb scare.
What do they all have in common? Well, it’s pretty obvous. They‘re all frequent targets of Pres. Trump and right-wing propaganda networks like Fox News. No mystery there.
Except for some reason, this morning, NPR wanted to preserve the mystery.
Four times during the 3-minute talk between host Steve Inskeep and reporter Ryan Lucas, they cautioned against ascribing any motive to the crimes:
- LUCAS: But, you know, it’s unclear what the motive of the individual who left this this device may have been...
- LUCAS: Certainly a lot of questions as to the motivations behind whoever left it...
- LUCAS: And there are questions certainly as to whether there is a political motivation behind this...
- INSKEEP: Yeah. We should emphasize—no one has named any suspect. No one has said anything about the motivations of that suspect or anything else...
I get not ascribing a motive to the actions. But constantly warning us against doing so? What's the motive to that? It felt overdone. It felt like they thought that without their consant drumbeat, we would all take to the streets in a lawless fashion.
Here's what's worse: At the same time, Inskeep let us know that each of the recipients, Obama, Hillary and Soros, were “polarizing figures.” Just as he reminded us, on Jan. 19, 2017, how much, during his time in office, Obama had divided the country.
One Moment from the Seattle Times' coverage of the Schrier-Rossi Debate You Won't Hear More About
Here's another example of what's wrong with the mainstream media. Not to mention the Republicans. Not to mention the Democrats.
It's from the Seattle Times' coverage of the recent debate between Republican Dino Rossi and Democrat Kim Schrier for the U.S. 8th congressional district seat in Washington state. It's an open seat after Republican Dave Reichert, who's held the seat since 2005, decided to step down. The district was created after the 1980 census and has never not been held by Republicans.
Here's the coverage. It's from a piece by Jim Brunner entitled “4 moments from the Rossi-Schrier debate you may hear more about.” It's his second moment: “TWO: An insult to farmers?” It goes like this:
Asked about problems with the U.S. guest-worker program, Schrier said the system doesn't work well for farmers or immigrant workers. She said the system “can lead to sort of a pattern of indentured servitude, where a worker is sort of held hostage by a potentially abusive farmer, or farm owner.”
Rossi responded, “I don't believe our farmers are abusive” and that political posturing has prevented the kind of immigration reform the country needs.
I don't even need to know the details of the U.S. guest-worker program to see what just happened there. Schrier said the system can lead to abuses. She's raising a hypothetical with one possible farmer. Because farmers are human beings, with all the possibilities contained therein. Rossi twists her words so that her one hypothetical farmer becomes all farmers.
And does Brunner or the mainstream media clear this up? The opposite.
On Thursday, Andrew Bell, Rossi's campaign manager, pointed to Schrier's comment as evidence she's out of touch with the 8th District.
“Calling farmers abusive seems a strange way to court voters in a district that is rural,” he said, adding that the campaign already has heard from farmers offended by the comment who are considering how to respond.
And do the Dems fight back by pointing out what I just pointed out? The opposite.
Schrier's campaign backed away some from the statement Thursday, with Rodihan saying, “that's not how she would normally word it.” Rodihan said the larger point is that the farmworker visa program “is broken and both workers and farmers believe the program should be fixed.”
Except Schrier didn't word it that way—Rossi did. He twisted her words, the media didn't clarify, the Dems backed down. Way of the world. Since fucking forever.
The Republicans do this all the time—when it suits them. An immigrant commits a crime, all immigrants are bad. A Muslim commits a terrorist act, all Muslims are bad. A white guy goes into a black church and kills everyone in there, whoops, what a crazy, mixed-up kid.
Yesterday, The Seattle Times editorial board officially endorsed Dino Rossi for the 8th district. Yesterday, I spent most of the day in the 8th canvassing for Dr. Kim Schrier. Because we need a check on the real abuses of the Trump administration, and Dino Rossi will most assuredly not be that.
More than anything, though, I'm tired of this pattern: where language and logic is held hostage by abusive Republicans and remains unclarified by the hapless media. Sadly, that's not close to a hypothetical.