Monday, June 20, 2016

Sunday Morning Comin' Down



The horses bolted years ago.  Some scattered to the horizon.  One wandered off into the woods and died.

Shortly after the horses ran, the barn caught fire. 

The managers of the estate came by long after the barn fire had burned itself out.  They found a total loss.  The horses were long gone. roof had collapsed and the wind and rain had taken down what was left of the walls.

But by some fluke of the fie, front of the building was still intact, so they carefully closed and locked the barn door.  

Because they were professionals, damn it, and that's what professionals do.

The only item of interest to me this weekend was on CNN's "Reliable Sources" where a panel of journalist boldly suggested that journalists take a bold, new approach to journalism.  A big hat-tip to Brian Stelter, who is starting to infuse his show with the kinds of Media Fail discussions that no one else will touch.

Of course Dana Milbank had to dip it in Both Siderist sauce to get it past his gag reflex (emphasis added):
DANA MILBANK [Washinton Post]: No, I think it needs to be critiqued in real time. And it just simply isn't.

And the idea of having a fact-checking segment after the fact, I mean, I think a lot of us are hung up in the news business about this so- called objectivity, and saying, well, he said this, and she said this, and not saying, no, these things are wrong.

And I think, as the others have been saying here, Donald Trump, it's not about left or right, conservative, liberal. This is a man who is operating fundamentally outside of our democratic system. And it's not wrong of journalists to point that out. In fact, it's our obligation.
Oh fuck you, Dana,  Draw a line though every story that the Beltway has "Both Sidered" into oblivion and you cannot fail to notice that this tactic is virtually always deployed to deflect and disperse blame for some Conservative atrocity by positing some imaginary hippie wrongdoer who is probably off somewhere right this very minute doing something equally and oppositely wrong.

To ever so slightly misquote Danny Dalton in Syriana, you have "objectivity" rules in journalism precisely so you can get away with it. Both Siderism is your protection. Both Siderism keeps you safe and warm. Both Siderism is why you and David Brooks are prancing around the Beltway instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the streets. Both Siderism is why Conservatives win.

However, if you set aside the obligatory and toxic bit of obeisance to the fantasy that somehow Trump is a freak of nature instead of a perfect manifestation of the rotting heart of the Party of Lincoln...

...the balance of the conversation was interesting in an "OMFG, we have got to get that barn door closed now!" kind of way (h/t Crooks & Liars)



Transcript via CNN:
STELTER: ...are we at the point now, a year into this campaign, this unusual campaign, where it's appropriate to call [Trump] a pathological liar? 

JON AVLON [Daily Beast]: Yes, absolutely.   Look, this is a guy, candidate who lies with unusual enthusiasm. There have been studies to show that, on the stump, he lies as much as once every five minutes. And so it's our job as journalists to hold him to account, to insist on -- a fact-free debate -- part of the sin that gets created is too often journalist organizations, for a variety of reasons, slide into that mess of moral equivalence, where they do, on the one hand, on the other. 

And if you end up printing something a candidate says that you know to be false, you become part of the problem. It's our job to actually push back on that.

And, look, Trump and the press have a twisted relationship. He is a celebrity demagogue who craves media attention, yet he resists every attempt to hold him accountable. And it's our job to do that without fear or favor. And if you become part of the black list, as The Daily Beast has been for a while, and now "The Washington Post," where it as a badge of honor. 

STELTER: Well, let me ask you about that. So, you have been denied press credentials for Daily Beast for months.
...

AVLON: There are absolutely ways to continue covering a candidate, even if they don't give you their official badge and put you into the pen and corral you like so many cattle. 

You know, what happens is, too many organization, frankly, I think have been uncomfortable holding him to account because they're afraid of losing access. They're afraid of offending his supporters. And that stops them from doing their duty. 

You know, in the case of the press, as we see this slide to "The Washington Post," it's worth remembering Churchill's line about appeasers. An appeaser is somebody who feeds the crocodile, hoping it eats them last. 

Donald Trump is fundamentally hostile to a free press. And we need to understand that and push back. That doesn't mean ignoring that he's the Republican nominee. That's real. You can't make that go away. [11:35:02] 

STELTER: Well, so, Dana, your proposal is what, that there should be a blackout, that other journalists should skip his rallies because "The Post" can't attend? 

MILBANK: No, I wouldn't go that far.

I mean, look, he is going to be the Republican nominee, barring something unforeseen. You can't ignore him. We have our civic duty to cover that.

But we can do things so that we stop giving him this credulous, uncritical coverage that -- Ted Cruz was right. He got about $2 billion worth of the equivalent of ads from the media for free. So I'm saying, stop taking the -- his rallies live. Stop letting him call into...

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: But those are not advertisements. Showing the rallies are not advertisements. That is news coverage. And then it is critiqued afterwards and explained afterwards. 

MILBANK: Well... 

STELTER: Do you that's not sufficient? 
...

AVLON: No, that's right. 

And, look, there's not a tension between the ideal of objectivity and calling B.S. on candidates who lie reflexively. Those two things walk hand in hand. They are in concert. And it may require something as close as possible to real-time fact-checking, so that you're not simply a stenographer for a demagogue.

But that's our responsibility. That's what we need to be doing. And that's totally consistent with the mission of an ideal -- the ideal of an objective press that pushes back, calls B.S., and insists on a fact-based debate. 
I will support any vagrant hint from anywhere which suggests that, just maybe, journalists should do journalism, so bravo to Mr. Stelter for making space on the teevee machine to even bring up the subject of not using one's press pass to cover up for serial liars.

However, maybe someday you start naming names, Mr. Stelter.  Because that would be some good teevee,

2 comments:

Karen Rea said...

Good God! Here we have a bunch of supposed journalists sitting around a table arguing about what the hell their job is and how crappy a job our 'seasoned' reporters have done with Herr Trump? Talk about navel-gazing assholes. Come back when you aren't the story, jerks. I have never seen such incompetence in my life and that's saying something when it comes to political reporting.

They had their stories about Hillary and hippies and Democrats all teed up and ready to go years ago, and along comes this imbecile that gets in their way. Now they have to think and formulate new thoughts and finally see the Republicans for what they are. Poor babies; all those useless piece-of-crap articles about the thoughtful, mature, competent Republicans we've had to endure since Nixon was in knee-pants. All the while us DFHs were left screaming at the TV machine and rending our garments because these damned sages could not, or would not, see what was in front of their faces. I want their whole narrative of the last 50 years thrown upon the ash heap of history where it belongs.

Oh, and if I see one more jot coming out of these assholes' pens about what a serious wonk Paul Ryan is, I'm just going to completely lose it.

Karen Rea said...

Good God! Here we have a bunch of supposed journalists sitting around a table arguing about what the hell their job is and how crappy a job our 'seasoned' reporters have done with Herr Trump? Talk about navel-gazing assholes. Come back when you aren't the story, jerks. I have never seen such incompetence in my life and that's saying something when it comes to political reporting.

They had their stories about Hillary and hippies and Democrats all teed up and ready to go years ago, and along comes this imbecile that gets in their way. Now they have to think and formulate new thoughts and finally see the Republicans for what they are. Poor babies; all those useless piece-of-crap articles about the thoughtful, mature, competent Republicans we've had to endure since Nixon was in knee-pants. All the while us DFHs were left screaming at the TV machine and rending our garments because these damned sages could not, or would not, see what was in front of their faces. I want their whole narrative of the last 50 years thrown upon the ash heap of history where it belongs.

Oh, and if I see one more jot coming out of these assholes' pens about what a serious wonk Paul Ryan is, I'm just going to completely lose it.