Coverage of Biden vs Trump

'Reality isn't optional'

from The Gray Area:
The Ronna McDaniel debacle at NBCNews continues to get commentary from both sides. Yesterday from the right-wing The Daily Signal and today left-wing Columbia Journalism Review (CJR).  CJR published a very good review of the problem American legacy media faces with politics in the 'Trump era'.  In it you can certainly see the problem from their perspective. You can also see the problem with their perspective. And, you can see how their perspective is the problem with legacy media. The problems from their perspective. I've cut out the most telling points. CJR admits: " organizations are still struggling with how to fairly cover [Trump]".
  • How do reporters call out alarming situations or point out falsehoods for what they are?
  • How do you find people who genuinely have insights into Trump’s thinking and knowledge of his operation’s decision-making, without giving his false claims a bullhorn?
    • CNN famously scrambled to find any pro-Trump talking heads for its panels during the 2016 campaign. In 2019, they had to back off plans to bring on former Trump administration official Sarah Isgur, who’d served as Jeff Sessions’s spokeswoman at the Department of Justice, after an uproar both within and outside the company.
    • The New York Times’ publication of an op-ed by Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) that called for the National Guard to be deployed during the 2020 George Floyd protests led to a staff revolt—and the forced resignation of opinion editor James Bennet.
  • if you’re trying to stick to the facts, and are in sole control of what winds up in the final product (print media), it’s a lot easier to negotiate that balance behind the scenes—and to make sure your stories land in a place that fits with your publication’s mission.
  • It gets a lot murkier when you get into opinion and analysis—especially when you go live on air.
  • the best way to hear someone’s perspective is to let them speak. That hands over a lot of control. This is why people are still arguing over whether the networks should carry Trump’s speeches live, and for how long.
  • There are two camps who represent the extremes of this debate. To oversimplify, one side has argued that Trump must be portrayed as a racist authoritarian demagogue in all coverage; the other side see it as their role to simply convey the views of everyone involved.
  • Both-sides-ism is a problem because it doesn’t call out bullshit. But if you’re actually trying to find out facts from people, it kind of matters to talk to them. If you’re portraying them in ways they feel are unfair, it tends to make them not so eager to talk to you going forward.
  • And this isn’t simply about not letting political operatives become media hosts. Plenty of flacks are now hacks—and some are better than others.
    • ABC News has George Stephanopoulos (a former communications director for Bill Clinton).
    • Fox News has Dana Perino (a former press secretary for George W. Bush).
    • MSNBC alone has a half-dozen former professional partisans with their own shows right now:
      • Nicolle Wallace (a former Bush White House press secretary),
      • Lawrence O’Donnell (a former staffer for Democratic senator Daniel Moynihan),
      • Joe Scarborough (a former Republican congressman),
      • Symone Sanders Townsend (a former spokeswoman for President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Bernie Sanders),
      • Michael Steele (like McDaniel a former RNC chair), and
      • Jen Psaki (a former Biden White House press secretary)
Overall, a very good review of the problem with political media as they, and in most cases, we see it. The problem with their perspective. Embedded in the above review are three problems with their (media insiders) perspective. 1. Political narrative dominance vs fact (truth or reality). Political narratives are used as JUSTIFICATION for their difficulty in covering him, Trump. For example, a few narratives stated as FACT from CJR:
  • [Trump's] allegiance to democracy is as suspect...
  • [Trump's] track record with the truth [is suspect]...
  • Trump must be portrayed as a racist authoritarian demagogue in all coverage...
  • McDaniel, ... played a role in Trump’s attempts to subvert the 2020 election
  • The Daily Signal cited ... in one of her typical half-hour jeremiads, Rachel Maddow compared McDaniel to a mobster and a pickpocket.  Maddow claimed this hiring wasn’t about Republicans vs. Democrats. It’s aboutbad actors trying to use the rights and privileges of democracy to end democracy.” 
None of the above is fact, truth or reality.  It is all hyped Democrat talking points which are captured, which become political narratives, which require regular repetition and support by networks, whose mission is to do so. As the Daily Signal further notes, 'There are no “fact-checkers” who will get in the way of this talk. Maddow is like Bluto in “Animal House” saying, “when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.” Facts don’t matter. As evidence from Rachel Maddow's remarks, rallying and constantly fearmongering its audience that the end times are near for democracy, is all that matters.' Which means they do not want anyone who might change their perspectives from being dominated by political narratives to one dominated by truth & reality. Truth and reality to them appear to be 'Trump supporters' who must therefore also be painted as anti-democracy and liars. Their audience is programmed to expect the hyped narratives, the same way FoxNews audience is programmed and expect to here hyped anti-left narratives. If people in the media cannot decide whether they are in the business of reporting news or manufacturing propaganda, it is all the more important that the public understand that difference, and choose their news sources accordingly. Thomas Sowell Agreed. That leaves the public with a requirement to 'vary their news sources' to have any hope of isolating truth & reality from political narrative. 2. The lack of applying the same thought process and actions to the Democrat political side. Do they call out falsehoods from Democrats?  Do they give Hillary Clinton a bullhorn for her false 'Russiagate' accusations? Anti-American and anti-democracy liars apparently cannot be found on the left in these networks. Both-sides-ism is a problem  they say.  Why?  Because they have to 'call out bullshit'. Good, but they have to 'call out bullshit' on both sides. And that is the problem with bothsiderism in their minds.  They have put themselves in a'Catch-22'. Legacy media agrees with one side's political narratives and not the other.  On FoxNews, their opinion-analysts say they support the right.  On NBC, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, The Washington Post, The New York Times and others, they refuse to say they are left.  They demonize a both sides approach so they don't have to be fair with the left. They say instead that they are the arbiters of truth.  Everyone who watches, reads or listens understand clearly they are not.  Which is why they participate in 'gaslighting' the viewer, reader or listener, to try to get them to believe that what they see with their own eyes is not true. Ignore 'the man behind the curtain'. 3. The are totally unaware of the first two. Political narratives are the 'facts', and the truth, and the reality to media producers, researchers, editors, writers and personalities. It is too expensive,it is counter to their mission, and in the end it is too embarrassing for positions they have taken to pursue truth.  The Daily Signal calls it this hypnotically/robotically anti-Trump network [MSNBC].  That is the unaware nature of the problem.  They work in the arena of progressive elites.  Everyone around them are of a similar mind. Other journalists, educators, Hollywood, financiers, corporate execs, entertainment personalities, all share the left wing talking points as if they are truth. Arrogance within the elites builds.  We are the educated, the trained, the studied, and we know better than the rubes in fly-over country. F. A. Hayek says, the parties of the left have regularly and successfully acted as if they understood the position of the intellectual. Whether by design or driven by the force of circumstances, they’ve always directed their main effort toward gaining the support of the elite. While the more conservative groups have acted, as regularly, but unsuccessfully, on a more naïve view of mass democracy. That perspective is the problem with legacy media. Notice in the 6 listed flacks/hacks at MSNBC, 3 are supposedly Republicans.  They fool themselves with this, but not others.  Watch them on air.  Those supposed Republicans have no idea what the conservative movement is all about or what the progressive movement is actually all about.  They are at best just 'never-Trumpers' spouting the anti-Trump hatred that is the network's mission.  At worst, they are saying anything for a paycheck.  To do otherwise, increases the risk of reputational damage. In that closed circle, TDS prevails, hypnotically & robotically.  If you try to branch outside, you get attacked , denounced, fired. "...the struggle to give Republicans a fair shake while not letting them off the hook will continue." I note nothing said about not letting the Democrats 'off the hook'. 'Hypnotically & robotically' , they are totally unaware and that is the problem with legacy media. Whether hypnotized by journalistic teaching, operation and/or leadership, they are hypnotized. As CJR admits: " organizations are still struggling with how to fairly cover [Trump]". And they are still failing at doing so, because they are in their own way. As Thomas Sowell stated, “reality isn’t optional”.   More From CJR: More From Daily Signal:

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