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NOV 9-15, 2016
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‘Yuge’ loser: the mainstream media by Jim Morekis
OUR PRINT DEADLINE is Monday, which always makes election years interesting. As I write this, you have an advantage: You know who won on Tuesday and I don’t. From my vantage point here on Nov. 7, it certainly seems as if Hillary Clinton is going to win, perhaps easily. But then again, that’s why they hold elections: To see what the voters say. Seeing as I can’t comment on who won or lost since I don’t know, I’ll reserve my judgment this week for something I’m a bit better briefed on: The state and performance of the modern mainstream media. As an alt-weekly editor I’ve made my
The networks — fully knowing what was going on — promoted the debates as if they were one of Trump’s old business ventures, pro wrestling. They would even make sure Trump’s podium was right in the middle, lest you forget what you were supposed to be reacting to, who was the focal point, who was the star. The mainstream media created the Republican debates as an amusing circus sideshow, and happily helped sell the idea of Trump as an all-beating, dominant alpha male running roughshod over weaker opponents. Trump being Trump, he happily took advantage. He took the taunting, bullyboy persona he and the media both crafted and took it on the road to Flyover America, in raucous, crowded rallies which often took
Of most concern to me isn’t any negative impact that might have had on Trump itself, but for the obviously dangerous precedent it sets with regards to the public’s overall trust in the media. Once out of the bag, that cat’s going to be pretty hard to squeeze back in. Older generations had a name for partisan advocacy disguised as civic journalism: Propaganda. Autumn came. Tensions with Russia over the Syrian debacle heated up to a point generally described as literally the most dangerous since the Cold War. But you certainly wouldn’t know it reading the good ol’ Times and the Post! On any given day their homepages were still almost entirely given over to the Trump controversy du jour. If you were lucky, you might scroll down for a mention of
The monster the mainstream media helped to create turned on them. And now they decided it was too close for comfort. whole career out of being independent from the mainstream media, so I’m hardly a neutral observer. But I can say I’ve never been more distressed — disturbed even — by the mendacity and hypocrisy gleefully on display. Don’t worry: This isn’t a mere recycling of Donald Trump’s own cynical shootthe-messenger appeal to his supporters. The media’s failures represent something far more dangerous and long-lasting than Trump’s own narcissistic victimhood. Our news cycle is so compressed now, it’s difficult to remember that Donald Trump, presidential candidate, was almost purely a creation of the mainstream media. And I don’t just mean Fox News, which you might recall was originally dead-set against Trump, clearly favoring more standard conservative options such as Cruz and Rubio for many months. Back before things got real and people began speaking in apocalyptic terms about a possible Trump presidency, MSNBC — little liberal MSNBC with its tiny but dedicated audience — would routinely run 20 or 30 minutes of raw, unfiltered Donald Trump campaign appearances, not even cutting to commercials. They did so, of course, because at the time Trump got “yuge” ratings — something not exactly synonymous with MSNBC on the best of days. When it came time for the debates, each one Trump participated in was a recordbreaker in some form or fashion, the main beneficiary being not only Trump but the networks selling ad buys at top dollar.
on an air of menace. The mainstream media acted surprised when that happened. The monster they helped to create turned on them. And now they decided it was too close for comfort. Time passed, and when Trump secured the GOP nomination the mainstream media concluded that the three-ring circus they had pocketed millions from had gone on long enough. In July, the Washington Post, in an unprecedented move, issued an oddly chest-beating preemptive non-endorsement, saying that whatever happened they were never, ever going to endorse Trump because, in their words, he is a “unique threat to American democracy.” By August, the New York Times had adopted the official editorial stance, in so many words, that Trump was so phenomenally dangerous that they viewed it as a higher moral calling to abandon objectivity and cover him not as a candidate but as a threat to the republic. Now, as any fair-minded, level-headed, person can see, this is problematic regardless of your negative feelings about Trump. When the nation’s newspaper of record — which got that way presumably for being a credible arbiter of what is fact and what is not, hence its motto “All the News That’s Fit To Print” — says you can no longer trust it to be objective, and worse yet justifies it by saying it’s for your own good, it’s safe to say we’ve reached a new place in journalism that stretches the definition of journalism itself.
impending nuclear World War III at the bottom of the page. Then the WikiLeaks revelations came, and Bernie Sanders supporters in particular found confirmation of their worst suspicions. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz was forced to resign as Democratic National Committee chair for tampering with the supposedly unbiased nomination process in favor of Clinton (who immediately hired her, but that’s another story). Wasserman-Schultz was replaced by Donna Brazile, longtime contributor to CNN, which has had the derisive nickname “Clinton News Network” in some quarters for literally two decades. It was learned that Brazile had at least twice fed debate and townhall questions directly to the Clinton campaign in an attempt to favor her over Sanders. Shocker, right? Far more disturbing, other WikiLeaks revelations showed that political reporters all over Washington routinely allowed Clinton campaign staff to review and even edit their “objective” analyses before publication, thus violating one of the most sacrosanct of journalistic principles. In the end, they will in all probability get what they wanted, a Clinton presidency. Or perhaps more accurately, a Trump defeat. But regardless of how it ends up, in any case the mainstream media will also be left picking up the shattered remnants of their already-shaky credibility. cs