Journalism and T-Rump

November 29, 2016

ap_16290003663731Sharp, clean sunshine this early Tuesday on California’s north coast, way-chilly, though.

As a former newspaper writer-person, reporting on T-Rump and his off-vibrates has got to be  weird as shit — for the first-time ever in public discourse, lying is the new reality.

Journalism has a challenge — CNN‘s Christiane Amanpour nailed the bottom-line in a speech last week: ‘“I believe in being truthful, not neutral.”

(Illustration found here).

Amanpour was awarded the Committee to Project Journalists’ Burton Benjamin Memorial Award for “extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom,” and also noted this in her acceptance talk:

A great America requires a great and free and safe press.
So this above all is an appeal to protect journalism itself.
Recommit to robust fact-based reporting without fear nor favor — on the issues.
Don’t stand for being labeled crooked or lying or failing.
Do stand up together — for divided we will all fall.

De-bunking pure bunk has now become a national security issue — journalism in an age of lying.
A good guide to reality for our media/press came from Columbia Journalism Review last week, detailing the situation between T-Rump and the outside world. Key points:

Again and again, we are reminded that this is not normal.
The president-elect has paraded potential cabinet picks in front of TV cameras over the past two weeks while neither holding a news conference nor following the longstanding norm of the protective press pool.
He continues to tweet 140-character invective aimed at a monolithic “crooked media.”
While an honest debate is already difficult in a polarized and fragmented media environment, Trump has made it even harder by spewing false and misleading information from his bully pulpit, dragging the news media back into the hyperpartisan muck of the 2016 campaign.
It’s in Trump’s interest to paint the press as an oppositional political force through these skirmishes.
And there’s been wide variation so far on how to respond, particularly given Trump’s shirking of other American political norms.
He has appointed the former head of Breitbart News, often a platform for white nationalism, to a top post, while his sprawling business interests and close-knit family members-turned-advisers pose unprecedented conflicts of interest.
“Part of what is so challenging, ethically, is that this is a candidate who is not behaving by standing norms,” says Kathleen Culver, director of the Center for Journalism Ethics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“So journalists are trying to figure out what norms apply.”

“If we care more about the perception and the reaction than we care about the reality, then journalism is in peril,” says Culver, of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
“Then partisans who say we are in—I hate to even use the term—the ‘post-truth era,’ win.”

Then the only norm is the truth.
And most-noted, too, was Rob Reiner’s take on our nightmare during an interview last Sunday on MSNBC’s AM Joy — ‘Meathead’ a generation past, this snip (via Suburban Guerrilla yesterday):

“I think what we’ve seen is the civil rights movement was kind of submerged for a long time.
You had the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, the Loving Versus Virginia [decision] in 1967.
Things seemed to be moving in a good direction.
You had African-Americans taking positions of prominence in the media and movies and television.
Then you have the election of the first African-American President.
It seemed like we were on a gliding path towards civility and inclusion and all of those things.
And then you see the election of Donald Trump, the first, you know, supported by the KKK, and it’s like, you know, we’ve never left the ’60s, or for that matter, the Civil War!
All those racist feelings have been kind of submerged, and then Donald Trump, with a megaphone, starting with the birther issue, gave voice to all these racist feelings and we’ve seen it bubble to the surface.

You look during the primary battle, he got free media.
He could call into “Morning Joe” anytime he wanted.
They chatted away, like he wasn’t a serious candidate, a celebrity, good for ratings.
I will never forget what Les Moonves said, a friend of mine, Donald Trump is bad for the country but good for CBS.
That, to me, is — CBS — that to me is very very cynical.
We used to have an independent free press.
I’m making a film now called Shock and Awe all about the importance of a free and independent press — if we’re going to have a healthy democracy.
It seems like that’s gone by the boards ever since media became a profit center — news became a profit center, all these journalistic precepts are out the window.
It’s very very scary. We’re about to give him a free pass again.
He is going to break — you had a guest on earlier, who said basically he will break the emoluments clause and run afoul of the US Constitution.
What will happen? Will we let that go?

Moonves is, of course, chairman of CBS.

Another angle of the same from Todd Gitlin at Moyers & Co., and Trump as a surreal mental case (per TruthDig):

When journalists sit down at a table with a man so fundamentally ignorant, self-seeking, unscrupulous and unreliable, a man who, when he doesn’t lie, characteristically emits bullshit — the now academically canonized term for propositions whose truth or falsity he doesn’t know or care to know — is it not evident that they must gird themselves at the first sign of flattery, to realize that his mission is to play them, to keep them off-balance?
Here were his first words to the Times group: “Well, I just appreciate the meeting and I have great respect for The New York Times. Tremendous respect. It’s very special. Always has been very special.”
And then the lightning, bipolar pivot: “I think I’ve been treated very rough….”

In handling that ‘bipolar pivot’ — only calling the lie all the time, or, we will all fall

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