Lazy-Heartless Media And Truth

September 16, 2023

In this age of all-encompassing media, there are still assholes and an entire industry of being neutral and above the fray of politics — moreover, this is the age of the T-Rump and a Republica party pure crazed by lying bluster.

This afternoon,  Joe Biden attended church services at  St. Joseph on the Brandywine near his Wilmington, Delaware, home and the press of the press came off as heartless and shitty:

Biden didn’t even look toward the journalists when ABC News guy Parkininson supposedly shouted out his question about Hunter Biden — Joe’s oldest son, Beau, is buried in that before-mentioned cemetery. He died of glioblastoma in 2015 at the age of 46.

As the perilous 2024 election grinds closer and closer, the American media system has to change its ways, move from being shitty to instead focusing on the reality that’s the Republican party, which has descended even further than Dick Nixon would/could even consider (maybe Ron Reagan, too) into a horrid mob of lawless asshole –. what the living fuck can be said about the Ken Paxton bullshit? We’re in the shits if the MSM doesn’t come to grips on the real-time fact that the T-Rump-led GOP is a danger to the future and not just America, but the whole freaking world.

Media writer/columnist Margaret Sullivan at the Guardian yesterday warned the media to change directions and get off the ‘both-side-do-it‘ bullshit — be truthful, not neutral:

News organizations have turned Biden’s age (granted, a legitimate concern) into the equivalent of a scandal. In story after story, headline after headline, they emphasize not his administration’s accomplishments, but the fact that he’s 80. A New York Times headline during his recent diplomatic mission to Asia epitomized this, turning the president’s joke about jet lag into an impression of a doddering fool: “‘It is evening, isn’t it?’ An 80-Year-Old President’s Whirlwind Trip.” Ian Millhiser of Vox nailed the problem: “I worry the ‘Biden is old’ coverage is starting to take on the same character as the 2016 But Her Emails coverage – find something that is genuinely suboptimal about the Democratic candidate and dwell on it endlessly to ‘balance’ coverage of the criminal in charge of the GOP.”


So, how can the press do better as the election approaches?

Earlier this month, I got the opportunity to speak to the staff of Guardian US about this in their Manhattan headquarters, with the top US editor Betsy Reed leading the discussion and with the Guardian’s London-based editor-in-chef, Katharine Viner, sitting in the first row.

I identified what I called the big problem and the big solution.

The big problem is that the mainstream media wants to be seen as non-partisan – a reasonable goal – and bends over backwards to accomplish this. If this means equalizing an anti-democratic candidate with a pro-democracy candidate, then so be it.

Add to this the obsession with the “horse race” aspect of the campaign, and the profit-driven desire to increase the potential news audience to include Trump voters, and you’ve got the kind of problematic coverage discussed above.

It’s fearful, it’s defensive, it’s entertainment – and click-focused, and it’s mired in the washed-up practices of an earlier era.

The big solution? Remember at all times what our core mission is: to communicate truthfully, keeping top of mind that we have a public service mission to inform the electorate and hold powerful people to account. If that’s our north star, as it should be, every editorial judgment will reflect that.

Headlines will include context, not just deliver political messaging. Overall politics coverage will reflect “not the odds, but the stakes”, as NYU’s Jay Rosen elegantly put it. Lies and liars won’t get a platform and a megaphone.


The Nobel-winning economist Paul Krugman pointed out last week that the media apparently has failed to communicate something that should be a huge asset for Biden: the US’s current “Goldilocks economy”. Inflation is low, unemployment is low and there’s virtually no hint of a recession. But many Americans, according to surveys, are convinced the economy is terrible.

Two-thirds of Americans are unhappy about the economy despite reports that inflation is easing and unemployment is close to a 50-year low, according to a new Harris poll for the Guardian. Many are unaware of, or – because of mistrust in the government or in the media – simply don’t believe the positive economic news.

“There’s a really profound and peculiar disconnect going on,” Krugman said on CNN.

Media coverage surely is partly to blame. When gas prices spike, it’s the end of the world. When they steady or fall, it’s the shrug heard ‘round the world. It illustrates one of journalism’s forever flaws – its bias for negative news and for conflict.

Can the mainstream press rise to the challenge over the next year?

Sullivan doesn’t really answer the question, but most likely it’s ‘no.’

Lost tape of supposedly ‘ethical Republicans‘ in action from way-way long ago in a dream:

Do/be real-time good guys, or not, yet here we are once again…

(Illustration out front: Pablo Picasso’s ‘Les Deux Saltimbanques: l’Arlequin et Sa Compagne,’ found here.)

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