Tag Archives: The Press

Blog 111. Trump Attacks The Press

24 Oct

In one small foreign country, its president owns all of the major banks, unfairly enriching himself by this corrupt practice. Similar corruption is found in many
large and small foreign countries.
Trump appears to have a similar pattern. He uses most of the methods that past and current tyrants have employed to maintain their power and control. Trump intimidates critics, admires other tyrants, and much of his communication is regarding his exaggerated achievements. Also typical is his use of office to promote his businesses. His hotels are advertised in his speeches and by his trips, and foreign leaders stay in Trump Tower rooms. He failed to divest his business interests and severely violates nepotism rules. He ignores huge areas of government, like the State Department and CIA. He whimsically establishes the most vital policies and makes little use the departments designed to help.

Trump’s attack on the press is very typical of authoritarians. Robert Reich discusses several methods used in such attacks, which helps to achieve greater control over the citizens. See:    http://robertreich.org/post/154819980595
Four attacks are described:
“1. Berate the media and turn the public against it.” See his speeches.
“2. Limit media access.” Example: almost no news conferences.
“3. Threaten the media” Examples: threatening to sue newspapers and revoke licenses.
“4. Bypass the media and communicate with the public directly.” Example: Tweets

Trump wants to rewrite history to support his programs and candidacy. Past USA leaders have been occassionally annoyed with the press and have criticized reporting. We have never had such a complete labeling as: all news is “fake” news. I am always amazed at how his supporters take his word over the most revered and reliable of USA newspapers, the N.Y. Times, with 120 Pulitzer Prize winners.
Trump has been rejected by many Republicans including: George Will, Past-President Bush, Joe Scarborough (now an independent), John McCain, Bob Corker, Jeff Flake, and last but not least, his Secretary of State called him a “moron.” But he does have support from David Duke of the KKK who thanked Trump for “his honesty and courage.” Megyn Kelly, who feuded with Trump, left conservative Fox News and joined the liberal MSNBC.
Have you watched the N. Korean military lined up and clapping like zombies with their leader, Kim. You can see the same thing with Trump supporters. Each member of his cabinet tries to outdo the flattery bestowed by the others.

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94. Katy Tur Wins a Medal

15 Feb

As a political blogger, I listen to many news programs every day. I am disappointed with the vast majority of interviewers and interviews by a basically liberal or moderate newsman who misses the important points and is pathetic in allowing false statements to go unanswered.

Today (2/15/17), Katy Tur (MSNBC early afternoon) put all the others to shame in an interview with a republican Congressman. A major part of the interview was concerned with Michael Flynn and leaked news. She was not perfect (who is?) but was right on the mark 95% of the time. The Congressman was forced to pivot and was clearly beaten on the main points.

I invite Katy Tur to come over to my place for a medal presentation ceremony. I haven’t yet bought the medal, but if she agrees to come, I will find something metallic and shiny. Kidding aside, Katy is a hero, courageous, and an outstanding journalist. Our fearless President knows it and that is why she is a recipient of some of the worst attacks. Bravo!

When we see the Republican attacks on the U.S. press, the fourth component of our governmental system, we know that our democracy is fully functional.

83. People Now Believe Lies

30 Dec

People who are knowledgeable about current events and politics immediately recognize a blatant lie. On the other hand, less well-informed citizens believe anything said by a politician that they like, or just ignore anything obviously untrue. The bizarre post-election situation we are now facing is not unique in American history.  After WWII we had a similar (but not identical) period of despotic McCarthyism.   Today, we are faced with two problems:

1. Voters believing lies if told by a likable or admired candidate.
2. Ignoring a record of lies told by a candidate you like or believe in.

The first factor is mostly a result of an evolution in information dissemination. In the last few decades, the sources for info have greatly multiplied. If we look back, for example, at about 60 years ago, most people relied on established newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, and on TV/Radio news anchors, such as Walter Cronkite and Edward R. Murrow. Major news sources were more clearly defined and were led by trustworthy editors and managers.

Now there are hundreds of TV channels, a disappearing set of newspapers, an Internet with bogus news sites, and social media that can easily promote rumors. If you want to believe your hero, there is usually a source that will confirm his/her statements — right or wrong. So who is to blame for this situation? Individual news people cannot be blamed — it is a natural result of tech advances in a free society.

The second factor is natural for poorly-educated people. It is why we have an Electoral College in the USA. Our early leaders developed a constitution that they hoped would deal with this situation. People electing trusted representatives (Electoral College) probably worked better in earlier times, but is now obsolete.

Solutions: Here are some solutions, most of which will be difficult to implement, but are  well worth the attempt:

1. Abolish the Electoral College so that all U.S. citizens will have an equal vote.

2. All members of the press need to fight lies more aggressively. Many reporters and commentators appear to be afraid of certain politicians and this timid approach promotes them. I watch many news-programs on TV and I am often disappointed by the overly cautious and sometimes incorrect comments.*  Probably the primary reason is a fear that they will not be invited back, or could be some type of pressure by producers or managers.  Also, interviewers must not be too offensive, as the interviewees may not return.

3. We need to develop more unbiased fact-checking sources and results must be more available to all. Managers of social-media, such as Facebook, can try to do more to prevent the influence of bogus news sites. But, all this is difficult because we do not wish to affect our freedom of speech.

           CRITICS ALMOST NEVER STATE A BETTER CHOICE

Finally, I want to give one example of the feckless press. The moderator of the TV show MTP, stated that Pres. Obama was responsible for the dismal situation in Syria, because he failed to enforce his “red-line” edict about chemical weapons. But the moderator miserably failed to point out what actually happened. After the red-line violation, Pres. Obama went to Congress for approval of an intervention, but approval was not received. His efforts, however, did result in the eventual destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons. In general, Pres. Obama is often blamed for his inactivity in many occasions. But the critics almost never say what the better choice would be. Should we have another war with numerous lives lost and 10 years of occupation? I want a President that is thoughtful and does not act when there is no clear benefit from any U.S. action. Foreign policy is very complicated and cannot be led by amateurs.
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*As I am writing this, I see Rachel Maddow aggressively interviewing KellyAnne Conway, bravo!  Trump is afraid to give news conferences.

79. Heroes of Trump Attacks

8 Dec

I think we need a special medal, maybe called “The Peoples Medal of Honor”, for those who criticized Donald Trump and were personally attacked by him (or his associates).
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The latest of these is Union Chief Chuck Jones who corrected the number of Carrier Co. jobs not moved (saved) to Mexico. Trump simply makes up facts in attacking Jones: “He has done a terrible job representing workers …. no wonder companies flee country.” Both of these statements by Trump have absolutely no objective basis — just made-up ideas to suit his needs. If Trump has no facts to prove his point, he just makes them up.

.                                                         Truth  Matters
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Other heroes include: the Khan family (gold star parents of war hero), many major Republican leaders, members of the press, Hillary Clinton, Judge G. Curiel, news anchor Megyn Kelly, and numerous others. Megyn Kelly is a special hero for having endured endless inane attacks by Trump supporters. (I disliked Kelly for many years, simply because of her association with Fox, but now I like her and admire her bravery.) Remember, he even criticized John McCain, a POW war hero, for getting caught !!! How can Trump be trusted to deal with foreign leaders. NATO allies are already worried about his leadership.
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Just after Trump’s election, I was hopeful that he would become more responsible and cause only a minimal amount of damage to USA prestige and effectiveness. His meeting with Pres. Obama was encouraging. But gradually this optimism disappeared as I saw the continuation of his petty revenge actions, and as he gradually filled his administration positions with “yes-men” and bizarre misfits. He clearly is more concerned with loyalty and control rather than the good of our country, at least at this point. There is still some slight hope that when he actually becomes president, he will make mostly reasonable decisions.

  Let’s Fight Trump’s “THEATER” with our own more noble theater.
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But getting back to our heroes, I fantasize a special USA national organization for those attacked by Trump, with regular meetings for the presentation of “The Peoples Medal Of Honor.” All medal presentations would be delayed for six months to exclude victims who later become Trump “yes-men”. This of course is a fantasy, but I want to emphasize the importance of counteracting Trump using his own methods. Let’s fight Trump’s “theater” with our own more noble theater. We must find ways of supporting, publicizing, and rewarding our hero critics.

67. Is Our Press Losing Its Ideals?

25 Aug

I just saw an interview with former Governor Howard Dean. He expressed a thought that I have had for several years now: that much of USA Press has been corrupted and does not fairly and intelligently present the news. Of course, many individual reporters and commentators do a very good job. Some of the best and bravest are Eleanor Clift, Fahreed Zacharia, Michael Moore, Bill Maher, Arianna Huffington, and a number of others. But there is a major trend to present news that is sensational and sells, rather than an accurate and fair presentation of facts. And often there is a clear avoidance of anything that might offend our rich “Royalty Class”, which includes most leaders of industry and government.

In the case of Hillary Clinton, there is a tendency to overly emphasize innuendo. They repeat over and over things that could be wrong but in fact are not wrong. If, for example, Hillary meets with a company CEO or major donor, it is often reported with an implication of suspicion. The Washington Post (usually an excellent paper) is emphasizing the large number of charitable donors that she meets with, implying that something is wrong. An article title calls her “shady”.  The Clinton Foundation does wonderful charitable work and why the Washington Post wants to tarnish her is beyond me — and it does not help that buried deep in an article they say everything is OK. Further, Hillary is very good at getting political donors and that also is ridiculed by the media. All the best elected officials are great at getting donors and it is not their fault that this is necessary. In these times, a huge amount of financial support is required for all high governmental positions. Message to liberal press: ease up on Hillary or suffer a Trump presidency.

The misinterpretation of emails by everyone including the press is deplorable. For example, an email states that someone (suspicious?) is trying to contact the Secretary of State. The mere fact that someone is trying to make a contact is not worthy of reporting, but it is often reported with unwarranted speculation.

Nasty unreasonable speculation excites the readers and sells newspapers and advertising, but can have the effect of devastating character assassination. Suppose you were walking down the street and a notorious crook just asks if you have the time. What if a reporter sees this and states that you have had a contact with this gangster. At the end of the story the reporter may clarify that there is no proof of wrongdoing — but the damage has been done. People often just remember the headlines and never get to the clarifications.

Sometimes the facts are totally misrepresented or important details are omitted. Wolf Blitzer once remarked that Al Gore called President Obama a failure. The fact is that Al Gore only said that Obama failed in promoting climate-change remedies. Many people, of course, only remember the first statement and never got to the clarification.

In another example, Obama was criticized for not immediately visiting the flooding in Louisiana. This was often reported without mentioning that Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards suggested the delay, as a presidential visit could interfere with rescue efforts. Presenting only part of the story can be very damaging.

One of the most annoying errors is the reporting that Democrats want to raise taxes, implying that the raise would be for everyone. What Democrats actually say is that they want to raise taxes for very rich people and not at all for the rest of us. This can have a profound influence on voters choices.

I have observed Chuck Todd (of Meet the Press) badgering Trump about more superficial issues, but rarely have I seen him attack on the most important issues such as taxation. It seems that most reporters and commentators are afraid to bring up financial issues, perhaps because they could offend the rich owners of their media . Why do they let Trump get away with obvious lies like Hillary is a co-founder of ISIS? He repeated this on several days and finally said he was being “sarcastic.”

We would hope that the Press, a necessary part of any democracy, would be able to help people separate the lies from the truth. I watch many news programs and see spirited discussions of trivia while the profound and history-making issues are ignored. Ask yourself what Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite would say about Trump and today’s reporting of issues.

In researching for this blog, I came upon a couple of wonderful quotes by Walter Cronkite (CBS news anchor from 1962 to 1981) listed on a Google search page.
“America’s health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.”
“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.”
I guess the current problems have been around for a long time. Maybe it is Trump’s bizarre candidacy and his manipulation of the Press that has exacerbated the apparent corruption.