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How the Right Wing Convinces Itself That Liberals Are Evil

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David Walsh has an interesting article in the Washington Monthly:

If you spend any time consuming right-wing media in America, you quickly learn the following: Liberals are responsible for racism, slavery, and the Ku Klux Klan. They admire Mussolini and Hitler, and modern liberalism is little different from fascism or, even worse, communism. The mainstream media and academia cannot be trusted because of the pervasive, totalitarian nature of liberal culture. 

This belief in a broad liberal conspiracy is standard in the highest echelons of the conservative establishment and right-wing media. The Russia investigation is dismissed, from the president on down, as a politicized witch hunt. George Soros supposedly paid $300 to each participant in the “March for Our Lives” in March. (Disclosure: I marched that day, and I’m still awaiting my check.) What is less well appreciated by liberals is that the language of conspiracy is often used to justify similar behavior on the right. The Russia investigation is not just a witch hunt, it’s the product of the real scandal, which is Hillary-Russia-Obama-FBI collusion, so we must investigate that. Soros funds paid campus protestors, so Turning Point USA needs millions of dollars from Republican donors to win university elections. The liberal academic establishment prevents conservative voices from getting plum faculty jobs, so the Koch Foundation needs to give millions of dollars to universities with strings very much attached.

This did not begin with Donald Trump. The modern Republican Party may be particularly apt to push conspiracy theories to rationalize its complicity with a staggeringly corrupt administration, but this is an extension of, not a break from, a much longer history. Since its very beginning, in the 1950s, members of the modern conservative movement have justified bad behavior by convincing themselves that the other side is worse. One of the binding agents holding the conservative coalition together over the course of the past half century has been an opposition to liberalism, socialism, and global communism built on the suspicion, sometimes made explicit, that there’s no real difference among them. 

In 1961, the American Medical Association produced an LP in which an actor opened a broadside against the proposed Medicare program by attributing to Norman Thomas, a six-time Socialist Party candidate for president, a made-up quote that “under the name of liberalism the American people will adopt every fragment of the socialist program.” Because these ideologies were so interchangeable in the imaginations of many conservatives—and were covertly collaborating to enact their nefarious agenda—this meant that it was both important and necessary to fight back through equally underhanded means. 

The title of that LP? Ronald Reagan Speaks Out Against Socialized Medicine. The American left is used to waiting for liberals to finally get ruthless. Through the eyes of the right, they always have been. 

Long before Fox News, conservatives began forming their own explicitly right-wing media landscape. Supporters of Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal dominated the “mainstream” press, which meant that conservative dissidents needed a home. The conservative magazine Human Events was launched in 1944 as an alternative to what its cofounder, Felix Morley, believed was a stifling conformity in the American press. The same was true of the American Mercury in 1950, when under the ownership of William Bradford Huie the formerly social-democratic magazine moved to the right. “There is now far too much ‘tolerance’ in America,” Huie declared in the first issue of the new Mercury. “We shall cry a new crusade of intolerance . . . the intolerance of bores, morons, world-savers, and damn fools.”

Both Morley and Huie felt victimized by a liberal press establishment that stifled alternative voices—and, after all, liberals had the New Republic and leftists the Nation as journals of opinion—but their charge of mainstream “bias” was more complicated. One of the largest newspapers in the United States, the Chicago Tribune, owned by conservative businessman Robert McCormick, had militantly opposed the New Deal and American entry into World War II. Fulton Lewis Jr., a Washington, D.C.–based political journalist who was, by 1950, one of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy’s biggest supporters, had one of the most listened-to radio programs in the country. And both Morley and Huie had had illustrious careers before launching their magazines. Morley won a Pulitzer Prize when he edited the Washington Post in the 1930s; Huie had a solid reputation as a freelance journalist. But they clung to the belief that dissenters from the liberal orthodoxy were being hounded out of media, which more than justified questionable acts, particularly on Huie’s part. Desperate to keep his magazine afloat, Huie sold the American Mercury in 1952 to far-right businessman Russell Maguire, who was closely tied to prominent anti-Semites and was one himself. Huie told a reporter at Time that he knew all about Maguire’s unsavory views, but believed his financial backing was necessary in order to ensure a conservative voice in American letters. “If I suddenly heard Adolf Hitler was alive in South America and wanted to give a million dollars to the American Mercury, I would go down and get it.”

Even more alarming to conservatives than the bias of the mainstream press was  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 July 2018 at 1:07 pm

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Media, Memes

The World Burns. Sarah Sanders Says This Is Fine.

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Megan Garber writes in the Atlantic:

On Wednesday, two representatives of the United States government held press briefings, both of them touching on one of the most astonishing news stories of the Trump presidency—a series of events that had begun two days earlier, when Trump traveled to Helsinki to meet, behind closed doors, with Vladimir Putin.

Here was the White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, responding to a question from The New York Times’s Maggie Haberman about the notion Putin raised of a group of U.S. officials, including the former ambassador to Russia, Mike McFaul, being interrogated by Russia: “The president is going to meet with his team, and we’ll let you know when we have an announcement on that.”

Here, on the other hand, was Heather Nauert, the State Department spokesperson, on the same issue: “The overall assertions are absolutely absurd—the fact that they want to question 11 American citizens and the assertions that the Russian Government is making about those American citizens. We do not stand by those assertions.”

It was a striking juxtaposition, this tale of two briefings: the one spokesperson, outraged that the United States would entertain the notion of handing over its citizens to a nation that is an autocracy and an adversary; the other offering, in response to the suggestion, a pro-forma “we’ll let you know if there’s an announcement on that front.” The Stakes of Diplomacy chafing against The Art of the Deal. A house divided, live on C-SPAN.

What the collision makes clear, though, is how readily the first spokesperson, as she stands behind the White House briefing lectern, also stands behind her boss. It is a well-worn cliché of the Trump presidency—which is also to say, it is a well-worn cliché about the Trump psyche—that, within a White House as vertically integrated as this one, loyalty counts above all. And Sarah Sanders, the press secretary who will have been on the job, this week, for one year—the White House announced her promotion to the role in July of 2017—performs that loyalty every time she meets the press.

This is a White House that prioritizes the scoring of points over the complexities of compromise. Sanders, on behalf of the president she works for—a happy warrior in a culture war that has found a front in the James S. Brady briefing room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue—takes for granted an assumption that would be shocking were it not so common in the American culture of the early 21st century: There are things that are more important than truth.

Things like, for example, the claiming of victory against the other side. Things like, for example, the owning of libs and the trolling of Dems and the ability to victor-write history so thoroughly that you can claim, with an air of annoyance about being asked to make such a clarification in the first place, that the president’s long history of commentary on Russia has now been nullified, because the president had, in a single public event, “misspoken.” All of which made Wednesday’s briefing—the president will work with his team—both deeply typical and astounding: Here was one of the most prominent representatives of the White House choosing partisanship over patriotism. Winning above all.

There are, in Sarah Sanders’s briefing room, a series of predictable punchlines. Even the blandest of informational updates—as in yesterday’s announcement that the President will be traveling to Kansas City, Missouri, next Tuesday to address the Veterans of Foreign Wars 119th Annual Convention, because he is committed to our veterans and has worked to reform the VA and to ensure veterans are given the care and support they deserve—tend to be punctuated with familiar end notes: the greatness of President Trump, the undeniable success of his presidency, the foolishness of those who might question those priors. (Sanders, commenting on civility after her departure from the Red Hen restaurant in Lexington, Virginia, sparked a national debate on the matter: “America is a great country, and our ability to find solutions despite those disagreements is what makes us unique. That is exactly what President Trump has done for all Americans by building a booming economy, with record low unemployment for African Americans and Hispanics, the defeat of ISIS, and the ongoing work to achieve peace on the Korean Peninsula.”)

Sometimes far fewer words are required. Sometimes standing by the president—supporting Team Trump from within—comes down to subtler work: taking Trump’s actions and coating them with the palatable veneer of evident normalcy. Mike McFaul, Bill Browder, Vladimir Putin, the notion that the United States might decide to use its citizens as bargaining chips in order to make deals with a despotic regime known for murdering dissidents: We’ll let you know if there’s an announcement on that front.

It is an approach that bumps up against world history and American foreign policy and, just as Nauert’s statement reminded, Trump’s own State Department. But is also an approach that is wholly consistent with the Trumpian worldview—one that valorizes strength above all (he has “great control over his country,” the president has mused of Putin), one that is populated by a collective of uses and thems, one whose sum, always, is zero. Ivana Trump tells the story of the birth of Don Jr. on New Year’s Eve of 1977: She wanted to name the boy after his father, Donald’s first wife recalls; Donald the elder, however, balked at this. “What if he’s a loser?” the future president said.

A world of winners and a world, consequently, of losers: It is perhaps the clearest distillation of Trumpism. This White House, whether it is taking on healthcare or gun policy or tax policy or immigration policy, assumes everything is a competition—and reveres, to the general exclusion of the alternative, #winning. Sickness is weakness. Poverty is weakness. Otherness is weakness. Trump understands the world according to one crucial insight: He is not weak. He is strong. He is a very fine person, and in fact the consummate winner: This is a White House that subscribes to the incontrovertible realities of the world according to one man. Donaldpolitik.

It is this world—it is this worldview—that Sarah Sanders, every day, helps to spin. Her handling of Maggie Haberman’s McFaul-related question on Wednesday was not a gaffe; it was, in fact, a tidy reminder of one of the ways that Sanders has transformed the job of the press secretary itself in the year she has spent as its occupant. Gone are tense cordialities that defined the tenures of the Obama press secretaries Robert Gibbs and Jay Carney and Josh Earnest; gone, too, are the shouted lies of Sean Spicer and the swaggering camp of Anthony Scaramucci.

Instead, briefing by briefing, Sanders strides to the lectern in the Brady briefing room and makes an argument about who belongs among the world’s winners (Trump and those in his orbit, the forgotten Americans who will be helped by Trump’s work, North Koreans, the participants in the upcoming Veterans of Foreign Wars 119th Annual Convention in Kansas City, Missouri) and who must be counted among its losers (Congressional Democrats, Democrats in general, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Nancy Pelosi, the American news media who are not on the payroll of the Fox News Channel). Sanders recently responded to a question from CNN’s Jim Acosta by saying, “I know it’s hard for you to understand even short sentences.”  It’s partisanship, all the way down.

This kind of thing—civility, perhaps, by another way—seeks to justify itself through the argument that Jim Acosta is “fake news,” and that therefore Jim Acosta is a loser, and that therefore Jim Acosta needs to be mocked by the White House press secretary on national television. It’s partisanship, all the way down. (When reporters point out that the president lies—there are more than 2,000 known at this point—Sanders commonly responds by accusing them of partisanship and an anti-Trump agenda.)

In a Sanders briefing, even the most straightforward questions are often met with obfuscation and indignation. Even the most basic matters of fact are disputed. The logic of the battlefield wins out, and the assigned teams face off, and it becomes clear, if you watch for long enough, that the thing being fought for is reality itself: facts, truths, common knowledge. The content and the contours of the world as we agree to understand it. In Sanders’s briefings, the Overton window doesn’t widen or narrow so much as it angrily yells at you for not being a door.

In the summer of 1954, a group of 22 boys, all of them rising sixth graders, were invited to spend time at a summer camp in the Sans Bois mountains, in southeastern Oklahoma. While there, the idea went, the kids would swim and boat and run and play and otherwise do the things you’d expect might be done at a summer camp tailored to the tendencies of 11-year-old boys. The campers were separated into two cabins—two separate camps, effectively—that were located far enough apart to be beyond seeing and hearing distance of one another. Neither group was aware, at first, of the other one. Nor were they aware that their idyllic camp was also a psychological test—the one that would come to be known as the Robbers Cave experiment.

It went like this: The boys, extremely similar but strategically separated, were initially left to bond among themselves, within their 11-member cabins; then, once a group identity had set in, each group was made aware of the fact that there was another cabin—a different cabin—nearby. With remarkable efficiency, as the psychologist Muzafer Sherif and his team of counsellor/assistants observed it, the logic of the team took over: The boys—they had been selected not only for similarities in age, but also for race and class and intellect—immediately wanted to compete with the members of the other cabin. And the competitions were not the friendly kinds you might associate with summer camp. Members of each group started to call the strangers of the other taunting names. They conducted raids on the other cabin, stealing some possessions and destroying others. One group, attempting to lay claim to the baseball diamond the two cabins shared, staked a flag on the pitcher’s mound. The other group burned it down.

Robbers CaveLord of the Flies but with better experimental design, remains a dire warning, not only when it comes to sociology, but also when it comes to democracy—a lurking suggestion of how readily humans can be convinced to turn against each other on the grounds of otherness itself. This phenomenon is recorded throughout American history. James Madison worried about factions and Alexander Hamilton worried about demagogues and the framers as a messy collective worried about the inevitable inertias of human pettiness—and it was because they understood intuitively what the events at Robbers Cave would suggest, centuries later, to be true: Citizens would be inclined, they realized, to argue not just in the best of ways, but in the worst. It would be exceedingly easy for their fragile new republic to lose itself in the easy temptations of partisanship.

It is a fear that is realized every time the person whose job it is to help the American people understand the daily doings of the executive branch instead mocks White House reporters to their faces. It is a fear that is realized every time Sanders, the daughter of a man who has made his career as a pundit denigrating the “media” (a collective of which, through a TV-show broadcast to the masses, he insists he is not a part), uses her pulpit to promote the president’s “fake news awards.” It is a fear that is realized every time Sanders accuses reporters of “purposely putting out information you know is false” and “purposefully misleading the American people”—offenses that, anyone familiar with the workings of the press will know, are grounds for instant firing. It is a fear that is realized every time Sanders compares professional White House reporters to her three small children.

And it is a fear that is realized every time Sanders takes a question about a specific matter of public policy—the state of diplomacy with North Korea, the fate of the Affordable Care Act, the White House attitude toward presidential self-pardons, the use of an American diplomat as a pawn to ratify the deal-making capabilities of the 45th president—and, instead of offering an answer, twists the reply to make sure it endorses the familiar talking points: the stubbornness of the Democrats, the venality of the media, the manifest greatness of Donald Trump. Team above all. Victory at all costs.

American politics, overall, have ceded so much to the logic of warfare: This is a time of factions, of widespread bad faith, of normalized trolling, of the plodding weaponization of everything. But Sanders, for her part, serves as an omen in real time: a reminder of what happens when the airy ideals of republican government—compromise, commonality, objective truth—get refracted through competition and resentment and battle. The daily victories claimed by political Darwinism. “Lol, nothing matters,” the old joke goes, but it turns out one thing still does.

Last fall, when she was still settling into the press secretary job after taking it over from Scaramucci, The New York Times asked Sanders, who is very much an evangelical Christian, what led her to want to work for Donald Trump, who is very much not. Sanders replied, matter-of-factly: “I thought he could win.” . . .

Continue reading. There’s more.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 July 2018 at 5:52 pm

Judge orders LA Times to remove info from story

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Quite disturbing, particularly when combined with Trump’s routine bashing of the press and, as Stelter notes:

White House pulls Bolton from CNN interview

Let’s rewind the tape, for a moment. At Friday’s presser, Trump criticized CNN. After he did so, Jim Acosta said, “Mr. President, since you attacked CNN, can I ask you a question?” Trump refused, and instead called on John Roberts from Fox.

Fast forward a day later. Trump tweeted Saturday morning about the incident, characterizing his refusal to take a question as a supposed “takedown” of CNN. Hours later, the White House took action. Jake Tapper tweeted that National Security Advisor John Bolton had been “locked in” for a Sunday interview, and was still willing to do it, but that the White House had canceled it over the incident…

“Disrespected” ?!

Sarah Sanders on Saturday confirmed that Bolton had been pulled by the White House. She wrote in a tweet that Acosta “disrespected” Trump, and that, “Instead of rewarding bad behavior, we decided to reprioritize the TV appearances for administration officials.”

>> CNN spokesman Matt Dornic‘s reaction: “Rules of engagement: The act of asking a question during a press conf is now ‘bad behavior’ and the act of answering questions is now ‘reward.'”

Bolton skirts around the issue on ABC

Bolton landed on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, where he was asked about the kerfuffle by Jon Karl. “Is it really appropriate to deny a news organization access to a White House official because a reporter tried to ask a question at a press conference?” Karl asked.

Bolton replied with a non-answer. “Look, in reality I don’t seek out the press, I don’t talk to them, I — I appear when I’m — I’m asked to and if I’m not — if I’m not asked to appear, I don’t do it,” Bolton said…

>> Moments before: Karl also asked Bolton about Trump’s attacks on the press as a whole, and whether that contributes to the efforts by Putin and other authoritarians to undermine the press. His response? “Of course not. Really, honestly, Jonathan, I think the question’s silly.”

Fox’s Howard Kurtz… sides with the White House?
Immediately after Trump’s flap with CNN, journalists came to Acosta’s defense, decrying Trump for his anti-media rhetoric. This continued throughout the weekend. But over on Fox News, Howard Kurtz saw things differently. On “Media Buzz,”Kurtz said, “What’s gotten missed in a lot of the controversy here is that [Trump] called on John Roberts.” Kurtz then accused Acosta of “interrupting” and said he was “trying to hijack the question.” Mediaite has video here…

Keep that in mind, the read this from the same newsletter:

Judge orders LA Times to remove info from story

Disturbing: A federal judge ordered the LA Times on Saturday to remove information from one of its articles. The information, which the LAT said described a plea deal between prosecutors and a detective accused of working with the Mexican mafia, was never supposed to be made public.

According to the LAT, the details of the plea were accidentally posted to PACER, when they should have been filed under seal. When the LAT noticed the plea agreement, its journalists reported on it. “We believe that once material is in the public record, it is proper and appropriate to publish it if it is newsworthy,” LAT exec editor Norman Pearlstine said. The newspaper intends to challenge the judge’s decision…

Scary stuff, scary times. And it’s been noted that Trump’s constant denigration of the press that reports things he doesn’t want reported plays very well with Putin’s own idea of the press and how to treat it, though of course Putin murders journalists and Trump just refuses to take their questions.

Written by LeisureGuy

15 July 2018 at 8:15 pm

54 newsrooms, 9 countries, and 9 core ideas: Here’s what two researchers found in a yearlong quest for journalism innovation

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Interesting that long-time standards—e.g., objective reporting—may fall by the wayside in the competition for clicks. It seems as though that will lead to increased divisiveness and increased informational isolation. Per Westergaard and Søren Schultz Jøgensen write at

Editor’s notePer Westergaard is a longtime editor-in-chief and CEO of a range of Danish regional, national and digital titles. Søren Schultz Jørgensenhas worked as a journalist and editor at several Danish news media during the last 20 years. Last year, they undertook an international inquiry into the state of newsroom innovation; here’s what they found.

The news media most successful at creating and maintaining ties with their readers, users, listeners and viewers will increasingly be media that dare challenge some of the journalist dogmas of the last century: the dogma of arm’s length; the dogma of neutrality; the dogma of objectivity; the belief that journalists have a special ability to find and choose what is important for citizens. And not least: the basic idea, that journalism is primarily about transporting news and information from A to B.

For journalism to be relevant for citizens in the future, it will to a large extent need to challenge these deeply rooted professional dogmas, thus creating a media landscape that is more varied, more lively, more organically open to the citizens and much more diverse than the news industry we have seen for a hundred years.

These are some of the conclusions in our book, The Journalistic Connection, published in Danish this past March under the title Den journalistiske Forbindelse. The book is the written result of a yearlong research journey, undertaken in 2017, through nine European countries and the United States, visiting and studying 54 media companies pioneering new ways to connect with their audiences and communities.

We identified nine different ways by which news media in the Western world are currently trying to forge closer ties and stronger relations to their communities and audiences. Below, we’ll take a look at each of the nine ways. First, however, we need to clarify the purpose and the ambition of our journey.

Our angle on the current state of journalism is this: The crisis of journalism and legacy news media is structural, and not just a matter of technological challenges or broken business models. When citizens of Western societies, to a deeply disturbing extent, turn their backs on original news journalism, spend less time on news on radio and television, buy fewer newspapers, and express a growing distrust of media institutions, we need to submit the core content of the news media — journalism itself — to a critical review.

Today’s core questions for news media — old or new, small or big, privately or publicly owned — must be social and cultural: How can journalism regain its relevance, meaning, and trusted prominence in society? How can journalism reconnect with citizens?

These were the questions that guided our journey, starting at home in Denmark, where we researched an initial list of 120 media that could be rewarding to visit — new media, legacy media, born-digital, radio, television and printed newspapers. We sorted through that list and ended up with just over 50 of the most interesting and innovative outlets in the international media landscape today.

The outlets were selected because they try out new ideas, in areas such as journalistic engagement, cooperation, listening, and activism. But at the same time, they’re able to demonstrate that new ways of connecting with and engaging citizens create better results in terms of user satisfaction, circulation, audience, or earnings.

The journey in the U.S. took us through New York City, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Washington, Austin, Dallas, San Francisco, San Diego, and Seattle. The European leg of the trip led us through Spain, France, the Netherlands, Poland, Germany, the U.K., Sweden, Norway, and Denmark.

Half of the interviews were conducted in the U.S., the other half in Europe, with the ambition of gathering inspiration, ideas, and strategies that both American and European news professionals can mirror themselves in and — hopefully — learn from. We need to learn from the best on both sides of the Atlantic to a much greater degree.

As mentioned above, we identified nine ways — or movements — through which news media are pushing their journalism in a more engaging, cooperative and community-oriented direction:

1. From neutrality to identity

Many news organizations are working intensely on sharpening their own profiles and identities, challenging the dogma of neutrality and fleeing away from the catch-all omnibus news ideal for several reasons. The need for a clear media identity grows when online news content is spread in small, unidentifiable bites across the Internet. Also, in order to make people relate to and identity with you, you must show them what you stand for. Show them who you are, and from which perspective — geographically, socio-demographically, or politically — you view the world. Prime examples of news media working with their identities in this targeted way are the Norwegian newspaper Klassekampen (The Class Struggle), the regional online news site Voice of San Diego and The Evergrey in Seattle.

2. From omnibus to niche

Niche media’s ability to create relevance for users — and to mobilize both interest and willingness to pay — is far greater than the ability of the omnibus media. And apart from a very few media with global reach (e.g. The Guardian, BBC, CNN), all news media can be considered niche operations. However, many broad-reaching legacy media hesitate to openly show and communicate which niche audience they seek to engage. Maybe because the democratic value of niche media is somewhat controversial: creating strong bonds among a homogenous audience instead of bridging different communities. Nonetheless, targeted niche media like the Seattle-based tech site GeekWire, Berlin-based youth site and the intellectual daily Information in Copenhagen show that is possible to create both quality journalism of high public value and cater to targeted audiences at the same time.

3. From flock to club

Gathering people around the news media, in clearly defined communities — clubs — is a strategy gaining momentum on both sides of the Atlantic. This implies transforming what were formerly known as subscribers, users, or readers into members, that must either register or pay to join the inner circles of the crowd around the news media. Spanish El Diario and French Mediapart have put membership models at the heart of their identities and their journalistic operations. Many American media companies — from legacy players like The New York Times and the Gannett group to online startups organized in the News Revenue Hub — follow the same path.

4. From ink to sweat . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 July 2018 at 10:38 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Media

Media failure: Not being able to distinguish what’s important from what’s not

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Kevin Drum has a very pointed post worth reading and thinking about.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 June 2018 at 10:56 am

Posted in Daily life, Law, Media, Medical

Instead of Trump’s propaganda, how about a nice ‘truth sandwich’?

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In her Washington Post column Margaret Sullivan echoes George Lakoff’s advice:

Last week was a particularly rough one for journalists and truth-seeking citizens.
President Trump declared the news media the nation’s worst enemy. And time after shocking time, his acolytes demeaned or threatened reporters for doing one of their most basic jobs: asking questions of those in power.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a reporter in North Korea that it was “insulting and ridiculous and ludicrous” for him to be asked about details of the verification process for the vaunted denuclearization.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale suggested taking a CNN reporter’s credentials away after he shouted a question at the president.
It was ugly. Even uglier than usual.
And the president’s anti-media campaign is convincing at least some citizens that journalists have no worth.
Enter George Lakoff. An author, cognitive scientist and linguist who has long studied how propaganda works, he believes it’s long past time for the reality-based news media to stop kowtowing to the emperor.
“Trump needs the media, and the media help him by repeating what he says,” Lakoff said.
That would be okay under normal circumstances, he told me, but “this situation is not normal — you have a sustained attack on the democracy and the news media.”
Unlike those who insist that what the president says is news and therefore must be reported, Lakoff proposes a radical reimagining of how the news media reports on Trump.
Instead of treating the president’s every tweet and utterance — true or false — as newsworthy (and then perhaps fact-checking it later), Lakoff urges the use of what he calls a “truth sandwich.”
First, he says, get as close to the overall, big-picture truth as possible right away. (Thus the gist of the Trump-in-Singapore story: Little of substance was accomplished in the summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, despite the pageantry.) Then report what Trump is claiming about it: achievement of world peace. And then, in the same story or broadcast, fact-check his claims.
That’s the truth sandwich — reality, spin, reality — all in one tasty, democracy-nourishing meal.
Avoid retelling the lies. Avoid putting them in headlines, leads or tweets, he says. Because it is that very amplification that gives them power.
That’s how propaganda works on the brain: through repetition, even when part of that repetition is fact-checking.
Hillary Clinton, Lakoff notes, was convicted without cause for many people by Trump’s repetition of “crooked Hillary.”
Journalists have lost trust, for some, because of Trump’s drumbeat that they are the “fake news media.”
And the insistence that the special counsel’s investigation is a groundless “witch hunt” — even when that is often debunked, and clearly untrue — gains traction because he just keeps saying it.
“Trump is subjecting American democracy to a brutal test,” Lakoff wrote in the Guardian recently. As Lakoff sees it, the press “has become complicit with Trump by allowing itself to be used as an amplifier for his falsehoods and frames.”
Lakoff is not the only one who has suggested radical changes in how the news media conducts itself in the Trump era.
Jay Rosen of New York University sums up one such proposal in three words: “Send the interns.”
White House briefings, since the very beginning of Sean Spicer’s efforts to defend the indefensible about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd, are no place for talented, highly compensated reporters to spend their time and energy.
They have also become a place that lacks not just candor but also civility, as Sarah Huckabee Sanders showed last week when she refused to answer reasonable questions, repeated lies about Trump’s immigration policy, which is tearing children from their parents, and then took a nasty swipe at CNN’s Jim Acosta: “I know it’s hard for you to understand even short sentences.”
So, Rosen says, go ahead and continue to staff these briefings. But send the interns.
Are these radical notions likely to take hold?
Probably not, since traditions of newsgathering and presentation run deep. Most journalists — among them the very best — believe that if they keep presenting the facts and countering the spin that that will be enough.
Lakoff said he sees very few examples of doing what he suggests, even though news organizations have become more willing to forthrightly say that a Trump utterance is a lie, and more likely to include plenty of context in news reporting.
And there’s little chance that news organizations will see the White House beat as anything other than a prestige assignment, a perch earned by the finest in the business. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

17 June 2018 at 1:16 pm

Posted in Daily life, Media

Rob Rogers, editorial cartoonist: “I Was Fired for Making Fun of Trump”

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Rob Rogers writes in the NY Times:

After 25 years as the editorial cartoonist for The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, I was fired on Thursday.

I blame Donald Trump.

Well, sort of.

I should’ve seen it coming. When I had lunch with my new boss a few months ago, he informed me that the paper’s publisher believed that the editorial cartoonist was akin to an editorial writer, and that his views should reflect the philosophy of the newspaper.

That was a new one to me.

I was trained in a tradition in which editorial cartoonists are the live wires of a publication — as one former colleague put it, the “constant irritant.” Our job is to provoke readers in a way words alone can’t. Cartoonists are not illustrators for a publisher’s politics.

When I was hired in 1993, The Post-Gazette was the liberal newspaper in town, but it always prided itself on being a forum for a lot of divergent ideas. The change in the paper did not happen overnight. From what I remember, it started in 2010, with the endorsement of the Republican candidate for Pennsylvania governor, which shocked a majority of our readership. The next big moment happened in late 2015, when my longtime boss, the editorial page editor, took a buyout after the publisher indicated that the paper might endorse Mr. Trump. Then, early this year, we published openly racist editorials.

Things really changed for me in March, when management decided that my cartoons about the president were “too angry” and said I was “obsessed with Trump.” This about a president who has declared the free press one of the greatest threats to our country.

Not every idea I have works. Every year, a few of my cartoons get killed. But suddenly, in a three-month period, 19 cartoons or proposals were rejected. Six were spiked in a single week — one after it was already placed on the page, an image depicting a Klansman in a doctor’s office asking: “Could it be the Ambien?”

After so many years of punch lines and caricatures, skewering mayors and mullahs, the new regime at The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette decided that The Donald trumped satire when it came to its editorial pages.

This has been my dream job. It makes the experience of buying a coffee or checking out at a grocery store a thrill. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 June 2018 at 10:11 am

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