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Gaslighting the Press

from Kevin Williamson at The National Review, The Press vs. the President

It is possible, if you are not mentally crippled, to hold your mind two non-exclusive ideas: Donald J. Trump stinks, and the press stinks. Trump’s spat with the press is a bloodless Iran–Iraq war, and I myself am cheering for (metaphorical) casualties. If you find yourself only able to focus on which party stinks worse, then you have adopted the pre-kindergarten “binary choice” rhetoric of the campaign, in which both Trump and Clinton supporters insisted that we must ignore the obvious character defects, financial shenanigans, lies, and foolishness of A or B on the theory that B or A is so much worse that we simply cannot acknowledge any shortcomings on the other side.

The tragedy of all this is that, yeah, we really could use an effective, active, and credible press right now. We have an active one five days out of the week, an effective one five days out of the month, and a credible one . . . not that often. My criticisms of Trump do not go so far as those who believe that he is a budding fascist dictator on the verge of building concentration camps, but if you really did believe that, wouldn’t you wish, at least a little, that the media hadn’t been exactly as hysterical when faced with the bland, anodyne visage of Mitt Romney? Or John McCain? You want to be taken seriously now after insisting that Dick Cheney was the new American Gestapo?

We deserve a better press, and a better president, too. If you are the sort of partisan who cannot entertain the possibility that both of these things may be true at the same time, then you ought to consider the possibility that you are one of the reasons why we do not have a better press or a better president.

HKO

The lack of confidence in the press came long before Trump, and is of their own making. This does not justify Trump’s alternative universe, but only highlights why we need a better press than we have. Rather than just express shock and outrage at Trump, perhaps they should self reflect how they lost the hearts of the voters. Just like the Democrats who can not see beyond Comey and Russian hacking for their loss, it is unlikely the media will recognize, much less pursue the change that will regain their credibility.

Trump is gaslighting the press, making them feel guilty for addressing his faults.

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Cartoonish Hostility and Media Credibility

from Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist, 4 Recent Examples Show Why No One Trusts Media Coverage Of Trump

If the media can’t be trusted to fairly report on successful governors, genius Yale professors, or Martin Luther King III, they can’t be trusted to have the emotional distance, objective aims, respect, tolerance, journalistic skills, or sanity to cover Trump himself.

A strong media is required to hold politicians accountable and help preserve a functioning republic. Our media, who are swinging wildly from eight years of sycophancy into an era of cartoonish hostility, are in no position to hold anyone accountable. This is a crisis, and one that nearly everyone except those in the media establishment and the political movement they support seems to recognize.

HKO

An excellent but short list of media malfunctions.  Trump like every leader needs to be held accountable, but he has succeeded in holding them accountable as well. No one before him have ever attempted to do so.

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An Illiberal Media

from Jonah Goldberg’s G-File at National Review

I agree with pretty much all of the right-wing criticism of the mainstream media these days, or at least the intelligent stuff, of which there has been plenty. What the MSM still fails to appreciate is the degree to which they’ve spent the last 40 years — at least — presenting news as unbiased and objective when it was in fact coated with, saturated in, and bent by all manner of confirmation biases, self-serving narratives, assumptions, and ideological priorities that leaned left. No, it wasn’t all “fake news” (man, am I exhausted by the ridiculous misuse of that term), at least not most of the time [insert outrage over Duranty’s Pulitzer, Janet Cooke’s and Steve Glass’s fabulations, and of course that time Dan Rather climbed the jackass tree only to hurl himself down, hitting every branch].

I would even go so far as to argue that most of the time liberal bias isn’t even deliberate. Maybe because I’ve been reading so much public-choice theory and psychology stuff of late, I tend to credit conspiracy theories less and groupthink more for the wayward state of the mainstream media (though Mark Hemingway makes a good point about Plowshares’ sub rosa complicity in pushing the Iran deal). Still, the more you get to know elite “objective” journalists, the more you can appreciate that they are trying to do it right. But it also becomes all the more obvious that they live in a social milieu where the borders between the Democratic party, liberal activism, and liberal experts are very, very fuzzy.

For instance, last week I wrote about that ridiculous article in the Washington Post accusing David Gelernter of being “anti-intellectual.” Much of the Post’s “reporting” hinged on a lengthy, catty quote from a member of the Union of Concern Scientists. As I noted, the Union of Concerned Scientists has always been a political operation. It’s a classic example of an outfit that liberal journalists invest with non-partisan authority so they can pass off partisan views as “science” or some other objective expertise.

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An Irrelevant Media

from the Sultan Knish, Daniel Greenfield, End The Media

The White House press corps is an outmoded institution. There’s no need to crowd a small number of media elites into a limited space. Or any space at all. We live in a world of instantaneous communications. Every smartphone is capable of doing more than the laptops that reporters were laboring over in the Clinton years. Any of the men and women in that room can email or text their questions. The briefings serve no useful function except as political theater by a privileged class.

President Trump has vowed to drain the swamp. A good place to start is the smarmy swamp of privilege over the White House indoor pool. The small club of the press corps is the embodiment of the old establishment and its corrupt gatekeepers that he has vowed to get rid of. Instead of sparring with them in briefings, it’s time to eliminate their special status and strip them of their privileges.

Trump doesn’t have to go to war with the press corps. All he has to do is make it irrelevant.

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Provoking the Media

From The Federalist, Donald Trump Is The First President To Turn Postmodernism Against Itself  by David Ernst:

Democrats gleefully welcomed Trump’s victory in the Republican primaries with the expectation that they’d bury him in a pile of condescension for being a buffoon and scorn for being the next Hitler. Better yet, they figured that his astounding rise confirmed everything they had long assumed about half the country and were now free to say out loud: they are indeed a basket of irredeemable racist, sexist, homophobic deplorables. Mainstream Republicans would surely hop on board the progressive train rather than be associated with these creeps.

None of this happened, of course. But why? Because what Trump’s enemies failed to grasp was that he wasn’t winning because of the crazy things he was saying, but because of the phony outrage and affected condescension it provoked. Many people empathized with Trump for enduring the contempt that he deliberately brought against himself. Trump kept playing the role of the antihero, and Clinton kept playing the role of the pearl-clutching fraud.

So I’m a scoundrel because I don’t pay income taxes? Maybe so, but it also makes me smart, just like all the other billionaires who are backing your campaign. So I’m a sexist because you found a video of me bragging about how my superstar status enables me to grab women by the p—y? Maybe it does, but allow me to publically introduce four of the women who have accused your husband of everything from indecent exposure to rape. So I’m a greedy businessman who stiffs my contractors? Fine. You’re a corrupt politician who sells out our national interest to line your own pockets.

Maybe everything they say about me is true, but at least I’m authentic, at least I’m real: you on the other hand, are a bloody, disgusting hypocrite.

So say goodnight to the bad guy! Because this bad guy is now our president.

HKO

This is as excellent article worth reading in full.  It helps explain the Trump’s win that so many are studying. Trump succeeded by being so comfortable in the gutter that he brought the media down to join him.