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November 25, 2016 2:50 AM   Subscribe

From The Columbia Journalism Review
Covering Trump: An oral history of an unforgettable campaign. and Did Trump’s scorched-earth tactics mortally wound the media?
“The media as it used to be thought of is just not that important anymore. It doesn’t matter that some people were doing good work because… we’re just talking to ourselves and people who already agree with us.”
posted by adamvasco (45 comments total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
 
Factchecking needs to take place in the original article,

"Trump claimed, against evidence, ..." or "In stark contrast to his previous statements, ..."

and preferably factchecking should be in the article's title.
posted by sebastienbailard at 3:32 AM on November 25, 2016 [17 favorites]


Every animal is constantly exchanging information with its environment. Indeed, the same is true of self-driving cars, Mars rovers, etc. If it gets bad information, it dies quicker.

Why should we accept information from notorious liars and cheats? Because the content of the information makes us feel good? That's an expensive box of chocolates.

Fact-based journalism is the only basis of accountability that's been devised yet. But such journalism needs audiences.

Find a reality-based community near you and exercise critical thinking.
posted by homerica at 5:16 AM on November 25, 2016 [8 favorites]


Adam Moss, Editor in Chief, New York magazine: The one thing that even quality media did terribly wrong in this election was that they—and I put us in the same boat—didn’t force a focus on actual content. They allowed the contest to be what the candidates themselves were making it. The absence of conversation about climate change, and the fact that we have absolutely no idea today what Donald Trump actually truly wants to do about anything, is a catastrophic error on the media’s part, and lots of other people’s part.
qfft
posted by idiopath at 5:22 AM on November 25, 2016 [74 favorites]


This election really laid bare the fact that, for values that round off to 100%, America's "news" is really just entertainment media with delusions of importance.
posted by DoctorFedora at 5:51 AM on November 25, 2016 [63 favorites]


Did Trump’s scorched-earth tactics mortally wound the media?

Excellent question, however the analysis fails to really find an in-depth answer to that question.

“This is a moment of high danger for the press, we’re heading into a dark period for American democracy and American journalism,” says Jay Rosen of NYU. Jorge Ramos tells CJR: “I think we’ll remember this election as unique and very concerning for the future of the press because if this becomes the norm, we are in serious trouble.”

It's unclear as to who the "we" is in relation to serious trouble. One has to keep in mind that regardless of an individual assessment of the outcome, Trump's message largely landed with a significant segment of the population. That message had very little to do with the media, and much more with an establishment which a lot of people seem to feel has fundamentally failed them. For as many people as voted for Donald Trump, equally, people voted against Hillary Clinton.

That is a key distinction perhaps we have not seen play out as strongly in prior elections. The differences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton dwarfs the differences between George Bush and Al Gore. In the latter case, one was choosing between two career politicians, whereas in the former, one was choosing between a career politician and a complete political outsider. In the latter case, both Bush and Gore were assured to hold up the existing political structure, while differing on matters within that structure. In the Clinton and Trump election, there were four possible scenarios:

1) Endorsing Trump
2) Rejecting the establishment
3) Endorsing Clinton
4) Affirming the establishment

Perhaps that's why this election was so contorted and generally distasteful. This wasn't a battle between two equals, rather it was a battle between two completely different people with two completely different set of values. Further, the meta-media circus didn't help – which was the circus of the media navel-gazing about the media itself, or rather social media's role in the election.

This election has been completely damning to the media, and they are right to be concerned. Primarily because – with the exception of the New York Times – most media outlets had no idea of how to cover this story. The mainstream media covered it like a traditional election, which it wasn't. The tabloid press covered it like a celebrity battle, which it wasn't. Social media ran after its traditional 'engagement' metrics and showed that the boy geniuses running the platform have little awareness of journalistic integrity or responsibility.

The result was a melange of nonsense which said more about the media than about the candidates or the electorate. The candidates largely had their positions established, and the electorate largely knew what issues mattered to them. In between sat the media, as the dominant communications channel, but they completely failed to correctly asses the situation or manage it appropriately. For all the talk of the fourth estate and its relevance to democracy – that there cannot be a democracy without a fourth estate – this election showed more than anything that the media exists largely as an extension of corporate power.

Media channels got squarely caught in between their viewers and their masters. That was most obvious in the tone that the channels adopted. Channels were either for or against the candidates, with little investigative activity or independence. That is most evident by the fact that little media picked up on the establishment versus non-establishment undercurrent, which ended up being the fundamental decider in the election.

If we review the election from that lens, Donald Trump's platform and campaign make infinitely more sense. Whereas his messages seemed alien to many of the liberal media and electorate – what does drain the swamp actually mean anyway? – his target audience knew exactly what it meant. The swamp being Washington and career politicians. From that angle, he actually has some very valid points. While I do not agree with the man in many senses, I can see how the man can be agreed with. Which is more than I can say for the media outlets which I traditionally identify with, and consider me their "target market".

This is not to say that there are not hard-working journalists in the world, who go to immense effort seeking the truth. What was missed was that the boundaries of truth were completely obliterated by a new context. If the context before was Bush versus Gore – two career politicians running on records, we look for the truth in those records. In this context – establishment versus non-establishment, the "truth" that was necessary was the balance between maintaining the existing establishment versus tearing down significant parts of it.

The media completely missed that. To be fair, so did I and most of the people with whom I regularly discuss policy and politics. If that had been the framing of the election, it would have been a very different race. In part, that was a vestige of a democratic candidate and a media world geared toward the two party system – where the structure of "an election" is a known quantity. The discussions are based on issues, platforms, and records. We seek the ground truth of who the candidate is, so that we may judge who the candidate will be in office.

That is how Obama so handily beat both Republican opponents. He had a deep understanding of the issues, a solid platform and agenda, and he is extremely careful about his record.

Yet, when we get to Trump, he blew up the entire process. The issue was whether or not the government in its current form serves the people in the way they want to be served. His platform was one of simplistic ideology and soundbites. Most importantly, his record appears to have been completely irrelevant to the electorate that voted for him. We can call him Teflon Don in jest, but the reality is not far from that. There seems to have been very little that stuck to him. His frailties largely engendered him to those that supported him. A fallible man. Someone they knew, or even themselves. Who hasn't said things they regret? Who hasn't wished to dodge debts? Who would trade their own job and livelihood for the far-off spectre of climate change? Those supporters were obvious.

Yet, then there were the supporters who should have dismissed him based on his record. Women. Mexicans. Immigrants. The poor. Yet they voted for him regardless of his record, because his record doesn't matter if the conversation is about the establishment. If we look at the history of revolutionaries around the world, many have dodgy, even violent backgrounds. They are extremists who can have very significant personal character flaws.

Those flaws are irrelevant in terms of fighting the power. If my goal is to depose a governing body that I feel does not govern in my best interest, I care little about the record of the lead man, and only about his effectiveness at completing the task at hand. As time goes on, that seems to be the larger story unfolding. Trump now uses the political machine and its players where it suits him, and brings in his own people when he pleases. If his presidency is successful at moving forward, he will have largely deposed the Washington establishment at it existed prior to his election – which was the desired outcome of that segment of the electorate which voted against the establishment, and not with Donald Trump, the man.

How the media missed that is both fundamental to the question of if its mortally wounded, and also if the media in its present form remains relevant as the fourth estate. It was already obvious that the media was far from impartial, but now the media also seems incompetent. It didn't serve the people, it served masters that have now won or lost. The outlets that lost have been so significantly diminished in stature – equal to their prior presumed primacy – that we may well see major shifts in tone, coverage, or even ownership. It would be too easy to say that Donald Trump stole the election and broke the media. The reality is the media missed the story, and now has shown itself to be generally broken when it comes to understanding fundamental issues.

If we want a key illustration of that, there was a complete media blackout of the coverage of the Standing Rock events. Where a police concussion grenade cost a protester her arm. Did you know that? Most people don't. The major outlets did not cover it in America, while abroad it was covered quite heavily. At the root of the protests is the fact that the pipeline being built threatens water supply to both a Native American community, and general populations. The army core of engineers said that the pipeline needed to be reviewed. Yet the state and backing corporation continued with construction, potentially illegally. The police used a water cannon in freezing cold temperatures on a small group of people that were literally defending the water supply of hundreds of thousands.

That story was nowhere to be found in the American mainstream media. Rather, the coverage was dominated first by the election, then by the aftermath of the election, then by the machinations of the new government, and finally by the Obama and Trump discussions. On no mainstream channel nor homepage – right or left – was that story a major event. Despite the fact that 1) the construction may have been illegal, 2) American police hosed down American citizens with freezing water in subzero temperatures at a non-violent protest, and 3) people were critically injured in that non-violent protest.

That story serves neither the right, nor the left. The right has plans to expand fossil production massively now, and certainly doesn't want a story about a potentially hazardous pipeline and the related human casualties. The left is stung from the loss and seems now to only care about its legacy, focusing on Obama's final quarter and Presidential pardons. Neither side seemed interesting in taking a break from election-related coverage to show what is really happening in America. Primarily police attacking non-violent protestors over an oil pipeline and a woman losing a limb protecting her water supply.

Which brings me to my final point on the ultimate failure of the media, what that failure means, and what it will mean for the media in the future.

This chart shows the number of media mentions of Clinton and Trump over the period of the election. By the end, Trump outweighed Clinton by 3:1. There is a very important feature that sits behind that graph, which is that the media channels became advertising channels without understanding the rules of advertising.

When a car manufacturer's sales begin to decline, often the first thing they do is increase advertising spend. Good managers know that counter-intuitive fact to be a well-tested strategy, while bad managers will often cut ad spending and face further declines. The reason being that the more something is advertised, the more popular consumers believe it to be. In the sense that advertising costs money, and the more advertising there is, the more customers the brand or product has. In advertising, that is called engagement, and the reason that the industry chases impressions.

On a tangent, there is early evidence that is a biological function. The brain's pattern-matching equipment will strengthen the "Ford" neural cells every time a Ford logo is shown. Even if F-150 sales are declining, Ford can reverse that trend by showing the ads more often, and generating more F-150 neural networks in customer's heads. Feel hijacked yet? You should, because its the reason that poor areas are covered in advertisements, while rich areas ban them. Ads may be disgraceful in many cases, but they are effectively precisely because they are biologically effective. In communities where people from outside the community own the real estate, ads flourish. In communities where people within the community own the real estate, ads are often restricted. Because they work, we know they work, and we know that they persuade us to see the world in a different way than we normally do.

On a further tangent, after being outside the United States for ten years, the level of violence depicted in American society feels insane. The level of crime and violence in media – especially against women – is unparalleled anywhere else in the world (that I've found). That is effectively an advertisement for violence and crime, to which the brain habituates. Consequently, the viewed believes that violence is more popular than it really is. Hence, that while actual crime rates have gone down, perceived crime remains largely unabated. Why, is another discussion.

Point being that the same brain machinery that responds to advertising responds to a whole host of external stimuli. Weapons. Violence. Donald Trump.

That graph is so relevant because effectively the media failed to see itself as an advertising channel. Rather, it continued to see itself as a place for rational discourse and investigation. Albeit discourse and investigation biased either toward the establishment or against the establishment. At the end of the day, every story about Trump – either pro- or against- acted as an advertisement for him. Even the channels which sought to attack him, discredit him, and demonise his recorded. Those channels likely gave him so many impressions that rather than discredit him, they did the exact opposite. They built the Donald Trump brand more powerfully than he could have ever done himself.

For that, the media has lost immense credibility. They brought a knife to a gunfight. They had a field day attacking Donald and sending their researching minions off to dredge up every quote. We (and I include myself) had a lovely time making light of him. He became the butt of our jokes and our grand demon all at the same time. And each time, we empowered him. We took a far outside candidate that nobody even thought had a chance of winning the primary, and he an his questionable cabal sit ascendant to the most powerful role in the world.

He understood the advertising channel very well – its how he built the Trump empire. The name. Repeated over and over. Everywhere. Despite the fact that many of his companies are bankrupt and/or duplicitous. The name recognition builds it into a consumer stable. He's far from alone in this, Richard Branson has done the same thing with Virgin.

That was even more pronounced on social media, where the only metric that really matters is engagement. While its true that Facebook has timeline problems, and we all suffer from self-confirming bias in news, the reality is that the systems are optimised to drive engagement. A self-fulfilling prophecy. The more we hated Trump, and the more we read about it, the more the system showed us news that demonised Trump. Forget the emotional angle or journalistic bias, it showed us the name Trump over and over and over again, until we, as both individuals and as a country, normalised him as a serious presidential candidate. He could have never done that himself, and he could not have done it with his supporters alone – even those that defected from other Republican candidates.

What put him over the top was those in the media and electorate that hate(d) him, yet who also collectively normalised him. Look at the number of mentions on the graph. 3x that of Hillary. If the same volume of news had come out about Clinton, she likely would have won. But Trump was so seductive of a target. The grand show. What will he say next? Look how sloppy and uneducated he is! He wants to date / sleep with his own daughter! Every time, a mention of Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Trump. Not, Clinton, Clinton, Clinton, Clinton.

To her credit, Hillary realised that and tried to change the conversation from Trump, the international brand, to Donald, the diminutive and inexperienced man. But she received little support in that quest, as the media pressed on with their fascination with Trump. And they are not solely guilty, we all clicked on the stories and drove the metrics. We helped shape their attention, and their attentiveness. We had our own self-confirming reality, and we forgot one of the most fundamental points of human psychology.

That negative attention is still attention. And so we clicked and clicked and clicked, and talked and talked, and slowly and surely, we – together – the liberal media and the audience – elevated Donald Trump to the position of actual candidate for President.

It wasn't Donald Trump's scorched-earth tactics that mortally wounded the media, it was the media's own scorched-earth tactics that mortally wounded itself. It is most telling that a journalist write an article that not only fails to take responsibility for the fact they missed the fundamental point of the election – we were talking to ourselves – but also then to blame that on Trump's scorched-earth tactics.

The media became obsessed with engagement, and they made engagement their guiding light. In doing they, they failed to accurately assess the world and the ground truth of the situation. Thus, Donald Trump didn't kill the media – profit-seeking did. And now we all suffer. And the media will continue to suffer until it stops looking at the world thought it's self-appointed endowments of importance and starts looking at basic human psychology and advertising.

Donald Trump just got the largest free advertising campaign in the world from the liberal press, and now they're complaining that it was his scorched-earth policy. Meanwhile, he's choosing a cabinet while the rest of sit in fear of climate change, a fractured country, and a fractured world.

Meanwhile, the protests at Standing Rock are still going on, and the media still fails to cover it...
posted by nickrussell at 6:00 AM on November 25, 2016 [114 favorites]


The article gets this right, and I'm surprised to find I actually agree with someone from Fox News on anything, this being that the media took their sweet time to challenge the lack of facts. But I'm tired of this "the media is not that important anymore" bullshit. The president elect is a reality-TV star that got billions worth of air-time given for free every time he said something outrageous, or if he was up during the morning shows who couldn't resist having him because it would be an easy topic for the rest of the day - fact-checking is worth shit if they were willing to repeat everything he said even knowing there was like a 10% chance it could be something that wasn't an outright lie. You can tell the jury to ignore something, but can't make them unlisten.

News need to be less editorialized and more factual. No more replacing newscasters with pundits. Stop the "present both sides" fallacy because if one side presents facts while the other presents outright lies, that side should be considered unfit to take part in the discussion until they present sufficient fact-based material to return to the grown-up table. Fact-checking should be done before things go up and should be the gatekeeper for content, not some sort of moral loophole where they can take part in the dissemination of vile lies and reap the benefits in the shape of metrics, and still claim some sort of moral superiority, like the idiotic footer HuffPo added on all Trump news, that helped them sleep better at night, but spread the lies at a higher rate than Breitbart. Of course, after the primaries results began rolling in, the cat was out of the bag, but until then, he got coverage not even David Duke could dream of getting, even after toning it down.

In brief, journalism needs some spine. If people no longer trust the news, it's because they either go for outlets that say exactly what they want to hear or think for them, or saw news as heavily editorialized to fit the views of who signs the paychecks. Neither is good for society, and turns out, for journalism.
Maybe I'm an idealist. Sorkin-level idealist. But the alternatives are lies, spins and bubbles.

I'm seeing this over here; newspapers all feature loads of editorials from economists and lawyers. There are some articles that from the byline you already know what's coming, because the author has an history of delivering a point of view, no matter how far-fetched that might be. Some newspapers or sites are deep into non-profitability, but the site is not the product - shaping the public opinion in favour of economic libertarianism is, and losing a few millions each year is a small price to pay.
And yet, they ask me to "save journalism by subscribing". No, shitbags, journalism is already dead, you're just trying to cash in the social security checks.
posted by lmfsilva at 6:06 AM on November 25, 2016 [5 favorites]




When asked why he didn't get involved in politics, Michael Jordan reportedly replied, "Republicans buy sneakers, too."

The media was absolutely afraid to fact check Donald Trump out of fear of being labeled as too partisan. Because Republicans buy cars, and blood pressure medications, and fast food, too.
posted by dances with hamsters at 6:21 AM on November 25, 2016 [19 favorites]


They allowed the contest to be what the candidates themselves were making it. The absence of conversation about climate change, and the fact that we have absolutely no idea today what Donald Trump actually truly wants to do about anything, is a catastrophic error on the media’s part, and lots of other people’s part.

Journalism is a business. Unsurprisingly, it got really played by a businessman. Not fact-checking the lying sack of shit meant more money, so guess what two things happened? Jack and shit.

All is not lost, but anyone who wants to take on Trump (or any candidate) needs to have to have impeccable credentials and a helluva personality to combat the BS. Plus the organization behind them needs to be willing to lose access to Trump and then begin crafting their own campaign against the shit he's pulling. Use that lack of access as a weapon, don't fucking cower. If a politician doesn't want to talk to you, fine, double down on reporting on their ass. Done right, you'll make a killing AND report the goddamn truth.

My wallet is waiting for you.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 AM on November 25, 2016 [17 favorites]


It's striking how self-serving these self-mortems are.

"Trump won because we were insufficiently or inadeptly anti-Trump" is not the answer.

"Trump won because we were so anti-Trump that it degraded our credibility with swing voters to become comparable to whatever Aunt Martha put on her Facebook feed" is a lot closer to the truth, but is a lot harder a pill to swallow, because it means you have to a critical but non-partisan eye to things Trump is doing with real-world implications, not repeat whatever the latest Big Bad Wolf story happens to be.

Just think about today -- there are probably 20 stories in the major press this morning about Giuliani vs. Romney for Secretary of State, a choice that has precisely zero policy implications but plays into the media's nasty little narrative about whether and when the GOP establishment cravenly bends the knee and if they bend the knee whether Trump will spurn them vindictively or betray his blue collar backers by embracing them (no "magnamity in victory or grace in defeat" options, of course).

While, at the same time, with the injunction on Obama's salary test regulation for overtime pay, Trump's choice of Secretary of Labor has HUGE policy implications for millions of lower-middle-class workers ... and ZERO stories about the "horse race" for Secretary of Labor.
posted by MattD at 6:59 AM on November 25, 2016 [11 favorites]


All the major newspapers endorsed Clinton. Since he won they're all queuing up to kiss Trump's arse. That's their job.
posted by Coda Tronca at 7:00 AM on November 25, 2016


Conservatives expertly used the so-called liberal media as a tool of mass brainwashing about Clinton's emails. This was their handle on the election, because their elite representation require negative campaigns to discourage voting. They desperately took a subject nobody cared about and dressed it up as a scandal, and like the old saying, if you say something loud enough, long enough, and often enough, then people will believe it. That's exactly what happened. The media routinely echoed their email story like it mattered, while real email scandals unfolded around it. The political meaning of outside Russian hacking and targeted release of private political correspondence was then able to be defined and even encouraged by the victimizers without getting tarnished, even with the help of a politically corrupted and now useless FBI.
posted by Brian B. at 7:09 AM on November 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


You'll know the danger times are here when the newspapers begin scrubbing their sites of unfavorable (but truthful) things they said in the past.
posted by homerica at 7:09 AM on November 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


It certainly seems like Trump is pivoting to set himself in opposition to "The Media." Trump seems to do better when the spotlight is on the failings of whatever he's set himself against. If there's one thing Trump has half a chance of beating in a popularity contest, it's "The Media." Without any meaningful opposition in the federal government, keeping public trust in the media low effectively removes public oversight. And in this environment, the more over-the-top his actual behavior, the more biased factual reporting will feel.
posted by GameDesignerBen at 7:12 AM on November 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure the Donald inflicted mortal wounds on the media. I think the media owners inflicted the mortal wounds on the media. Donald merely jumped through the hole in their credibility that they created

There has been significant 'reputation mining' in recent years where owners and the business side of the media have over-leveraged the credibility of the reporting side ranging from things like the NYTimes beating the drums of gulf wars to the Chicago Tribune editorial board endorsing the completely and transparently non-existent platforms of Rauner and Gary Johnson. This kind of MBA driven management may lead to some short term gains - political favors and business climate advantages but ultimately it destroys the brand it leverages as people catch on that the product has turned to shit.

The reputations that were 'mined' were built during a brief window of news credibility in the 60s and 70s where yellow journalism was in retreat but it turns out that may have been the anomaly rather than the present media situation.
posted by srboisvert at 7:19 AM on November 25, 2016 [7 favorites]


Meanwhile, the protests at Standing Rock are still going on, and the media still fails to cover it...

Really? Nothing, huh. I just saw two reports on two of the Orchestral (abc, cbs) news stations this morning
posted by clavdivs at 7:25 AM on November 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I think fake news is a problem, but it is interesting to me that the media is so focused on it now. Because it's less of a problem then shitty news.

Conservatives developed a neat trick in the last few decades, exploiting what I think is the genuine hollowness at the heart of news. They realized if you do your own shitty news writing, a considerable number of people in the mainstream media will pick it up and either pass it along uncritically or perhaps fact check it but pass it along in the spirit of fairness and balance. Breitbart was and is really the most successful version of this, but there are a lot of little versions.

I mean, right now, Keith Ellison is being slammed for supposed antisemitism and relations with the Nation of Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood. Almost all of it is based in hit pieces run in a Minneapolis online publication called Power Line, most dating back to Ellison's first campaign in 2006, that they have been recycling ever since.

And it's just the worst, laziest, shittyist thing. It's just somebody trawling through old issues of the Star Tribune looking for any time Ellison was involved in a NOI event or did something distantly linked to other Muslim groups that are somehow distantly linked to other Muslim groups until a scary connection is made. And they also throw in anything they can find that shows anything less than unqualified support for what the hardline ultra-right wants for Israel, which amounts to one vote against one missile system exactly once in his entire career.

It shouldn't work. It's Islamophobic at its core, presuming that anyone who ever had involvement with anything connected with NOI are somehow then a supporter a Farrakhan and antisemtitism (Ellison's involvement was almost entirely limited to the Million Man March, and he has denounced the organizations antisemitism.) He has no links to violent extremism, he has worked relatively tirelessly against antisemtism in the Muslim world, he has generally been a supported, albeit a critical one, of Israel, and a number of Minnesota Jewish organizations support him. This stuff didn't work in 2006 when he was first running, and it is still garbage.

And yet it still gets recycled, because news organizations still treat it as an alternative view, or as raising serious questions. And so you'll find a lot of people who only read headlines, or skim articles, or are predisposed to dislike Ellison because he is a Muslim, of have only read op eds from Republican operatives that draw from the Power Line stories, who think Ellison is a Farrakhan disciple and an antisemite. Or maybe they don't think that, but they find it a useful lie in smearing a Democratic politician.

And the mainstream media needs to stop participating in that. But they are too lazy, too shoddy, to wedded to the idea of balance, to throw out garbage, and so they end up publishing fake news of their own.
posted by maxsparber at 7:29 AM on November 25, 2016 [24 favorites]


Sitting through the shitball that was the tv adverts here in Indiana, one thing that came to mind was that it would help the discussion greatly if the local tv stations only ran ads that come directly from the candidate's campaign office and are expressly approved by the candidate.

It seemed to me that the vast majority of the twisted and extremely poisonous ads were coming from the various PACs, which don't need the candidate's approval. Yes, I know it's big bucks for the stations, but it seems that the PACs can say pretty much anything they want without repercussion. And, of course, the candidate is insulated since it doesn't come from their official campaign.

It's either that or acknowledge the reality that the campaigns actually do know/coordinate with the PACs (despite toothless laws forbidding it) and require the candidate to expressly approve each heinous PAC ad, as well.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:49 AM on November 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


If the US had an arms-length government-funded national broadcaster (like most other 1st world countries), that often sets the bar for broadcast journalism, would the US media landscape, and the quality of journalism be any better or different? Discuss.
posted by Artful Codger at 7:53 AM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Just think about today -- there are probably 20 stories in the major press this morning about Giuliani vs. Romney for Secretary of State, a choice that has precisely zero policy implications but plays into the media's nasty little narrative about whether and when the GOP establishment cravenly bends the knee and if they bend the knee whether Trump will spurn them vindictively or betray his blue collar backers by embracing them (no "magnamity in victory or grace in defeat" options, of course)

This has much more to do with two other ideas brought up in comments: the coverage of politics as if it were entertainment, and the tendency to cover "celebrity" names. Giuliani and Romney have high media profiles for reasons unrelated to the 2016 race or the 2017 Cabinet, so they get coverage.

Most people couldn't *name* the Secretary of Labor on a good day, and policy oriented stories have a very low readership. The market responds to demand, we are often told, and the average news consumer wants to be entertained and hear gossip about "celebrities."

More broadly, they do not what to be told what matters most as much as they want to be told that *they* and *their opinions* matter most. This cuts across partisan lines.

Taken in this light, the emergence of increasingly partisan and even "fake" news sources reflects the deeper reality that people are less interested in seeking out and consuming good information than in *comforting*, *self-affirming* statements. The Internet and cable news have indeed democratized information.

So now we know that this is what people vote for with their attention and their dollars: Fox News on the one hand, and the NYTimes editorial page on the other. In the modern news industry, truth claims are just a branding exercise with a target demo.
posted by kewb at 7:53 AM on November 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


It is also interesting that people would have predicted that someone like Trump would have been successful by out spending his opponent (i.e. billionaire buys election). Clinton outspent Trump 2:1 overall and 3:1 on television ads. Myself, listening to NPR for radio, and watching all my TV via the web, I only saw 1-2 ads this entire election (Hillary ads on Youtube). Not only did TV, radio and newspaper journalism matter less, but so did their paid advertisements.
posted by 445supermag at 8:03 AM on November 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


"Trump won because we were so anti-Trump that it degraded our credibility with swing voters to become comparable to whatever Aunt Martha put on her Facebook feed"

Ah, yes, crying that "the media and the liberals are biased." A great little trick, really. Either there's pushback against the claim, which can be twisted as a "demonstration" of just how "biased" everyone on the other side is, or the claim is accepted, in which case you get to steamroll opposing views because no one is allowed to debate you in the first place.

This is way down there with "stop being so defensive!" as a way to short-circuit good-faith discussions and preemptively delegitimate any opposing views.

The funniest bit is that Trump is a really bad example for accusations of media bias, given the sheer stream of lies and self-contradictions flowing from his camp. How, exactly, does one cover that without either becoming de facto "anti-Trump" (as would result from virtually any level of fact-checking) or becoming little more than a megaphone for his campaign?

The solution, one supposes, would be to simply not cover him much at all, from the early days of the primary forward. He was never a serious candidate; he was *made* one, almost by sheer ubiquity.
posted by kewb at 8:06 AM on November 25, 2016 [9 favorites]


I may have more on this after I've read the first article thoroughly.

But until then: the problem with seeing Trump primarily as "establishment" vs "non-establishment" is that in the general election the billionaire actually won a very traditional way for Republicans--90%+ of the Republican votes and some "independent" white working class votes. Pretty much the entire professional Republican establishment rallied around him, sometimes with hand wringing but the number who cut loose from him--even when it looked like he'd lose--was miniscule. This as much of anything is a sign of how the media made itself irrelevant this cycle.
posted by mark k at 8:11 AM on November 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


If the US had an arms-length government-funded national broadcaster (like most other 1st world countries), that often sets the bar for broadcast journalism, would the US media landscape, and the quality of journalism be any better or different? Discuss.

The UK has the BBC but its overall journalistic standards are probably better summarized by the Daily Mail.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:26 AM on November 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


Always looking for someone to blame. How about 40+ million people who chose a proven liar and scam artist. HE is not the problem. The people who voted for him are the problem. They chose to put a con man in charge of the country. Good luck with that. In short order I expect him to reach his goal of becoming the richest individual on earth. And blaming the media is trying to import some importance to it that it has not deserved since the days of Cronkite and Reasoner.

People have access to the WORLD WIDE WEB. And they are quite content to get their news from NBC, CBS, ABC and FOX. Or the Post, N.Y. and LA times.

Glad I am pushing 80 but feel for my children. I can leave them financial freedom. But alas. My portfolio does not include REAL freedom.
posted by notreally at 8:32 AM on November 25, 2016 [20 favorites]


The second link reminded me of this piece by Quinta Jurecic on Trump, media framing and Harry Frankfurt, "On Bullshit and the Oath of Office: The “LOL Nothing Matters” Presidency"
This is the freedom of bullshit. The liar has to know things in order to falsely present facts that are the opposite of the truth. The bullshitter doesn’t need to know the truth, or even think that he or she knows the truth. According to Frankfurt, this is also why bullshit is more dangerous than lying: the liar operates within the framework of truth and falsehood and therefore accepts the possibility that “there are indeed facts that are in some way determinable or knowable,” as Frankfurt writes. But bullshit glibly rejects the value and even existence of knowable facts. Bullshit is faithless, because it denies the existence of anything constant in which to have faith.
I kind of agree that large chunks of "the media" mishandled Trump for most of the campaign. There were always pretty serious, troubling things to discuss there (numerous sexual assault allegations, obvious connections to literal hate groups, Trump literally began his presidential campaign with an unhinged racist tirade!, a Frankfurtian relationship with truth/falsehood, climate change denial, cavalier attitudes toward war nuclear or otherwise, whatever exactly the deal with Russia is and so on) that were technically covered but weren't at the forefront of coverage until October.

Of course, one of the issues raised by Trump's campaign is that even if the coverage had been perfect, it may not have been enough to matter. If people really want their American fascism, they won't let trivial things like facts dissuade them.
posted by byanyothername at 9:01 AM on November 25, 2016 [6 favorites]


To be fair, the liberal side of things is often just as keen as the conservative side of things to declare minor concerns like the substance and authenticity of our political leaders to be invalid. The two sides aren't equivalent, but both sides like to flirt with the idea there's no reality beyond what people can get away with. Marketers have successfully persuaded almost everyone that it shouldn't even matter if their being brazenly lied to, as long as the lies make us feel happy in the moment.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:28 AM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


If the US had an arms-length government-funded national broadcaster (like most other 1st world countries), that often sets the bar for broadcast journalism, would the US media landscape, and the quality of journalism be any better or different? Discuss.

Nope, not at all - re: Brexit.

notreally has it: the people who voted for Trump did it knowingly, my FB friends who did so are defending their votes strongly and looking forward to the Trump presidency while they know it will be incompetent, corrupt, racist and much more. That is what they want. They want the US to collapse, for a number of different and not at all compatible reasons. They understand how that might bring hardship, but they prefer that to the alternative, which is an increasingly diverse and liberal nation.

These elections, the US presidency, Brexit and a year ago a Danish referendum on the EU collaboration on justice, have taught me a lot about those voters who vote against their own interests and the politicians who lead them in that direction. First of all, it has been a huge surprise to me that they are not ignorant. They vote against themselves knowing that they are doing just that, wether they are Danes voting against the cross-border collaboration that protects their homes against crime, or farmers in Cornwall voting against the subsidies that keep them going, or American rust-belt worker voting against Obama-care. They know what they vote will harm them, but still they do it and very few express regrets.

In my opinion, the press has failed already since 2000. But the thing is, it hasn't really made a difference. Maybe a few votes could have been moved if it had been said clearly that Trump was a liar every time he lied, but most people knew he lied, and they didn't care. They also don't believe the media. If they feel crime is rising, anyone claiming it is in decline is untrustworthy. If they feel immigrants are taking their jobs, they don't care about the facts.

And while it makes sense to blame organizations like Fox News and Breitbart for this, I'm not so certain. Here in Denmark we have a tiny fake news organisation, but nothing like Fox. Still there is a part of the population who disregard any knowledge that goes against their gut feeling (why yes, the 27% again). But they have always been there and still it has been possible to govern the country and build up infrastructure and welfare and not least health care and education. And support innovation and business at the same time.

I think that what has happened since the end of the cold war is that politicians, not media have become completely cynical in their quest for power and wealth. The media are hangers-on. The politicians are no longer leaders, working towards a vision of a better future. They no longer take the time to engage with citizens. They rarely worry about their legacy, if only the foundation is growing. And then Obama was actually different and he has remained different, but it turned out he had absolutely nothing against the corruption in Washington.

The worst thing is, it is the voters, the citizens who enable the corrupt politicians. Not only by not voting, or protest voting or blaming Obama for what the congress wrought. But also by not engaging. Why are the people on your school board all idiots? Because you didn't engage. Why are all politicians corrupt and indifferent to real issues? Because you are not in a party and not engaged. (This all applies to me and to most of my friends)

But even if you engage as an individual you are going to meet massive resistance - the entire political system is dredged in corruption - moral if not actually economic. As a citizen, you don't have a chance. This is really dystopian and pessimistic, but I'm not that pessimistic. I still see Obama as proof that things can be different, and I also get the sense that his experience as a president has led him to understand how reform must happen at all levels. I also believe there are millions of "Obamas" across the globe.

(While I am not a member of any party, I am active in my union, and I see a lot of what is going on close up. You would be surprised at how much global politics are mirrored in a tiny local union..)
posted by mumimor at 9:50 AM on November 25, 2016 [10 favorites]


I love the cover photo for the second link.
posted by xris at 9:52 AM on November 25, 2016


The only thing I'm getting from these think pieces is that the MSM is terrified by their undeniable loss of status. It all reads like a moral panic regarding falling marriage rates and normalization of non-cis sexual identities and praying for a return to an imagined bucolic 1950s America that never existed. The idea that we ever lived in a "fact based society" is an insult to anyone with a long term memory.

To dial it back over 100 years I don't think the public as a whole has ever had the cognitive firepower to overcome the power of propaganda / PR, which came out of the newly developed field of psychology, on top of mass media, starting with affordable daily papers and radio. The costs to a power structure to deliver the PR are too low versus the costs to individual members of the public in terms of education, time, and discipline for it to be a fair fight. Cognitive capture of the public is here to stay until something else changes.

Moving forward a bit an unbiased press in a capitalist society was never going to be realized. I think we were lucky that advertising brought in enough revenue to support journalism as an institution with a set of values that was able to resist (even if just a little bit) power structures and conflicting internal demands brought by advertisers themselves through most of the 20th century.

Moving up to the internet age - we've talked on this site for 15 years now how the internet and Craigslist destroyed the newspapers, and TV from the local level up to the cable channels has gone through a similar arc (probably more due to increasing monetization demands of late-stage capitalism in that case). We still see "New York Times" and "The Atlantic" and "Washington Post" but these are very, very different organizations than they were even 15 years ago.

Meanwhile, today, I have the Dakota Pipeline fiasco all over my facebook page. In 1995 I wouldn't have known it was happening.

I'm seeing a lot of older liberals really struggling with the social changes of the past decade that are now undeniable after this ugly election. Lots of early 20th century PR Barnum-esque "there's a sucker born every minute" memes on facebook, blaming racists, etc. These are partly true but I'm mostly seeing it as their authors struggling with their new cognitive reality.
posted by MillMan at 1:48 PM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, today, I have the Dakota Pipeline fiasco all over my facebook page. In 1995 I wouldn't have known it was happening.

The fact is, I heard about things like the Dakota Pipeline protests and Ag-Gag laws via "fake news" sites like Blacklisted News and ZeroHedge long, long before I saw them on CNN and NYT.
posted by 445supermag at 2:26 PM on November 25, 2016


The only thing I'm getting from these think pieces is that the MSM is terrified by their undeniable loss of status. It all reads like a moral panic regarding falling marriage rates and normalization of non-cis sexual identities and praying for a return to an imagined bucolic 1950s America that never existed. The idea that we ever lived in a "fact based society" is an insult to anyone with a long term memory.

I think the larger concern among many journalists is that the civic institutions that help to create a society that believes in democracy are being derided across the spectrum- education, journalism, science, government, along with traditional institutions like family and church. The way fascism takes hold is when a sufficient number of people no longer believe in any of these institutions, and an authoritarian, populist leader comes along who is willing to exploit their cynicism in order to attain power.
posted by krinklyfig at 2:28 PM on November 25, 2016


I've found NPR to be fairly good with keeping me informed about a lot of matters (including coverage of the Standing Rock situation beginning long before even my news.google.com generic page mentioned it). Also PBS Newshour didn't feel like it's dropping the ball much. Democracy NOW is a bit of a twist of the prism, certainly.

Lately, the most interesting news show I watch on weeknights has been VICE News Tonight on HBO weeknights. (On hiatus right now, I think.)

I truly long for the days of Peter Jennings on ABC and Dan Rather later that night, and Neal Conan on Talk Of The Nation. I felt somehow like news was more sane and informative during that part of my life.
posted by hippybear at 2:58 PM on November 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think the larger concern among many journalists is that the civic institutions that help to create a society that believes in democracy are being derided across the spectrum

No doubt, but many of the folks writing these think pieces are the ones doing the dirty work because paying the rent and retaining their social status comes first. Becoming a whistleblower or "doing the right thing" leads to a harder life almost without exception, and not many of us are up for it. I'm not going to throw stones myself but here we are.
posted by MillMan at 3:35 PM on November 25, 2016


I heard about things like the Dakota Pipeline protests and Ag-Gag laws via "fake news" sites like Blacklisted News and ZeroHedge long, long before I saw them on CNN and NYT.

ZeroHedge was way out in front with coverage of the financial crisis in 2008, with a lot of claims shown to be true after the fact (and plenty that weren't). In my mind they're a good demonstration of the not-so-simple delineation between real and fake new sites.
posted by MillMan at 3:40 PM on November 25, 2016


"Trump won because we were so anti-Trump that it degraded our credibility with swing voters to become comparable to whatever Aunt Martha put on her Facebook feed" is a lot closer to the truth

That's actually a ridiculous assertion, because the media saw Trump as a rating bonanza and spent 18 months broadcasting and repeating his every word and showcasing his every press-conference-disguised-as-hotel-advertisement.

It's not that the media isn't credible, it's that it, like Aunt Martha, is credulous.
posted by deanc at 4:41 PM on November 25, 2016 [6 favorites]



The only thing I'm getting from these think pieces is that the MSM is terrified by their undeniable loss of status. It all reads like a moral panic regarding falling marriage rates and normalization of non-cis sexual identities and praying for a return to an imagined bucolic 1950s America that never existed. The idea that we ever lived in a "fact based society" is an insult to anyone with a long term memory.


My own anger over exactly this aspect is seeing progressives in my feed repeating that they can't believe Trump didn't lose after <this horrible thing he did>. "I just don't understand it." Really? It's kind of the entry fee to the left that you acknowledge hatred and racism and bigotry and sexism and all these isms, and then you turn around and say you don't understand how these forces propelled Trump to victory, or at least blocked dignity and compassion from shaming him out of the race? Aren't you kind of saying that you don't really believe the deplorable greatest hits are problems? It's like a final confession that their privilege is still blinding them, that they're still clinging to a liberal just-world fallacy.
posted by fatbird at 6:14 PM on November 25, 2016


It's not that the media isn't credible, it's that it, like Aunt Martha, is credulous.

And Trump himself is somewhat incredible so honest coverage appears false.
posted by srboisvert at 7:07 PM on November 25, 2016


From a Canadian perspective, the American media was so pro-Trump that it was absolutely disgusting. I don't know what kind of delusion you have to have to think that the media fucked up by being anti-Trump. That never happened. It was all Trump all the time.

The only time Clinton was ever mentioned was to berate her on multiple email non-scandals that were smushed into one uber non-scandal.
posted by Yowser at 10:07 PM on November 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


News need to be less editorialized and more factual.

If there's one thing I know for sure it's that there is no number of NYT Paul Krugman columns that could have defeated Trump. Maybe you'll move the needle with the old-school business Republicans but come on, we've always known the majority of those guys have no loyalty to anything but their short-term capital gains.

Ah, yes, crying that "the media and the liberals are biased."

Biased? Nah. But oblivious, for sure - to a few things. One of those things being the notion that the "widely condemn Trump and universally give him tons of exposure" plan might not be working - of course that is a self-interested oblivious.
posted by atoxyl at 12:39 AM on November 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


Good thing, then, that I ended the comment you quote with the following:

The solution, one supposes, would be to simply not cover him much at all, from the early days of the primary forward. He was never a serious candidate; he was *made* one, almost by sheer ubiquity.

That's no longer practical advice, of course. But going forward, covering the places and groups *affected* by federal policy is probably the best thing the media could do.

It isn't what they will do, of course. Trump benefitted from the transformation of political coverage into the coverage of entertainment personalities, and that's still the moneymaker. Maybe moreso now that we have Reality TV, direct from the Oval Office (and/or Trump Tower). Get ready for four years of bread and circuses up front and handshake deals to strip away rights and opportunities in the back room.
posted by kewb at 3:52 AM on November 26, 2016


Highlighting this comment by @lmfsilva:
News need to be less editorialized and more factual. No more replacing newscasters with pundits. Stop the "present both sides" fallacy...

Beautifully succinct encapsulation of the failure of the media to act journalistically. The "fourth estate" argument is about seeking a truth and presenting a well-reasoned argument for a distinct point-of-view.

What we got was, "Was the election influenced by outside actors for a Donald Trump advantage? Here we have one person who thinks it was, and one person who thinks it wasn't. Discuss."

and...

Comey reopening the case against Hillary Clinton during the early voting window. Will that influence her chances of winning the election? Here we have one person who thinks it will, and one person who thinks it won't. Discuss.

Both of those actions had a pronounced negative effect on the Clinton campaign. Both represent de facto interference in the election. And yet the best the media can do is "here's two people who are going to discuss it."

What do viewers/voters walk away with?

1. Something happened
2. Nobody knows what
3. Here's two unqualified opinions
4. Go vote

As opposed to taking a stand on the real issues.

A foreign entity aided by a dubious actor illegally hacked the emails of a person with sensitive information pertaining to the upcoming presidential election.

While we may not know who it was, we certainly know that sensitive information was released into the public sphere. We also know that far from investigating it, most of the media simply acknowledged that it happened, and then ceaselessly discussed it. Rather than taking a stand like,

These hacked emails are a serious problem in this election, for they may well tilt the race. Regardless of the outcome, it will be difficult to know what the poll results actually represent.

Same with the FBI's last minute move. The director of the FBI re-opened the email against Hillary Clinton in the same window as early voting began. That is what happened.

While we may not know why that happened, we know that Comey acted unilaterally and unorthodoxly. Again, far from investigating it, most of the media simply acknowledged that it happened, and then ceaseless discussed it. Rather than taking a stand like,

This unprecedented move is a serious problem in this election, for it may affect voting decisions, before we actually know if there is any substance to Comey's action. Regardless of the outcome, it will be difficult to know what the the early ballots actually represent.

Following on with @dances_with_hamsters point:
The media was absolutely afraid to fact check Donald Trump out of fear of being labeled as too partisan. Because Republicans buy cars, and blood pressure medications, and fast food, too.
What I'm reading here in this thread (and it is by and large excellent insight here) is that the media abdicated its role as the fourth estate, and descended to chase engagement. Basically to generate as much controversy as possible, without actually investigating the issues at all.

Overall, I suppose this represents a market failure. I wonder if the solution is that journalism must be licensed like law and medicine. As the media continues to fails in its duties to cover the most relevant stories in a manner that actually informs people, we cannot say that it informs people hardly at all. In fact, it may well do the exact opposite. It may be intentionally confusing – terrorising them, in a way – to sell more commercial airtime.

I would love if the solutions to all these things were Facebook features to separate real news from fake news, but the reality is that it has been said that the republic cannot exist without the fourth estate, and yet the fourth estate now does not serve the republic. Rather, it serves itself with little culpability for its effect.

The BBC was a great example, however, the recent moves to privatise its production arm may well neuter its journalistic bite.

Regardless, to the original point of the post framed in those two great quotes above, basically the media presents both sides of an issue because it is afraid of taking a stand and offending its commercial audience. That's not journalism, that's simple content. In light of this, I foresee that we will see an even greater mistrust of the media (rightly so), while at the same time we really need a journalistic estate to cover the regime that currently rises.

This "administration" looks bad enough. However if it came to power on the back of a journalistic estate only interested in engagement and eyeballs, our capacity to actually understand what this administration does is severely limited. I had never so considered the matter before – that facist regimes require complicit fourth estates – in terms of the actual process by which it happens. Not in an abstract, historical manner, or in a "it happened there" context. But in a very real manner, by which previously functional news organisations like CNN may well have been knowingly or unknowing co-opted to slant the US presidential election from a career politician to a corrupt business man.

This thread is infinitely more chilling today than it was yesterday, so thank you all for that. What we're really talking about here is not the implosion of the media, but rather its sometimes-benign complicity.

To close, the most disconcerting feature may well be that if you were to ask many people in the mainstream media about lmfsilva's point, that their failure is presenting both sides of the story, they may well consider that its their job to present both sides of the story. Which functionally means that the journalists with the greatest reach in America – and by extension around the world – fail to understand how to actually do their job.
posted by nickrussell at 4:23 AM on November 26, 2016 [10 favorites]


To close, the most disconcerting feature may well be that if you were to ask many people in the mainstream media about lmfsilva's point, that their failure is presenting both sides of the story, they may well consider that its their job to present both sides of the story. Which functionally means that the journalists with the greatest reach in America – and by extension around the world – fail to understand how to actually do their job.

No, they have been taught that it is the job of *the viewers* to apply critical thinking and to sort through and follow up on what is presented. The more different ideas presented to their viewers, they will tell you, the greater the information available to a viewer, the more that viewer will be able to critilcal evaluate and the better the eventual understanding the viewer arrives at.

In this respect, the media is like a crowd of firefighters standing on the sidewalk, taking in the spectacle of a house burning down in a neighborhood not their own. Ask them why they are not doing anything and they reply that sensible people can use smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and good planning to avoid these kinds of problems, and anyway it isn't their house nor even their neighborhood. All they can do is dutifully keep a record of the fire. Besides, you are there too, and you aren't helping. Clearly, they explain, most people are not concerned about stopping this fire, just about watching it.

When it is pointed out that the neighbors are not able to put it out themselves, and that everyone must therefore pitch in to do something, they shrug and suggest that perhaps the fire department should be better funded, that the homeowner should have bought a smoke alarm, that perhaps the house was not built to code, that some say the house is not on fire at all. They have noted a great many ideas about just what could be done among the crowd, any one of which some volunteer might easily apply to the situation.

Indeed, some people are tossing whatever they can find onto the blaze. Some throw cups full of water, some beat their arms tying to generate a breeze to put out the flames, and a few use their own fire extinguishers. An enterprising fellow who lives in the next town over seems to have brought a can of gasoline.

And then the firefighters turn their heads, having noticed that a neighboring house has caught fire, too. It isn't their house nor even their neighborhood, after all, and they must record the spectacle; a great many important people follow such statistics and make all sorts of important decisions based on them.
posted by kewb at 8:14 AM on November 26, 2016 [8 favorites]


It's not that Donald Trump broke the media, it's that the media was broken already and the Trump campaign took full advantage of it. Between false balance, shilling for the wealthy and powerful, self-interest, laziness, arrogance, and most damning, a lack of interest in truth and the greater good, they haven't really had the stature they assumed in the general public for a while now. Meanwhile, the right has been playing a long game for at least 50 years of creating the liberal media bias narrative that has thoroughly seeped into the mindset of far more people than has been recognized. Fox and Breitbart took it to hyper levels. Add that politicians and governments have been caught lying and covering up so many times and mainstream media has let them get away with it so much it's led to an explosion of conspiracy-mindedness, another overlooked major factor.

I think the best way of understanding Trump, beyond the anti-establishment appeal, is a. celebrity, and b. that he really viewed the presidential race and I'm sure now the presidency as as if it were fake wrestling. How do you cover that? You can't really. It's so ridiculous that no strategy works as long that is what people want to watch and hear. Most know it's just a big spectacle, but that's what they want. Welcome to reality tv becoming "reality".

Beyond that, I doubt if who was running against who really mattered all that much. As long as you have a significant number of fanatical single issue voters, both parties get away with corruption and cynicism - we'll throw you a bone on two and either take or leave it; or maybe voters won't even notice - especially when you have no properly functioning Fourth Estate to counter. It's basically tribalism, especially for the right.

So, news media is generally spineless and craven, social media is a terrible amplifier, the system is if not broken at least rigged in the sense of ordinary people having lost real voice and power, and to paraphrase an analogy from psychology, the "rat" jumped, er, right.
posted by blue shadows at 10:32 AM on November 26, 2016 [2 favorites]


The MSM or at least the Washington Post seems to be soiling itself again.
It has recently with no accreditation promoted the claims of a new, shadowy organization that smears dozens of U.S. news sites that are critical of U.S. foreign policy as being “routine peddlers of Russian propaganda.”
posted by adamvasco at 12:02 PM on November 26, 2016 [4 favorites]


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