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Rosenblum writes: "I was just finishing an upbeat Trump-free report on a May Day drive through deepest France when an AP item from Washington stunned me to silence."

Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Sarah Huckabee Sanders. (photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)


Wizard of Id Finally Fractures Camel's Back

By Mort Rosenblum, Reader Supported News

13 May 18

 

was just finishing an upbeat Trump-free report on a May Day drive through deepest France when an AP item from Washington stunned me to silence. The President of the United States, thinking with his thumbs, tweeted this:

“The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”

And this at a time when trustworthy news organizations face mounting pressure from greedy management, political connivance, fragmentation, and background babble from every direction.  

Nothing, I believe, is more dangerous than Donald Trump's insidious yet relentless campaign to strike America blind. His hardcore cheers him on, no matter what, and a broad sector of others, confused or indifferent, enable him by inaction.

Newspapers document lies and flip-flops. The New Yorker and others probe sordid dealings. Television, sometimes even Fox, shines light on loony behavior. Yet those rally T-shirts are still around: “Tree. Rope. Journalists. Some assembly required.”

Trump's tweet, far beyond politics, is a measure of the man, a despotic assault on America's bedrock belief in the people's right to know. The old saw about a last straw breaking the camel's back has never been so apt.

The issue is not credentials. The White House already plays favorites yet still leaks from top. At briefings, Sarah Sanders hints of occasional shame when the bullshit is too malodorous. What's at risk is democracy.

Trump, in that tweet, uses the royal “we.” He is a civil servant on a four-year contract living in public housing. He skirts sedition with legal fig leaves to evade scrutiny, exceed his mandate and endanger the nation by doing what is plainly wrong.

Congress, rather than checking presidential excess, has unbalanced the judiciary, the crucial third branch. That leaves only the Fourth Estate, a grand term rooted in English tradition that is essentially a permanent pack of watchdogs meant to bark and bite.

 Much of America's news media does noble service despite it all. But the large part that does not provides “alternative facts.” Using textbook demagogy, Trump lies with the confidence of a man who grasps a basic human failing. People go to extremes not to admit being duped, even to themselves.

This is tough to explain to sane people in the real world who remember what the United States used to be. The French watched, sickened, as Trump told an NRA mob that one guy with a pistol would have stopped coordinated attacks that killed 130 people in Paris in 2015. He pointed a finger to demonstrate, like a demented kid with cap gun.

Abroad, neither friends nor foes trust America. We'll soon know the cost of spiking the Iran deal. Hard-liners in Tehran and Tel Aviv (or, rather, Jerusalem) are already splashing kerosene on smoldering embers. Bibi Netanyahu wants preventive war.

At home, Trump's authoritarian approach emboldens police to overreact. The other day, Ray McGovern, an ex-CIA analyst nearing 80, tried to tell congressmen what he knew firsthand about Gina Haspel and torture. Video shows officers throw him to the ground, his shoulder dislocated, and shout: “Stop resisting.” He wasn't.

That's in the capital, awash in journalists. We hear increasingly less from cities and towns where families shape world views and determine what their kids are taught in school. With slanted and censored reporting, what we don't know is killing us.

In Las Vegas, for instance, Sheldon Adelson bought the Las Vegas Independent-Journal to promote his casino interests and narrow views. Bent on tilting U.S. policy towards Israel, he offered to pay for a new embassy in Jerusalem.

Adelson is small-bore compared to Sinclair Broadcasting Group, which dictates scripted simultaneous propaganda to TV and radio stations in 40 percent of American markets. The once-admirable Chicago Tribune empire is now a bad joke known as Tronc.

Look at Colorado. During the 1980s, I co-published the Telluride Mountain Journal, a lively weekly with its own Paris bureau. Okay, me. Two Denver dailies thrived with 700 newsroom people between them, and there were others around the state.

The Rocky Mountain News won four Pulitzers in its last years until E. W. Scripps dumped it in 2009, just short of its 150th anniversary. Journalist and entrepreneur Dean Singleton tried to save the Denver Post and other newspapers elsewhere, but his group filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Alden Global Capital, hedge fund scavengers, took over. Alden controls 56 dailies, including some big ones, and a lot of weeklies.  

Margaret Sullivan called the new owners in the Washington Post “one of the most ruthless of the corporate strip-miners seemingly intent on destroying local journalism.” News people ask questions, and they also ought to answer them. Not these guys.

“I tried to talk to someone in Alden's New York headquarters…to ask about the apparently counterproductive strategy of endless cuts but was told no one was there to speak to the news media,” Sullivan wrote. “When I asked to be connected to managing director Heath Freeman's office, the receptionist hung up on me.”

In April, after Alden slashed again and told survivors what not to write, the staff rebelled. Editorial page editor Kenneth Plunkett wrote, in a blast headlined, “As the Vultures Circle”: “We call for action…Denver deserves a newspaper owner who supports its newsroom. If Alden isn’t willing to do good journalism here, it should sell The Post to owners who will.”

Plunkett sketched the broader picture. Political interests buy up “echo-chamber outlets” to report from biased perspectives. That leaves “the hollowed-out shells of newsrooms loyal to traditional journalistic values to find their voice in the maelstrom.”

Soon after, he resigned. So did Dave Krieger, who wrote similarly in Boulder's Daily Camera, another Alden property. Other top editors also left. The company kept on cutting back.

Jason Blevins, who survived a dozen buyouts in 21 years at the Post, summed it up in the High County News. From a newsroom of more than 300 in 1997, the paper has shrunk to 35 reporters and photographers to be what it claims: “the Voice of the Rocky Mountain Empire.” 

Here are some excerpts; a link is attached below:

“The lofty hope (the Post) espoused — that newspaper reporting can champion truth, meaning and a sense of community — has withered under the watch of Heath Freeman, who is murdering the paper…Freeman doesn't care about video. Or digital news. Or print news. Or news. He wants his newspapers to do one thing: kick out cash. He's cut more than 3,000 jobs from newsrooms across the U.S. It's a short-term play from a wannabe Gordon Gekko…And it's working...Last year Alden reaped $160 million from its newspapers, including $28 million from The Denver Post, according to an independent report.

“Even worse, Freeman is stifling coverage — even censoring his own editors — when we seek to expose how Alden Global is razing local journalism…And that's the real rub here. It's not just that journalists are out of jobs. It's that they are not telling the stories that we all need to hear…”

The best of U.S. newspapers, in contrast, are now better than ever, but they reach only a fringe of voters, few with any illusions about trumpery. Despite its strengths, TV depends on sideshows and sex scandals that drive up ratings. Nonstop ill-informed argument trivializes what matters and overdramatizes what doesn't.

This is fertile ground for manipulation. Trump's base spews venom at any news organization he targets, which includes “the failing New York Times” and The Washington Post to the full alphabet soup of TV news channels.

That trial balloon - “Take away credentials?” - merits a headline in big red letters. It is, again, the last straw on the camel. America needs a solid spine to thwart a creeping coup d'etat.

High Country News link



Mort Rosenblum has reported from seven continents as Associated Press special correspondent, edited the International Herald Tribune in Paris, and written 14 books on subjects ranging from global geopolitics to chocolate. He now runs MortReport.org.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

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+25 # Benign Observer 2018-05-13 11:44
Trump's attacks on the press strike a chord with people because, to a large extent, the msm is no longer trustworthy or helpful.

Local media has disappeared or been swallowed up by conglomerates like Sinclair News while national media, far from being invested in communities, seem to have wholeheartedly accepted the tabloidization of the fourth estate. And why not? Owned by six corporations with a vested interest in lying to us and a history of having done so, they do. It would be foolish to believe their propaganda. The main benefit of reading and watching them is to get an idea of what the establishment wants us to believe.

The venerated NYT has a long history of cheerleading war and empire. The Washington Post, with a newish policy of not reporting on advertisers, published the anonymously sourced PropOrNot list of 'treasonous' media outlets like truthout, truthdig, the Intercept etc. and Julian Assange, once a hero to the left, has been soundly smeared.

The media machine drums up war and runs with Russiagate because it sells, without regard for the sources (known perjurers) or the consequences (a nuclear exchange). Reporting is too often shallow and/or misleading.

The msm abandoned professional ethics to ignore Sanders, elevate Trump and advocate for Hillary, all of which was inappropriate.

I'm extremely skeptical of American media, and don't find anything to admire in their attacks on alternative sources and journalists.
 
 
+19 # dascher 2018-05-14 07:46
It is very difficult to get enthusiastic about defending the media who are owned by a small group of oligarchs (yes, that includes the holy NY Times and Bezos' Washington Post) as well as the entertainment networks who dominate both on-air, cable, and theatrical sources of "information". They fell for Trump's frat boy manipulation, breathlessly covering all his fake rallies based on a Pro Wrestling format with Trump as The Champ and the Press and Hillary Clinton as "heels", repeated his fake lies (with maybe a little bit of skepticism) about his health, his education, his "highly successful business career, and alleged fortune, Ms. Clinton's "poor health", "corruption", anti-patriotism , lack of ethics, etc.

I share "Benign Observers" skepticism "of American media, and don't find anything to admire in their attacks on alternative sources and journalists"

The REAL press is not in the entertainment business. It is in the business of finding truth and disseminating it.
 
 
+13 # BetaTheta 2018-05-14 10:11
I think you are in danger here of throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Most American media, particularly TV, is shallow, sensationalist and profit-driven, and has been for some time.
But, in this era of Trump, many outlets are doing great service in exposing the rank corruption and hypocrisy in the government/big business cabal. The NYT is far from perfect, but it is not the National Enquirer or Fox. We need more nuance than just lumping everything as "the media."
 
 
+42 # moreover 2018-05-13 13:43
The whole "fake news" theme is a simple tool.
It allows Trump and his delusional base to declare anything they don't like as "fake". It's a true asshole move (in the Harry Frankfurter sense).
 
 
+7 # librarian1984 2018-05-14 11:20
It also allows 'liberal' outlets to attack left leaning media and journalists. Facebook, Google and YouTube have been quite busy this year adjusting their algorithms so groups like Democratic Socialists of America aren't listed in search results. They demonetize leftie journalists like Chris Hedges and Jimmy Dore, who CNN recently equated to neoNazis channels.

WaPo listed truthout, the Intercept and many others as 'fake news', and Hamilton 68 continues their odious work. Also, WaPo got several Pulitzers based on Snowden's leaks but now they condemn him too.

Trump may have popularized the term but so-called liberals are using the opportunity to attack leftwing sources too.
 
 
+49 # Working Class 2018-05-13 13:57
“The American fascist would prefer not to use violence. His method is to poison the channels of public information.”
Henry A. Wallace
33rd Vice President of the United States
 
 
+31 # Krackonis 2018-05-13 14:21
After travelling through America I can tell you, compared to where I am from, America gets no real news.

If you don't have at least an hour on one subject you cannot learn about the complexities and considerations the subject requires.

You end up having "talking points" devoid of anything but base propaganda and the most cursory knowledge of the facts.

Most people seem to be very much in the middle, like in most countries, until a "hot button division topic" explodes from them in a pre-programmed fashion. Any followup questions cause confusion because there has been no actual thought given to their stance.
 
 
+16 # chrisconno 2018-05-13 14:36
“Tree. Rope. Journalists. Some assembly required.”

Wow, that sounds like an incitement to murder by lynching. Why aren't more people recognizing the dangers ahead in this mentality of 'any criticism of leadership is criminally immoral'. How can we as a people not see the hypocrisy and tyranny of this administration and the republicans who support it? I'm afraid the republicans are going to thin the thinkers to near extinction even before climate change does.
 
 
+11 # DaveM 2018-05-13 14:47
"Stop Resisting!" may well be the epitaph for the United States of America.
 
 
+18 # ddd-rrr 2018-05-13 15:59
Mort Rosenblum, in this article, is "screaming quietly" a warning to us all
about what is being brought about by "Trump and (his moneyed) friends":
the continued attack on -- and the rapid destruction of -- what keeps us
from losing the voice of truth about what is happening in our country.
With the loss of an honest and independent press, it is not possible
to maintain a democracy, and once that is lost, it is very difficult
to reestablish one. "The writing is on the wall" now, and
it is time to heed it before it is too late.
 
 
+8 # angelfish 2018-05-13 16:16
Willkommen to Amerika, mein Kindt! THIS is what they want to DO to the Once Great, United States of America! Divide and Conquer! Stir the Pot of suspicion and Mistrust for ALL our formerly REVERED Agencies that have protected us for almost ALL of our 242 years of exixstence! Trump and his Goose-Stepping, SELF-Serving Henchmen want NOTHING more than to bring us to our knees and turn this ENTIRE country into an Internment Camp whose SOLE Purpose is to Service THEM! What REALLY terrifies, almost More than anything else, is the EASE with which they have DONE it! Rebel! Resist! RePudiate them at EVERY chance you get, otherwise, the Greatest Social Experiment in the History of Mankind will become a Monstrous Failure!
 
 
+3 # PaineRad 2018-05-13 17:21
Rather awkward sentence in paragraph that begins with "Margaret Sullivan ...." In talking about the Denver Post, refers to piece written in the Washington Post. Or was it a sly dig at Jeff Bezos' crude and biased propaganda mill that has accelerated its downward trajectory.
 
 
+2 # jwb110 2018-05-13 19:14
These idiots are only preaching to the choir. None of this sort of behavior is new and at some point it becomes apparent that the Emperor has no clothes on.
As Twain said, "It is always easier to trick the people that it is to convince them that they have been tricked".
In fairness it has to be said that the market driven media have played directly into his hand. STOP covering him. STAY away from the White House. RELEGATE all of this BS to the back page. Have a BLACKOUT on all things Trump and Huckabee and the rest of that crowd. When they suddenly see they are getting no coverage at all they will see your news as not so fake.
This approach may take more guts than a Market Driven Media may have the gumption to do. Politics is a contact sport!
 
 
+10 # economagic 2018-05-13 19:57
All true, Mort, but you're well over a decade behind. The current coup has a L-O-O-O-NG history, but it could reasonably be said to have begun in 1971 when Nixon's soon-to-be Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell provided his infamous "Memo," a blueprint for a fascist coup in the US, to the education chair of the US Chamber as requested. Jack Anderson noticed it, but few others.

One could also cite the Newt's Contract On America, or the Y2k presidential election, or the next two for which strong evidence of tampering exists, or the more recent one for which even more evidence exists despite legitimate disagreement on which evidence is fake and which is genuine.

The steady drumpbeat of "Trump, Trump, Trump" from the MSM IS the fake news, regardless of whether it is "pro Trump" or "anti Trump," because it treats Trump as cause rather than effect by tossing all of the above context (once the Holy Grail of journalism) down the memory hole.

Remember the memory hole? Remember the context in which it was coined?
 
 
+3 # librarian1984 2018-05-15 03:44
Well said, e!
 
 
+19 # Kootenay Coyote 2018-05-13 21:32
The Nazis steadily appropriated power by passing law after law, each of which eroded another civil right or value. ‘But that was long ago, & in another country….’
 

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