CAMPAIGN ’16 WRAPUP: How the American news media blew the election and doesn’t care

We can begin to wrap up our light coverage and criticism of Campaign 2016 not by citing the justified anger many still have over the treatment of Sen. Bernie Sanders by the Democratic Party nor of the bizarre treatment of Donald Trump by the party with which he ran. Both candidates were desirable alternatives to the Democratic candidate, who carried a lot of political baggage and seemed to millions of American voters to be arrogant and strident.

newsweek-clinton-cover

The Democratic Party is now trying to second guess what went wrong because they came so close to winning the election. And they did have the major news media on their side, as a majority of Americans believe and as polls confirm.

It is the unprecedented effort by those media to minimize the Sanders campaign, invalidate Trump’s campaign and facilitate the Clinton campaign that could be considered the greatest crime committed during the election, because the news media are positioned as a powerful service to help inform the electorate, and the media in siding with the losing Democrats delivered a monumental disservice to the nation.

Those practicing this advocacy journalism are bringing down their own profession and they don’t even seem to care. Maybe they don’t even know.

There were a few post-election apologies here and there, but the news troops continue to bash Trump even as they finally offer some recompensive coverage to Sanders, now that it’s too late.

Sanders still has his dignityy and remains loyal to both Clinton and his followers and Trump is president-elect, but the major news media are shamed and deserve to be shunned.

Yet they are now spinning yarns about the rise of so-called “fake news.”

Perhaps Stephen Miller at HeatStreet put it best so far in his piece, “The Mainstream Media Has Only Itself to Blame for the ‘Fake News’ Epidemic,” but he fails to note that by trying to define “fake news” the major media are diverting attention from the, well, deplorable job they did in their disservice to democracy.

Miller wrote: “CNN has run segments suggesting that asteroids cause climate change, and black holes can materialize in Earth’s atmosphere and swallow 747 passenger planes . A CNN panel led by left wing commentator Sally Kohn declared their “hearts are out there marching” with protestors in Ferguson as they all raised their hands to mimic the Black Lives Matter protest mantra — “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” — echoing an alleged gesture during a police shooting that was declared one of the year’s biggest lies (ironically) by the Washington Post.

“…NBC was also caught airing edited audio of a 911 phone call in a way that made Trayvon Martin shooter George Zimmerman come across as a racist, when the full context was far more mundane.

“Meanwhile, NBC Universal has invested $2 hundred million in BuzzFeed and Vox. There isn’t enough space to list all of the times Vox failed at delivering “real news.” I will simply let Deadspin explain: “46 Times Vox Totally Fucked Up A Story.”

“Rolling Stone continues to put out a magazine despite a verdict of malicious defamation of a UVa administrator related to its publication of, “A Rape on Campus,” a story about a brutal rape that, as it turns out, never happened.

“Another such case is Emma Sulkowicz, the Columbia University rape activist who carried a mattress on her back to protest University administrators for not expelling her alleged rapist. Except the rape never happened. Still, the New York Times ran a piece exulting Sulkowicz titled ‘The Art of the Political Protest.'”

Newspeople have been defined as the “fourth estate,” and while it is perhaps fitting that at a time when all three branches of government are finding wide distrust among citizens, so are the news media. It is also fitting that the news media sided with what seemed like a sure winner only to have that winner — and the news media’s reporters’, anchors’, editors’, producers’ and executives’ reputations as unbiased — go down in flames.

We at TheLatest.net are working newspeople who are aware of the stresses and complexities in reporting news both in print and broadcast, but we recognize that beyond human nature’s tendency to bias news stories in small ways, there is no excuse for the incompetent bias toward one candidate and against another consistently, blatantly and with malice aforethought.

It’s not about journalism anymore. It’s about saying outrageous things (“Why You Can’t Be a Christian and Vote for Trump;” “Is Trump a Bigot, a Xenophone, or Is He Just Crazy?;” “Hillary’s Strategy: Lay Low and Let Trump Make a Fool of Himself,” major news headlines).

And it’s about click-throughs, click-bait, getting people to click on your outrageous story so the advertisers will come.

“Fake news” sites depend on click-bait too.

In that sense, the “fake news” sites that the news media are now decrying are just like the major media — they both want to make more money by creating outrage. That has not been traditionally the job of news reporting.

But maybe those days are over. Maybe advocacy journalism is here to stay and objectivity is on its way out. Maybe journalistic “oohs and ahs” about the mighty New York Times and Washington Post and CNN are now misplaced. Or disgraced. Maybe we really are heading backwards to the Yellow Journalism of 100 years ago.

If so, too bad, really, it was good to have news media you could trust to at least try to present all sides of a story; it was great work trying to uphold that trust by doing extra work, digging a little bit deeper in reporting — but if its all about click-throughs and advertising and provocative headlines and even propaganda, then the “fake news” sites are just doing a better job.

So among the majors even after the election, the bias is still there against Trump and to a lesser extent Sanders; there is much reporting on the “fear” and “crying” going on among “heartbroken” Americans in the wake of the election.

And little regard for the fact that there is still a war in Syria, there is still simmering hatred in the Middle East, Europe is hanging by a thread in several ways, some of America’s friends are turning against us and our economy is in shambles even though we’re still constantly told of the great strides we’re making economically.

And little regard for the folks from “flyover country” who’ve had enough.

Little regard for how a growing number of Americans are resentful of the mass of opinion-shapers both in news and in politics. Isn’t “opinion-shaping,” they might ask, propaganda?

And little regard for the courageous resistance by voters — courage to resist being talked into voting for one candidate while the other candidate is vilified.

Courage, as Dan Rather used to say.

Courage indeed, America.

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Associated Press headline:Tanzanian rats will train to sniff out trafficked pangolins” — Now that’s click-bait. Maybe the “false news” websites should try out this sort of thing.

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11/21/16 — Donald Trump’s media summit was a ‘f—ing firing squad’ — “Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sitdown on Monday, sources told The New York Post.

“It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter.

“Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said.

“The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.

A second source confirmed the fireworks.”

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IS DONALD TRUMP THE NATION’S FIRST INDEPENDENT PRESIDENT? By Dan Balz, The Washington Post
“Think again about how he prevailed. There are a handful of major events during a general election that give the nominees a chance to showcase themselves, their judgment and their vision. One is the selection of a running mate. Another is the staging of the conventions. A third is performance in the debates. Hillary Clinton did better than Trump on all three tests, though Trump’s team believes the debates did not fall so decisively in her favor…

“In other words, Trump came out the loser on virtually every aspect of how campaigns are usually evaluated. Yet today he is staffing his administration and Clinton is still absorbing the brutal shock of having lost a race she believed was hers…

“It has long been noted that the conditions have existed for an independent candidate to run a serious campaign for president. The level of dissatisfaction with Washington, the anxiety over the economy and the generally sour mood about the future provided the foundation for a campaign by someone from outside the system, who is tied to neither political party and with a promise to shake things up.”

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BERNIE SANDERS LETS LOOSE ON THE NEWS MEDIA: “While he admits that there are exceptions, Sanders views contemporary political journalism as “dedicated to personality, gossip, campaign strategy, scandals, conflicts, polls and who appears to be winning or losing …”

“He points to a CNN interview where he was told that his elbows were not sharp enough for the national stage, and recalls the countless pundits who wrote him off as “fringe candidate.”

“An example of this circus-style coverage, Sanders asserts, came when his vehicle was pulled over for speeding by the Iowa State Police as his team sought to quickly shuttle him around the state. Unfortunately for Sanders, a New York Times reporter who was shadowing him for a story was in the backseat as the scene unfolded.

“’The state trooper was professional and polite and gave us a warning,’ Sanders writes. ‘Not so, who, it goes without saying, made it a major part of her coverage.’

To Sanders, the lack of national media attention to America’s pressing problems is “like living in a parallel universe” compared to what he heard from attendees at his events.” — Politico The Democratic primary according to Bernie Sanders” 11/11/16

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Sharyl Attkisson: “Regardless of who is your chosen – or least favorite – presidential candidate, independent minds should be concerned about the latest revelations in the news media’s unseemly relationships with government and political actors. While there are many responsible journalists working today, inside documents and leaks have exposed serious lapses constituting the most far-reaching scandal our industry has known. It’s our very own Newsgate.” It’s Newsgate 2016.

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Bernie Sanders makes the point we have been trying to make for months: “I am saddened, but not surprised, by the outcome. It is no shock to me that millions of people who voted for Mr. Trump did so because they are sick and tired of the economic, political and media status quo.

“Working families watch as politicians get campaign financial support from billionaires and corporate interests — and then ignore the needs of ordinary Americans. Over the last 30 years, too many Americans were sold out by their corporate bosses. They work longer hours for lower wages as they see decent paying jobs go to China, Mexico or some other low-wage country. They are tired of having chief executives make 300 times what they do, while 52 percent of all new income goes to the top 1 percent. Many of their once beautiful rural towns have depopulated, their downtown stores are shuttered, and their kids are leaving home because there are no jobs — all while corporations suck the wealth out of their communities and stuff them into offshore accounts.” — New York Times 11/11/16

But the singling out of corporations is just diversionary, because one must hold our “leaders” and politicians of all stripes accountable for this mess, as well. Even as corporations go greedy, our leaders hold the regulatory keys to straightening out the mess but they don’t use them. Indeed, some of them are reaping rewards from such greed. Such incumbent politicians — and Mr. Sanders could be included — are part of the problem.

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WILL NAILS IT! “The mood in the Washington press corps is bleak, and deservedly so.

“It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that, with a few exceptions, we were all tacitly or explicitly #WithHer, which has led to a certain anguish in the face of Donald Trump’s victory. More than that and more importantly, we also missed the story, after having spent months mocking the people who had a better sense of what was going on.

“This is all symptomatic of modern journalism’s great moral and intellectual failing: its unbearable smugness. Had Hillary Clinton won, there’s be a winking “we did it” feeling in the press, a sense that we were brave and called Trump a liar and saved the republic.

“So much for that. The audience for our glib analysis and contempt for much of the electorate, it turned out, was rather limited. This was particularly true when it came to voters, the ones who turned out by the millions to deliver not only a rebuke to the political system but also the people who cover it. Trump knew what he was doing when he invited his crowds to jeer and hiss the reporters covering him. They hate us, and have for some time.

“And can you blame them? Journalists love mocking Trump supporters. We insult their appearances. We dismiss them as racists and sexists. We emote on Twitter about how this or that comment or policy makes us feel one way or the other, and yet we reject their feelings as invalid.

“It’s a profound failure of empathy in the service of endless posturing.”

— Will Rahn, political correspondent and managing director, politics, for CBS News Digital, The unbearable smugness of the press

HERE’S WHY PRESIDENT-ELECT DONALD TRUMP REPRESENTS THE FUTURE: From Bloomberg, insight into how Trump’s message bypassed cities to reach the rest of America, which is substantial and has been overlooked for many years by both the Democrat and Republican establishments. Trump’s effort is to bypass the elitist few and the rich in the cities and reach for the disenfranchised everywhere. It’s a remaking of the Republican Party into a party for all disadvantaged Americans, not just some.

“Back in May, speaking to Bloomberg Businessweek about how he intended to remake the Republican Party, Trump laid out precisely the message that would activate these voters in November. “Five, 10 years from now—[it will be a] different party,” he said.

“You’re going to have a worker’s party. A party of people that haven’t had a real wage increase in 18 years, that are angry. What I want to do, I think cutting Social Security is a big mistake for the Republican Party. And I know it’s a big part of the budget. Cutting it the wrong way is a big mistake, and even cutting it [at all].”

Trump’s Data Team Saw a Different America—and They Were Right

IN CLINTON’S WORLD, there is finger-pointing and blame everywhere for the Clinton loss, which points up an essential problem with the whole organization — no one will stand up and accept responsibility for the failure of the campaign, unless the candidate herself does so. Clinton World dumbfounded by Hillary’s election defeat

LOOKING BACK:

POLITICO: POLL SHOWS SHY TRUMP VOTERS A MIRAGE: (11/1/16) “According to a POLITICO/Morning Consult study conducted by Morning Consult this past weekend and released Thursday, a hidden army of Trump voters that’s undetected by the polls is unlikely to materialize on Election Day.

The study — which was composed of interviews with likely voters conducted over the phone with a live interviewer, and other interviews conducted online without a personal interaction — showed only a slight, not-statistically-significant difference in their effect on voters’ preferences for president.”

POLITICO: WHAT IF EVERYONE’S WRONG?: (11/2/16) “What if the polls are wrong? And more: What if Clinton’s vaunted data operation and ground game don’t deliver? What if there is, in fact, a “silent majority” of Trump fans? What if Clinton’s banked stash of early votes is insufficient? What if, as President Barack Obama’s former campaign manager David Plouffe not so affectionately describes nervous Democrats, the “bed-wetters” are right?”

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Tuesday’s stunning win by Donald Trump sent stocks and oil prices plunging, Republicans into self-examination and Democrats into shock; already there is blame being placed on third-party candidates for causing Democrats to lose the presidential election. The Trump campaign defied political tradition and expectations with a small “ground game” of workers and far fewer media advertisements.

The New York businessman used the media to get attention and in the end the irony of it was that his opponent was counting on Trump’s use of the media to put his foot in his mouth — but suddenly began sounding savvy and serious as the final weeks drew on. Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton then jumped in to save her campaign without realizing that it was too late.

The Trump win is a repudiation of conventional American politics, the Republicans who held him at arms length and those who outright insulted his efforts, the major news media who treated him as an abomination and joke right up to the end, an arrogant Democratic Party that after eight years in power grew self-satisfied and out-of-touch with most Americans and it was a repudiation of professional politicians who grow rich everywhere.

Most of all, it appeared to be a repudiation of the elites, a class of Americans who, by virtue of education or conceit (often both), believe they are smarter and more entitled than average citizens.

Their defeat should send them running back to their offices to reconsider their ways, including their constant belittling of those who are not as well off or not as well educated as they are. Because their elitism is still classism, their arrogance is still boorish and their attempts to rule the speech and behavior of their fellow men and women fairly demonstrates the totalitarian approach of which they so often accuse their opponents.

Their lack of sympathy for those they’ve they’ve taxed while they wined and dined, flew the world on jets paid for by their minions and tried to reshape the planet in their political self-image was almost allowed to spiral out of control. But Tuesday night, in an instant, their power was drained and their influence stymied.

They tried to shape the political competition into a battle of men vs. women, ethnics against ethnics, whites against blacks, when all along it was just a class manipulation by the powerful against the little people — until the little people saw through it and their power over them was no more, thanks to some ideas that began to come to fruition in the year 1774.

Such elitists should do some long self-examination before again believing that their attempts to steamroll Independents and independent Americans can be made into slop to be fed to the masses they abhor.

WINNERS

Donald Trump

Mike Pence

Kellyanne Conway

US Senator Jeff Sessions

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani

Congressional Republicans

Americans who voted for Donald Trump

LOSERS

Senator Bernie Sanders

Democrats who voted for Bernie Sanders

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Former President Bill Clinton

President Barack Obama

Clinton Foundation Board of Directors member Chelsea Clinton

Clinton adviser Donna Brazile

Vice President Joseph Biden

Soon-to-be former Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid

Billionaire George Soros

Americans who voted for Hillary Clinton

Senator Ted Cruz

Tim Kaine

Hillary Clinton campaign manager John Podesta

Congressional Democrats

The New York Times

The Washington Post

Politico

CNN

MSNBC

The New Yorker

Esquire Magazine

The Huffington Post

The Dallas Morning News

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OUR FRIENDS IN THE NEWS MEDIA DO A DISSERVICE TO INDEPENDENTS AND INDEED ALL AMERICANS: The day before the election, 2016, and an unprecedented bias on the part of our colleagues in the major news media continues. For those political Independents who are interested in the two candidates who promise change, it’s been a sorry year if you get all your information from people in the news business. Bernie Sanders could barely get traction considering all the attention paid to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton; Wikileaks revealed the internal Democratic Party campaign against Sanders, who now says he’s now returning to his Independent roots.

And the news media have largely served up a daily diet of articles subtly or overtly attacking Donald Trump. By election day they will have left, as comic strip character Pogo used to say, no turn unstoned.

One of the points of being an Independent is increased skepticism of party lines (for instance, Democrats say Wilileaks of Dem emails are being directed by Russian leaders to interfere with this election, but where is the proof? The FBI says there is no proof. But that’s the Dem’s story and by golly they’ll stick to it, truth or not).

Say what you will about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, but if Clinton wins we will continue to be fed talking points and party lines from the Democratic National Committee for another four years (just as we’ve been getting the past eight years) — it does not appear Trump will be delivering a lot of party propaganda, considering his party has mostly disowned him.

One of the great ironies of this election is the fact that The New York Times and especially Washington Post writers and editors declared the whole thing over just two weeks before Election Day. Democrat Hillary Clinton was so far ahead, the pundits proclaimed, that she should be measuring the drapes. It only took a week for her poll numbers to drop so precipitously that the day before the election Clinton was tied with Trump in many polls and was losing her grip on key states that “guaranteed” her election.

Never mind the Wikileaks emails indicating that CNN and Wolf Blitzer have a cozy relationship with the Democratic Party, passing tips and favors back and forth. Or that Politico reporter or the Washington Post people who appeared to collaborate with the Clinton campaign.

See, the problem here is this: Both our trusted news media and our trusted presidential candidates can no longer be trusted and the fault is their own. Americans expect to at least be treated with fairness and a modicum of honesty, but instead we get not only lies and deception but intelligence-insulting bias and partisan propaganda almost everywhere we turn. It is no wonder politicians and news media are among the least trusted people in America.

These people seem determined to prove H. L. Mencken right when he said, “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” Article after article has been written about the “anger out there” among the electorate; is it any wonder considering the condescension and smirking arrogance of the many running for office — or those in office for that matter? they know why the anger persists. The only way there can be legitimate dismay over public anger is if politicians, pundits and the pretty, pugnacious boys and girls of the press don’t look around and see the corruption they’re party to, perhaps literally.

As Hollywood producer Norman Lear lamented last week, Americans deserve a selflessness on the part of our leaders and indeed our news handlers, a spirit of statesmanship that appears to be gone. Debates degenerated into insult matches and sloganeering. Candidate speeches degenerated into pandering sessions espousing whatever the candidate thinks the public wants to hear, ignoring the colossal problems facing the United States (rampant corruption, potential for war in the Middle East that could spiral out of control, the increasing division among American ideologies, ascendant foreign nations arming themselves and challenging America, increasingly decrepit infrastructure across the nation, an economy built on credit that is already out of control and most of all the lack of jobs, the lack of satisfying work and paychecks that increase instead of decrease in value over decades).

Some people say Americans get the leadership (and information) they deserve. Not this year.

(For background see Ken Silverstein’s “This Election Has Disgraced the Entire Profession of Journalism”)

And here’s how NBC’s chief Washington correspondent instantly loses credibility: Campaign collusion: Is CNBC’s John Harwood too close to the Clinton operation?

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We were among the first to report the story below, from reporter Al Kemp: Turns out the suspect didn’t have a gun. There have been reports that someone tweeted a threatening remark about Donald Trump the night before the rally, so emotions may have been running a little high Saturday night:
BREAKING 11/5/2016 — DONALD TRUMP RUSHED OFF STAGE BY SECRET SERVICE DURING RALLY IN RENO, NEVADA: 6:13 PM (Pacific Time) the Republican presidential candidate was speaking when supporters near the front of the crowd began yelling. Trump, unable to understand what they were saying, noted that it was probably a Hillary Clinton plant. “How much are they paying you, $100,000?,” he asked, the started to resume his speech when people in the front of the crowd began yelling what appeared to this listener to have been “he’s got a firearm!” Secret service officers grabbed Trump and rushed him off the stage as plainclothesmen jumped to the front of the crowd and appeared to subdue one person on the floor. A police officer appeared to join in and after about 3 minutes officers — including what appeared to be heavily armed federal agents — escorted a balding man out of the arena. A minute later Trump reappeared, saying “No one said it was going to be easy for us.” He then resumed his speech after thanking the Secret Service.

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PLANNED IRRELEVANCE: Nationwide polls show there’s a strong belief that the news media are biased in favor of Hillary Clinton in the presidential race and it’s obvious that once-dominant newspapers like The Washington Post are shoveling daily dirt on what they hope is the grave of the Donald Trump campaign — but Dave Hohmann at the Post has some journalists chuckling at his latest attempt to bury Trump.

Hohmann wanted to know how the Republican is doing among the must-win voters outside Philadelphia, so he decided to spend a day bar-hopping there to find out, then he presented his findings at the top of the Post‘s Daily 202 news blast Friday. After bar-hopping for a solid day, Hohmann says the guys watching the Eagles game were white male (Trump demographics) but were also college-educated (not Trump demos, he says) so he concludes that Trump is perhaps in trouble in the City of Brotherly Love.

So what’s next for Hohmann? Perhaps he’ll check the local supermarkets one midday to see if he can find any men or women who will not vote for Hillary Clinton, and when he just can’t seem to find just one person who won’t, he can report his anecdotal findings in the Post as a major reason why Clinton will be our next president.

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As polls continue to show that the American news media is held in low esteem by the majority of the public and accusations of bias in newspapers, broadcast and online media continue to increase, we’re reminded of a list sent by a friend at a Pennsylvania circa 2002:

The Wall St. Journal is read by the people who run the country.

The New York Times is read by people who think they run the country.

The Washington Post is read by people who think they ought to run the country.

USA Today is read by people who think they ought to run the country but don’t understand the Washington Post.

The Los Angeles Times is read by people who wouldn’t mind running the country if they had time, but no one has pleaded with them to do it.

The Boston Globe is read by people whose parents used to run the country.

The New York Daily News is read by people who aren’t sure who’s running the country.

The New York Post is read by people who don’t care who’s running the country, as long as there’s a scandal involved.

The San Francisco Chronicle is read by people who aren’t sure there even is a country, much less that anyone is running it.

And The Miami Herald is read by people who are running another country.

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Documentary maker Ken Burns has been talking pro-Clinton politics lately — perhaps it’s more to the point to say he’s anti-Trump, though we have yet to see him weigh in on Bernie Sanders — but he frames himself as usually non-political. We must remind Mr. Burns of his September 30th 2011 opinion piece in USA Weekend in which he denounced those who “divide the country over one issue,” referring apparently to immigration. The article’s angle was about his then-recently completed documentary about Prohibition, co-directed with Lynn Novick. He drew a parallel between the righteous indignation of Protestants over the drunkenness of the Jazz Age. He notes that the outlawing of alcohol in 1919 pitched America against itself and Protestants against the influx of Catholics. This article was from 2011, remember, so he wasn’t talking down Donald Trump, he was talking down divisive politicians. Barack Obama was president at that time. Mr. Burns, contrary to his I’m-not-usually-political stance today, has indeed often been political in his time. Though he says he’s certain that Hillary Clinton is the best choice for president, he noted in his article five years ago that “I think that when you have a sense of absolute certainty, you are in trouble.”

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addams-family
As a political Independent, watching the paranoia on the part of news media this election cycle can be amusing. The New York Times appears to be so phobic about Donald Trump winning the presidency that they can find him just about everywhere. Opinion writer Jim Dwyer sees the ghost of Trump in an old episode of The Addams Family (ABC-TV 1966) in which Our Hero Gomez Addams hires a financial guy who squanders the Addams bank account. Why, Dwyer seems to be saying, that’s just like Trump! If that’s not pathetic enough, maybe the National Review can find the ghost of Hillary Clinton in an old episode of “Bewitched” or something.

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If you’ve been playing chicken with the United States by continuing to pump lots of oil onto world markets hoping to put US shale companies out of business but now you’re starting to run out of money yourself, do what Saudi Arabia is doing — change calendars, of course! Go to a calendar that’s two days longer and you’ll save money on payroll. Apparently the Saudi chicken game backfired on them; and even though a number of American oil companies are outta business, Saudi officials are cutting budgets drastically to pay for the game.

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Web citizen journalism is still on the rise, exemplified by Citizens Audit and its investigation into Media Matters and MM’s apparent ties to the Super Political Action Committee (PAC) known as American Bridge 21st Century. A PAC is a donation-taking group aimed at convincing the public of something, in this case to vote exclusively for Democrats.

Wait, but Media Matters is supposed to be a “not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center” — yet the two share office space? Citizens Audit looks at some odd discrepancies in the organization(s) books. This follows Citizens Audit’s look at how the “Clinton Campaign Illegally Purchased “Research” from a pro-Democrat Super PAC.” That Super PAC, again, would be American Bridge 21st Century, the name of which BTW comes from a late 1990s speech by President Bill Clinton. So we have one group (Media Matters) claiming to be non-partisan while sharing office space with a committee raising money for Democrats. So that would likely make any non-partisan claims by MM, maybe, what? Lies?

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In yet another screed damning candidate Donald Trump and Republicans in general, New York Times opinionator Paul Krugman actually writes Oct. 3rd that “almost all Republican officeholders have endorsed Mr. Trump” — forgetting, we guess, the huge number of Republicans who have not endorsed Mr. Trump, some of whom have been documented in his newspaper. Does Krugman read his own newspaper or is he just living in a different world than the rest of us?

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For nearly 18 years, TheLatest.net has been a loose consortium of working journalists, at least one with 35 years experience.

THE MANIPULATION MACHINE Part 3: News Media Sides Against Republican and Democratic Presidential Candidates

pressroom-1913Newspaper press room 1913

In 35 years as a broadcast news journalist, I’ve never seen anything quite like the presidential election of 2016, not simply because a popular candidate who captured the imagination of millions was unceremoniously kicked to the side with all the force of his political party, but because members of my own profession are startlingly transparent for that candidate’s rival. And Bernie Sanders’ — for whom enthusiasm seemed rampant just three months ago — is now sidelined for a candidate about whom enthusiasm is largely dormant.

Major news publications gave Sanders occasional nods, noting his fascinating following among students, intellectuals and free-thinkers, but during the primary campaign his message was trivialized as the news focused largely on Hillary Clinton and her national political experience with unprecedented backing from the White House. There has been an inevitability factor in reporting on Clinton based on the fact that for Democrats, she’s next in line after her husband, Al Gore and Barack Obama. It’s her turn, now made inevitable because she would be the first female president of the United States.

The leader of a genuine movement to scrap Washington DC business-as-usual is now reduced to making strained endorsements of his former rival’s reputation and political platform. Meanwhile, American news media — and the Democratic Party — has now turned its attention to an unbridled assault against Clinton’s Republican opponent. This, too, is unprecedented in my professional lifetime.

There were times during the campaign of Republican Richard Nixon against Democrat George McGovern in which newspapers in 1972 appeared to favor Nixon, with editorials and articles varnishing his accomplishments in his first term, calling for a second term with the Republican outcry, “Four More Years!” That’s the closest American news media have come in the past 50 years to the journalistic events of 2016.

But in 1972 there was still a subtlety to the bias, as commitment to fairness on the part of journalists to include Nixon’s shortcomings along with his strengths, to apply sympathy to an otherwise hapless McGovern campaign. In 2016, all guns are now trained on Donald Trump, with no mercy toward those who criticize Clinton.

It’s largely because of the changing nature of journalism, which is no longer the legitimate mainstay of serious reporters who have worked their way up from the city beat to national political analysis. Reporters can work their way up to national status — especially in broadcasting — just by putting in a few years on the local level. Some, such as George Stephanopoulis for example, can move from no broadcast experience directly to a major role on that prized of all journalistic prizes, network television news anchoring.

But the biggest change we’re witnessing this year is the uncoupling of journalistic fairness with the marketplace. From the 1930s into the 1980s, both print and broadcast writers and opinionators were under strict rules to keep their opinions and political points of view to themselves. In the world of high-stakes news, trust was a central value and credibility was essential, if only because opinionated reporting alienated readers and viewers — and that cut into profits. Make people angry because your reporting appeared bias to one side and the other side would threaten to — and often would — cancel subscriptions or turn to a different TV channel or radio station.

But by the late 1980s, a shift occurred in which advocacy reporting became a new trend, leading to the rise of a new splinter market: reporting for YOUR side of the political spectrum. In addition to unbiased news reports that were still standard for the networks, local stations and newspapers, there were shows on the new cable network CNBC that were apologetically biased toward one political view, just as alternative newspapers had been for decades. (In the 1960s, no one expected to see both sides of a political argument in The Village Voice or a wide number of free newspapers you could pick up at coffee houses — or newsstands, another vanishing piece of Americana.)

The 1990s saw a strong trend toward advocacy reporting that sees politics from a point of view, as news “reporting” began to merge with opinion columns and editorials, both of which used to be clearly marked and carefully separated from advocacy reporting.

By the start of the 21st century, focus groups (individuals called to meet based on their demographics, representing as many points of view as possible who are asked specific questions about their habits and preferences) had become standard research models, and many of the people in those groups expressed strong interest in “news” presented with a strong point of view. By 1960s standadards that would not be journalism, it would be opinionating, but the tide had changed.

News corporations learned that they could make money on the presentation of “unbiased” news that could be characterized as old-fashioned journalism, and make still more money marketing more biased news platforms such as Time and Newsweek magazines had for years been offering. By this point radio has manufactured an entire sub-market of opinion-based “reporting” that excludes some facts while emphasizing others in an attempt to find new truths. Usually, though, those new truths were merely facts distilled from the overall big picture, allowing those whose opinions were already solidified to receive what psychotherapists call validation.

But right- and to a lesser extent left-leaning talk radio also drifted into the national debate, and focus groups would often talk of a preference for opinionated news “reporting,” and sales departments took notice. There can still be attempts to remain politically unbiased among major news outlets, but there can also be political bias elsewhere and there is money to be made at both.

It’s no secret that the majority of journalists attack their work with a passion, some with a notion that they’re going to change the world with their reporting. And the noble concept of “afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted” can easily be misinterpreted by the passionate as a call to love the poor and hate the rich. But as standards were loosened, standards started to fall.

(For instance, when I began as a reporter no news director that I even heard of would allow bias in choosing of news stories or in the writing of those stories. It was a fire-able offense to do so and was derided as amateurish to imply any preference for one political idea or persuasion. I was there, though, to watch as more and more news directors allowed reporting-with-opinion in the manner of radio legend Paul Harvey. By the turn of the century, with focus group complicity, news with a political “perspective” became increasingly common. By 2010, many of us expected it. Standards of non-bias insisted upon by news directors and newspaper editors and owners were slowly loosened, but the unique qualities of news/opinion became overwhelming and now we can find it all over cable TV, local news and talk, in newspapers almost everywhere and we witness news anchors and reporters doing side work in TV and radio commercials and taking paid gigs giving speeches. It’s a different world now.)

The important thing to remember about today’s journalism, though, is the passion that reporters are bringing to their work. It’s a good thing in that it brings a thirst for knowledge and a search for not just facts but depth, the why-and-how that brings brilliance to who-what-when-and-where. It’s not so good in that passion often lures one to ignore the broad picture in favor of the specific, and passion often leads to the painting of a specific incident as symbolic of all similar incidents.

Fictional movies and television have always leaned on subject matter that provides symbolism, as characters that are rigidly or superficially portrayed come to represent types or stereotypes that can be used to represent a broad range of people. Just as Hollywood at one time became enraptured of the prostitute-with-heart-of-gold and later the rapist-and-his-victim, so those were often used to represent segments of the population in general — women and the men who victimize them.

Just so, stories about illegal immigrants or police brutality or political corruption if written with a passionate bias can create symbolic significance to an incident that has no real place in the overall picture of society except as one incident. Politicians are aware of this tendency toward symbolism, though, as they use it accordingly and sometimes effectively.

If politicians use such symbolism and then project it onto incidents and passionate reporters write up the incidents from a biased perspective, the resulting news stories are almost always unbalanced and distorted. And such news stories are increasingly common. Therein lies a danger in that the would-be independence of the news business is compromised not only by the blind passion of the reporter but the manipulation by political gamers.

The secret, though, is to be subtle. If a politician wants to game reporters, all it takes is threat of access, or the lack thereof. You can go all the way back to the Kennedy era of the early 1960s to see that reporters who were consistently against White House policies were not among those who were given important news stories. Politicians always favor sympathetic reporters, yet reporters as a rule should never be sympathetic toward those in power.

Afflict those comfortable politicians, comfort those afflicted voters who need to know the truth.

It’s almost impossible to write a truly unbiased report when you know that the subject of your report could also end your career because you wrote it. Yet that is the Catch 22 of reporting today, so biased reporting is practically built into the news system today. Each president since Nixon has increased the pressure on reporters to play the game by the White House rules, or the next series of important news tips will go to everyone else.

So, then, the subtlety of biased news reporting drifts into the mainstream, as it now has, and the losers are most Americans, who need to know the truth about the workings of their government. The bias is in choosing what stories to report and the angle from which to report them, as we move closer to the days 100 years ago when newspaper stories included moral judgments, questionable sources, political opinions and some subjects were taboo based on the reporter’s circle of friends and editorial standards that were dictated from above based on political bosses and profit arrangements with businesses and politicians. Those days it was sometimes called “Yellow Journalism.”

There are certainly questions about the handling by the Clinton family of their multi-faceted charity foundation, but if you passionately believe that it is most important that Hillary Clinton achieve the winning vote, then it is most important to you to concentrate on the questions about her opponent’s charity foundation because it eliminates righteous indignation about potential wrongdoing if similar questions can be raised about the opponent. So rather than do the story about the Clintons, you do the story about Trump. There may not be much to the story, but it appears to level the playing field of corruption — and that certainly is the unintended effect on a skeptical public.

The subtle bias is there in point of view. Now, Creative Writing 101 will tell you that point of view is important — in fiction. Your point of view is irrelevant in unbiased news reporting, except in the case where it allows you to add additional information or unique perspective. That’s why the Associated Press has a handbook of guidelines to keep reporters on track and to keep them from getting carried away by their passions and biases and affection for trendy jargon and platitudes.

In headline writing and in news story writing, though, the trend is toward a political point of view. And the careful choosing of stories is essential not only to fulfilling the initial precept — in the case of 2016, that Clinton is immensely qualified to be president, Sanders and Trump are not and besides, it’s her turn — but in making certain that the White House today is not offended but the White House of tomorrow — Clinton’s White House — is not offended, or your job will either be more difficult or it will be eliminated upon the White House whim.

These are the pressures and motivations that are leading reporters, editors and news directors toward a kind of biased reporting that has not been seen and has not been fashionable for nearly 100 years. The Hearst newspapers are still around, but the heyday of William Randolph Hurst’s Yellow Journalism are long gone — except that everything old is new again.

No one really expected the Yellow Journalists of 1910 to give us the unadulterated facts without opinion. When newspapers and radio and then television became big moneymakers, it became incumbent upon owners and editors to keep news straight and unoffensive, lest they lose readers, listeners and viewers — in other words, lest they lose money. You don’t stay profitable running people off.

But that’s not a big deal now. It may be a danger to democracy, but biased news is fun. It may result in an ever more uninformed electorate, but newspapers tell it like it should be these days, y’know? It may sound elitist to you, but they cover the news every day, so they know better, right? You? You just go do your job — we’ve got this news thing, we’ll tell you what you need to know and that’s all you need to know, okay now?

Each day of 2016 I have scoured newspaper and TV, radio and alternative media websites and I’ve found stories praising Clinton, marginalizing Sanders and attacking Trump, one after another after another, argumentum ad nauseum. It is relentless especially among the once-proud standard bearers of American journalism such as the Washington Post and the New York Times. If there are many in America like me, it is then obvious why news credibility is quickly disappearing for many major and multitudes of minor media.

Yellow Journalism — where the reporter was often judge and jury, bystander and participant, sympathizer and mockish skeptic — was banished for a while, but there are new ways of making money by assuring people that their way of thinking, their own liberal or conservative bias is sound and important (whether it really is or not), by reinforcing their pre-drawn conclusions and not confusing them with proven facts that upset their worldview. There is new money to be made there. And obfuscation of truth, cloying attempts to sway opinion and elitist demagoguery is returning in spades — and quickly.

So return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. A known danger rides again.

— Mike Shiloh

Mike Shiloh is an award-winning broadcast journalist who began in radio in 1981 and has since contributed regularly to AP Radio and Television, CNN and ABC News, while also anchoring for top radio stations including KILT-Houston, WINK Newsradio/TV Ft. Myers/Tampa FL, KRBE-Houston; has also regularly contributed to KPFK-Los Angeles, KTRH-Houston and is an editor at The Texas Energy Report and TheLatest.net.

Why do people put up with the things Donald Trump says? One clue:

It may have something to do with the fact that he speaks a certain brand of English. He’s not speaking the usual Washington DC kind of language, which obscures ideas, allows extensive hedging and hides muddy thinking and half-baked concepts. Trump is talking everyday language, even if it does seem rooted in the 1970s and ’80s. Sometimes he very clearly proposes obscure ideas, demonstrates muddy thinking and proposes half-baked concepts but in the process he’s speaking everyday English. And perhaps in the end he’s doing what other politicians do, but he’s being open about it. Contrast this to the language used by his opponent in the presidential race — and to the words used by most of those who also ran for the office this year and, yes, many others in Washington today. Perhaps the late comedian George Carlin summed up this DC obfuscation of language best:

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OK News Media We Get It, Trump Sucks: How you’re pushing me to vote for Trump

It’s an American tradition to cheer for the underdog, and this campaign season so far there’s no bigger underdog than Donald Trump, especially if you read the major news media. Never mind social media, There are so many critical, slanted and even hateful news articles and editorials and polls in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Yorker, Politico and the major big city dailies that I’m having a hard time finding any stories even vaguely sympathetic of Mr. Trump and his campaign for president.

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BECAUSE WE SAY SO: Why the Democratic Party is now acting like your parents

When a presidential candidate lied on TV the other day, it’s because the candidate insists you believe her, truth be damned. Hillary Clinton was counting on your “suspension of disbelief.”

Clinton claimed on Fox News Sunday (7/31) that the director of the FBI had backed up her claims about her emails. The director actually said that Clinton had not been truthful about her emails. But Clinton said she had been truthful and director backed her up. Do not argue with Mrs. Clinton. She was truthful because she says she was truthful, and that makes it a fact.

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THUMBING THROUGH CATALOGS CAN BE FUN! 16 years of TheLatest.net

TheLatest.net has been available continuously on the web for going on 17 years. Unfortunately, a huge server farm accident in the 2000s destroyed most of the site’s files going back to 1999. We have been working ever since to locate missing files.

The Catalogue of Catalogs was a file on the original site aimed at consumers who enjoy actually holding and flipping the pages of merchandise catalogs.

The Catalogue of Catalogs access is now restored. Enjoy!

UPDATED – THE BIGGEST NEWS STORY IGNORED: Turkey appears headed the way of Iran

UPDATE: Turkey appears to be in chaos. There is now concern over the safety of a US/NATO airbase, as that nation’s president also appears to be changing the structure of its entire government. Turkey’s army, under the constitution, was charged with ensuring that religious totalitarianism does not gain control over the government. Sunday, the president issued a decree bringing the military under his command, effectively reversing a central check-and-balance in the Turkish constitution. And the president discharged nearly 1400 military personnel. And there were calls over the weekend for “Death to the US” by civilians who appeared to be marching on the NATO Incirlik Air Force base, where much of the US-led effort against ISIS originates, and which is home to an estimated 6 dozen NATO nuclear missiles. Continue reading