Empty Vessels or Bobbleheads?
A few TV anchors are taking a “get tough” stance with Trump henchmen (and henchwomen). A welcome change, I must say, from their presentation as empty vessels or, worse, bobble heads.
Does that make you feel better?
Maybe. Maybe not.
When the Prez locked several news organization out of his press “gaggle”—including the “gray lady of journalism,” The New York Times—Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer called the charge “ridiculous.” He explained that the White House regularly rotates the press pool—that’s all that happened here, folks. More “fake news.”
What should have happened, but didn’t, is an immediate boycott by ALL news organizations, of ALL press briefings, whether held by Spicer or The Donald. Not least, because they do represent “fake news.”
Juan Williams, whose website describes him as “a public intellectual, prominent blogger and essayist, and the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan,” addressed this very issue in his blog post on Informed Comment today (26 Feb ’17).
I would have liked to republish the entire blog but was unable to reach the author prior to publication of my blog. Therefore, “fair use” excerpts, paraphrases, and summaries only.]
First, Trump’s declaring the press “the enemy of America,” a charge he later walked back a bit without actually changing his mind, is the mark of an authoritarian. It also showed him to be thin-skinned, another trait of dictators (and people who believe themselves infallible, a trait known as megalomania).
Juan Williams notes that “William H. McRaven, the retired four-star admiral and former Navy Seal who led the raid against Usama Bin Laden, called Trump’s remark on the press as an enemy of the people ‘the greatest threat to democracy’ he has ever seen.”
Second, who CARES if news outlets attend Trump/Spicer briefings? As Williams wrote,
“The exclusions were so egregious and petty that the Associated Press, USA Today and Time magazine declined to be present.”
For some time, I’ve been exasperated to see hardcore news stories watered down by the “he said/she said” maneuver. It is a form of falsification that allows the mainstream media to dodge criticism from their corporate masters. A product’s appeal is not enhanced by “negativity,” after all.
In the Trump Circus, the media have been given little chance to employ the tactic because the media are the story (sorry, I can’t get used to transforming “media” into a singular noun).
Under such circumstances, what should news organization do? Or, as Williams asks, “Why privilege an administration’s narrative about itself by doing articles based on nothing more than hot air coming from the general direction of the West Wing?”
His solution (a breath of fresh air): get back into investigative journalism big-time!
“Enough people in Washington are appalled by the Trump-Bannon attempt to fascize America that they seem willing to leak damaging information all on their own. How much better if a trained journalist got those stories through initiative.”
So, third: Let the Woodwards and Bernsteins of the Trump Interregnum step forward!