Media Takes The Bait, Loses Its Credibility In Election Coverage
There will be a winner in the U.S. presidential election in November. At least, that’s the rumour. So far, the floor is littered with plenty of… um. Non winners.
With a choice between Tracy Flick and some guy played by Alec Baldwin you could make the argument that the body politic itself is going to be Casualty No. 1 in this enterprise. And the third-party alternatives are no Jeffersons either. Still no one expects character from politicians who tell you that you can keep your doctor or “I did not have classified material my server”.
They do expect more from the clever people who claim to have the public’s best interests at heart. That would be the illuminati who work in the entertainment biz but think they reside on Parnssus. They’re used to deference befitting their authority. Yet in 2016 the underlings have wised up to their harm, telling Hollywood’s tinsel heroes to get stuffed. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQ3SRPYjtiI&feature=share). We can only hope for more and greater mockery of these prats in the future.
But if asked who’s sustained the greatest mortal wounds in this bun fight, you could make an argument that the mainstream media is going to emerge with the most life-threatening injuries. Politicians have always had a tenuous grasp on the truth. The media? In its zeal to be the obnoxious kid in the class who rats everyone out when the teacher returns from the hall, the press lords have squandered their credibility.
No one plays the media Stradivarius better than the Democrats. Knowing the ADHD tendencies of the news cycle, it has fed reporters a constant stream of whoppers that would make the Enquirer blush. The current infatuation is Donald Trump’s taxes. Either he paid no taxes or or lost too much money or stiffed contractors or was exploiting loopholes. Take your pick.
What he didn’t do, despite the best efforts of the New York Times, is break any laws. The Times’ story tap-danced their facts by suggesting Trump “could” have “avoided” taxes for “18 years”. Even if he did, it was no more a crime than Americans writing off mortgage interest or charitable donations. (The Times itself has used tax deferrals.)
But it didn’t smell nice to the media’s mock Marxists who resent success. Shrill comedienne Sarah Silverman blamed Trump for starving Social Security and Medicaid with his accounting “loopholes”. Dallas Mavs owner Mark Cuban (and Clintonisto) complained that rich folk like him and Trump should be paying 35 percent, not 25 percent taxes, to boost the economy.
Let the virtuous circle continue.
This tax turmoil comes after the media adoption of Charlotte police shooting victim Keith Scott. In the shooting's aftermath, the Dems and their embedded scribblers made Scott out to be a martyr to racist cops. Murdered hiding a book, they blared. Social media took its cues and away it all went “like the down of a thistle”.
On further inspection, it turned out Scott was a multiple convicted felon with gun charges who’d beat up his wife and child regularly and had no right to carry the gun he was toting when the cops reluctantly interrupted him rolling a spliff. The only book in his case was the one he’d had thrown at him for criminal behaviour.
Oh, yes… the police shooter was black. As was the Charlotte police commissioner. The mayor was a woman. But the Democratic echo chamber still played the white patriarchy card. For days, protesters tore up downtown Charlotte without even a whimper of these facts. The CNNs and Washington Posts did a collective, “don’t confuse me with facts, my mind’s made up” and rolled in the riot porn. Whatever.
Till they were distracted by a shiny object in the form of Alicia Machado, a former Miss Universe who alleged Trump, the pageant’s owner, had shamed her about her weight. This video from 1997 seems to show Trump being very sympathetic to a beaming Machado and her weight issues. (https://www.yahoo.com/beauty/meet-the-trainer-donald-trump-tasked-with-helping-alicia-machado-lose-weight-203249809.html)
Once again, the lapdogs emerged to cast Trump as a heinous hater of women etc. Turns out Miss Machado, the hurt party, had ballooned after winning her title. Her claim to CNN that The Donald's hurtful comments (which cannot be verified beyond Machado) had sent her into a bulemic spiral collapsed when it was shown she’d suffered from the condition well before ever knowing Trump.
Oh, she also was the girlfriend of a notorious Venezuelan criminal. And she had threatened a Venezuelan judge with death if he messed with her boyfriend. Whatever. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a progressive narrative on Saturday Night Live.
Things have been no less illuminating on the right side of the ledger. FOX TV host Sean Hannity has become the unofficial court jester to Good King Donald. Perhaps the most odious example of jumping the tiburon came on the night of Trump’s disastrous first debate with Clinton. Having inserted Rosie O’Donell and Howard Stern into conversations about global security— thereby confirming all the worst suspicions about his reliability— Trump went looking for a pillow on which to cry.
Enter Hannity, who acted like Burgess Meredith coaching a bloodied Rocky in between rounds of his Apollo Creed showdown. Preposterously calling his man the champ, Hannity was the very essence of the sycophant. That’s fine for former NYC mayor Rudy Giuliani, part of the Trump crew. But for a major journalist? Who did he think he was, Keith Olbermann? (Even his FOX colleague Megan Kelly called him out for his bromancing.)
Politicians can take back statements, fudge facts and spin falsehoods into 30-second TV spots. But the fourth estate is supposed to be different. Not perform as missionaries or cheerleaders. But that’s been lost in this election. Getting it back in a bottle the public will accept might be much harder than anyone thinks.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy
Bruce's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience with successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013).