The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part I: This Morning’s New York Times Headline

mar-a-largo

I actually had dreams, nightmares really, about this theme as it rattled around in my head last night. It began with a planned post titled “The President vs. The  Press,” but it  dawned on me, as I was “lying awake with a dismal headache and repose was tabooed by anxiety,” that even that headline would fail to convey the important ethics story beneath. When I got up, too early, I grabbed my morning paper off the front walk to see if the New York Times had once again manufactured an attack piece on the President as its main story.

It had. This one was titled “For, $200,000, A Chance To Whisper in Trump’s Ear At Mar-a-Lago.” It is a special variety of fake news, the kind that the biased news media defenders deny is fake news, because it contains facts and is merely deceitful, misleading, hyped and given far more prominence than the facts deserve. But all that makes it fake, because it misleads readers, and is intended to. It’s on the front page, so this must be important, think the Times’ readers, forgetting, or ignoring, the fact that this very paper vowed to jettison journalistic ethics in October to make sure Donald Trump never won the Presidency. Now it is using its power and influence to prevent him from being President.

He called them on it last week, unleashing their fury. More on that later…

This wasn’t the worst of the endless trail of Times stories sowing distrust, but it was what greeted me this morning. The headline suggests that Trump is selling influence for cash—you know, like the Clinton Foundation, or like Bill did when he rented out the Lincoln bedroom to rich Hollywood donors. The story’s placement in the paper suggests this is crisis-worthy. But we knew all about all the components of this “crisis” before.

We knew Trump’s corporation (not Trump personally, which is intentionally blurred in the article) owns a lot of properties, including this one. We knew this created a conflict of interest, and that it would allow critics to claim self-dealing whenever they thought it would help smear the President, as with the ridiculous claim that the seven Muslim nations on his Middle East travel halt were chosen because he owned no hotels in any of them.

We knew that Trump had been spending weekends at the resort since he took office.  Aside: The Times, cable news, and others are bashing him for that. Having made sure that Washington, D.C. is hostile territory, filled with marchers, protesters, people carrying signs insulting him and a population that voted 97% against him and wants him dead, the news media also wants him to be the Prisoner of the White House…all the better to kill him with stress and prompt the psychotic break they are sure is coming and that they can’t wait to occur. The President would be mad NOT to flee to his Palm Beach resort on weekends. I would. So would every hateful reporter, if they weren’t certain that The Golden Rule doesn’t apply to Donald Trump, like fairness and most other ethics principles.

We also have known for a month  the private club had doubled its dues since the Inauguration. That was an obvious, if ruthless,  business decision by the management. I doubt Trump had anything to do with that call, but then I’m rational and fair, unlike most on the left today. The club members are literally all mega-millionaires and billionaires, and $200,000 is not an unusually high figure for dues at  top-line exclusive golf clubs. $200,000 sounds like a huge expenditure to the typical American reading the Times. It’s not,  for these members.

Moreover, there are few memberships open, and almost all of the 500 current members predate Trump’s campaign:

“Membership lists reviewed by The New York Times show that the club’s nearly 500 paying members include dozens of real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives and others whose businesses could be affected by Mr. Trump’s policies. At least three club members are under consideration for an ambassadorship. Most of the 500 have had memberships predating Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, and there are a limited number of memberships still available.”

You know, their businesses could have been affected by Mr. Trump’s policies whether they were members of the club or not. What’s the implication here, that the President is going to calibrate his policies to benefit duespayers? If these people were friends of the President (the news media has been telling us that he has no friends, but that was in a different set of hit pieces), he could meet with them, text with them, have a phone conversation with them any time he chose. Ah, winks the Times, but if they pay their $200,000, “the President himself could stop by your table for a quick chat”!

What a deal. Do the reporters and their editors really think that successful “real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives” and others are morons, or are they the morons? Or do they just count on their readers to be gullible fools?

My guess is the latter. Later in the article, the Times tries to bolster its innuendo that paying dues gives the idle rich a hook into the President with this:

“No one needs to have a long sit-down with Donald Trump,” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a nonpartisan watchdog group. “If you can whisper in his ear for 40 seconds, that can be decisive on your policy.”

You mean like “We have Melania in a trunk, and unless you lower our taxes, she’ll be fish food in the East River”? This is fantasy hyperbole, and fantasy hyperbole is disinformation. Meanwhile, Public Citizen is misrepresented by the Times as objective and neutral, and it is not. It may be non-partisan (the NAACP is also “non-partisan,” as is CREW, which somehow finds a way to annually  fill 2/3 of its list of unethical Congress members with Republicans), but it is a 100% liberal consumer organization that is currently suing to block the President’s insane Executive Order requiring agencies to kill two regulations before they add one more to the 50,000 to 100,000 pages of new regulations published every year since 1977. I mean, can you imagine the gall of this guy? He’s Hitler, I tell you! Now, Obama, if there was ever a friend of democracy, it was him. Under his administration, the EPA (Public Citizen loves the EPA!) issued nearly 4000 regs all by itself, every one of which absolutely essential to public health and safety, I’m sure.  Obama’s agencies issued over 22,000 regs in all, and 600+  major regulations, a record. One study indicated that the annual costs of  Obama Administration rules was 100 billion dollars a year.

Public Citizen is suing to prevent any reduction in these rules.

Does basic journalism ethics require that published commentary from Public Citizen be flagged as coming from a progressive, anti-Trump entity that is part of “the resistance,” just like the New York Times? Of course it does. This story has little to do with journalism, however.

At the very end, we are finally told:

Historically, of course, American presidents have often been rich men with mansions, who sometimes conducted the people’s business in weekend haunts of the wealthy: the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Me., for example, or the Kennedy family home in Hyannisport, Mass. President Dwight D. Eisenhower joined the elite Augusta National Golf Club before he was elected, frequently hanging out there with a group of affluent businessmen who became known as “the gang,” which included top executives from Coca-Cola and an oil company, an investment banker and a lawyer-financier-lobbyist.

But Mr. Trump’s weekend White House appears to be unprecedented in American history, as it is the first one with customers paying a company owned by the president, several historians said.“Mar-a-Lago represents a commercialization of the presidency that has few if any precedents in American history,” said Jon Meacham, a presidential historian and Andrew Jackson biographer. “Presidents have always spent time with the affluent,” he added. “But a club where people pay you as president to spend time in his company is new. It is kind of amazing.”

Poisoning the well. First, the news media is calling the resort the “weekend White House, because Trump has gone there three times. Three. Second, calling it “commercializing the Presidency” is outrageous. Renting the Lincoln bedroom was “commercializing the Presidency.” This is not. Meacham’s statement is a pure partisan smear, from a member of a profession that declared its opposition to Trump in a petition last year. ( Were any of those unnamed historians the Times refers to among the signatories? We can’t tell…because they are unnamed.) Members are not “paying” Trump “as President to spend time in his company.” They are paying for the club’s services. Unless every member is informed by the club when Trump will be visiting, and has guaranteed members that he would be there at certain times and places for four years, Meacham’s characterization is just plain false, and obviously so to anyone not addled by Trump hate and confirmation bias—like Democrats, journalists and Times readers.

The President’s son —who naturally cannot be believed or trusted because he is hellspawn and thus evil incarnate—told the Times that the entire premise of this “scoop” was biased.

“It assumes the worst of us and everyone, and that is unfair,” Eric Trump said.

Silly man. Nobody in the resistance cares what’s “unfair”!  This is war on the President and democracy. The news media doesn’t care about  fairness, nor about preserving a system that betrayed  progressives by robbing them of power. The end justifies the means, and the desired end is to make everyone assume the worst about the President, so he cannot do the job the public elected him to do.  That’s what the Democrats, progressives and the news media are determined to accomplish.

***

Gee, that was long, but I thought it might be. Hence the “I” in the headline. I’ll get into the details of why the President’s labeling the news media as the public;s enemy was fair, accurate and important in the next couple of posts.

 

 

38 Comments

Filed under Business & Commercial, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Ethics Train Wrecks, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media

38 responses to “The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part I: This Morning’s New York Times Headline

  1. charlesgreen

    I can’t wait to hear why you think “the press is the enemy of the American people” is a fair and accurate statement. Though I agree with you it’s important.

    • Charles, I can’t wait to hear why you think “the press is the enemy of the American people” is NOT a fair and accurate statement. To me, it is nearly as axiomatic as “the sun will rise in the east tomorrow”.

    • Chris

      I assumed, charlesgreen, that that’s what Jack meant when he titled this article “The President is Right About The Mainstream News Media.”

      Of course, even granting the premise that the mainstream media is lying to us, and that makes them the “enemy of the American people…”

      …that would mean that the president, who lies at least as often, is also the enemy of the American people.

      • Now, I just explained, definitively, why this is wrong, Chris, and a false equivalency.

        • Chris

          Sorry, I missed it; I rarely check the “notify me of new comments” button, but clearly I need to start doing that.

          This is what you said:

          No. The President’s primary duty is to lead and make the country work. The news media’s single duty is to inform the public accurately, competently and objectively.

          For Christ’s sake.

          I don’t find this convincing.

          In order to lead and make the country work, Americans have to trust their president. We have to be able to assume that when he addresses the public, he is telling the truth. The president’s duty to be honest and trustworthy, while not his sole or even most important duty, is crucial to his ability to lead the public.

          Given that Trump has failed at this duty, I do not see why the label “enemy of the American people” is any less fitting for him than it is for the media.

          Perhaps neither should be called the “enemy of the American people,” as such language is inflammatory, overtly hostile, and could easily be read as an incitement to violence.

          • crella

            ” In order to lead and make the country work, Americans have to trust their president”

            And how are we supposed to do that when the news keeps telling us that he’s Hitler, incompetent, mentally ill, and that he’s out to ruin the country?

          • In order to lead and make the country work, Americans have to trust their president. We have to be able to assume that when he addresses the public, he is telling the truth. The president’s duty to be honest and trustworthy, while not his sole or even most important duty, is crucial to his ability to lead the public.

            Chris, why didn’t you advocate for impeachment of Obama, if this is how you feel?

            Amazing how suddenly character is important when your guy is not in office.

            • fattymoon

              I can’t answer for Chris, slickwilly, but I’ll give you my answer. Not only did I advocate Obama’s impeachment, I called him a traitor both on FB and in a high school class I was substituting in one day. Later was fired for that indiscretion. (I voted for Obama first term. After he failed to deliver and I realized he was a real smooth operator, I went on the offensive.)

              Trump, I feel, is many times worse than Obama. Not only am I calling for his impeachment, I am doing everything I can online and in person to get him gone.

              • Thank you, ‘Moon, for your frank answer. (I simply cannot call anyone Fatty… my mom would rise from her grave and slap me)

                As to your last sentence, as an intellectual exercise, what would you have thought of someone saying that about Obama?

                We certainly felt (and were later justified in our beliefs) that he was a clear and present danger, yet did not rise to your espoused level of opposition.

                • fattymoon

                  Let me be sure of what you’re saying. That Obama was an immediate and credible threat… (as I believe Trump is)? Or… something else? Please clarify so I can respond.

                  • We (on the right) believed Obama when he made comments… and were alarmed. His ‘bitter clingers’ comment, his constant ‘that’s not who we are!’ and ‘you didn’t build that!’ were clear indications of his agenda. The MSM covered that up, knowing that he would never be elected or re-elected if the low information voters heard him. His constant lying (red line, didn’t know about Hillary’s server, keep your plan/doctor, etc.) speaks directly to my point: Obama was every bit as threatening to America as the left believes Trump is. Trump has done little so far, just spoken. Obama DID what he said, as much as he could. And our nation was damaged because of it.

                    Yet we did not riot, did not unfriend due to politics, did not use nasty names or advocate for imprisonment for our opponents: not on the level you are seeing today, not even close.

                    So Trump has done little, but Obama did a lot: how does that square with your impeachment rhetoric?

                    Note I am not being harsh or derogatory: I am truly interested in your reasoning. We have lost communication, your side and mine, over the past 20 years. Lost the ability to debate civilly. Lost the ability to try an idea, and admit it did not go as plan, then change to a different idea.

                    • fattymoon

                      Thank you, slick, for your comment (above) which I now understand and can respond to.

                      Initially, I liked Trump because he was upending the old politics. I liked his bluntness. I liked the way he inspired the left to over react. But, there were two flags (for me) that popped up later in the campaign.

                      Trump’s apparent approval of torture.

                      Trump’s remarks concerning Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning.

                      Then, recently, the executive order to… “USDA removes online database critical to animal welfare work.” http://blogs.bestfriends.org/index.php/2017/02/07/usda-removes-online-database-critical-to-animal-welfare-work/

                      I’ll be blunt. I’ve said this before. Animals are innocent. They do not deserve cruelty. Trump’s executive order means two things to me.

                      1. He is beholden to people and organizations with money.

                      2. He gives not one shit about animal welfare.

                      Well, I do give a huge shit about animal welfare. And, if I remember correctly, Jack also is a continbutor to Best Friends. http://blogs.bestfriends.org/
                      Why Jack hasn’t taken Trump to task here is a mystery to me.

                      Jack?

                    • I need an objective source explaining what happened before I can render an opinion. I care about animals, but it is also more of an emotional than substantive issue. It just isn’t a high priority compared to the others, except for people who care about this to a disproportionate extent. PETA is not my model for rational balancing.

  2. Glenn Logan

    Minor editorial correction: I think you meant the East River, not the Eat River.

  3. Glenn Logan

    In the same newspaper, you will find this article, entitled Are Liberals Helping Trump?

    Consider:

    Liberals may feel energized by a surge in political activism, and a unified stance against a president they see as irresponsible and even dangerous. But that momentum is provoking an equal and opposite reaction on the right. In recent interviews, conservative voters said they felt assaulted by what they said was a kind of moral Bolshevism — the belief that the liberal vision for the country was the only right one. Disagreeing meant being publicly shamed.

    The same is true for the news media, and they don’t even realize it. This assault on Trump “by any means necessary” is backfiring on them in terms of credibility and support for their preferred form of politician.

    If you accept the premise of this piece, which seems plausible if largely anecdotal, the “My way or the highway” position of the Left in this country is rapidly eliminating the moderates with a modestly conservative bent. Instead of trying to persuade them that their version of liberalism (or socialism, as some have it) is superior in meaningful ways, they are simply couching it in moral terms and ostracizing anyone who doesn’t buy the entirety of their position.

    The news media is doing exactly the same thing in a different way — by couching everything Trump does in hyperbolic, dystopian, or scandalous language, the non-Left public has simply chosen not to believe them, assuming an agenda which is more manifestly obvious every day that goes by.

    By the time this is all over, whenever that may be, there will be nothing left of the middle. That’s already happened in Congress, particularly in the Senate. The Left and its media sympathizers are doing its level best to destroy the middle in the rest of America now.

    That’s not going to end well.

  4. fattymoon

    “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @CNN, @NBCNews and many more) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people. SICK!” Trump tweeted. … “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” the amended tweet said.2 days ago

    I think we have a real horse race here when it comes to fake news. Course, it all depends how you define “fake news.”

    During the campaign, Trump had many enemies.

    Now Trump has a new enemy, maybe his best enemy yet.

    Trump’s shtick is the magician’s trick. Don’t look at me, look over there! Fake news! Everywhere FAKE NEWS!

    Boils down to a single question when you define fake news… Who is more truthful, Donald Trump or the mainstream press?

    • Nope. Not a trick. In the absence of any responsible voice in journalism to call out the industry as betraying its duty to democracy, the public,and truth, it is well within the responsibilities of the President to use his position and influence to do what is necessary. If he called out Wall Street, nobody would complain. Congress? Obama did it all the time, and the news media cheered. But the theory is that to call out the press is somehow unconstitutional The press has abused and is abusing its trust and privileges to become a partisan organ of power. That’s not the “free press”…that’s the press threatening democracy.

  5. Rich in CT

    An acquaintance of mine on Facebook, a member of a local media outfit in Southwestern Connecticut, reacted with personal disgust at the President for calling the media an “enemy of the state”, challenging supporters of the President to the repeat the accusation to his face, saying “Please. I invite it. I’d love to prove you wrong.”

    This was my response:

    I would like to take your invitation regarding Trump’s accusation of the media as an “enemy” of the state, although I will warn you I am not a Trump supporter, but a critic. I work in your area, so this can easily be arranged.

    Donald Trump has proven himself an unreliable narrator. He is thin skinned and full of bluster. He speaks in a sloppy combination of truth, figurative language, hyperbole, ignorance, and lies. The media, however, soberly reports everything he says as if he were mentally sound, and members of the media, publicly react with personal indignation and disgust.

    When Mr. Trump reacts with reflexive insults whenever he is attacked, his credibility is hurt a result. When the Media reacts with similar little restraint to insults, the media’s own credibility is hurt.

    The media needs restraint and consistency, because it is vulnerable to manipulation that futher damages its credibility. Mr. Trump has been using the media’s reflexive outrage to his strategic advantage. When the media reported for weeks straight that the election was interfered with by the Russians, causing many to publicly question the election’s legitimacy, Mr. Trump started a rumor that millions of illegal votes were cast. Suddenly, the media changes its reports to discuss how fair and legal every vote cast was. This sudden shift in message is not unnoticed by the public. When the message changes based on what is politically expedient, the public’s trust is lost.

    What the nation desperately needs is a mature “adult” in the room to report what is going on. Part of maturity is holding one’s emotions when being unfairly attacked. Ideally, the President of the United States of America should be that adult, but that is not situation we have. We have an unstable narcissist, and we need a stable media to hold him in check. A stable media will strengthen a Trump Presidency, and the media needs to accept that a stable presidency is an asset to the nation.

    There is no particular reason to believe Trump’s sloppy Twitter babble is a real threat to the media. He has not instructed the very competent General Maddox to give him a plan to wipe the media off the face of the earth, for instance. Trump called the media an enemy of the state, because Trump is thin skinned and immature. What the nation needs is a media that reacts with proportion and discretion to current events. Not every “Tweet” is a shattering insult that needs to intensely “fact-checked” and debunked. The media needs to accept some punches, and report the facts.

    If the media cannot, or will not do this, then the media is hurting the country.

    President Trump sloppily, hyperbolicly, and immaturely called the media’s nitpicking coverage of his campaign and early presidency, being an “enemy” of the county. The media needs to clearly, proportionately, and competently report the circumstances of the president’s comments, and it needs the self-awareness, restraint, and humility to accept criticism and amend its methods, if necessary, to maintain its trust and credibility in the eyes of the American people.

    • My upcoming post will address a lot of this. Good comment.

      Here’s a clue about what I think that tweet will come to be regarded as equivalent to:

      “the Evil Empire.”

    • Wayne

      “The media soberly reports everything that he says, as if he was mentally sound. . .”( ! ! ) I don’t think you believe this: What we have is a fair and balanced media. Yah right!

    • Chris

      The media, however, soberly reports everything he says as if he were mentally sound, and members of the media, publicly react with personal indignation and disgust.

      So should the media begin with the premise that Trump is not mentally sound?

  6. If the news outlets in your country, or your President, or both, would speak as much sense as this post has, or some of the following commentary, I might start listening to something they have to say once again, and not have that sudden urge to become violently ill. Oh well, I still have my faith.

    • Oh friend from the north, prithee willst thee tell me… are newsmen neither so negligent nor politicians so perplexing in your fair land?

      • Actually my good southern neighbor, the mainstream news outlets follow the lead of your fine journalists (which is why I don’t read them either), and our politics are much more…shall I say, “local”, due to Canada’s much more non-interventionist tendencies, thus for real global excitement, we Canadians usually turn to the South. We just wish we could get things reported accurately, and lately (I think you will agree), that’s become a great deal more difficult than usual. Seriously though, my comment was meant as a compliment of Jack’s site, not as a brag on my country. Sorry if it sounded that way.

        • If you owe me an apology it is for raising a false hope rather than for overt braggadocio. I was thinking about moving north before you build that wall to keep US out.

          • If any person truly wants to immigrate to Canada, I do believe there are avenues open. During the election, and especially on election night, there were large numbers of bars in my city alone that were filled with American ex-pats enjoying (or not) the unfolding election. They managed to get here, so there must be ways available to anyone who tries hard enough. Just saying.

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