1. The GOP’s travails as it tries to fix, replace or repeal Obamacare continues to be mocked in both the conservative and liberal media, and by the Democrats who caused the crisis in the first place. Ethically, the party is behaving like a responsible party should with major legislation: not moving in lockstep, with sufficient members of Congress withholding support until the new law appears to be competent and an improvement of the current one. The damned if you do/damned if you don’t game Democrats and the media are playing is wildly dishonest and calculated to win political points at the expense of getting a better system than the festering mess called the Affordable Care Act (irresponsibly passed with public misrepresentations and parliamentary tricks by the other party.)
True, many of the balking Republicans are basing their opposition to the current law less on principle than on polls, which now show a majority of citizens don’t like the proposed bill. On matters of complexity and national importance, polls should play exactly no role in legislation at all. How many of those polled have read the bill or understand it? A tenth of a per cent? Less? Uninformed opinions based on hearsay, ignorance and propaganda are worthless (and after the 2016 election, polls may be as well) ; this is why we have representative democracy and not a direct democracy. Legislators and executive who use polls as crutches are either incompetent, dishonest, cowards, or all three.
2. Especially in light of the despicable tactics of Democrats who are accusing Republicans of killing people by reforming Obamacare, the proper Republican response, which would have the advantage of being both fair and politically smart, would be to announce, through the President:
The failure of the Affordable Care Act is now no longer debatable. Projections for 2018 show massive premium increases. Insurers are pulling out of many markets. The optimistic CBO projections, which critics correctly called absurd at the time, have been decisively shown to be wrong. This law was passed by one party only, using public disinformation, dubious methods and dirty politics. It has made health care for the public as a whole less affordable, and done nothing to lower health care costs or improve health care quality.
It is now clear that the Democratic Party’s strategy is to shift responsibility for this fiasco to Republicans, by viciously attacking any attempts to fix Obamacare while also preparing to condemn the party if the current law leads to disaster, as it almost surely will on its current course. The Democrats, in short, are placing political considerations over the nation’s health and welfare. Therefore, as of today, the Republican Party will not seek to pass, nor will I sign into law, any health care insurance law or any revisions of the current Affordable Care Act that does not originate from Congressional Democrats, and that Congressional Democrats do not accept accountability for in every respect. The Republican Party will support any such bill, reserving of course the right to suggest additions and changes, but only if there is no question regarding the Democratic Party’s ultimate responsibility for its drafting, as an admission that their original law was fatally flawed.
In the absence of such a bill, I and the Republican Congress will allow the this “signature legacy of President Obama” to continue, with the understanding that its failure is a Democratic failure, and the lack of a timely fix is entirely due to the cynical tactics of the party that created it.
3. Unethical Quote Of The Day That Is So Predictable That It Isn’t Worth Posting As The Unethical Quote of the Day: Salon
This will be a short break, a one-day experiment: June 27 will be Trump-Free Tuesday here on Salon.
We’ve been thinking about this for a while, and it seems like the right moment. There are so many other things to talk about and think about, in politics, culture or our daily lives. We are stuck with this guy for the foreseeable future, which is a difficult truth for many of us to handle. If we cannot dislodge him from the White House anytime soon, maybe we can start to deflate the outsized role he plays in our national psychology. This is a baby step in that direction.
How will Trump-Free Tuesday work? We have established some rules for ourselves — which we are prepared to break under certain circumstances we have tried to define in advance. (Those circumstances seem unlikely. But who knows what counts as likely anymore?)
We will not publish the president’s name on Tuesday or use his picture. We will not cover his outrageous Twitter utterances or deride his surrogates for whatever stupid things they may or may not say on television. (We try not to do that the rest of the time, too.) We’re certainly going to cover American politics and the United States government, but we will avoid focusing on the dominant personality at the top of the pyramid. We will strive to focus on issues and policies and how they are likely to affect the lives of our readers.
Note the smoking-gun line “If we cannot dislodge him from the White House anytime soon…”
The stunt echoes the Huffington Post’s decision during the campaign to refuse to post anything about candidate Trump, because, as we all now know, his campaign was a joke. It also is redolent of various news sources (Like the Washington Post) that have declared they will not print the actual manes of sports teams whose monikers they disapprove of as politically incorrect. In today’s ethics-free, principle-free version of journalism and punditry, reality literally doesn’t matter. What matters is that the public’s opinion is managed to achieve the ultimate goal, and if a website has to pretend that the President of the United States doesn’t exist because they don’t like him, then so be it.
The translation of the quote, just for the few who don’t immediately get it: “We at Salon are so biased that we can’t even realize when we are pointing to ourselves and declaring: “We aren’t ethical journalists! We aren’t trustworthy analysts! We aren’t good citizens either, or supporters of democracy! We’re immature, unprofessional partisan hacks who have lost all sense of professionalism and propriety because we are so consumed by frustration and hate! ARRGHHHHHH!”
4. In a related note, from The Hill:
NBC News host Chuck Todd went after the Trump administration Wednesday for running a “war on the truth.” Todd’s was defending rival news network CNN from White House criticism.
“I’m obsessed with the White House’s war on the press and on media. Let’s be clear about this, that war is nothing less than a war on the truth,” Todd said on his show “MTP Daily.”
Todd said the difference between the White House and the press is that if the media makes a mistake, they will “run a correction and in some cases people lose their jobs.”
The NBC anchor suggested that the White House takes advantage of the press needing to correct and apologize for an incorrect story, while the White House can feed false information publicly.
“And of course that’s the point, isn’t it? Of course the White House attacks, delegitimizes the media to create running room for its own events. It is as old as the media itself. The White House is not above using anonymous sources to criticize the use of anonymous sources in order to promote what it admits is a lie to call others liars,” he said.
Is it possible that Todd really thinks the current news media is interested in “the truth,” rather than, as Salon says, dislodging a lawfully elected President from the White House, or as CNN producer Bonifield said,
“It’s a business, people are like the media has an ethical phssssss…All the nice cutesy little ethics that used to get talked about in journalism school you’re just like, that’s adorable. That’s adorable. This is a business.”
Does he really think that the public is going to believe that a network run by people who say things like,“Diversity of personal opinion is what makes CNN strong, we welcome it and embrace it,” in response to comment like Bonifield’s even knows or cares what “the truth” is?
Todd is lying unless he really believes that the news media retracts and apologizes for its fake news. It does this on occasion when it is caught, and then often incompletely. Maybe poor Chuck really does believe. Does he not know that the news media’s ways of distorting “truth” go beyond outright falsehood to spinning stories to protect favored politicians and parties, hiding stories and distorting coverage, allowing false statements (“There is a vast right-wing conspiracy”) from political figures to go uncorrected—at least if they are Democrats—and misleading headlines? When have you ever seen a misleading headline retracted?
The New York Times falsely stated that Sarah Palin’s election map graphics were linked to Jared Lee Loughner’s Tucson rampage, as an attempt to minimize the Left’s accountability for the attack on Republican Congressmen in Alexandria. It quietly changed the text after an online assault (with an website statement that it was an “error”), but today buried the news that Palin is suing the Times for libel deep in its Business section. Did CNN ever retract and apologize for anchor Chris Cuomo’s idiotic statement on the air that only reporters could legally read the Wikileaks leaks from the DNC, and non-reporters couldn’t? (No.) Has anyone at CNN retracted and apologized for its false statement—from a “respected historian”— on election night that it is rare for the same party to hold the White House for more than 8 years in a row? (No—I know I mention this example too much, but it drives me crazy.)
Yesterday Bob Woodward, the non-partisan part of “Woodstein,” followed a screening of “All The President’s Men” in Washington, D.C. with comments about how biased the news media had become in its coverage of the Trump Administration. As an example, he pointed to the recent “Trump’s Lies” piece in the Times (exposed as the dishonest hit job it was here) and chose as an example one of the same false “lies” I highlighted in that post, saying,
“Trump said he was on the cover of Time magazine 14 or 15 times when it was in fact 11 times… That’s not a lie. Tone matters, and headlines matter, and you want people to [trust you].”
The White House isn’t waging any “war on truth” when it attacks the news media. It is waging a war on an unethical institution that is betraying the nation and the public by refusing to abide by its own ethical principles, and thus is falsely representing itself as a reliable source of the truth. When Chuck Todd, unlike Bob Woodward, refuses to acknowledge this, he reveals himself as complicit in the problem.
5. Speaking of Trump on TIME covers, the Washington Post and others revealed that a framed copy of Time magazine hangs in at least five of President Trump’s golf clubs, from South Florida to Scotland, featuring a photo of him with the text,
“Donald Trump: The ‘Apprentice’ is a television smash! TRUMP IS HITTING ON ALL FRONTS . . . EVEN TV!”
This is, of course, presented as more damning evidence of Trump’s dishonesty. TIME even got into the act by “demanding” that the clubs remove the things, as if they have a legal leg to stand on. They don’t, and they know they don’t, and yes, any lawyer who would write such a bogus demand letter is engaging in unethical conduct.
Is it unethical to hang these framed fake covers? Back when people really read TIME and cared about it, I remember fake “Man of the Year” TIME covers you could have printed up as a gag or a gift. This looks like an elaborate one of those to me; I wouldn’t be fooled by it, because I’ve seen too many TIME covers.
Is it intended to deceive? Oh, I don’t know. The message is the same whether it is a real TIME cover or not: this guy is insecure, craves praise and attention, and is a narcissist. I would no more plaster TIME covers—real ones— with me on them around my house or place of business than I would try burrowing to Peru like a mole. Strictly speaking, the wall hangings are art. Does Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Can falsely represent that soup cans are that big?
Trump, as we just noted, has been on 11 TIME covers: the misrepresentation isn’t that he has been on the cover of TIME. The misrepresentation is that this was one of them. He was, of course, TIME’s 2016 Person of the Year, which would be a more impressive cover to hang as well as a real one.
OK, it’s a petty, silly, unnecessary misrepresentation of the most trivial sort imaginable. I wouldn’t do it. If Trump knew about it (that has not been established) he shouldn’t have approved it. He should have it taken down ow, and replaced with one of the real covers, or a nice picture of dogs playing poker.
Was this newsworthy, except as more gratuitous media Trump-bashing?