Category Archives: So Called Liberal Media

Get Out of the Office

Conventional wisdom:

 

Yeah. And. So. What? I swear, between Trump’s press conference shitshow last week and the high dudgeon over Trump’s spokesman saying maybe we won’t even GIVE you nice desks in the White House anymore, American journalism is having the biggest freakouts over the stupidest things.

Three-decade assault on the press, co-opting entire news networks to debate for days exactly how much they suck? YAWN. Move my mug of very special pens? AUX ARMES, AUX BARRICADES!

Of COURSE Trump beating on the press will make Trump’s voters happy. They voted for him because they wanted him to do stuff like that. They wanted him to make big, dumb, loud fart noises in the direction of everything that bugs them. But I don’t understand why the press should worry if Trump’s voters hate them.

They’re not running for office. They don’t get elected. Their jobs are not determined by anyone but them. It’s not a fucking beauty contest. If they know they are in the right — and they are, most of them, except those Breitbart tools — then Trump can hoot and holler and move their desks into the Potomac and the only thing that matters at the end of the day is if as much information as possible got to as many people as possible.

That’s it. That’s the job. And if you tell me you need a comfy chair to do it in, or a daily petting from a press secretary, I will direct you to half a hundred hungry people who will gladly shove your ass to the curb so that they can do the job from wherever they have to do it to get it done. Trump’s voters aren’t happy with you? His press secretary’s being mean? Well, why don’t you raise a big bitchfest on Twitter about it! That will surely not make you look dumb in any way.

Schmucks.

A.

The Word Of The Day Is Salacious

Unless you live under a rock in an isolated part of Siberia, you’ve heard about the raw intelligence file posted by BuzzFeed. Many reputable news organizations, including Mother Jones, refused to publish it because it’s unverifiable. Slate’s Will Oremus describes how it finally came out after months of teasing:

The dossier was not new. Buzz Feed and multiple other news organizations had obtained it well before Tuesday and had been investigating its various claims. Mother Jones wrote about it prior to the election, on Oct. 31, and published a handful of quotes from it. Key figures in Congress had also seen it and even publicly alluded to it, and the Guardian reported on Tuesday that Sen. John McCain had passed it to FBI Director James Comey last month. But no one had published its entire, stunning contents before Tuesday—partly because, as my colleague Joshua Keating put it, “nothing in the memos has been confirmed, and even their provenance is murky.”

<SNIP>

Smith didn’t address why BuzzFeed waited until now to publish the document, and he declined to comment further for this article. But the move came almost immediately after CNN reported Tuesday that top U.S. intelligence officials had shown Trump and President Obama a two-page synopsis of the dossier. The synopsis was presented as an unofficial appendage to the classified security briefings they gave Obama and Trump about Russian interference in the presidential election, CNN reported. Sources also told CNN that the “Gang of Eight” Congressional leaders had been provided a synopsis of the dossier as well.

In short, the timing was driven by media momentum. It turns out that our old friend FBI Director James Comey has been sitting on the information. He apparently only publicizes unverifiable information about Hillary Clinton.

Twitter was agog last night over the ickiest part of the dossier: Trump’s use of golden showers as a soggy revenge mechanism.  While amusing that was NOT the most important passage of the dossier:

In terms of specifics, Source A confided that the Kremlin had been feeding TRUMP and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary CLINTON, for several years [see more below]. This was confirmed by Source a close associate of TRUMP who had organized and managed his recent trips to Moscow, and who reported, also in Tune 2016, that this Russian intelligence had been “very helpful”. The Kremlln’s cultivation operation on TRUMP also had comprised offering him various lucrative real estate development business  deals in Russia, especially in relation to the ongoing 2018 World Cup soccer tournament, However, so far, for reasons unknown, TRUMP had not taken up any of these.

However, there were other aspects to TRUMP’s engagement with the Russian authorities. One which had borne fruit for them was to exploit personal obsessions and sexual perversion in order to obtain suitable ‘kompromat’ [compromising material] on him. According to Source D, where s/he had been present, (perverted) conduct in Moscow included hiring the presidential suite of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, where he knew President and OBAMA {whom he hated] had stayed on one other official trips to Russia, and defiling the bed where they had slept by employing a number of prostitutes to perform a ‘golden showers’ (urination) show in front of him. The hotel was known to be under FSE control with microphones and concealed cameras in all the main rooms to record anything they wanted to.

I don’t do terlet humor: it’s low-hanging fruit for low-brows. The jokes missed the ominous point of the memo: that the KGB’s successor agency, the FSE, has allegedly been blackmailing Trump because he was stupid and arrogant enough to have hookers pee on a bed the Obamas slept in. Both claims are plausible if disgusting. Trump *is* stupid and arrogant and blackmail has long been used by Russian intelligence as a means of gaining leverage over people. Anyone who has read John LeCarre or watched The Americans knows that. Of course, Trump doesn’t read books and is incapable of sitting still long enough to marvel over Philip’s wigs on the FX show.

I never thought I’d be writing about a President-elect, and peeing Russian hookers. This is the level to which Trump has dragged our national dialogue. I am, however, worried that the publication of the dossier will backfire and make people feel sorry for Trump. He deserves only scorn, not sympathy.

Last night I tweeted this out:

The NYT called the dossier salacious hence the post title. As of this writing, Trump’s first full-blown post-election press conference is still on. I’m skipping it. I’d rather read about it than watch it on the electric teevee machine. Why? After reading the raw intelligence file, I feel like I need delousing. I don’t want to go through that more than once.

Overcoming

Can we please get together some kind of summit for journalists that is just WHAT ARE WORDS and HOW DO WE FUNCTION THEM?

Things that could have been said instead of “overcoming,” in no particular order:

Breaking (most accurate would be “in an attempt to break”).

Circumventing (still garbage, but factual).

Defying.

Challenging (milquetoasty enough for mainstream pubs which hate definitive language).

SINCE APPARENTLY NOBODY’S HEARD OF.

Violating.

Attempting to violate.

Ignoring.

Flouting.

A.

Joey No Socks Meets Don Donaldo, Il Comico Insulto

There’s a new Trump story for the MSM to ignore and/or explain away. The Insult Comedian spent New Years Eve with a guy named Joey No Socks Cinque:

Cinque can be seen in a video obtained by the Palm Beach Daily News, cheering loudly as a tuxedo-clad Trump runs through a number of campaign promises before the hundreds of guests attending the New Year’s Eve bash the President-elect threw at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida on Saturday.

“The taxes are coming down, regulations are coming off, we’re going to get rid of Obamacare,” Trump can be heard saying as an exuberant Cinque stands next to him, pumping his fists into the air.

Cinque’s Sunday appearance with Trump might raise some eyebrows.

Beyond a 1989 felony conviction for possessing nearly $100,000 worth of stolen artwork, Cinque “used to be friends with John Gotti,” according to a New York Magazine profile from 1995.

Cinque was also “shot three times and left for dead” in a 1980 incident that authorities described as “a hit,” according to the profile.

This is the company kept by the man who lost the popular vote. Of course, nobody should be shocked that Trump hangs out with wise guys or their associates. I wrote about that very subject last June in a post called Don Donaldo, Il Comico Insulto. I decided it was high time to revive the Italianate form of the nickname since Trump is poised to become America’s very own Berlusconi.

At least Cinque has a cool nickname: Joey No Socks is a new one on me. It evokes Joe Pantoliano’s childhood nickname, Joey Pants. He, of course, played Ralphie in The Sopranos. Cinque has also been called-get ready for it-the Preppy Don. Maybe that’s why Trump hangs out with him…

The real reason Trump likes Joey No Socks is that he runs a group that gives fake awards to rich egomaniacs. It’s something called the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences. I wonder what science is involved? Chemistry or scammery? Probably the latter. Here’s a picture of Don Donaldo and his sockless felon pal from 2013:

joe-no-socks-trump

Imagine if the Clintons were seen bringing in the New Year with a guy described in his Wikipedia entry as a “small-time mobster, a scam artist, and an art fence.” It would be the lead story on Fox News and the respectable MSM would be all over it like a cheap suit worn by James Comey. I’m hearing crickets so far. The MSM is too busy giving Trump credit for the Congressional ethics walk back to be bothered. A new motto for the respectables: if Trump tweets it, it must be true.  #SARCASM

One oddity of this story is that Joey No Socks shares a name with the leader of the Amistad Revolt, Joseph Cinqué. The only difference in spelling is l’accent grave. There’s another difference, one of them led a slave revolt whereas the other is slavishly revolting.

When I first heard about the Trump-Cinque connection, I misheard the latter’s nickname as Joey No Shoes. That’s why I’m giving Frank Zappa the last word:

That concludes this edition of Life Imitates The Sopranos.

‘the access game becomes a net negative’

SHIT YES this on what editors & producers & reporters can do to cover Trump: 

Assume almost no access to Trump and the people around him who have power, or imagine that the access game becomes a net negative. Now what? You still have to find out what’s going on, but the “access” portal is closed. This seems to me a better starting point, even as you fight for real access, defend the daily briefing, and demand timely responses to Freedom of Information requests.

Outside-in means you start on the rim and work towards the center, rather than the reverse. Domestically, it involves mining sources in the agencies and civil service rather than the people perceived as “players.” (As is commonly done in investigative journalism.) With foreign policy it means more is likely to come from other governments than from the U.S.

During the Trump campaign who had better access: The reporters in the media pen, or those who got tickets and moved with the rest of the crowd? Were the news organizations on the blacklist really at a disadvantage?

I say this every time a mighty whinge goes up from the press corps over who moved whose chair where or who had to print some adulatory crap in order to preserve a spot on some bullshit list somewhere: STOP ACTING LIKE THESE THING AREN’T CHOICES. If you’re there to brag about where you rank, you can behave like that.

If you’re there to serve your readers you might be better off putting down the crack pipe and going out and covering things from the perspective of people who are AFFECTED by Trump’s policies. Mayhap with a fraction of the compassion you show for his economically insecure racist prick base.

Pretend you can’t get in, even if you can. And even if you can, maybe DON’T, because that’s not where the stories are anyway.

A.

They’re Shooting the Wounded & You Say ‘Taking Aim’

This was completely predictable, plenty of people predicted it, and now you want sympathy: 

Some supporters of President-elect Donald J. Trump have also taken up the call. As reporters were walking out of a Trump rally this month in Orlando, Fla., a man heckled them with shouts of “Fake news!”

Until now, that term had been widely understood to refer to fabricated news accounts that are meant to spread virally online. But conservative cable and radio personalities, top Republicans and even Mr. Trump himself, incredulous about suggestions that fake stories may have helped swing the election, have appropriated the term and turned it against any news they see as hostile to their agenda.

In defining “fake news” so broadly and seeking to dilute its meaning, they are capitalizing on the declining credibility of all purveyors of information, one product of the country’s increasing political polarization. And conservatives, seeing an opening to undermine the mainstream media, a longtime foe, are more than happy to dig the hole deeper.

WELL NO FUCKING SHIT. I’m sorry, mom, I really am, but I believe in the right words for the job and the right words right now are NO FUCKING SHIT, YOU DUMB MOTHERFUCKERS.

For 20 fucking years, or however long Rush and his mini-me’s have been bloviating on the air and accruing listeners, people (mostly liberals but also some people who just don’t like getting screamed at before breakfast) have been saying this is bad, this is creating a culture of distrust for the truth and a willingness to disregard the facts. For 20, 30 years, even some journalists have been saying stop letting people on your air get away with slagging your own employees, it’s gross and also dangerous for them.

Those people, who were concerned about stopping this when it could be stopped, who watched talk radio poison the wells of every small town in America and warned that this would go nowhere good? Those people were ignored, shunted to the side, told they were hysterical and that they couldn’t take a joke.

Meanwhile the conservative talkers, the ones saying national newspapers and magazines were unreliable at best and instruments of the devil at worst, those people got their own columns and profiles and lovingly crafted thinkpieces about their “issues” and “concerns.”

And NOW you assholes see a problem. NOW you want us all to subscribe and post little testimonials to your brilliance, like my $2 a month goes anywhere but your owner’s pocket, like subscription revenue has EVER paid for journalism.

NOW you want us to deplore the cheapening of the public discourse, the speed at which information spreads. Now. After two, three decades of screaming from every screen in existence. After we’re all so beaten down by this that a literal white supremacist doesn’t surprise us. NOW it’s a national emergency.

It couldn’t be because this is all happening on the internet, and is beginning to cut into your bottom line, could it? That couldn’t be why you’re finally willing to take this milquetoastiest of stands.

The right’s labeling of “fake news” evokes one of the most successful efforts by conservatives to reorient how Americans think about news media objectivity: the move by Fox News to brand its conservative-slanted coverage as “fair and balanced.”

WHICH IS WHAT PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TRYING TO TELL YOU GODDAMN IT YOU FUCKING HAMSTERHEADS. Fox News went on the air in 1996. You want to talk about this NOW?

Many conservatives are pushing back at the outrage over fake news because they believe that liberals, unwilling to accept Mr. Trump’s victory, are attributing his triumph to nefarious external factors.

“The left refuses to admit that the fundamental problem isn’t the Russians or Jim Comey or ‘fake news’ or the Electoral College,” said Laura Ingraham, the author and radio host. “‘Fake news’ is just another fake excuse for their failed agenda.”

Others see a larger effort to slander the basic journalistic function of fact-checking.

Others. See.

I can’t imagine where conservatives got the idea that the news was manipulable.

A.

Donald Trump Caged Your Reporters

I am not a fan of Mike Allen. Ever since he and his partner in hackery called for a “do-over” for George W. Bush for Katrina, he’s occupied a special place on my shit list. I say that up front so that we know where we’re starting when we talk about Allen. We’re starting with somebody who thinks hundreds of dead people are just some, like, signifier or rhetorical device or something.

That’s where we started, Mike Allen and me.

Here’s where we’re at right now:

He put you in a pen, Mike.

He put you in a pen and he put up a sign, at every single rally and every single event. PLEASE DISTURB. He told people to yell at you, to call you a liar, to call you scum. He told people to do worse. He did it with a smile and a chuckle and he did it on purpose.

He mocked a reporter with a disability. He did a demeaning little impression. Here it is, in case you missed it:

(Do you have any kind of disability, Mike?

Do you know anyone who does? Do you love anyone who does?

I hope those people don’t see that photo of you bellying up to Trump’s bar.)

His followers called female reporters bitches and sluts and said they should be raped to death. People who attended his rallies and cheered sent Nazi propaganda cartoons to Jewish (and non-Jewish) reporters, sent articles about death camps, sent pictures of Hitler, and laughed when anyone fought back.

Oh, not at YOU, I know. Not you personally. Nobody did that to you. Trump would never do that to you. His followers might, but then again they might not. It’s hard for them to get into the green rooms.

He just did it to people who work for you. People who work with you. People whose job it was to cover politics and whose livelihoods depended on doing their jobs well and whose lives depended on doing them safely. People who probably make a lot less money than you. People who have fewer powerful friends. People who have more to lose.

People who work harder before breakfast on their laziest days than you will ever work again in your life. People whose work pays your bills and gets you in the door to the kinds of swank parties where the president-elect shows up.

Those are the people Donald Trump PUT IN A FUCKING CAGE.

You owe them your loyalty and your respect. You owe them, at the very least, the loyalty and respect required to decline a party invitation or refrain from publicizing your attendance. I’m not saying you have to tell him to suck your balls, though that would be nice. Like I said, you and I started from pretty far down. I’m not expecting you to be a hero.

I’d like to think you could be a mammal.

A man, if we caught you on a good day.

Maybe this was just a bad one.

Maybe we could give you a do-over.

A.

 

Tweet Of The Day: Devil-Eyed MSM Edition

I’m an aficionado of devil-eyed cat pictures. Della Street’s glow in the dark demon eyes have given us all a great deal of pleasure over the years. Last night, Keith Olbermann retweeted a picture from ex-Politico honcho Mike Allen who was partying with the Insult Comedian at Mar-a-Largo:

It’s the courtier press at its worst. They appear to have made a deal with the devil in exchange for fleeting access. Thumbs down:  it’s a bad deal for them. The Insult Comedian will denounce them soon enough if they even mildly criticize him. It’s the way of the electoral college winner.

Speaking of the electoral college. Today is end of delusion day. There’s no chance that there will be enough faithless electors to throw the election to the House where Trump would win anyway. I haven’t said much about the so-called “Hamilton elector movement” because I don’t believe in waking sleepwalkers. (If I’m wrong about this, I will drink vodka, eat cauliflower, listen to thrash metal, watch The Sound of Music, and do other things I dislike in penance. End of my own personal parade of horrors.)

I, too, believe that Trump will be an illegitimate President, elected by suspect means, aided by the dictator of a hostile foreign power. I can also count. People should be organizing to resist Trump and his marauding gang of Billionaires, generals, and white nationalists instead of hoping for deliverance from Republican electors.

We should take the same position the GOP took after the elections of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. You all remember what Mitch McConnell said in 2009, but after Clinton was elected, then Senate GOP leader Bob Dole told the country that he planned to represent those who did NOT vote for Clinton. The delegitimization campaign paid off in the 1994 contract on America election. It worked again in the Tea Party election of 2010. It’s how Democrats at all levels should approach the incoming administration: massive resistance with an eye on 2018. Some former congressional staffers have already posted a manifesto online. Read it, learn from it.

Vive les Maquis.

‘Fix the Mess’

This is an example of what I talk about when I talk about the bias toward passivity and the status quo: 

President-elect Donald Trump is stocking the upper echelons of his administration with more than the usual share of business titans like himself, betting the success of his presidency on the idea that a clash of cultures is needed to fix the mess in Washington and bring order to international affairs.

First of all, there is no “mess” in Washington. Nobody knocked a paint pot over. No one upended a giant tub of Legos all over everything and then stepped on the dog. Mess implies an accident. There’s no “mess.”

There is unparalleled obstruction and cowardice on the part of one major party, which is REFUSING TO HOLD HEARINGS ON A NOMINEE FOR THE SUPREME COURT RIGHT NOW TODAY.

There is in Washington a number of very powerful actors on behalf of very powerful forces determined to gut public education, destroy what’s left of public sector unions, and scourge the image of a First Family so middle of the road their turkey pardon dad jokes make news.

There is in Washington a group of people who have trashed the system for nearly 20 years at least, insisting on 60 votes in the Senate to pass the most routine legislation, coddling and encouraging extremist views in opposition to horrible things like giving people health insurance and ending unpopular wars.

Washington isn’t a “mess.” It’s a crime scene.

Terms like this, like “partisan gridlock,” like “political infighting,” allow writers and readers to avoid responsibility for determining who took action and what consequences followed. They let everybody off the hook — mostly Republicans who are and have for eight years been the aggressors, but Democrats as well, for being victims.

Throwaway phrases, shorthand like “the mess in Washington” allow people to shrug, shake their heads, not even BOTHER MAN because it’s all so, like, worthless. They keep people angry because they keep people powerless, and they keep people powerless because they keep people hopeless.

And paired with “order in international affairs,” like when, pray tell, have we ever had “order” in international affairs? What would that even look like? This idea that in some hazy, half-forgotten past Reagan and Gorbachev got together and played chess and then the Berlin Wall fell down and everything was fine is, shall we say, reductive. At best.

We can’t do anything about anything until we can talk about it honestly and I don’t think this kind of thing helps at all.

A.

Tweet Of The Day: Food Fight

Food was important in my family. My mother was a phenomenal cook and fed us well. She made sure that her youngest (me) knew how to cook since his father could only boil water in the science oven. She learned to cook all the Greek family recipes from my Yia Yia and added a few twists of her own; mostly involving cheese and Norwegian baked goods.

Food is important in Greek culture as well. I recall my aunt asking my cousin to defrost a moussaka for my father’s wake. Said cousin said: “Which one? There are three. Heaven forbid we run out of food in this family.” That’s why I fit in so well in New Orleans. I quickly realized how food obsessed they were here and said, “These are my people.” It was my Brigham (This is the Place) Young moment only without the plural wives and autocratic tendencies.

I included that long preamble to point out that I understand the importance of food. I don’t, however, squeal when someone knocks an eatery I like, not even one owned by a relative. That brings me to the Insult Comedian’s latest early morning rant:

You probably already knew that Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter has been feuding with Trump for decades. He’s the one who first dubbed Trump a “short-fingered vulgarian.” That’s not it, this whole mishigas is about a bad VF review by Tina Nguyen: Trump Grill Could Be The Worst Restaurant In America. Here’s a tasting menu of Ms. Nguyen’s piece:

The allure of Trump’s restaurant, like the candidate, is that it seems like a cheap version of rich. The inconsistent menus—literally, my menu was missing dishes that I found on my dining partners’—were chock-full of steakhouse classics doused with unnecessarily high-end ingredients. The dumplings, for instance, come with soy sauce topped with truffle oil, and the crostini is served with both hummus and ricotta, two exotic ingredients that should still never be combined. The menu itself would like to impress diners with how important it is, randomly capitalizing fancy words like “Prosciutto” and “Julienned” (and, strangely, ”House Salad”).

<SNIP>

Perhaps Trump’s veneer of a steakhouse is too obviously a veneer, meant for the hoodied masses to visit once and never return. (There are already an infinite number of articles about how Trump’s mass-produced products are meant to impress a hollow sense of wealth.) And prior to his victory, it seemed as if the world of Fifth Avenue power brokers agreed: the lobby was perpetually empty, the Grill(e) mostly frequented with Trump Tower residents and locals looking for a convenient power lunch, if any of the bigger, better power-lunch spots nearby were full. But later, when I read previous reviews of the Trump Grill before he became a presidential front-runner, I was shocked to discover that the food back then was bland, mediocre, and as Eater’s Robert Sietsema once wrote, “for timid people with digestive problems.” In other words, it was a culinary marvel lightyears beyond the rich-man slop we ate at the Trump Grill weeks after the election. (And indeed, it was slop: as soon as I got home, I brushed my teeth twice and curled up in bed until the nausea passed.)

The food critics I’ve known have cast-iron stomachs so it takes a lot to induce nausea. She actually kinda sorta liked the Taco Salad that inspired this racist tweet and rare Trumpian smile on Cinco de Mayo:

Back to the attack tweet. Yes, Virginia, Donald Trump is this thin-skinned.

Ms. Nguyen’s takedown of Trumpe Grille is the most scathing restaurant review I’ve read since the NYT’s Pete Wells took a dump on the dread Guy Fieri’s tourist trap back in 2012. Now that I think of it, Trump and Fieri have some things in common: bad hair and incessant shouting. There’s even a series of Trump-Fieri mashup pictures floating about the interweb. This one in text form is my fave rave:

Trump-Fieri

Thanks, Hell Demon, whoever the hell  you are. I hope that Flavor Town is safe for now. That begs the bigger (beggar?) question: is anywhere in America safe from the Insult Comedian’s incessant whining? It’s not as if he cooks the food at Trump Grill. I bet he can’t even boil water in the science oven.

I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know but Trump is a classic bully. I’m old school when it comes to dealing with bullies: you stand up to them and fight back. A sensitivity seminar isn’t going to help with the likes of Donald Trump. The best defense is mockery of any Trump branded item, which is guaranteed to inspire a whiny tweet. Mr. Tough Guy is actually the whiner-in-chief as well as a bigger Weiner than Anthony…

Finally, I’d like to thank for the Insult Comedian for giving me something to write about. I’ve been sick so it’s been one and done for me this week. What would I do without you, Donnie baby? I’d love to find out. Life without Mr. Big Man sounds most appealing:

 

The Bias Toward the Status Quo

Following up on Sunday’s post, things can’t be on fire because they can’t be on fire, guys:

And again, understandable. Everyone is tired all the time, but you take certain jobs, you don’t get to be tired without asking your editor to swap in somebody who can still see a foot in front of them.

There is no law that says everything HAS to be okay, and not making room for it to be horrible is what causes us to deny all kinds of shit going wrong. Because if we see it, we have to feel something, and if we feel something we have to do something, and if we do something we can’t just take a nap and I want to nap all the time. I would never tell people it’s wrong to want to nap.

I just don’t think you get to nap right now.

If you cannot wrap your head around the idea of the world actually ending (because in the best of times, it’s ending, somewhere, for someone) then get out of the damn chair.

A.

It Hurts to Take the Story Apart. Do It Anyway.

There’s a story we’ve been telling ourselves for a long time now, about how democracy works, about how it has to work in order for us all to get up in the morning. It involves how campaigns operate, how elections take place, how power is handed from one person to another and what is done with that power and to whom.

The story’s called America. It’s a few years old now. Maybe you’ve heard it: We are free, and we choose who leads us, and we have chance after chance to make things better. We’re in charge, you and me, for good and ill and sometimes both together.

It’s always been partly fiction. In our finest hours it’s always been a little frayed. But we’ve been able to tell ourselves the story while it’s still more knit than mend.

Can we do that right now?

The Russian state took an interest in our elections and tried to influence them. To what extent, with what effect, and for what purpose, those in power know and aren’t saying.

And over the past couple of days during discussion of that, and discussion of the popular vote imbalance, and discussion of voter suppression in formerly swing states, I’ve been hearing lots of variations on IT’S TOO HARD AND OMG MEEN. That political blowback would be intense for anyone who said hey, hold on, let’s figure this shit out. That we don’t have time between now and the inauguration (I guess there are too many Christmas parties?) and can’t we just put our heads down and power through this?

The vast majority of the GOP, of course, is hedging its bets as they have been since the primaries ended. Maybe this will all die down and they can get back to gutting the social safety net which is what they’re really here for. Maybe Donald Trump will just fuck up normally, like Dan Quayle or something, accidentally hit on a few prime ministers’ wives, do some blow in the Oval, and leave the hard work to them. That was their overarching rationale for endorsing his skeezy ass and they are desperately clinging to it.

It’s gross, of course, like a 15-year-old who still wants to bring his blankie to school, but we always underestimate how attached people are to their security objects.

But Obama and the Democrats? The purported grownups in the GOP in Congress and statehouses who either actively avoided mentioning Trump or flat-out said he was garbage? Those people? I don’t want to hear from THEM how difficult it is to take the story of America apart and put it back together again.

I don’t want to hear about concerns that they’d be perceived as helping Hillary, or that TV commentators would say things in that deep concerned voice they affect, or that frogs would yell shit online. THOSE AREN’T REAL CONSEQUENCES for people who are elected to do a job.

They aren’t elected to serve just to rename official state animals and pass continuing resolutions to hold up how much everything sucks right now. They are elected to fix what is broken even if that something is EVERYTHING.

Things have been breaking down for a while now. Redistricting to weight state legislatures overwhelmingly against Democrats and third parties, ballot initiatives designed to turn out opponents of one candidate or another, tax caps and institutional neglect and voting restrictions, and all of it leading to a campaign in which one candidate won the popular vote by 2.6 million and the other candidate — a racist sex predator — is president.

Things have been breaking down and politicians have been desperately pretending they are okay because, frankly, taking all this apart is hard. It takes time. It takes study and most of all it takes attention we don’t have because the decent public servants are trying to keep their constituents out of hock to the mob.

Which is a deliberate thing also, in case we didn’t have enough to deal with. I get ragey when modern American voters are described as being distracted by TV and video games; the club of the most of us is distracted by the trivial need to EAT, and I can’t imagine the calls district offices get asking for help with the few social programs we have left.

Still. Still and all. There have to be things big enough that we make room for them. The question of foreign interference in an election has got to be one of those things.

Winter breaks can be cancelled. Everybody can work late. We can stop talking about Twitter and we can take out a yellow legal pad and a box of black pens and a box of red pens and we can figure out how to investigate this and, if necessary, prosecute it. It’s not false and it’s not trivial and it’s certainly not too much for us.

We’ve built bigger than this. We can tear this down. We can take this story apart and figure out which parts are true and which are false.

Sack up, hos. Get to work.

A.

The Bias Isn’t Just Toward the Negative

Everybody’s sharing this and I think it gets close to something: 

The real bias of the press is not that it’s liberal. Its bias is a decided preference for the negative. As scholar Michael Robinson noted, the news media seem to have taken some motherly advice and turned it upside down. “If you don’t have anything bad to say about someone, don’t say anything at all.”[3] A New York Times columnist recently asserted that “the internet is distorting our collective grasp on the truth.”[4] There’s a degree of accuracy in that claim but the problem goes beyond the internet and the talk shows. The mainstream press highlights what’s wrong with politics without also telling us what’s right.

The thing is, though, if you accept that, then negative stories are naturally going to accrue about whoever is in power to the favor of those who are not, and I have not seen actual data on that at all. For example a comparison between the number of “negative” stories about a single Bush administration initiative and those about a single Obama administration one during the same phase of the initiative in the same amount of time.

It would be nigh on impossible to make that direct of a comparison, too, given how other factors influence political coverage (wars, natural disasters, etc).

My general sense that — despite the assertion that overall coverage was negative before it was biased — Republican presidents and candidates get the benefit of the doubt and Democratic ones have to prove themselves is only backed up by having lived through four terms of both and OH YEAH BY EVERYTHING ELSE IN THIS REPORT:

Week after week, Trump got more press attention than did Clinton. Overall, Trump received 15 percent more coverage than she did. Trump also had more opportunities to define Clinton than she had to define him. When a candidate was seen in the news talking about Clinton, the voice was typically Trump’s and not hers. Yet when the talk was about Trump, he was again more likely to be the voice behind the message.

Moreover, bias is toward the EASY, not just the negative:

Journalists’ fondness for polls is no great mystery. Polls are a snap to report and provide a constant source of fresh material. Their influence on election news goes beyond the stories that describe the latest poll results. Poll results increasingly frame the content of other stories, as journalists use them to explain shifts in candidate strategy or the impact of the latest development. When the FBI director announced nine days out from the election that a new batch of Clinton emails had been found, the major story line was the likely impact of the revelation on Clinton’s standing in the polls, which was followed in subsequent days by reports of new polls showing that her support was slipping.

Bias is also toward things that are already accepted as truth. As much as we like to pretend journalists are attracted to the new and different, they’re really not. They are attracted to the new WITHIN THE PARAMETERS OF WHAT THEY ALREADY THINK THEY KNOW.

Therefore, Clinton being “historically unpopular” meant her candidacy could be unpopular in new and exciting ways, but could never be truly popular. It was a self-reinforcing thought loop. Clinton is scandal-prone and here’s a new scandal which makes her scandal-prone!

This isn’t bias, even toward the “negative.” (What exactly would positive coverage of Trump look like, by the way? Even people who voted for him acknowledge he’s an asshole. It’s the core of his appeal.) This is laziness and institutional cowardice and a refusal to reconsider and test every fact in a story even if those facts have appeared before without challenge.

This is accepting the journalistic shorthand that says Republicans are strong and Democrats are weak, Clinton is scandal-prone and Trump is novel (Jesus Christ, Joe McCarthy is suing from hell for copyright infringement), and a hundred thousand other assertions that are just as wrong because we’ve all read them over and over and it’s a keyboard macro at this point.

You don’t deal with that, political bias hardly matters.

From the study:

It’s a version of politics that rewards a particular brand of politics. When everything and everybody is portrayed as deeply flawed, there’s no sense making distinctions on that score, which works to the advantage of those who are more deeply flawed. Civility and sound proposals are no longer the stuff of headlines, which instead give voice to those who are skilled in the art of destruction. The car wreck that was the 2016 election had many drivers. Journalists were not alone in the car, but their fingerprints were all over the wheel.

A-fucking-men.

A.

The Fog Of Historical Pictures: Bad Company

No, I’m not posting pictures of Paul Rodgers, Simon Kirke, Mick Ralphs or even the late Boz Burrell who is well and truly Gone, Gone, Gone. This post is about the bad company kept by Time Magazine: its latest person of the year, Donald Trump.

Time’s standard disclaimer is that the honor is based on who “for better or for worse…has done the most to influence the events of the year.” Whatever, y’all. The winners of US Presidential elections are customarily honored as were Trumpian lackeys Rudy and Newt.

I’m interested in the *really* bad company honored by Time over the years, especially the dictators. Here’s a sampler in reverse order.

We begin with the Insult Comedian’s bosom buddy, Vladimir Putin. I suspect both envision themselves as Tom Hanks, not Peter Scolari, neither of them wants to play Lena Durham’s father in Girls. I see Trump as a malevolent Forrest Gump instead. End of Bosom Buddies inspired riff. On with the parade of covers:

1101071231_400

I suspect manly man Vlad was bummed that Time gender neutralized the honor before he received it in 2007. Our next dictator is longtime KGB director and short-term Soviet leader Yuri Andropov. I suspect he’d be proud of the state sponsored hackerism Russia used to disrupt the 2016 election. Andropov was honored alongside his American counterpart who was a former movie actor, not a spook:

31484369325_7b65d96385

Looks like they had each others back. Me, I would have dubbed them Men of the Yuri…

Speaking of bad company, Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was man of the year in 1979 even though he wore robes, not trousers. He certainly wore the pants in Iran for a decade.

94e400f66490dad1d54476141bbe64a2

Here’s another honoree guaranteed to give the Islamophobes surrounding Trump the vapors. It’s an oil embargo based honor:

1101750106_400

Seeing King Faisal’s stern countenance reminds me of a pun made on the name of his oil minister by NYT columnist William Safire. The minister in question was Sheikh Ahmed Zaki Yamani, whose name inspired this 1981 column title: “Yamani or Ya Life.” Sounds like a real sheikhdown to me…

I’ve skipped several dictators including Khrushchev and Deng Xiao-Ping despite the latter’s punworthy name. All I have to say to any Deng fans out there is this: tough shit.

Our next dictator was a two-time honoree in 1939 and 1942. Time to introduce the mighty mite from Georgia aka the Red Tsar or Uncle Joe:

stalin-on-time-magazine-1939-and-1942

Just looking at Stalin’s ugly mug gives me a hangover. Vodka hangovers are the worst and Stalin loved drinking his associates under the table then mocking them for being hungover the next day. Nobody ever called him Comrade Nice Guy, after all.

Our last dictator is the worst company of all. A vegetarian teetotaler who loved dogs and Aryan children but hated everyone and everything else:

hitler

As you can see, Trump is in very bad company with this honor. Believe it. I’m surprised he didn’t insist on Time returning to the original man of the year rubric since he *is* the incoming  pussy-grabber-in-chief. I cannot wait until he starts bragging about it. In fact, I’m shocked he hasn’t tweeted about it as of this writing. It won’t be long.

Time to circle back to the beginning of the post and give Paul Rodgers and krewe the last word. They’re actually good company but Bad Company is a better band name:

 

Liz Spayd Isn’t Helping

Shit’s sake, this nonsense again: 

Carlson said that the tweets sent the message that “we tried to keep this guy from getting elected, but did anyways.”

“That suggests they don’t understand the mission of a newspaper, which is to bring you the news, not to affect the outcome of a political race,” Carlson concluded.

The Fox News host asked why the reporters had not been disciplined.

“Where are the editors here?” he asked. “I mean, if my — you know, If I was the New York Times and my editors were tweeting crap like that, I would say you stop that right now or I’m firing you. Why don’t they do that?”

“I don’t know,” Spayd replied. “I don’t know that any of those people should be fired, but I do think that when people go over the line like that, and I think some of those are over the line, that there ought to be some kind of a consequence for that.”

Let’s be clear. Every single thing that happens in a news organization happens in service of an agenda. What stories are covered, for how long, by whom. Where they’re run: A1 for this and the back of the back of the back section for that. How large the headlines, how prestigious the bylines, who gets to do what and go where … that’s all part of setting the parameters of the national conversation.

The national conversation that just took place was a loud fart noise followed by Heil Hitler, and people — including reporters, because they know better — have honestly said so, and that pisses off the Fox News rage-monkeys who GOSH DARN WHAT A COINCIDENCE have an agenda of their own.

And instead of telling those rage-monkeys to go fling their shit at someone who cares, here comes Liz Spayd to shit-talk the New York Times while cashing its checks.

Reporters at the New York Times risk their lives covering the news. They risk their lives in ways large and small every single day. And the New York Times takes money earned by the work of people who are brave and good and true, and uses that money to pay Liz Spayd to go on Fox News and say shit like this:

“I mean, everybody has got to have their personal political views. We all do. But they ought to be personal. And if you sign up to be a journalist, then that’s what you ought to be,” Spayd added.

What exactly should the NYT’s reporters have done? I suppose, in order to satisfy Spayd, they should have just shut up in the face of relentless assaults on their colleagues and their mission. They should have talked about the political news of the day with the anthropological detachment appropriate for contemplating one’s own demise, as one might examine a distant supernova exploding billions of years in the past. I suppose the NYT’s reporters should just have said my, how curious that an entire national movement that wants us dead is ascendant and please, Jeeves, bring me my tea so that I might consider dispassionately the way in which Donald Trump’s mouthbreathing army of chucklefucks screamed obscenities in the faces of my colleagues and called for their execution in camps. I suppose they ought to have tweeted about Hillary’s e-mails some more. It’s not like anything is at stake here.

Heaven forfend we act like there’s a crisis when there is in fact a crisis. Trump’s campaign put reporters in a cage, and that they went into it willingly makes the bars no less real. And day after day after day the man who is now President-Elect of the United States of America encouraged thousands of people to turn on those reporters and yell and threaten and harass and attack. This campaign, this “movement,” they put something they hated in a cage and they beat on the bars and they threw things and they hit it with sticks and they talked all day long about killing it, raping it, putting it down.

This is after, after mind you, two solid decades of the establishment press sucking up to the Right in all its alt- and non-alt forms. Reporters and editors and executive producers had gone out of their way for 20 years to make it clear they were willing to take anything the GOP dished out, and for that they were loathed and spit on and kicked in the face.

And after all that, after “let’s open up the libel laws” and “lugenpresse” and “there’s something happening, Katy,” a couple of reporters had the nerve to use bloody language to say the states are bleeding. A couple of people had the nerve to give a shit and act like it.

So here comes Liz Spayd to run them down, on a network that hates them already, for an audience ready to call for her head before she opens her mouth. Here comes Liz Spayd to agree that yes, bad bad bad reporters, forgetting to pretend not to care.

Schmuck.

A.

Big Media Doesn’t Have to Know Flyover Country

If I read one more thinkpiece about how reporters/liberal think-tankers/big-money activists need to leave the NY/DC nest and come out and eat fried chicken with the rubes I will lose my mind.

Guys, there’s no reason to squander money setting your HQs up in southeastern Wisconsin, however cheap the rent is. 

There’s no reason to fly your reporters to Columbus and Kalamazoo.

You don’t have to go back to school for an anthropology degree so you can write boring-ass longform wanks about the ways of the hicks who are strange to us all.

You just have to pay, and listen to, and care about, the journalists and activists and human services workers who are ALREADY HERE, who know which kringle shop is the best one, and can tell you all about the local politics and how the watch factory closed and who that hurt and why. 

Read, and listen, to the voices in the Rust Belt, just as you should read and listen to people all over the world whose experience is other than yours. The irony is that people with the most education and worldly experience are often the most provincial, bragging, instead of being embarrassed, that “they have never been west of the Mississippi” or that they “always get Iowa and Ohio confused.”

So what’s the takeaway here? Why not work toward a “local writing” movement akin to the local foods one? Make it a priority to give money, or clicks, to writers who live in the region they are writing about. This is as much a plea to big media as it is to its readers.

Maybe we could have a “local media Saturday” akin to “small business Saturday,” and encourage people to subscribe or donate. Editors should hire writers living in the Midwest to write stories about their region, instead of flying in journalists from elsewhere. Meanwhile, readers could do the flying in, taking a trip to Detroit or southern Indiana, spending time getting to know the region and its vibrant, dynamic communities, contributing to the local economy as they do.

 

In the weeks since the election I keep reading “heartwarming” stories about people subscribing to the Times and the Post. That’s nice. Friends of mine work at those places and compared to the septic tank explosion that is CNN, the two big papers are fabulously deserving of your money and attention.

However, they are a) not in need of extra cash and b) not publicly guaranteeing that your six bucks a month or whatever is gonna directly pay David Farenthold to fuck Donald Trump up.

Whereas, if you send your media money to a local shop you can be sure it’s not going to pay to load the company up with debt and needless acquisitions of TV stations and sports teams and shit.

Here are some Midwest suggestions (add your own in the comments):

Belt, without which I really don’t think I would have survived this election.

The Chicago Reader, which regularly takes on stories the downtown dailies can’t/won’t touch, which needs petition support.

City Bureau.

Big Media, Big Liberal Policy, Big Thought-Leading doesn’t have to come get to know flyover country.

They just have to Google flyover country’s reporters and send them some goddamn checks. Hire the effective locals on contract or — gasp! — staff. Listen to what they say.

And once and for all stop acting like coming up through the farm system of exurban & neighborhood organizations is inferior to a graduate degree. Months and years on the ground in a place you know beats a fancy CV every time.

A.

At Some Point Don’t You Want to Be About Something?

The cowardice on display here is truly amazing:

Jesus TITS. If enough people are talking about a thing, that means they deserve a story about a thing, even if that thing doesn’t exist, isn’t remotely what they’re talking about, is mostly or entirely bullshit, or is otherwise something any good editor should kill with a kitchen knife. This is garbage: 

Seems worthwhile to look into allegations that have currency over readers, voters- and present the facts as we find them.

I HAVE LOTS OF QUESTIONS.

Starters: What’s this “currency” certain “allegations” have? How is the amount determined? Is it in the number of unhinged subreddit posts? Frequency of calls to the editor? Editor’s spouse bringing it up at the dinner table? Posts on the paper’s Facebook page accusing it of COVERING ALL THIS UP?

What is the worth of that currency? Who is in charge of counting it? How is it insured? Given the sources for this trash fire of a story, should we really be abandoning the gold standard here?

Why do certain allegations garner “currency” and others do not? If “lots of people being pissed about something” is the going rate independent of any other consideration, I must have missed all those stories about the very legitimate gripes Americans have against illegal spying, the never-ending war on terror and the presence of literal Nazis in the White House. Those things are, in addition to having hella currency, actually real.

This is all just so stupid and sad. Journalists are going to sit around at conferences for the next year talking about what they could have done differently in this election, come to the sad but inevitable conclusion that NOTHING, lament that kids don’t read anymore and all anyone cares about are Kardashians, and cower in fear of Breitbart. They’ll wax nostalgic for some imaginary time, maybe during the Murrow or Cronkite era, when they could have done real shit, taken real stands, effected real change.

And it will just goddamn escape them that their chance is right fucking now today, that they don’t have to be beholden to whatever wingnut newsletter cause is filling up their inbox, that they do in fact have choices and can choose to be grownups.

God, nothing bothers me more than self-imposed helplessness. Do you know how many people don’t have the CHOICE to be helpless? Especially here, especially now, with deportations and international hissyfits and everybody arming up for the coming apocalypse? Like how dare reporters whine about how awkward it is to just suggest that maybe we not do stories about things that are crap?

You don’t even have to get into political bias to get here. All you need is cowardice and a healthy dose of stupidity.

Via John McQuaid.

A.

Abandon All Hope of Trump’s Improvement

Peggy Noonan still thinks someone is coming to save her: 

The press does not believe, not for a second, and Democrats do not believe, not for a second, that Mr. Trump will be able to change the habits of a lifetime. They are relying on it.

Mr. Trump shocked them by winning. He should shock them now with rectitude.

HE’S NOT GOING TO DO THAT. God, everyone with a functioning keyboard told you a hundred thousand times he was like this, and HE told you he was like this, and you said over and over that maybe he wasn’t going to be like this, and you’re still counting on salvation from above?

Grow the fuck up, Pegs, there is no Easter Bunny. I know it hurts your head to think filthy hippies might have a point here, but the pivot’s not coming.

I keep reading these stories: 

What happens next to the American republic will depend on whether Trump chooses to abide by, or can be restrained within, legal and bureaucratic limits—or whether his fellow partisans, seeking their own immediate political objectives, instead empower and enable him.

Yeah, this is in doubt. Whether the Republican establishment is going to restrain Trump.

The same Republican establishment that threw everything it had at him during the primaries and barely mussed his stupid muppet fur.

The same Republican establishment that spent the general election dithering and hedging and trying to figure out how to kiss HALF of Trump’s ass, in case this whole thing went south or in case it didn’t.

The same Republican establishment that was so enamored of small-d democratic principles that it shut down the government in protest of giving people health care? That spent eight years screaming about seekrit Muslims and gay marriage and refusing to confirm a goddamn Supreme Court nominee?

That’s the institution you’re thinking is going to grow a pair? That’s what you’re counting on? You might as well be praying to the Tooth Fairy. It would be just as effective and slightly less embarrassing.

Just stop it.

Nobody’s coming to save us from Trump.

Not the politicians who are trying to figure out how to cooperate with him while still yelling at him enough to make money. Not the news hairdos already running stories about what the Trump family Thanksgiving looked like. Not the electoral college or Jill Stein’s recount or Hillary contesting the results of the election.

Certainly not the Republican party which faced so few consequences for nominating a SERIAL SEX PREDATOR that they won the entire White House and larger majorities in Congress.

Why should they save the country from Trump? Why are we asking them to do what is not in their interest?

I said it right after the election and I’ll keep saying it: All we do now is save as many as we can. Keep giving me your suggestions for how we do that because that’s all that’s important now.

Nobody’s coming to save us. Certainly not from the GOP side of the aisle.

A.

Trump’s Tactical Tweeting

As much as I hate to give the Insult Comedian credit for anything, his use of Twitter this weekend as a distraction shows more cunning than usual. The big story *should* have been the $25 million settlement of the fraud cases against the Flim-Flam man’s fake “university.” That did not happen; instead it was the flap over Mike Pence being booed on Broadway.

Here’s the deal: politicians get booed at public events all the time. The current occupant of the White House was even heckled during a State of the Union speech. Remember the “You Lie” guy, Joe Wilson? Pence receiving a mixture of boos and cheers from the Hamilton audience is only a big whoop because his master’s voice made it one. Trump wanted to create a diversion and the bright shiny object of demanding an apology over this non-event did the trick.

The Hamilton story is a fun one. It *is* funny that the rudest man in American was Miss Manners all of a sudden. It is, however, not as important as the fraud settlement or even Trump’s tweets claiming he would have won those cases but settled for the good of the country. The Pence booing is easier to understand so the MSM and the Twitterati swallowed the bait. The latter has an excuse for being so shallow but the MSM does not. How to cover the Insult Comedian continues to elude them. And the “Presidents grow in office” myth is about to kick in. We’re really in for it if they don’t learn from their mistakes.

Jack Kennedy famously was the first President to master the use of tevee as a political tool. Many called his the Television Presidency. Donald Trump seems poised to become the Twitter President. Sometimes there’s method in his tweeting madness such as the Pence diversion. The good news for the Republic is that Trump is notoriously undisciplined and has hurt himself with his tweets i.e. the Alicia Machado tweetstorm. Let’s hope the MSM doesn’t go for the next shiny object dangled in a Trump tweet. I am not optimistic about this given the spontaneous on-the-fly nature of the medium.

Repeat after me: fraud is more important than booing.

The booing on Broadway gave me an earworm. It’s a good one. In my contemporary reading of this song, the lamb is the gullible MSM. Thus far the mendacious Trump propaganda team is slaughtering them. Time to give Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Steve Hackett, and Phil Collins the last word:

 

Normalizing, Comforting, and Why It’s NOT YOUR FUCKING JOB RIGHT NOW

They can’t help themselves:

Is there a keyboard macro or something?

Here’s some truly cowardly shit:

There’s also this:

And this:

Look. It’s hard covering something that’s never happened before.

Everybody has a script for stuff. Things usually go the way they go. And you can write and talk in the expected ways, and it will be fine.

AND THEN THE US GOES AND ELECTS AS PRESIDENT A RACIST SERIAL SEX PREDATOR.

What do you do then?

We want consensus. We want to go along to get along. We want everything to be okay.

So what do we have to do to make things okay? Well, first of all, clearly WE have to make things okay, because Donald Trump is not going to make things okay. He’s not going to be presidential. He’s not going to act normal. He’s not going to rescind a single insane misogynist bullying thing he said on the campaign trail or in his victory speech. So if things are going to be okay with a guy like this WE have to force them to be okay.

How do you make that happen?

You use the words you’ve always used. You talk about unity and respect for the office. You attribute uncomfortable truths to “critics” and make with cutesy headline puns and find a picture of Trump where he doesn’t look like a chickenfried fuckmuppet, and you plug that picture into the same cover you’ve used for every single president since the beginning of time.

You keep pretending the quicksand beneath you is bedrock and always has been. You keep saying both sides. You keep saying transition of power.

That way, everything sounds okay.

Everything looks okay.

Story after story comes out about Trump, about his kids getting security clearances, about his appointing a violent racist to his staff, about the collections of fools and ten-a-penny fascisti with which he’s surrounding himself, and what do you do?

Keep saying it. Critics say. Rhetoric on both sides. The election was negative. Everyone wants to move on. Give him a chance.

On the part of the politicians, this is laziness and cynicism and maybe for some of them abject terror: If they don’t work with this guy the way they worked with the last guy and the last 43 guys before that, then they have to come up with a whole new way of doing stuff which is hard, potentially costly to them politically, and maybe not even possible because he doesn’t recognize their humanity. I would not want to be Barbara Boxer or Tammy Baldwin alone in the East Room with that prick.

On the part of journalists, though, this comforting routine? This familiarity? It’s a goddamn betrayal.

You talk all day long at me about how you are the last guardians of American democracy, about how you hold us back from oblivion, about how you shine a light in dark places for all the country to see and are the watchers on the wall and all that shit.

Yet in the face of an actual threat to democracy, in the face of an actual world-shaking event the likes of which comes along once in a generation you cower in the corner and you say “critics say” and you cling to your keyboard macros that say “both sides” and “he doesn’t really mean it” and “provocateur” and “softening” and “the gravity of the office.” You cover this as if it’s normal.

I don’t even think half this shit is conscious. I think half of it is just … fucking DUMB, okay, like you can’t stop yourself long enough to tear the whole thing apart and do it differently.

The urge to conformity is a powerful one, maybe the most powerful force in the world. A lot of us have been on autopilot for a long fucking time, expecting the stories to write themselves, with maybe a minor variation here or there. So we meet the new challenge primarily with a whine about what else we’re supposed to do.

It’s HAAARRRRDDD MOM.

It’s not an easy thing, I’ll grant, to discover that what you thought would be good enough is utterly useless, but challenge yourselves, please, because actual lives are at risk. Sack up. Do it anyway. Figure out what you need to say and find a way with your institutional voice to say it. Cover every outrage as the outrage that it is. Trump doesn’t deserve one normal thing. He isn’t normal. He shouldn’t get normal in return.

That sinking feeling you didn’t do everything you could to stop this from happening? LISTEN TO IT. Change now before it’s too late and that feeling becomes your life.

A.