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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

2016 Election Analysis - Part 1: The Media

Category: Donald Trump
Posted: 12/04/16 23:13

by Dave Mindeman

When evaluating this election, one of the first things to look at is the media. The Fourth Estate took a beating this year and frankly, they have not recovered.

The news media is an important part of any democracy. Without a probing and investigative media presence, we become, well, Russia.

But the MSM lost its way this year. Stuck in a corporate necessity of being profitable above all else and the emergence of Trump as the perfect tabloid candidate, they fell into the trap of monetary expediency and hype...losing the essence of their job - reporting the facts and calling out propaganda.

Trump fed them an insatiable amount of "news" items. Items that the 24 hour channels craved and needed to keep an audience. And with the need to follow the moving trainwreck, the media sank deeper and deeper into the same supermarket tabloid type reporting that they are supposed to avoid to keep them out of the gutter. Trump was the bright shiny object they could not look away from.

But something worse eventually appeared. A deep double standard.

Hillary Clinton was the "conventional" candidate and the media gave her conventional coverage. Her speeches were covered in excerpts. Her policy positions given some scrutiny but none of that was as interesting as Trump.

But there was one unconventional aspect to the Clinton campaign. The e-mails. The e-mails were different. They had a story line that fit the tabloid narrative and which the Republicans were all too willing to embellish. The e-mails were used to define her even though most of it was innuendo and even though exhaustive investigations came up with nothing. A long drawn out FBI report which should have been concluded long ago was treated like desperate breaking news every time there was a leak or interim report.

The e-mails became the defining issue - even though Bernie Sanders said enough and even though some journalists began to question the over coverage of the situation.

Meanwhile, the MSM could never come up with a standard for covering Trump. He was so different that they felt they had to cover everything. The 24 hour channels covered his rallies in their entirety. His Tweets would become the quote of the day. It was so unusual that they gave him a pass on his language, his abuse of Constitutional procedures, his lack of policy, his misogynistic behavior, and his horribly insulting attitude to every group in the country. These are all things that would destroy the conventional candidate. They would have destroyed Hillary, George W, or any other past candidate. The need to understand the staying power of Trump would cause the media to dismiss and under cover all the various Republican candidates that would try to stand up to his abusive tactics.

It is almost as if they enjoyed the new type of campaign...even though Trump made the media part of his abuse and attacks. The more he insulted them, the more coverage he would get.

This double standard penetrated every aspect of coverage. When Hillary would misstate something, it was big news. Trump seldom uttered a word of truth but his lack of facts was simply lumped into a totally false "both sides do it" narrative.

And Trump would lead the media into black holes of irrelevance. Hillary's health? Hillary's "stamina"? Hillary's conflicts of interest? Hillary's Foundation access?

All of her issues paled in comparison to Trump's illegalities with his Foundation. His refusal to get rid of his business conflicts. His orchestrated "doctor" evaluations. And his total denial of releasing his tax returns. And even more disturbing, the lack of investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Trump moved the narrative and the media was all too willing to follow along.

The Fourth Estate failed in this election. They failed miserably. They did not protect the public interest. They did not do their important job to protect our democracy.

It is ironic to me that we have had more coverage of Trump's business conflicts after the election than we did before Nov 8th. His business model hasn't changed. It was always the same. And he has made no effort to ease any of those conflict problems.

But we did get ad nauseum coverage of the damn e-mails.

The media doesn't have to be popular in this democracy....but they do have to be competent.
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