Wednesday, August 24, 2016

News Flash: The Media Sucks

Anita probably has mixed feelings about me driving her to work in the morning. This is because on one hand, she gets to prepare for the day either by telling me what my tasks are or by reviewing work material that I couldn’t understand if my life depended on it; on the other hand, I’m not at all peaceful or quiet when we listen to the radio these days. Take yesterday morning, for example.

NPR was on the radio and like every other day, Donald “The Real Crook” Trump was the topic of conversation. (If aliens from another solar system were to land here and tune into one of our television or radio stations, they would think Trump is the most newsworthy individual ever to grace the public stage, one whose every utterance is internationally significant and whose every belch and burp must be recorded for posterity.)

I heard “Morning Edition” host David Greene grilling a Hillary Clinton representative about her supposed preference for fundraising over mingling with ordinary voters. (At one point Greene insisted he and his colleagues were just neutral observers who had no vested interest in the outcome. Judging by the look that Anita shot at me, my “Yeah, right!” response was a bit too loud.)

Then NPR aired not one but two snippets of Trump’s actual voice. In one, he said there are many, many places that have not been safe in a very, very long time and he’s going to change that. How? Who the hell knows? Trump never offers specifics; unlike other candidates, he doesn’t have to.

In the other one, he blasted Clinton for attending fundraisers. Then we heard the narrative of a GOP commercial that ridiculed her for her trips to Hollywood and Cape Cod to raise money.

There were no snippets of Clinton speaking to anyone except two seconds of her Monday night appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live in which she was forced to respond to the GOP-initiated rumors of her ill health. (I believe she tried to use humor to brush ‘em off but I’m not sure because it went by so fast.) Of course and others subsequently posted stories online with titles like, “On Jimmy Kimmel, Hillary Clinton talks health rumors, email woes.”

I didn’t hear any dialogue from commercials attacking Trump for anything Tuesday morning.

I didn’t hear any reference to Trump’s popularity plummeting. He’s dropping in the polls faster than I dropped classes in college. A recent NBC News/WSJ poll found that Clinton is ahead by 14 points in the Northeast; 15 points here in the Midwest; three points in the South; and 12 points in the West.

I didn’t hear any reference to the fact that Trump’s making money from this campaign, paying his own company rent for his campaign headquarters in a Trump building.

I didn’t hear anything about the child rape lawsuit that Trump’s currently facing. (See below.)

I didn’t hear anything about Trump refusing to release his tax returns.

If you visit the “Morning Edition” website, the seventh story listed for the August 23 show is “Political Strategists Weigh In on Whether Trump Can Turn His Campaign Around.” You know when a story about Clinton appears on the page? Story Number 16 is entitled, “Some Clinton Supporters Complain Only Wealthy Backers Have Candidate's Ear.”

The Clinton piece follows stories about “Rio Declared a Media Success,” “In Mariachi Music, A Distinctive Yell Speaks To The Soul,” “Transgender Teens Travel To N.C. Gender Clinic, The Only One In The South,” “Louisiana Flooding Puts A Lot Of Rep. Grave's District Under Water,” “Social Network Nextdoor Moves To Block Racial Profiling Online,” “Obama Transgender Bathroom Directive Blocked Temporarily By Judge,” “Artist Peter Doig Says He Didn't Paint This, And A Judge Agrees,” and “Minor League Baseball Player Hits Grand Slam; Shatters His Windshield.”

I realize these probably aren’t listed in order of importance but the fact remains that Trump appears well above Clinton. And his story discusses if and how he can turn his campaign around while hers revolves around her kowtowing to big donors at the expense of the little people.

It’s no surprise that running for the highest office in the land requires raising lots of cash – it costs between $50 and $100 million right out of the box and another $75 million after the primaries, according to one estimate – and at least Clinton has released her tax returns, which Trump petulantly and evasively refuses to do.

Perhaps the best example of the pot calling the kettle black in this campaign relates to Trump’s sandbox-level slur-slinging. He’s taken to referring to Clinton as “Crooked Hillary” at every opportunity because of her sloppy but not illegal handling of e-mails while Secretary of State. He must be the King of Compartmentalization because she’s not being sued for raping a little girl in a Manhattan apartment in 1994; he is.

See “Lawsuit Charges Donald Trump with Raping a 13-Year-Old” at

And about this “very, very unsafe” crap: in fact, homicides and violent crime have decreased in the last decade or two. A story in The Atlantic magazine from just a few months ago asked, “What Caused the Great Crime Decline in the U.S.?” And this is from

President Barack Obama said there have been “huge drops in the murder rates” in cities like New York, Los Angeles and Dallas. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said “violent crime has increased in cities across America.” Which is it? We’ll score this one for Obama.

The long-term trend is a decline, not only in the murder rates per population, but the total number of murders in the cities Obama mentioned, and nationwide. The same goes for violent crime.

More than a few outlets seem to have agendas that include characterizing Clinton as a flawed, non-viable candidate while Trump is a maverick who “tells it like it is.” (By the way, NPR is not the only guilty party. CNN has become Fox News Two and other networks and newspapers are culpable too.) Trump is referred to as “Donald Trump” or “Trump” while she’s disrespectfully referred to as “Hillary.” And the race is widely portrayed as closer than the numbers suggest.

Look at this image that came up on Google: it features none of the results finding that Clinton’s way ahead; instead they use the one poll, the one done in the South that showed Trump closer than in the others. So the viewer is left with the impression that the race is neck-and-neck when it isn’t.

I’m not sure why so many outlets feel obligated to elevate the guy. Perhaps it’s because the corporate media thinks it would do better under a President Trump. Perhaps it’s because he’s like a Lincoln Continental with a bad muffler that’s collided with a semi on the highway: although it’s yucky and disturbing and causes massive congestion, we nonetheless slow our cars and sneak a glance – and in this context, that sells newspapers and commercials.

I know a few reporters and broadcasters and they’re talented, dedicated, unbiased professionals. Sadly, it’s easy to assume they’re the exception, not the norm, these days.

We can’t hold the traditional media completely responsible for Trump’s ascension to the status of genuine presidential candidate – and I doubt there’s a formal, orchestrated nationwide conspiracy to sway the electorate – but if “Morning Edition” or the online stories are any indication, they sure deserve a lot of the blame.

Sources:,, National Public Radio,,

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