FAKE NEWS vs. REAL JOURNALISM

Trump’s Attempt to Muddy the Waters

Back in February, 2017 Trump tweeted: “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!” Then he deleted that tweet and posted something similar, but took ABC off his enemies list. Trump, obviously not a student of history, missed this fact: Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin used the term “enemy of the nation/people” to refer to those who disagreed with the Bolshevik government. Did you write that one, Steve Bannon?

Trump went on a rant July 1, 2017, after receiving heavy criticism from both sides of the political spectrum due to his attacks on MSNBC talk show hosts, “The FAKE & FRAUDULENT NEWS MEDIA is working hard to convince Republicans and others I should not use social media – but remember, I won the 2016 election with interviews, speeches and social media. I had to beat #FakeNews, and did. We will continue to WIN!”

And on that same day, Mr. President continued, “My use of social media is not Presidential – it’s MODERN DAY PRESIDENTIAL. Make America Great Again!”  Along with his jingoistic rhetoric, Donald Trump, like so many other power-hungry leaders around the world, wants to control the media. He attempts to distort whatever truth is left and brands his lies as official doctrine. And the term Modern Day rings like “Modern Day Prophet” for those following along in church.

For those of us who were schooled in the trade of journalism, we take the responsibility of our craft seriously. The Fourth Estate is usually reserved for the printed press and credible broadcast news teams. The Fifth Estate, the newer term, stands for groupings of outlier viewpoints in contemporary society, such as bloggers and journalists publishing in non-mainstream media outlets and social media. The right of center to Alt-Right people use the term “mainstream media” as a pejorative term, whereas, Breitbart represents what was called “Yellow Journalism” in the 1950s.

The “fourth estate” comes from the European concept of the three estates of the realm: the clergy, the nobility, and the commoners. The Press was supposed to hold the three other estates to a standard with information gathering, storytelling based on truth and distribution to everyone equally. Yes, the King could read that he had no pants.

We know that Donald Trump has tapped into a raw exposed nerve in the disadvantaged and struggling middle class. With much of America moving away from reading the newspaper and getting their news from the internet, the line of what is credible or legit has become extremely blurred.

The price of entry into the newspaper business in most cities is so great that even large companies attempting to bring a new paper to market have an uphill, if not impossible, climb. With the internet providing more outlets than needles on a porcupine’s back there are plenty of free opinions and micro-targeted sites that can sanction what consumers think.

This tendency to interpret new evidence as confirmation of one’s existing beliefs or theories even has its own term: Confirmation Bias. It is so important to be right in today’s society that many people spend hours of every day watching a news channel that corroborates their baseline beliefs. Fox News leans to the right, while MSNBC leans to the left. That is their branding positions and, depending on who is in power, they will have better ratings.

CNN, the new Trump target, has decided like many channels and programs that there are millions of people who don’t like Trump, so that is a built-in audience. The sad part of all of this is that I haven’t mentioned journalistic integrity or award-winning writing. Those are less important in this instant gratification world. Trump produces ratings and it doesn’t seem to make a difference if you are building him up or beating him down.

THE LATE SHOW with STEPHEN COLBERT on CBS-TV has increased almost 30% according to TV News Desk (7-6-2017) and you can chart his increases with his direct aim at Trump. The Donald, whether he likes it or not, is easy to parody because of what he says and how his administration attempts to govern. Writing jokes and monologues about Trump has a built-in benefit, because if you manage to get under his thin skin he mentions you. Better yet, if he attacks you, your ratings go up even more.

I may be in the minority but I think the “news” that the President maligns is less news than fake. To our great Orange Leader, when confronted with anything that makes fun of him, or puts him down, or (can I say this?) bullies him, he launches into an overly emotional rebuttal.

The people doing the real investigative journalism are at the newspapers. Think about it, every major break or leak has come from the newspapers. The Michael Flynn lies came from the newspapers. The Comey meetings with Trump came from the newspapers. And the ethics conflicts of Kushner and the Trumps all come from the print medium.

The TV journalists at CNN are hampered by the overload of trying fit real journalism into a small box of endless talking heads and opinionated “experts” who, at times, do more harm than good. Stop and think about it, do we need Rick Santorum giving his opinion on what the news means?  He’s a failed neo-conservative right-winged politician spewing nothing by RNC talking points. What about Sean Hannity? Well he couldn’t write a lead to save his life.  Then, of course, we know what happened to poor old Brian Williams. These are the people most Americans would say represent the “news” business.? Really?

The one investigative reporter I want to hear from isn’t a journalist at all. His name is Robert Mueller. I would like to hear his story, in fact, now that would be BREAKING NEWS!