Winter is coming: prospects for the American press under Trump

How bad is it? Bad. I will explain why. Any bright signs? A few. This is part one. Part two is about what can be done.

28 Dec 2016 9:55 pm 182 Comments

This started as a thread on Twitter about “things to look for” in the next six to eight months. Readers asked what could be done in response. I will try to meet that request in part two. (And here it is.) First we have to understand how deep and interconnected the problems are.

How bad is it? Pretty bad.

For a free press as a check on power this is the darkest time in American history since World War I, when there was massive censorship and suppression of dissent. I say this because so many things are happening at once to disarm and disable serious journalism, or to push it out of the frame. Most of these are well known, but it helps to put them all together. Here is my list:

1. An economic crisis in (most) news companies, leaving the occupation of journalism in a weakened state, especially at the state and local level, where newsrooms have been decimated by the decline of the newspaper business. The digital money is going to Google and Facebook, but they do not have newsrooms.

2. A low-trust environment for most institutions and their leaders, the same ones who are regularly featured in the news.

3. A broken and outdated model in political journalism, which tries to connect to the public through “inside” or access reporting about a class whose legitimacy is itself eroding. And since almost everyone got the result wrong in 2016, responsibility for this massive error is evenly distributed across the press, which means that no one is responsible for fixing what is broken.

4. An organized movement on the political right to discredit mainstream journalism, which stretches from Steve Bannon in the White House to Trump’s army of online trolls, with Breitbart, Drudge Report, talk radio and Fox opinion hosts mediating between the two, while the “alt reality” fringe feels newly emboldened. Its latest tactic is to shout down as “fake news” any work of reporting that conflicts with its worldview, leaving the term useless as a fraud alert. “Over the years, we’ve effectively brainwashed the core of our audience to distrust anything that they disagree with,” said John Ziegler, a conservative radio host, to a New York Times reporter. “Because the gatekeepers have lost all credibility in the minds of consumers, I don’t see how you reverse it.” In fact, no one knows how to fix this.

5. The rapid escalation of this drive-to-discredit as Trump gained traction with the electorate. Since 1970 it has grown from questioning the motives of people covering a Republican president in the speeches of Spiro Agnew, to countering liberal spin with the personalities at Fox News, to mistrusting all of the mainstream (or “drive-by”) media with Rush Limbaugh, and now to a place beyond that. Sean Hannity — who is probably closer to Trump than any other media figure — recently said on air: “Until members of the media come clean about colluding with the Clinton campaign and admit that they knowingly broke every ethical standard they are supposed to uphold, they should not have the privilege, they should not have the responsibility of covering the president on behalf of you, the American people.” In other words, the mainstream press should not be allowed to cover Trump. A few years ago that was a bridge too far. Now it’s a plausible test of poisoned waters.

6. After the debacle of 2016, trust in the news media as an institution feels lower than ever in living memory, while popular anger reaches an all-time high. The resentment is coming from the left, the right and what remains of the center. Pew Research Center: “Only about two-in-ten Americans (22%) trust the information they get from local news organizations a lot, whether online or offline, and 18% say the same of national organizations.” Gallup in September of this year: “Republicans who say they have trust in the media has plummeted to 14% from 32% a year ago. This is easily the lowest confidence among Republicans in 20 years.”

7. A homogeneity and coastal concentration in American newsrooms that can be described in many ways — lack of diversity is the most common, with disagreements on what kind of diversity is most desired — leaving the press ill-prepared to take creative action across a cultural divide. The situation was summed up in the most quotable line written by a journalist about Trump’s candidacy: “The press takes him literally, but not seriously; his supporters take him seriously, but not literally.” (Salena Zito in The Atlantic.)

8. A figure in power who got there in part by whipping up hatred against the press, and who shows no signs of ending that abusive practice… coupled with a disturbing pattern in which Trump broadcasts through his Twitter feed outrageously false statements, the press reacts by trying to “check” them, and the resulting furor works to his advantage by casting journalists in the role of petty but hateful antagonist, with Trump as the man who takes the heat and “tells it like it is.”

9. The emergence of an authoritarian political style in which trashing the norms of American democracy (as when he cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election, or suggested prosecution of his opponent) works to Trump’s advantage with a huge portion of his supporters, while failing to alarm the rest. This is especially troublesome because norms of democracy are what give the press its place in public life and representative government; if these can be broken without penalty that means the press can be shoved aside and not much will happen.

10. The increasingly dim prospect that there will be a fact-based debate to which journalists can usefully contribute when the leader of the free world feels free to broadcast transparently false or ignorant claims… coupled with the full flowering of the “we make our own reality” attitude (circa 2004) into a kind of performance art that simultaneously kicks up hatred of anyone trying to be evidence-based and liberates the speech of powerful actors from even the most minimal factual constraints.

11. An advanced stage of culture war, political polarization and asymmetrical mistrust of the press in which, instead of leading to greater public awareness and a gradual movement toward reform, sensational revelations, hard-hitting investigations and exposés of corruption are consumed as fuel in an accelerating political divide. In other words, Watergate-style journalism increasingly enflames and polarizes, rather than informing and alerting the public. The more damning and irrefutable the findings are, the more likely is this furious reaction, especially when Trump launches attacks on the journalists and news organizations doing the digging.

12. The success of “verification in reverse,” a method on the march, in which a knowing political actor takes facts that have been nailed down, and introduces doubt about them, which then releases energy (controversy, resistance, ready-to-hate news coverage) which in turn helps power a movement among those who wanted the established facts repealed, as it were. This is how Trump launched his political career. He became a birther. Wherever it succeeds, verification-in-reverse is a triumph over the craft of journalism, which has to be pro-verification or it may as well exit the stage.

13. Amusing ourselves to death, as Neil Postman’s 1985 book put it, in which the logic of entertainment overtakes adjacent but nominally distinct spheres that are supposed to be governed by their own logic, as when newsworthiness and the requirements of political debate are subordinated to entertainment values by media companies obeying commercial imperatives, while claiming a public service mantle. For journalists, this is the import of Jeff Zucker’s reign at CNN, and one of the lessons of Trump’s career as a “reality TV” star.

14. A shift in the power-to-inform toward a single platform and attention-economy colossus: Facebook, a creature of the tech industry that feels no native commitment to journalism… that wants to avoid responsibility for editing because editing does not scale… that easily surfaces demand for false stories about real events… and that is slowly taking charge of the day-to-day relationship with users of the news system, especially on mobile devices, which is where the growth is.

15. A proven model — proven, that is, by billionaire Peter Thiel — for bankrupting news companies and driving them out of business by using the court system and jury trials, which can leverage public disgust for The Media  (see no. 6 above) into jury awards that defendants cannot possibly pay. As yet there is no known counter to this strategy. The fact that it worked once has an intimidating effect.

16. A crisis of representation around covering Trump in which it is not clear that anyone can reliably tell us what his positions are, or explain his reasons for holding them, because he feels free to contradict advisers, spokespeople, surrogates, and previous statements he made. As Esquire’s Charles Pierce put it to me: “Nobody speaks for the prez-elect, not even himself.” I list this because the press is not good at abandoning rituals and routines when they cease to make sense. Every interview with Kellyanne Conway or Reince Priebus is premised on a claim to represent the man in power. This claim may be false. But journalists need people to interview! So they will continue to do it, even though they may be misinforming the public. They may even realize this and be unable to shift course. What I’m trying to point out is that existing methods for “holding power to account” rest on assumptions about how it will behave. A man in power untroubled by contradictions and comfortable in the confusion he creates cannot be held accountable by normal means.

17. Weak leadership and a thin institutional structure in the American press, which is not accustomed to organizing itself to fight back or act assertively in any coordinated way, as with the White House Correspondents Association, currently failing even to get a meeting with the Trump transition team, but still planning to yuck it up with him at the WHCA dinner in the spring of 2017. In many ways the press resembles a “herd of independent minds,” with no one responsible for the beast as a whole, and no easy way to fix broken practices, or re-direct effort. Collaboration is on the rise in journalism, and that’s a good a thing. But while it’s easy to act against the press, it’s almost impossible for the press as a whole to deliberate and act in reply. And even if it could miraculously discover the will to do so, this would probably give new ammunition to political enemies of the press. Remaining a “herd of independent minds,” politically weak, is thus the safest course. Which is not to say it will work.

So that is what I mean by “winter is coming.” All those things 1-17 are happening at once, and strengthening one another. The combined effect is chilling.

The common elements: Low trust all around, an emboldened and nationalist right wing that treats the press as natural enemy, the bill coming due for decades of coasting on a model in political reporting that worked well for “junkies” but failed to engage the rest of us, the strange and disorientating fact that reality itself seems to have become a weaker force in politics, the appeal of the “strong man” and his propaganda within an atmosphere of radical doubt, the difficulty of applying standard methods of journalism to a figure in power who is not trying to represent reality but to substitute himself for it as a show of strength, the unsuitability of prior routine as professionals in journalism try to confront these confusing conditions, a damaged economic base, weak institutional structure and newsroom mono-culture that hinders any creative response, and a dawning recognition that freedom of the press is a fragile state, not a constitutional certainty.

Are there any bright signs? Yes, a few.

18. When you ask about specific news brands (as against The Media) the trust picture looks better.

19. I quote New York Times columnist Jim Rutenberg: “In the weeks since the election, magazines like The New Yorker, The Atlantic and Vanity Fair; newspapers including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post; and nonprofits like NPR and ProPublica have been reporting big boosts in subscription rates or donations.” The Guardian and Mother Jones are benefitting, too.

20. According to news industry analyst Ken Doctor, the Washington Post will add more than 60 journalists in the coming year. The Post is making money again. And its leadership believes that “investigative and deeper enterprise stories are good for the brand and the business”— not an expense that has to be subsidized by lighter fare, but a means to sustainability in themselves. That’s significant.

21. As the scope of the emergency dawns, it is possible that journalists in the U.S. will be inspired to do a better job and change what needs changing. Talent (and tips) could flood in as a slumbering public for serious news awakens.

22. Facing the same kind of hostility in multiple countries where similar conditions are found, journalists may discover a new level of international cooperation that helps them cope with the threat to their occupation. There’s already a global movement for fact-checking in journalism. Maybe another one will emerge around the realization that fact-checking is not enough.

23. In the U.S., the Constitution remains firmly in place, hard to alter. First Amendment protections are real and among the strongest in the world. There are no signs that prior restraint or overt government censorship are on the horizon— though self-censorship is another matter.

What not to do…

24. Don’t recruit Trump loyalists into the news and opinion space (Jeffrey Lord of CNN is the model) as a gaudy show of balance. This will not save you. Conservative, red state, working class and rural American voices may deserve special recruitment, but if they have integrity these people are just as likely to be critical of Trump. 

25. Don’t settle for accusation-driven over evidence-based reporting, just to avoid drawing flak from Trump’s press-hating supporters or demonstrate how even-handed you are.

26. Don’t make it all about access to the President and his aides, or preserving the routines of White House reporting, as the press corps is currently doing— mostly out of habit. A Trump presidency is likely to be constructed on a propaganda model in which fomenting confusion is not a drag on the Administration’s agenda but a sign that it’s working. Access to such a machinery could wind up enlisting the press in a misinformation campaign.  Here, I am getting ahead of the story because we don’t really know what a Trump White House will be like. And I am not saying that access to the president and his top advisors is unimportant or a dirty word. Rather, it should not be the organizing principle for journalists who are preparing to cover Trump.

In part two of this post, coming tomorrow, I will discuss “measures worth taking,” given what I have said in part one. I have several small ideas, and one larger one. It involves listening better than the political system does to what’s troubling Americans, and fashioning a proper news agenda out of that. This is not a new notion, but it is newly relevant now that winter is here for the public service press.

Part two of this post — on things that can be done — is here. Photo credit Renee McGurk, Creative Commons License.


Trump starves the rabid beasts for information, comes out on the porch and tosses them a scrap and they snarl and snap over the scrapings, fighting to be first at the feast. In a world where everyone wants their 15 minutes, they claw and bite their way thru the mud, eager to howl when they gain their tiny prize.

You cannot fight the Trump problem with the truth. JFK was wrong. There is something wrong with the American people! They do not seek the truth. They want faith in something, Any thing!

Ben Palmatier says:

How do you know? Maybe they should try the truth for once.

Lee Landry says:

Each side (left/right) are only listening to those who already believe as they do.
Nothing will be turned around unless we allow those who consider themselves politically motivated’ (Left or Right) to support a network that supports weekly debates where the Left and Right are truly represented. I remember them along time ago. Public Radio is the only one trying… bless ’em all

It would work but the 1% ain’t gonna let that happen

I learned to stop trusting the MSM when they led us all to numerous false wars from 1991 onwards

The only way they could regain my trust in the MSM is for them to shoot themselves on TV like Dwyer and Chubbuck, as penance for the lives lost that they’ve never been formally charged with but should’ve for irresponsible negligence.

Corporate media should at this point be considered a separate sidearm of the state, and I’m thankful for once there will come a state the does something about it! It’s time for the state to disarm itself, by locking the mass media boogeymen into a steel chest and tossing the key. It’s about time names like Andrew Cockburn, Paul Street, Dana Frank, Jean Bricmont, Francisco Gil-White, and Diana Johnstone became the household Cronkite-tier names of our day! Bring it back to that Woodward/Sherman Skolnick era, make the “Muckraker” something to be proud of again!

Possibly the only trustworthy large publications I’ve seen since the hoodwinking of the first Iraq war were Counterpunch and ForeignPolicy (with the exception of Max Boot who is the ‘token neocon access’) with a slight nod to the fair-weatherness of the Jerusalem Post.

mary davidson says:

Thank You!!

I think the piece is totally wrong and misses on all levels. Trump is a Racist and Whites are willing to ignore that in order to re-instate the MYTH of White Supremacy that Obama’s Presidency called in to question. We in the media not telling the truth is no different than the Racists on the Right not telling it. #RBRadio LIVE!

Darryl Phillips says:

But when the racists find out that Trump is supporting the Jews, what then? We live in interesting times.

Ron Williams says:

First of all trump doesn’t “support the Jews”, he’s a racist and has made disparaging comments about Jews. His so-called “support” is more of a slap at President Obama than his like or support for Jews. Secondly, the racists hate the Jews but the creepy Evangelicals need the Jews in Israel in order to have their “Rapture”. This is the only reason these people support Israel. They hate the people but need the Country to support their crazy religious beliefs.

Why is i that no one ever asks the Fundamentalists what happens to the Jews in their Rapture?

The only time I’ve seen this mentioned is in Chris Hedges’ book “American Fascists”

The Israelis know full well the deranged myth of the rapture. They believe they are the ones using the American evangelicals for their own ends. A whole lot of people who love to entertain themselves with fire.

Ben Palmatier says:

The term racists has no effect. You and you’re kind have been unpacked, analyzed, and found wanting. You are utterly incapable of critical thought or problem solving. You simply hurl accusations in your sycophantic echo chambers and wait for the approval of your like minded zombies. You know the mobs we see chanting at protests. Your betters are not effected or impressed by you anymore. The age of political correctness and SJW’s is coming to an end.

Bayhuntr says:

You don’t understand the relationship between the right and Jewish people. The right do not like Jews, but the right loves their prophecy that includes Israel. Unfortunately, for Israel, the prophecy says it has to be destroyed and all of them killed. But that’s not a problem because they don’t like Jews.

Tom Wacker says:

Theron, I think that blaming Trump’s ascendency on racism misses the underlying cause. Working class whites have been disenfranchised (along with all working class, of course) by automation and outsourcing, and Trump offers them a scapegoat (Immigrants and “liberals who gave their jobs away”). Just as anti-semitism wasn’t rampant in Weimar Germany (Hitler nurtured it). Sections of “Hilliby Elligy” by JD Vance explain it well.
Of course life long bigots (who are largely low skilled unemployed white men) support our president elect as well.

E.B. Smith says:

All whites are not racists. Check the history, not the reinvented history of the National Democratic Party, but the actual history from before the Civil War. Now share that history with the public, if you have the courage. Then let this business of racism rear it”s ugly head and let the blame lay where it should. Then let healing begin, as in a family sometimes you have to draw an imaginary line and begin anew, not in dragging the past into the future. Let us all make a new commitment to make different choices to move all of our lives in the right direction and to help one another.

J. S. Bridges says:

This whole piece of near-insanity would be amusing, if it wasn’t so abysmally stoopid – you klowns don’t get it: the MSM have CREATED the whole atmosphere of near-total distrust towards them and virtually all of their “works”, by being near-constantly a pack of Left-leaning, unrelenting liars, by either omission or commission OR BOTH, and by totally ignoring their own fellow journaljismists’ processes of being so. They CREATED THE WHOLE FALSEHOOD-STRUCTURE, and they NEAR-CONSTANTLY DEFEND SAME!!

When will you WAKE UP, and take notice of that?

Trump is NOT the “problem”, nor even any part of it – he’s the ATTEMPTED-SOLUTION, coming to fruition!!

P Edwards says:

Great article. The Press need to dig even deeper to expose the madness and support each other during these times. Twitler is exactly trying to undermine EVERYBODY for hi own benefit. Unfortunately, too many give him validity that he doesn’t deserve. Mirrors Hitler in the 1930s. Decry the Press and Intelligence to the unintelligent and rule the world, to the detrimiment of these same poor souls. And no I am not a liberal nor democrat.

Nell Anvoid says:

That’s the kind of mirror-logic we’ve been hearing from the Fox News/Breitbart bunch for several years now. It used to be simply stupid and laughable. Now it’s a disease. The cure is gonna hurt.

Ben Palmatier says:

The world we live in today boils down to a contest between the American and the un-American.
The American, looks to the future and sees a bright horizon with great hope and optimism because they understand they live in a country where liberty can provide opportunities limited only by their own energy and intellect. They believe America is a force for good in the world and with its exceptional political system has unleashed the creative forces of humanity which has done more to lift people from grinding poverty than any other system yet devised.
The un-American, gnashing their teeth over a hierarchy of grievances hoping to naval gaze their way to the top of the victim ladder so as to extract the maximum entitlement. They believe America is a source for evil and was founded by racists and sexist. They have been subverted into cultural Marxism, the birthplace of political correctness, completely retarding their rational and problem solving abilities needed to be successful in life. Their futures utterly depend on the scraps thrown to them by those who seek to control them and buy their votes. They are either Marxists themselves, actively seeking the demise of America, or they are their useful idiots.
Americans enjoy the legacy of an exceptional founding, a nation conceived in liberty. Americans are not going to sit still and allow the un-Americans to fundamentally transform this country in to a collection of grievance parasites. This is what explains the rise of Donald Trump. I can only hope that there are more Americans than un-Americans.

Jim North says:

You leave out that the corporate mainstream media is itself perpetuating misinformation. It is a propaganda arm of the Neo-liberal establishment. Chris Cuomo saying only journalists could ready Wiki-leaks, no coverage for Bernie Sanders, no coverage of the protests at the Democratic Convention, the “earned reporters,” with the HRC campaign. No coverage for months about DAPL. You want your cake and you want to eat it too. Now coming after “fake news” when the people have awakened to how fake MSM is. Good luck getting the genie back in the bottle.

Jeanine C. says:

I think this is one of the best articles I’ve read on this topic. But as this poster noted — it’s important to include the specific media ties/ outlets that are also culpable. I no longer use the phrase “mainstream media” because extreme right & left use it to upend any meaning of truth and reality.

I’ve made a personal commitment to reject the use of language (i.e. MSM) which is being used to oppress/ silence. I encourage others to be more specific when calling out the mainstream media about whom exactly you are talking about. I follow a wide variety of individual journalists that did/ do cover these topics in WaPO, NYtimes, ThinkProgress, The Marshall Project…etc). It’s equally, if not critically important to recognize their great work as well.

Bayhuntr says:

I watch/read media that I can trust, I’ve a come to trust them by fact checking them. So I have two categories trustworthy and not trustworthy, but when I cross-reference those two, right wing – left wing, they tend to be all left wing that I trust. That’s not to say there’s plenty of left-wing I don’t trust, just that truth leans quite a bit to the left.

I think it’s more that they allowed themselves to be boxed in by catering to a more fanatical base, especially after the tea party arrived on the scene, so any attempt to move away from what their audience expects is “bowing to the opposition”

It started innocently enough, giving an ‘equal platform’ to creationist kooks that thought early man rode around on dinosaurs to catch mammoths. But when actual serious things began to unfold during the Iraq wars, a lot of weird stuff started getting legitimised on talk radio. Now it feels like even if all xmas controversy stops forever, the one year O’reilly doesn’t do his annual ‘war on christmas’ spiel is the year he winds up playing the angel on that tree! “Ya ain’t going soft…is ya Bill?”

And the more economic hardship hits these areas, the harder they cling to their ‘rocks’
(I’ve found that Breitbart leans truthful at times, the really big stories also run on Commondreams and Color lines, but the TMZ-ish way they present the stories make them seem false and look like Outbrain clickbait, it has a real carnival barker vibe)

The reason MSM is so common is because a whole heap of them were proven to collude unethically back when JournoList was discovered. Though if you care to really swing a mattock at it, the fusion of the big networks pushing a single outlook began in earnest during Kosovo, with a bit of a test run hiccup utilising the Nayirah testimony. Not enough people called out the mass corporate media, and so they became emboldened to spin taller and taller tales. The sad part is, there wasn’t even any traditional bribery involved! It was all about ‘retaining access,’ when in the pre-nixon era, if a reporter was barred access they chased sources and leads outside of the white house establishment to bring those same stories to light, ah, but then, that would be a whole lot more work and effort, wouldn’t it? So they did nothing but relate bland party talking points, as if they were the original 1770s press core.

The old guard essentially allowed themselves to be replaced by yesmen-and-women and the Glenn Greenwalds were pushed aside by trendy latte-swilling cliques who rarely ever left their desks for anything other than press events. Coupled with the rise of tabloids pressing a paparazzi-esque take on news delivery that knocked the ad-seeking into overdrive. They have none to blame but themselves.

Patrick Moore says:

Somehow Sanders supporters have fallen into a well and can’t seem to get themselves out. I saw *tons* of coverage of Sanders. And I saw extensive coverage of the protests, with interviews and explanations. And there’s no evidence for the conspiracist notion about anti-Bernie collusion, etc. “Bernie or Bust” is one of the most frustrating things about this election.

Yes, by people like Mike Cernovich who actually like casted from the protests to show what the msm wouldn’t.

The MSM is consolidated into something like 6 media corporations now, and guess which side of the fence they are controlled by, lets not pretend the rigging hasn’t become blatant.

Bill Michtom says:

You weren’t reading the NY Times at the start of the Dem primaries. It hid Sanders campaign, then ridiculed it, both on the opinion pages and the so-called news pages.

Walt Corey says:

Walter Cronkite,Chet Huntley and David Brinkley weren’t pretty faces they were classic journalist. What I’ve noticed these last 18 months especially are a raft of very pretty faces. This goes to your, correct assertion of soft news as entertainment rather than hard, cold reporting. Do not allow yourselves to be dupped and used as useful idiots. There are plenty of us wanting and expecting hard, dispassionate reporting and willing to help subsidize it. You do have a waiting audience. It may be illuminating to watch Aaron Sorkin’s “Newsroom” series on HBO. Don’t allow yourselves to be intimidated by entertainers who thrive on creating chrisis and constant chaos as said by the producer of, as I recall, The Apprentice to Chuck Todd or Ari Melber.

Kelli Culbertson says:

I agree that you still have a huge audience that craves and wants the truth. We need the press now more than ever. I don’t think you need to reinvent the wheel. Maybe connecting with Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, they went through something similar with Nixon. They might have some wisdom to share.

Jeffery Jenkins says:

Tom Brokaw never regained my trust after he refused to apologize to Richard Jewel for his reporting of FBI profiling pointing to him as a suspect in the Atlanta bombing.

Karen kirby says:

I follow Dan Rather on facebook. He is a source of comfort, intellect and truth in this ridiculous post truth era.

Bill Michtom says:

You mean THIS Dan Rather?

“George Bush is the president. He makes the decisions, and, you know, it’s just one American, wherever he wants me to line up, just tell me where. And he’ll make the call.” — Dan Rather, 9/17/01

Donna Gentry says:

I miss them terribly. I miss their integrity and fearlessness. It is hard to be old enough to remember what journalism looked and sounded like. What trust felt like. It makes the demise of journalism harder to witness.

Dakota Hartman says:

I’m one who has no trust in media. They have an agenda and hard hitting news with facts are not a priority. I have stopped watching MSM because of the horrendous job did on this election. I think back to the days of Cronkite, Huntley and Brinkley. I can just see how this election coverage would have been so different.. We would have been given facts. Frankly we could trust the news. I think all news, cable and network, are purveyors of entertainment and should never be taken seriously. I do believe we have some very good investigative reporters.

Judith Bird says:

Not only would Brinkley, Huntley and Cronkite been believed, but the candidates, like Trump, wouldn’t have even tried to mess with them. These true journalists would not be played in order to maintain their “access” The tail is now wagging the dog

Livvy Dunne says:

thank you

Kathy Utter says:

Another misleading ritual of press coverage is the issue of false equivalency. Instead of straight reporting about an issue which may negatively reflect on a candidate, the press seems to feel obligated to find a flaw in the opponent and give it equivalent weight, even though it does not begin to rise to the same level of importance. The public is left with …”See, he/she does it, too.”

Susan Petrulas says:

This was for me the breaking point, this sophomoric equal opportunity balancing act, ( talk about PC! Another notion turned totally upside down!), and why I only turned to the News Stations to watch the “debates”, then immediately turned them all off. There was no intelligent commentary on air, it was too frustrating watching the pretzels contort.

I feel like that might’ve all began with the creationism ‘debates.’ The creationists really wanted to ‘see their guys win’ so they would continually invite the same people to different news shows to pit against various experts. It guaranteed easy viewership numbers.

This comical. The dire warning is hyperbole.
4] Mainstream journalism isn’t synonymous to mainstream media. Most are not journalist, they are former political operatives or serve as such because of family members that worked in media before them.
24] 96% of the media outlets you referenced gave to the democratic party and/or HRC campaign and Obama before them. Are you saying keep Democratic loyalist only?

I tried to explain why the media missed what all (black, white, Asian, Latino saw in my town of 2300 [99% Trump Supporters] here:

But the biggest problem from us to you big city cats can be observed in this terse commentary:

I enjoyed this read, glad you are not advocating an Orwelian ministry of truth similar to what Obama just quietly signed into law with the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) & its provision that establishes a national anti-propaganda center that critics warn could be dangerous for press freedoms — the Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act.

Thought Crime: Perhaps you should learn proper spelling and grammar before commenting on a story. Just a suggestion.

such a week argument: focus on grammatical and spelling errors so you can ignore the content of one of the more insightful comments.
That’s rather a synecdoche of leftist blindness.

Hilton Plant says:

Pat, one person opposed the majority’s view here,and you are going to pick on spelling? That comment supports all of those people who voted for Trump, and has put him in the Whitehouse.
I’m from Australia, and after seeing the one sided reporting to Hillarys side and knowing the “donations ” they passed on to her campaign, I don’t trust the media- in America, especially, at all!

Judith Bird says:

When you are passionate about an issue and want to share your thoughts, typos’s happen

The improper grammar and incorrect spelling are hallmarks of Russian trolling. I believe it is part of LUCKY-7. You’re even hitting these sites now. This is scary!

Richard S. says:

This is an excellent point Julia. I hope you don’t mind if others use this in some form in response to trolls on other sites.

Interesting. They seem to have obvious problems with homonyms, like the week/weak mistake in Liz’s reply. Also grammatical errors accompanied by random erudition, as shown by Thought Crime’s nym. More fuel for any algorithm designed to weed out these trolls.

Randy Still says:

You on the right are the problem in case you didn’t get it. It’s your misinformation on Fox and Rush and right wing radio that created all those robots in the rural US who believe every lie you tell. The blog is for serious people who tell real truths.

Ron Williams says:

Why do you folks always say “Obama signed into law”, when it was the Republicans that sponsored it, and voted for it and passed it into Law?

They say it because that’s what they hear from Fox and Rush.

Bill Michtom says:

LBJ had the first & last word on Trump supporters:
“If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Ruth Tutton says:

Shouldn’t journalists police themselves? Be required to participate in professional development/ ethics workshops yearly as teachers, doctors, therapists, etc do? Would licensing themselves help? I think it would.

ScaredAF says:

I don’t think so. The main issue is that we get our news from corporations which will are focused on the bottom line not ethical journalism. Chomsky warned about the consolidation of media companies and now we’re seeing what happens when just a few people decide what is news. Guess what? Most of these said owners know or openly support Trump. The solution must involve discrediting infotainment passing as news and finding ways around corporate control of the news. Bypassing the major channels could happen by streaming through alternative sources such as the Amazon app but that might work only for a while if the net neutrality rule is overturned.

Emily Lowrey says:

If one holds a license in journalism, would that mean that person is of good moral standing or just that they had sat through required CEU’s each year? If a correspondent in Afghanistan can’t meet their required CEU’s each year because they’re not offered in their location, and internet access isn’t reliable (or maybe even blocked in China because of ethics concerns), then would their licenses be pulled? What if Breitbart were leading up the internal group responsible for licensing? What if Washington Post did? What if the state required the organization to pull a license for a journalist whose coverage they disagreed with? What if a city required that all journalists at a newspaper be licensed for the newspaper to get a business license? What if a startup news org couldn’t afford licensed journalists, but still had topical experts? Would sources want to talk to an unlicensed journalis or would we all trust instead journalists who were not licensed or part of a formal system? Licensing is just always, always a bad idea.

Ruth Tutton says:

I was thinking more about policing themselves. I see your points though.

E.J.Wallace says:

MSNBC and CNN must stop interviewing Trump surrogates bc they proffer the gibberish that Trump spouts. All it serves is to provide them a national platform for misinformation, a twisting of truth or an outright denial of it, and then turn the tables on the interviewer and talk over them so they can shout down the reality of the facts that we all see; conflicts of interest, treasonous conduct with a foreign enemy, lack of accountability regarding his businesses and his personal wealth and where it comes from. He is completely untrustworthy and says whatever is convenient in the moment, even when it makes no sense. The time for treating him or his surrogates like legitimate responsible guardians of our democracy is over. He is an aberration that rises to the height of a legitimate danger to the well-being of this country. Investigative reporting of him should be a 24/7 endeavor bc the sheer volume of his misbehavior and misconduct would fuel newspapers and 24/7 cable news networks for the next 4 years. A strong press is a democracy’s guardian against a despot. They need to step up their game and bear the mantle of that responsibility for the good of the country. Doing less than this inches us closer to a dictatorship. Inaction is a green light for despots. We need to act. Now.

Christine M says:


Walt Corey says:

Yes, brilliant point!

Yes,excellent…but need to also put pressure on Congress to act….the press, hopefully, if change quickly, can identify but only Congress can do something….and they only will if get enough public pressure…not hopeful.

GOP Congress is part of the problem with illegal gerrymandering & agreeing with many of the far right personalities like Limbaugh, Hannity and others…

The majority has been under attack in this country since the tea party took control of the house of Representatives in 2010. This fact & the anti-democratic behavior of Republicans needs to be exposed by the same useless press we are discussing. In fact, one could claim that the press has been complicit in the Republican Watergate type behavior for years in order to “keep the political parties balanced”

8 supreme court justices for almost a year & nobody in media made a big deal about it. The Dems could never have gotten away with that if it was Dubya in the white house. Record Filibusters, gov’t shutdown over funding the ACA while recovering from the great recession. Never putting a jobs bill on the floor for a vote, only tax cuts & repealing the ACA 60 times.

The party should be taken to task for malpractice. The only saving grace is that now that they have complete control of the federal gov’t they can be exposed for the frauds that they are. I just pray that we all survive it.

Richard Dulee says:

Well said. Even as the ship is sinking the band plays on. Because that is what bands have always done. Journalism is suffering from its addiction to a set of beliefs that no longer exist. Damn it, the ship is sinking. The author does an excellent job in substantiating that new reality. It is past time to report ‘truth’ as Christiane Amanpour has said. Journalism only has a reponsibility to ‘truth’, not socalled ‘balanced’ reporting, when one side is spewing falsehoods, confusion and jingoism. We need an absolute commitment to ‘evidence based’ reporting, a journalism that challenges distortion and variance from fact in all cases. A good beginning: stop reporting Trump tweets. Just stop. Make a statement that they are not news, they are not fact, they are not worthy of mention . . . and stick to, it will become a mark of distinction and a guide to genuine reporting in every news organization that refuses to take their poisoned bait. This doesn’tmean you don’t investigate any claim he makes, but you stop reporting them verbatim.

Janice C Moran says:

I agree. STOP reporting Trump tweets. Instead, make statement they are not news, not fact, and stick to it!! His tweet about Israel during Kerry’s speech brought more attention than the speech itself!

Get a grip; You are fantasizing.

We are not facing the end of the Republic.

The Trump era will be no worse for the left than Reagan.

Many of us thought the threat from the left (Clinton corruption, 1&2 Amendment, scientific integrity, weaponized Federal bureaucracy) was insidiously greater and were willing to throw a bomb into the system because the alternative was so awful.
Something the original article seems utterly unaware of.

Oh, I think we are quite aware that you decided to set off a bomb in the middle of the marketplace.

Thanks for stopping by.

B McCall says:

Scientific integrity? A threat from the left? You are the brainwashed that John Zeigler references.

Donna Gentry says:


Janice C Moran says:


Ajay Sori says:

BRAVO! I have been saying this for months. I have to turn the TV off when Conway or Priebus or Spicer are on. Even turned it off when KC was interviewed by one of my favorites Rachel M., who generally takes no prisoners.

Diane Cimino says:

I totally agree that interviewing Trump surrogates not only helps spread the endless lies but helps promote them to cabinet positions!

Agreed… you are spot on

Alan Rinfret says:

Agree completely.

CNN’S Don Lemon voiced a valid tactic for dealing with Trump. Stop broadcasting his tweets.

He tweets because he can make a statement that is difficult to repute using social media.

By not broadcasting his tweets; you force him into face to face encounters with the press.

Encounters in which the press can question the accuracy of what he says.

While not on point; I think it’s interesting to note that 64% of those who are habitual twitter users are between 12 and 39 years old. 6% are 65+. I’m sure that the percentage is lower for those who are 70+.

This country has elected a child as its president. It is incumbent upon our press to hold this child accountable for his actions.

Accountability is impossible if this child continues to state his beliefs in 140 words or less.

My sentiments exactly. Rosen is right about the changing media landscape in view of digital media. Nevertheless, the mainstream media had a big role in promoting trump by INTERRUPTING regular broadcast because the anchor saw a Trump Tweet. This is akin to giving Trump full control of news media They forgot the difference between news and paid media.
Normally, in press conference there are follow up questions. One should do the same to Trump tweets. Follow up for details, evidence, explanation rather than broadcasting it like his “advertisement.”

Susan Petrulas says:

Yes! 24/7 truth to power, but would this get the ratings their corporate bosses demand? Everyone has known for years this “emperor” has no clothes; can constant, unrelenting exposure with facts, objectivity, truth, and uncompromising investigative journalism get the whole crowd finally laughing at his ignorant pomposity? Can the real truth become the new reality show? It will take more than stepping up their game; it will take tremendous, collaborative, heroic courage. Let the games begin…

George T Karnezis says:

Well stated. Also, Rosen’s work on Civic Journalism, like this piece, restores my faith that someone is out there listening carefully.

Kevin Bears says:


Bill Michtom says:

The problem started at the beginning of the GOP primary when the media gave Trump huge coverage instead of limiting it to
The Trump Weekly Update:
Still a lying bigot.

Brenda Taylor says:

I trust the press to do their job of keeping the citizens of this country informed of the goings on in the White House and the Congress. What I don’t trust is the incoming Administration (president elect included) or the incoming congress. When they talk about gutting things like Social Security and Medicare everyone, regardless of party affiliation, need to pay attention. Changes like this will affect us ALL!

Walt Corey says:

Trump may well need you more than you need him. be the Forth Estate! Be hard, press for answers not settle for obfuscation. Don’t take sides. Just as Sorkin’s West Wing depicted a White House and President we all wished we had, so too Newsroom depicted a news organization we all trusted and wish we had. Be life imitating art. Too much is on the line, if you need to take your case to SCOTUS, do it, the Constitution has your back. Hulk Hogan is not POTUS. Don’t be afraid of asking tough questions and demanding detailed answers. Trump and company will sow chaos and drama, don’t settle for that. FOIA the White House if you need to.

Stop broadcasting Trump’s tweets. Call his bluff and call for press conferences. Make Trump field questions and soar with the eagles, or dig his own grave. You are the professional journalists–be the force.

Bill Michtom says:


Walt Garrison says:

Thanks, Walt. There are many thoughts that should knot together I have read. Collaboration that will bring together journalists that are not groping for territorial breaks, but for the benefit of America and for that matter the rest of the world. We have taken the tweet bait, been hooked in the mouth and then use our uninformed emotionalism turning us into chum to further feed its disruption of our real desire and need for truth.

Charles Stotter says:

No. 20 above is particularly important, and a great move by WaPo, but they all are in order to deal with the next four years. We started the year with everyone, press included, treating the Trump candidacy as a joke, a reality show, entertainment, whatever. Now we see the dire straits that has led us to.

The established news media – real journalists – must now get back to serious business, if it is not too late, and shine the sanitizing light of truth and factual reporting on every word emanating from the Trump administration. There is no other way. It will be hard, but essential to the survival of this country.

LCaution says:

You ignore the refusal of the media to admit that they did anything wrong. The email server was a simple IT decision made to seem criminal by a GOP determined to prevent Hillary from being nominated or elected. That, the full use of Congressional and FBI powers, against the opposing candidate should have been the story. 3 speeches to GS, the “impropriety” of earning a living making speeches, then the Clinton Foundation of all things. How many hours, days, weeks did reporters spend reading email provided by FOIA or wikileaks? How many hours were spent on Hillary’s likability, her being “crowned” vs. Bernie’s lifetime of non-accomplishment? Only two reporters, late in the game, focused on Trump’s Foundation, business dealings. Neither got the coverage the emails did. The media take refuge in being disliked by left, right, and center. They refuse to acknowledge their dependence on the daily memes, controversies, trivialities of campaigning. Access and political gossip do not make a free, independent, responsible press. The urge to destroy Clinton once and for all dominated political coverage while Berlusconi/Mussolini/Hitler was the real threat. The media treated the GS speeches as a sign of moral turpitude; they essentially laughed off Trump’s opener about Mexican rapists, never, ever treated it with the same seriousness as Clinton’s “flaws”. To say nothing of his wives, infidelities, business practices (did anybody interview those he’d worked with, against over 4 decades). Did Trump get an MBA from Wharton? Seems to be the kind of simple question a reporter should be able got answer.

How much coverage did the Jim Crow voting laws get? The Michigan replacement of city mayors and councils in majority-minority cities with unelected managers? Flint got coverage because of Maddow, then dropped off the radar because “email”.

Apologies for rambling, but I am thoroughly disgusted by the malfeasance of all the “respectable” media this past year and their pompous assertions that they have nothing to apologize for. Iraq redux.

Hammerhead NYC says:

LCaution, thank you!

AlejandraNM says:

My thoughts exactly!!

Lee Hamilton says:

Everything you said, but again, how many of us have written or commented to them, these exact same words and we have heard “crickets”. They have constantly chased that bright, shiny thing, while the story was right in front of them. We have been seduced by the instant gratification of reality TV, thus the pretty people behind the clear glass desks, never an appropriate follow up and a 30 second time constraint, and this is what we have wrought. We all have to tighten our resolve and really listen this time. The public is ready to hear that hard hitting, no prisoners reporting again. There are examples right now to learn from if you are paying attention.

Bill Michtom says:

No! The public is unwilling to hear hard hitting, no prisoners reporting.

The winning candidate, supported by a like-minded, electoral-vote-accumulatingly well-placed minority, is a misogynist, racist criminal. [For details on his myriad crimes see David Cay Johnston’s work, especially The Making of Donald Trump.]

Hear, here. Here, hear. Outstanding commentary. I agree 100%.

What is sad is that we are raising generations of reality TV aficionados, who only want to be ENTERTAINED in 30-second news bites — that is, if they are interested in news at all. What happens when our generation — raised on the reporting of Cronkite and Rose — are gone, and few, if any, are interested in in-depth reporting? If the market for deep reporting does not exist, will that “product” disappear?

Perhaps when the impact of the Trump administration starts to be felt across all generations, they will start paying attention and read more than the headline and opening paragraph of news coverage…

FoxNews caters to middle aged & seniors. They are the worst with misinformation. They show women anchors in short though high skirts, slim & attractive & call themselves a news station. I might as well be watching NFL Today or ESPN since they do the same… only difference is one is sports entertainment & the other is “supposed” to be news

L Caution–YOU ARE SO RIGHT!!!!! Every single news outlet was guilty of demonizing HRC–even the “good” ones. And you know what’s further chilling–there were NO trusted sources that consistently reported HRC positives. If most people now get their “news” from social media–we are truly hosed. Research “Hillary Clinton” on YouTube and see what you get—the utter and complete demonization of HRC. Nothing like it compares on the Trump side. Furthermore, you will see similar extremely negative posts about dem-leaning elites such as George Soros but not the conservative ones like the Koch bros and Sheldon Adelson. People ABSOLUTELY believe this stuff and it is so overwhelming.

It seems that mostly all of what people experience from the media are lies in the form of misinformation, disinformation and conspiracies that now can be promoted and distributed by those same people. The truth needs to be trolled on these social media sites.

Bill Michtom says:

What Ron Williams said. But, also, the entire Dem elite is a bunch of corporate whores that did its best to run other whores, or undermine decent candidates all over the country.

Their interest is ONLY in being re-elected, not in helping working- or middle-class Americans live decent lives.

Ron Williams says:

The Server wasn’t a simple “IT Solution”. Before I say anything else, just so you know, I voted for Clinton but only because she was running against a pig like trump. In a less screwed up world, I would NEVER vote for her. Now, back to the e-mails. It was ALL her fault. She did it to herself. She did it because she was arrogant, secretive and self-important. Instead of right off the bat saying she was wrong, she tried to pawn it off as wanting to “use just one device”, which we later found out to be a lie. But here’s the real problem. It was true, she wanted to use her Blackberry but it wasn’t compatible with the antiquated State Dept. System. TOUGH! Rules are rules. There was a reason she was told she needed to use the S.D. System. But she ignored them. No one’s gonna tell Queen Hillary she has to use some system that wasn’t compatible with her Blackberry. Nosiree. She will do as she pleases. Then to make matters worse, she put her unapproved server, IN HER HOUSE! Not behind Govt walls, locked and guarded, nope, in her basement. Her “reasoning’? “Well, it was already there”.

Sure, she can speak before Goldman Sachs, but considering she was running for President and trying to shed a “Corporate Whore” reputation, maybe she should have shared the transcripts. She released them from other speeches. It’s this arrogance and snotty attitude that make people dislike and distrust her. She already knew from 30 years of attacks, the GOP would go after her for the least little thing. So what does she do? She puts a State Dept. E-mail Server (Unapproved and unsanctioned) in her home! A Server that occasionally had Classified Documents. She handed this “scandal” to the Republicans on a silver platter! Pure arrogance and stubbornness.

She also ran a terrible campaign, failed to reach out to the Democratic base, underestimated trump, spent too much time trying to attract Suburban Middle Class whites and totally ignored the Blue Collar and Rural voter. You folks need to stop bashing Bernie Sanders. Not only has he accomplished more than she ever has for the little guy, he was a better candidate and would have beaten trump. She LOST it. No one stole it from her. She screwed it up.

I said it before Bernie did… time & time again Hillary showed bad judgement! Iraq war, personal server, forcing the Dems to only run Martin O’Malley against her… it goes on & on & on… she did mess up.. the Dems messed up by only running 1 other candidate against her… I hope they learned a lesson…

Btw, I voted for Hillary too but would have preferred Bernie. I’m an indy living in NY. I wasn’t allowed to vote in the primary. If indys were allowed to vote in this state the DNC would have seen from then that their chosen candidate had serious grassroot issues

Kevin Bears says:

Hear, hear….

WEll said . I couldn’t agree with you more.

That’s a gold plated rant, my friend.

The same people who couldn’t get enough of Hillary’s innocuous emails, or Obama’s birth certificate or his collage transcripts or Bill’s infidelities, do not care a hoot that, Trump, in an unprecedented move, refused to release his tax returns, refused to detail his business interests, refused to explain how his so-called ‘Blind Trust’ is blind, or about his record of draft-dodging, his infidelities. The press pointedly refused to take his supporters to task on these double standards.

Susan Van Hoven says:

It seems that every news outlet will be required to have more than a fact checking column. In the next four years of a President and Admin that is seriously truth challenged, the most important commitment will be to the the truth and the exposure of lies. Trump is using Twitter as his personal propaganda machine. It is more effective than an entire ministry and he controls the message. The people need to know the truth.

I am a progressive political junkie and trustful devotee of press outlets like NYTimes, WaPo, Boston Globe, New Yorker, Guardian, Atlantic, and NPR. Since I was a teenager back in the dark ages, I’ve believed that a vibrant, genuinely free press was one of the two greatest hallmarks of American freedom, the other being the fact that we did not need to show identity papers in order to get around; both of those conditions are now relics of a more innocent time.

Last summer, I decided to go on Twitter and Facebook in a serious way for the duration of the election, which now seems as though it will never be over. I mostly follow mostly left-leaning journalists.

Here’s what I notice: You guys talk almost entirely to one another. You ignore, or at least rarely respond to, comments from the mere mortals whose support you say you covet. You forget that some of us 18% who retain a lot of trust in the national media — we who subscribe and donate and support organizations like CPJ — have something interesting or provocative to say every once in a while.

There’s plenty wrong with social media (and with Google, as covered very well recently by Carole Cadwalladr in the Guardian). You point out some of its failings in this piece, but you (and the rest of us) are stuck using it while railing against the many dangers it presents.

But legitimate, fact-based journalists still create the impression that the only way they’re willing to engage the public is through published reporting and op-eds. One good way to increase trust and fight fake news might be be to pay attention to your allies in the digital spaces where we’re forced to, or choose to, live. Make a conscious effort, even, to respond to a few of your lay followers.

We need you in the battle against demagoguery, bigotry, and the dismantling of social supports that have taken three generations to build. We need you in the fight to retain civil liberties already under threat. We respect you and take your contributions seriously.

Similarly, I suggest, you need us. And it would behoove you as a profession to respect and take us seriously, as individuals, in public, in the digital square.

(As a Twitter newbie without a personal website, I haven’t yet figured out how to post a long unpublished comment like this one. When I do, I will.)

Use MS Word to craft your thoughts, take a screen shot, then post as an image. Voila!


Hi, Lois: I urge you to read part two of this post (should be up tonight) in which some of these points are addressed. By the way, I am not part of the political press, but a critic and observer of it. Blocked by Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post and Jeremy Peters of the New York Times for criticizing them too much.

I often read your critiques, Jay, but I included you as a journalist since you’re a professor of journalism. Looking forward to Part II of your post.

Funny: Many journalists tell me how little I know about journalism because I’ve never been a practitioner of it.

Thornton Hall says:

Makes you wonder why they think they know how politics works.

You, at least, get honest reports from journalists in the field. Journalists think they understand politics based on the information they get from people who hate them and are trying to manipulate them.

The article should be entitled Group Think”.

As an academic “press critic” (that’s so meta it’s superfluous!), Jay writes a wordy list that misses much, because he can’t think outside the box of a left academic journalist.

Randy Still says:

I anxiously await your blog Liz where you disclose all the points Jay has missed….where would we be without critics?

WHen you get a rightwing academic journalist’s list, please post it here.

Great analysis. And dire. What can we do? This may be a terrible idea, but I’m not hearing it anywhere: If the goal is to start getting through to the consumers of fake news, mainstream journalism seems unlikely to do it, though it certainly has to hold the line on quality for everyone else.

The alt-right has made ample use of trolls; might an equivalent from the left be simply to go to Red State and Breitbart and other sites and start debating people on their own turf? And not to do so aggressively, but to do it calmly, with seriousness, not rage or dismissiveness. To admit the many causes for frustration one might have, from income inequality, to rising costs of drugs, to often excessive imposition of political correctness. To raise questions and doubts about simplistic or paranoid narratives. And so on.

No one might be persuaded, and there would be much vitriol against any alternative voices, but there are people out there who may not actually be enjoying being imprisoned by the narratives that dominate their worlds. Currently, one can visit such sites and never see a single dissenting voice, or even a complicating one.

Would this really be so unrealistic? I don’t see many other hopes at this point.

I have a relative who is doing just that. She posts fact checks, they reject her fact checks as liberally biased, she asks them to post reputable fact based proof of their claims, they can’t and re-revert to racist and sexist name calling and then go away. She stays calm (not sure I could). If enough of us did this it might have an effect but I’m not sure.

I try to debate Foxbots & Trumpkins on Facebook & usually get nowhere similar to your family member… just being called a liberal (like that’s a bad thing) & shouted at….

Only way out is to figure out a way to discredit the far right wing cause. GOP controlled Federal gov’t may be the avenue to get us there

It’d probably just get auto-filtered. Breitbart is kind enough to not filter rival pubs but the “Erickson Empire” simply won’t allow you to post from places like Truthout or Politico anymore. Also the wordpress-based like gatewaypundit.

Dave Sullivan says:

Why did the voters believe that Trump is qualified for the job? Would they hire a plumber with the same hours of experience as Trump has with government service? Where do they get the idea that being a functioning politician is so easy, anyone could walk on and do it ? Journalism is threatened, ok, but what happened to education ? Doesn’t an audience need to be minimally educated for journalism to function at all ?

Great point & you will notice that the more educated states went for Hillary while the least educated went for Trump.
That may sound elitist but so be it… facts are facts & Trump loves the undereducated! Of however he put it…

Education budgets have been getting cut in this country for over a generation now & we are humbly eating the fruit of that effort in 2016

Dean Wright says:

Excellent work, Jay–especially the diagnosis of how confusion is the friend, and even the objective, of a propaganda-focused administration.

I also agree that the old Beltway access model, in which journalists are fed mini-scoops and get to be a part of “the club”, is wholly inadequate to the new reality and can even feed the confusion.

There are some bright signs, including real-time fact-checking and less emphasis on he said-she said, accusation-driven reporting. However, this is indeed the most dangerous time the media have faced since the Palmer era after World War I.

Looking forward to Part 2.

Jill Abramson says:

This is an insightful diagnosis. The addiction to outmoded reporting customs in the Age of Trump is a particularly lethal symptom of the weakened state of journalism described in 1-17. Important to recognize that great investigative work is still being done, even if effects are not the desired ones.
Fascinated to see the treatment you prescribe in Part2.

A few suggestions: News orgs should immediately stop wasting declining resources by sending reporters to cover the same staged news events en masse (like press conferences). Use “pools” or, better yet, skip.
Give fuller partisan and profit-making identification of all talking heads given air time and “experts” quoted. Transparency begins the rebuilding of public trust.

Rick Greenberg says:

Spot on suggestions. Perhaps convening an emergency national meeting of credible top media leaders – newspapers, tv, cable, social media. Maybe through a national journalism organization (SPJ?) to put some of the silly competitions aside. Also amend the federal Communications Act, and bring back the requirement that broadcast present both sides of an issue, and restore public service programming.

More journalists need to get this. Press conferences were invented by politicians to get their story out.

Journalists have a widespread problem where they back rationalize “what we do” into “what democracy needs.”

The same is true of 99.5% of anonymous sources: the source is deliberately manipulating the press. They can take the bait if they want (inside scoops sell papers), but stop calling it good for us.

Diane Cimino says:

Let’s face it that Trump is a coward when it comes to facing a press conference. He isn’t able to answer the questions intelligently and fears the criticism of being embarrassed by his stupidity. He needs to be surrounded by his supporters to deliver his messages to have his ego stroked. And even then, if they don’t cheer him enough, he has to pat himself on the back to remind them of the great things he thinks he does. Refuse to report on his tweets saying you can’t be sure he sent them or Russia!

Yes, this is the key. Recognise that Donald Trump is frightened of the freewheeling press conference. He is intellectually and educationally unprepared to contribute to a free and fair exchange of ideas. This was demonstrated during the debates; both pre- and post-nomination. DJT’s responses devolved quickly to self-denial of prior statements, repetition, and misdirection.

Thornton Hall says:

Maybe Trump is a coward, maybe not. But folks at the WHCA (for example) obsess about process like press conferences and ignore substance like the fact that Ari Fleischer managed to hold thousands of press conferences and never once managed to say something true.

Frederick Brown says:

A rich patriot needs to buy twitter then put a stake through it’s heart.

Yes! I keep thinking that if Twitter, Google and Facebook had not gone public, things would not have wound up like this. Their profit incentives warped any “don’t be evil” values they started with.

Casey Chapple says:

I doubt either of the commenters here use Twitter. (Google & Facebook? Destroyers of any shred of privacy we have left, among other problems.) Twitter’s riches lie below the surface where regular people engage with each other usually in respectful ways. We can pick and choose with whom we engage, and know how to avoid trolls. Sometimes magic happens. Certainly friendships are made, and minds jostled into revelation.

In this troubling time for serious journalists, Twitter does serve to dispense links, such as Rosen’s to this important post. But political discussions are too fraught with the division and hysteria gripping our culture right now. The trolls infect these conversations so that they become poisonous very quickly.

So Twitter should not be considered a “news” conveyer like Google and Facebook. Yes, you can witness breaking events in real time, but the discussion around these events rarely produces insight or understanding. Not enough room for context, or time to develop meaning before the trolls ooze in.

Trump’s self-serving tweets represent one way to abuse this platform so that actual harm is done to our national cohesiveness. Twitter managers have an interesting problem on their hands with this particular account.

Great idea!

If there is “An organized movement on the political right to discredit mainstream journalism…” it must be because mainstream journalism is on the political left. This pretty much explains what is going on and being complained about, including this essay, which is decidedly left wing. Your prospects are indeed poor. Maybe a centrist press will emerge.

Rick Greenberg says:

Good reporting is neither left nor right. It is struggling to present the best obtainable version of the truth using agreed upon tools of credibility and ethics. Since its a human effort, it has flaws. But most journalists are committed to these principles, and so should all people and citizens of good will. Why? Because
its about your money, health, education, safety, and a decent future for your children. We are now overcome by more outright lies and misinformation than ever before, and the public should support its newspapers and credible, vetted media outlets which live by these principles – not the fake and hate news and the propaganda machines like FOX News – but not just FOX – that twists and distorts the news for partisan political gain and power. Think about it. I have found the usual response from Trump supporters to be either change the subject, or do a ju-jitsu tactic – accuse respected mainstream media of what I just accused fake news of doing. But that is just another lie and tactic that won’t get us anywhere. Our democracy is at stake. We deserve to really listen and respectfully try and understand the threats to America – from outside and inside.

Thornton Hall says:

Every narrative has a point of view. See lots of previous Jay Rosen posts for insight into the damage done by your confusion.

Gene Smolko says:

This is a RW shibboleth, nothing more. If the media were so liberal like the RW claims, we actual liberals would love it, but we don’t. We call it the Corporate Media.

No, what’s going on is a media source must tout the RW line 100% or it gets labeled liberal. Heck, I’ve even heard RWers call Fox liberal, obviously because it said a few things that hurt their fee fees.

Jay Rosen, thank you for the most insightful continuing commentary on media in this world we now live in. Can’t wait for part 2.

Vince DeMatta says:

You lost me when you blamed fake news on the right.

Where is fake news from ? Enlighten everyone please.

They certainly weren’t the ones who constructed ‘Serbian rape camps’ that no foreign powers could find ’til after-the-fact. Just sayin’.

When right-wing sources spin narratives, it’s about bibles and crosses being banned.

When the cable news networks spin narratives, thousands die needlessly to war.

Yes, things are looking bleak. But The Press was given special rights in the First Amendment because the Founding Fathers expected it to do two things: report the facts accurately and fearlessly and hold the government accountable for its actions. Many pressures have caused many parts of The Press to stray from this mission, as Mr. Rosen’s post accurately chronicles. But now more than ever, excuses won’t do. The Press must step up to do its duty, or forever forego its claim to the “special treatment” it receives under the Bill of Rights.

Here are 6 things The Press must start doing right now, when its obligations are the greatest:

* Resist normalizing Trump during the pre-inauguration period.
* Call out his anti-constitutional rhetoric and actions.
* Educate the public on the true meaning of the Constitution.
* Expose and contextualize Trump’s constant lying.
* Accurately report his narcissistic outbursts and behaviors.
* Hold him accountable for his performance as President, particularly with regard to the promises he made to his supporters during the campaign.

Bill Michtom says:

One problem with these suggestions is that they ignore the self-congratulatory ignorance and bigotry of the Trumpolity.

1. Local press doesn’t need to be good journalism. Small town papers used to print press releases from the local school and church. As those rags die, press really does become biased against those who love their local church.
2. People want point of view. Giving people what they want is, by definition, bad journalism.
3. We have two kinds of journalism: the kind with ethics and the kind people want.
4. We need one kind of journalism with both ethics and a righteous desire to sell newspapers.
See my latest:

Very insightful! Thank you, Jay!
I think it’s important to add to this conversation the value of local reporting, local media, community media that engage and listen to citizens where they are. It seems that this year we were pretty much focused on (or distracted by) national election coverage. Still, local issues, people organizing around the quality of water, air, education in small cities and districts, people collaborating on creative projects in local communitues, or calling for local government accountability, etc. all this news matters. Reporters on the ground, actively caring for the citizens they serve, bringing context, history, connections, and maintaining a courageous and respectful language are part of the puzzle of restoring trust in media.

Also: is anyone ever going to notice that the Comey letter happened because he knew his rebellious minions would get the Mark Felt treatment?

Democracy has been cursed with the false lesson that Robert Redford uncovered what was actually found by Sam Dash.

Jullius J Hayden Ph.D. (retired IT prof) says:

The Corpramedia is selling infotainment and little cares about veracity and responsibility to present facts. They will chase after DT & Co’s “news” like a cat after a lazer pointers’ spot.

Brilliant. We need the free press and in addition, sadly, a Senator McCain and Senator Graham more than ever before.

Sondra Kapp says:

How wonderful to read something other than “double-speak”. I have really begun to question my own sense of reality. Thank you.

Eileen Wilkinson says:

Thank you, Professor Rosen. I am terrified of the near future, and the press, a true Fourth Estate that we have not seen for a generation, must navigate the treacherous fault line that has developed that is undermining trust, and the ability to even identify, legitimate media. And, things must be called by the name that is true. Fake news is propaganda, nothing else. Fake news is equivalent to alt-right, and both must be abandoned by reporters. I look forward to Part II.

Martin Mocha says:

I have been writing about this for years and am happy to see it cogently articulated. The GOP rightwing has been hijacked by sociopathic extremists who are ruthless masters of perfidy. They have mastered the Goebbels methodology of not only pure disinformation but the art of “inverse deception” and projection. They project their own pathological traits upon their targeted enemies and yet, get away with especially demonstrated by their Fascist media machine i.e., Fox(ed) News, Limbaugh, Hannidy, O’Reilly, Ingram, Coulter etc..
The GOP has become the vessel for new age virulent candy coated Fascism packaged and sold for mass consumption and I have believed all along that the KEY was their ability to subvert the national media which I believe began when the Australian Fascist Rupert Murdock took Fox, infiltrated the national press and succeeded in permanently poisoning our national discourse.
The toxic calumny that is regurgitated daily by the monstrous rightwing media machine has had an inimical effect on our democracy and like a withering disease, has metastasized and virtually destroyed our current state of affairs to the point, I fear we are in checkmate. The main stream press is not only addicted to their own orthodoxy of reporting but they are also painfully spineless and so fearful of the rightwing Fascists, they have become pathetic sycophants which has allowed the relentless rightwing Fascist media, GOP operatives and private sector oligarchs to operate with impunity. The only answer is to fight the Fascists using their own insidious and nefarious playbook, and shove it back down their throats. The mistake the Democrats make is to think by being noble and above the fray, they will succeed but while standing tall, they are being envenomated by the snakes in the grass. Time to fight back for real because this is a war for democracy. As Rod Serling once said “and the pity of these things are that they are not confined to the Twilight Zone”.:-)

Jeff Stratford says:

I agree we need to fight back, and I think we can’t use their techniques. We have to find some other way to cut them off. I don’t know what it is right now, but we need to find it.

We need something like the old FCC rule about equal time reporting. With the current environment it will be hard to get something like that established again.

Martin Mocha says:

Another point to add is…….due to the rightwing, Fascist media machine on TV, AM radio and the web, they have fully ensorcelled millions of credulous, cretinous citizens who believe everything they hear or read as unassailable Gospel and even worse, are working on a continued pernicious program of history revisionism.
The media IS the GOP rightwing’s key, shield, armor and battering ram used to not only indoctrinate but deflect and divert attention from their own criminal acts while relentlessly vilifying and dehumanizing their opponents.. Until we fight back with equally nefarious, ruthless tactics, it will continue to be a one way street to horrific defeat and the end of democracy as we knew it. Carl Sagan eloquently said, “the human species will probably self destruct, becoming just another failed footnote in the fossil record”.

Holger Jensen says:

Your views are bang on. I’m a retired print journalist — AP, Newsweek, newspapers — and don’t know whether to laugh or cry at how Trump makes chumps of today’s reporters. Among other things I covered Russia in the Brezhnev era, when the Soviets used disinformation the same way as Trump and Co. There is only one way to counter it. Ignore Trump’s Tweets instead of treating every one as “breaking news.” Stop inviting KellyAnn Conway, Spicer, Boris and other “spokespeople” to spew their alternate reality on your TV shows. Demand to see Trump’s tax returns; investigate his kids’ business dealings; hammer his conflicts of interest; report on every foreign real estate and branding deal you can find abroad. And never let anything he or they say get by without a fact-check. You won’t get “access” or “the interview” but you’ll be a better reporter without it.

Thornton Hall says:

As a former print journalist, don’t you think Trump is exploiting the same flaw that Joe McCarthy did? The “objective” media has always been defenseless against shameless liars. The myth of Murrow allowed for denial, but Trump is just McCarthy who plays well on TV (as opposed to the original who self-destructed on camera).

Holger Jensen says:

To some extent yes. But the urge for objectivity has to stop before you reach the point of printing lies to “give the other side a fair hearing.” I am appalled at today’s TV reporters saying with a serious face that Putin is “taking the high road” by refusing to respond to Obama’s sanctions while waiting for his Trump-Chump to take office. Giuliani has turned into a slavering nut case that deserves to be in a lunatic asylum instead of on our air waves. But I am equally dismayed at the sight of so many of our Republican lawmakers slamming Obama for retaliating against Russian hacking while saying nice things about Trump’s bromance with Putin.

Judith Abeles says:

The press have only themselves to blame, for focusing more on gossip and scandal than on substance and analysis. It was as tho’ journalists are not well enough educated to sort out and critique what is being said by politicians and candidates. They reported on what was said, and let it go at that, never calling a lie a lie; never challenging what was said no matter how erroneous or unfounded. I never heard a journalist challenge Trump over his statement that climate change is a hoax, never saw a climate expert put on opposite a Trump surrogate to challenge that statement. The press totally failed to take on the issues, dissect them, analyse them, etc.

K-H. Gabbey says:

Jay Rosen,
Bill Moyers would be a great contributor to your plan to save or to expand responsible journalism…

All of this is true and signals the end of the world as we know it, resulting in a presidency of subjective truth. To say that this is dangerous is an understatement. It is cataclysmic. Without addressing aspects of this article, suffice that this not unlike an abortion of a brain dead fetus. The sooner this electoral aberration is aborted and flushed down the toilet, the better for our country and the world. Mr. Trump’s irreconcilable conflicts of interest are a good starting point for his inevitable impeachment.

Great article Jay…
I would add the money/profits in corporate media is another major pRobles.

FoxNews is winning the ratings (hence ad dollars) battle on cable news therfore CNN & MSNBC try to keep up. You can’t attack the leader when you want to be him.

Fox is conservative by nature so their viewership are from the older generations… young people are either out enjoying their lives, on social media or simply watching a lot less news programs.. that will never change.

So how do we combat the profit incentives in journalism? Rachel Maddow, Joy Reid & Laurence O’Donnell are a few people who seem to not be afraid to speak truth to the almighty dollar but they are by far in the minority.

Outlets like this (or something similar) would be ideal… & they put on social media platforms where it could receive more traffic, likes, followers, friends, etc…

In 2010, the Dems had over 1.2 million more house of Representatives votes but they lost the majority. In 2016 Hillary got over 2.8 million more votes than the Donald. Message here is we are still are majority smart country we just need a better vehicle to get that education to more geographical areas.

I’m looking forward to reading your 2nd part along with the comments. Only by us knowing each other will we be able to weather Hurricane Trump/Pence… because I truly believe that Ryan & McConnell will move to put Pence into the oval house asap.
Make the election illegitimate & impeachment plans for Trump doesn’t put their boy in the top seat but get past Jan 20th & they are golden

“In 2010, the Dems had over 1.2 million more house of Representatives votes but they lost the majority”

Not true.
GOP candidates in 2010 got 44,827,44 votes to democrats 38,980,192. They also got more in 2014 (40,081,282 to 35,624,357) and in 2016 (63,153,387 to 61,776,218).

Thank you. I look forward to part 2, and to insisting that worth while journalists take heed.

Sharon Kramer says:

The war on journalists is a war within the industry itself. Decision makers at CNN, MSNBC and FOX, etc. have allowed themselves to be political mouth-pieces who sell concepts, not evidence-based news. It’s the news outlets that have the responsibility to change to make a difference. I like to read The Hill. Unlike the vast majority, they seem to publish fact-based articles, both left and right leaning. This tells me they are trying to tell the truth, not sell me an agenda.

Great points!

The journalism war does seem particularly incestuous and, likely, that fight is an outgrowth of the pervasive and incessant commercialization of the likes of CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and others feigning newsworthiness under a decreasing audience that tends to drink from the same trough.

As such, decisions rise from P&L statements with little regard for abating expediency in favor of veracity and, likewise, little regard to expand the audience base via “common good” evidence-based news.

Indeed, as you stated, “It’s the news outlets that have the responsibility to change to make a difference” … if not, whatever remains of its circle of influence continues its degradation.

An outsider but quite obviously affected by the politics of the USA as is virtually everybody in the world.

The tragedy of the USA for many outside is Obama not Trump. And anyway up until just a very short time ago Trump was being dismissed by most of the voices we could hear from the US as an extremely cognitively challenged bumpkin. Now it seems he is an evil genius.

I have tried to go the distance on this article. I am a big fan of Rosen. Australia has been a place of interest for Jay. Following is an excerpt from an article of his on the public broadcaster of Australia. Note that this body is across all media except the print media, though it does have some publications. Rosen was entertained more than shocked by its attitude. Many Australians are horrified by its group think, which tolerates no centre or right thinking. And its huge reach and government protected dominance of our “free”

And this long saddening dummy spit does not inspire hope that such arrogance amongst the previously dominant class of the political media elites has as yet felt chastened by its rejection by those whose lives it would control. Anyway to Jay in 2011.

“how did we get to the point where it seems entirely natural for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation to describe political journalists appearing on its air as “the insiders?” Don’t you think that’s a little strange? I do. Promoting journalists as insiders in front of the outsiders, the viewers, the electorate… this is a clue to what’s broken about political coverage in the US and Australia. Here’s how I would summarise it: things are out of alignment. Journalists are identifying with the wrong people. Therefore the kind of work they are doing is not as useful as we need it to be.”

What Jay identifies back then has changed in one particular way for Australians, then the ABC identified with the elites of Australia. Now they identify with global elites. Our ex PM Kevin Rudd describes himself as a citizen of no nation, rather a citizen of the world. Our pompous pious politico media class aren’t just flying over the middle, they are listening less and less to almost all of their own. Here it is only bother with the inner city cool people. Our PM won’t attend major conferences on the development of the vast north of Australia. But have a get together of the hip crowd in an inner city high tech start up crowd. Great. And guess which way our media leans also.

My suggestion, time to grow up kiddies. The times for you and your mates have been good. Important, listened to, influential, boosted by your superiority to the right, (but not right thinking peasantry). But complex global system, edge of chaos almost constantly, continuous emergence of new. No going back. I have always been struck by the left’s devotion to simple linear systems. And commitment to control. A few more rules over and over. Your regulations will in the end be the end of your civilisation. And ours. Nobody can know them, and nobody can know their effects. So your response to Trump. Change our electoral system. Make it simpler. The media, more rules. More regulations for everything.

And stop sneering please.

Jay, now for many many people you are of the very scary ones.

Enjoyed this post and look forward to the sequel. I have a trivial question: I love the format, the font etc. Is this a standard-issue WordPress blog style? I would really appreciate it!

Rachael M. says:

Most important article I’ve read in a long time. Brilliant overview, Jay.

Chris O'Donoghue says:

Elevating dialogue here. Not only the article but the discussion it has triggered. Comments various and thought provoking. Thank you all. Now let’s get to work!

IMO, digital money is in “spotify for news” concept, like Inkl or Blendle. Traditional subscriptions are like CDs in a rack – owned, loved, but limited to a few.

First, let me say that it’s been indeed refreshing to read an article and read responses where the posters of those responses didn’t sink into the sewer of personal attacks and name-calling, as I’ve witnessed on a few other sites.

Second, while this article was, for the most part, spot-on (and in a few ways, truly frightening), the problem lies on both sides of the fence — with our elected officials AND the print and electronic journalists who cover them. The last time I saw a TV news personality really put the screws to any elected official and get anything close to results was when ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos turned the heat up on Indiana Governor Mike Pence after he signed that state’s so-called Religious Freedom Act. Stephanopoulos tried to get Pence to answer a question with a simple yes or no: Does the act allow businesses to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Pence kept dodging the question, providing long-winded answers instead of the simple yes or no. Sadly, the major traditional medial outlets have been so cowed by the right playing the “liberal media bias” card that you see too many elected officials on the right being allowed to dodge tough questions or avoid answering them directly without being challenged. However, this is not unique to the right. Many elected officials on the left have been able to dodge similarly tough questions without suffering any consequences. A larger part of the problem, however, is that we’ve become a mass-consumption society that wants everything as easy to digest as possible. Look at the current state of election campaigns. Substance has fallen victim to sound bites. And the candidates and the major media seem to think that’s all we need to base our decisions on because in our busy lives, we don’t have time for much more than that. (At times, I’ve fallen prey to that myself.) As Shakespeare wrote in Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but with ourselves, that we are underlings.” It’s time we demand that all responsible journalists grow some stones and stop allowing elected officials and candidates for office to dodge questions they don’t like. Elected officials and candidates for office do interviews because they’re publicity without having to spend campaign funds. Journalists need to refuse to give such people of all ideological stripes free passes and demand that they answer questions directly, and not be afraid to end interviews abruptly when they refuse to do so. Don’t insult my intelligence by dodging a question. I’ll respect an elected official or a candidate more by answering the question directly, even if I don’t agree with the answer. Responsible journalists should also stop allowing the surrogates for such people to obfuscate and dodge as well. Personally, I’d like to see more high-ranking officials be willing to do interviews themselves rather than let the surrogates deliver spin and continue to spin even on the few occasions when interviewers hold their feet to the fire.

The one thing the media never put the screws to was whether that law favored exclusively male ruled religions, i.e. the Catholic, Mormon, Southern Baptist and Islamic religions, among others.

Somehow, the question of religious intolerance only reaches to a small percentage of the U.S. population: gay, transgender, etc. When it comes to the issue of over half the population of the United States having rights to the most immutable of properties, their own g-d, fskin, bodies, y’all on the left as well as the right are silent. You’re co-opted at a level beyond and below politics: the woman you sleep with is the woman you own.

In particular, I like your approach to “journalists need to refuse to give such people of all ideological stripes free passes and demand that they answer questions directly, and not be afraid to end interviews abruptly when they refuse to do so. Don’t insult my intelligence by dodging a question. I’ll respect an elected official or a candidate more by answering the question directly, even if I don’t agree with the answer.”

Your point seems a reasonable and robust approach to the necessary give-and-take of any dialogue regardless of the stature and intent of the participants.

Maybe it’s equally as reasonable to consider a more “lawyerly” approach to interviewing public officials in that, when posed with a “yes” or “no” question, the interviewee is brought back to the center only once if the response is anything other than yes or no. At the point, the interview should end … abruptly, without apology, and with an avowed commitment from that news organization to not invite said person back for another shot of spin.

Journalism is a hollow venue if served on an obsequious plate.

Paul DeCamp says:

Let you be abused by this hyperventilating nonsense. “The darkest time in American history since World War I”? And Trump hasn’t even served for 1 day yet.

Point by point:
(1) Economic crisis. Which one? The Big Short of 2008, or the declining effective wage since 1973? The print press has been losing readers for 50 years but manages somehow to hang on. Anyway, are the presses all closed? Have the reporters all been put in jail? This is not Venezuela or Cuba. Whatever economic decline this author refers to has been going on for a while and HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH RECENT EVENTS. That is a false narrative, i.e. it’s bullshit.

(2) This point is not a sentence. Read it. There’s no verb in that sentence, the author’s sentence, not mine. Whatever point one might infer is beyond logic; it’s post-truth. More bullshit.

(3) There’s journalism, not political journalism, that’s properly referred to as propaganda. Almost everybody did not get the story wrong. This author, and his audience, are living in the echo chamber. Did you not see Anne Coulter get mocked and humiliated for picking Trump to win more than a year before the election. She wasn’t the only one. Then the author jumps to a conclusion not based on the premise. It’s a non sequitur. How does he get “no one is responsible for fixing what is broken” from the idea that people got the prediction wrong. This is at the level of reasoning of a High School sophomore. Dare I say it’s sophomoric? No, just more bullshit.

(4) Point four also begins with a lengthy comma spliced run-on sentence. The author is at least consistently awful. Regarding fake news, the two fakest news stories, the pope endorsing Trump and the FBI agent getting killed in a fire to cover up a Hillary scandal, were both invented by the same liberal social justice warrior. NPR’s On the Media Report tracked the guy down. Even the latest issue of the New Yorker has more fake news, the Borowitz Report, about Steven Hawking saying stuff about Trump. The majority of fake news however comes from Moldova written by young men who simply are driving eyeballs to get ad revenue. More bullshit.

(5) The author cites the existence of right wing, or extreme right wing news sources as a part of the overall Winter of his discontent. Two problems here: First, what has this to do with his premise that Trump is the cause of all this. The right wing press preexisted Trump’s candidacy. Second, is there no countervailing left wing media? Yes, practically all the mainstream media tilts left with Fox being the exception. So again it’s more bullshit.

Are you still with me?

(6) The sixth point isn’t really a point at all but more of a rambling complaint that people don’t trust the media. Again, how does this support the premise that Trump’s election was the cause. More bullshit.

(7) Again, the seventh point opens with a non-sentence. This asshole can’t write. What is his point other than the pith aphorism he cites. I fail to see that as supporting the premise unless one drinks the kool-ade he has to offer, i.e. the liberal narrative. It’s getting steamier and piled higher.

(8) Again, point eight is not a sentence. It’s a rambling complaint of Trump’s method of addressing the media. How does this threaten the republic?

(9) He cast doubt on the election? It was the other side that challenged the count. “Trashing the norms of democracy,” means what? What are the norms? Are they enumerated in the constitution? This is just more bullshit.

(10) If journalists what a “facts based debate” then they need to dig up the facts. That is what journalists do. When Trump makes his outrageously false statements then report that as news. Let the readers decide if he’s a loaded diaper. Don’t say you can’t do your job because the witness is uncooperative.

(11) Eleven points. I’m tired. I surrender. Reminds me of the old joke. There was this little girl who kept begging her father to get her a pony for Christmas. But her father grew annoyed by the little girl’s selfish attitude and constant cloying, so he wanted to teach her a lesson. Christmas morning the father takes the girl to the barn and show her an enormous pile of horse shit. The little girls immediately dives into it head first, laughing with glee. The father is surprised and says, “Honey, Honey, what are you doing jumping into that pile of horse shit?” The little girls says, “Oh daddy, with all this shit that MUST BE A PONY in there somewhere.” That’s how I feel about this article. If you have gotten this far, which I doubt, then you have a right to complain. But here I stand I can go no further.

“Second, is there no countervailing left wing media? Yes, practically all the mainstream media tilts left with Fox being the exception. So again it’s more bullshit.

Are you still with me?”

In a word, No.

Can’t imagine how the tilted-left mainstream media jizzed out all those nothing-stories about the appearance of Hillary’s emails, and treated Comey’s every word like he was spurting gold rather than inserting himself into an election.

“Journalism that tries to find its public through “inside” coverage of the political class is vulnerable to rejection by portions of the public that are busy rejecting that class.”
Like so much of what you’ve written in parts one and two, this speaks to journalists in the UK too. Of course, Trump is a very particular phenomenon with which the US media have to deal. But similar failures in the news business (from the closing of local papers to a lack of newsroom diversity to the inside-Westminster obsession of political reporters) helped lead us Brits to the disaster of Brexit. Unfortunately, we haven’t seen here the kind of introspection now surfacing in the American media – or the kind of analysis you’ve provided in these two pieces and for which I (as a journalist and teacher) am grateful. While there has been an acknowledgment that much of the London-based commentariat is out of touch and cut off from the real problems of real people, little has been done to address that. Political “news” is still dominated by off-the-record “sources” and party intrigue – about which absolutely nobody beyond a narrow group of London-based columnists and editors cares.

Leona M. Merrin says:

Inheriting what we didn’t wish for. Welcome to NightmareAlley where the ghouls we elected will prove that the Worst is yet to come.

Scott Malcomson says:


Chuck Marsh says:

A lot of conservatives, myself included did not vote for Trump. We voted against a known, habitual thief and liar. We felt that we could not afford it after living through 8 years of Obama’s lies.

Re: Number 4. “In fact, no one knows how to fix this.”
I don’t have a simple answer but the first step would be to identify the source of the problem.
I am hard pressed to imagine, we would even be having this discussion, if not for the Telecommunications act of 1996. The FCC stated, “The goal of this new law is to let anyone enter any communications business — to let any communications business compete in any market against any other. The Telecommunications Act of 1996 has the potential to change the way we work, live and learn.”
Well, mission accomplished except that, “the way we work, live and learn” is 180 from the diversity of voices, promised in the Bill.
Six corporations now own 90% of the media. Is it all that difficult to recognize the connection/ connect the dots?
Twenty years worth of evidence, contrary to the stated objective of the legislation, not enough to warrant at least a glimmer of neurological activity associating, proximate cause for undesirable consequences, if not an actual discussion of addressing the very real contradiction?
The real problem is the lack of political will to even admit the connection.
If that never happens, I assume we still have antitrust laws, although the record of the last twenty years would indicate, either they have been eliminated or their is no one willing to enforce them.

William says:

What a funny article!!

Once again the author exihibits that pychological condition known as projection. Substitute the name Obama for Trump in the article and the author has a reality instead of a conjecture. Obama and his surogates actually proposed changing the first amendment in a manner fearfully described in this article as a possible “assault” by Trump on the freedom of the press. Classic Progressive tactics of the political end justified by any means, flowing the lead of Stalin’s American fellow travelers endorsing the 1939 Nazi Communist non-aggression pact after considering the Nazi secular evil incarnate.

The article is the hilarious indignation of a self important special interest group who can not compete in the modern world. Bad marketing when you call your customers idiots. LOL.

I love what you said, especially: “Once again the author exihibits that pychological condition known as projection…Bad marketing when you call your customers idiots.”

Scott Malcomson says:

Clean up journalism. We’ve been telling you lot for years, and you’ve been ignoring basic requirements of the trade in favor of shortcuts and clickbait. I’ve personally seen a Pulitzer-winning reporter fall for a troll who claimed a “brony” was behind a cop’s shooting, all on basis of a fictional blog she didn’t have time or interest in checking out first. Stuff like this is why your trust ratings are in the toilet.

And because they’re in the toilet, you’re not going to have much traction when you come to us and try to claim journalism is under fire. We’re quite happy that you are, because maybe now you’ll get your act together.

Who was that Pulitzer-winning reporter, what was the story about and where did she work?

That’d be this one, I believe. Frances Roble.

This regurgitation epidemic among the ‘respected press’ is part of what started the divide in the first place. At least on the right. For some reason it feels like the shift happened somewhere between Nixon resigning and Iran-Contra, because I recall a whoooole lot of what the Trumpeters say about media trust right now used to come from the mouths of Malcolm X and Medgar Evers. Then for about 20 years everyone was generally ok with it, and now the wedge comes from the other end.

(For that matter, if you’ve read anything recent about one Richard Spencer, you’ll quickly realise some is probably intentional, he was mentored in uni by the same liberals he hates, and is probably adopting the terminology/rationale)

Ah, yes, now I remember that incident. Quite embarrassing.

Thank you for some health food for thought!

I am a conservative and appreciate that you speak to conservatives and liberals alike. The challenge we are facing is existential, and solutions will require going beyond partisan thinking.

One of (y)our allies in the process of renewal (of journalism and society) is Brian Eno who, according to an article in Rolling Stone suggests that “we underwent a mass disillusionment in 2016, and finally realised it’s time to jump out of the saucepan” and specifically mentions the importance of giving direct financial support to good journalism…

Robert Owen says:

This article is so long winded that I made it about halfway through. The single reason the press is in trouble is that they have seen themselves as entertainers, gifted with unique vision, for so long. The writer and the readers who commented had one main theme, that the press had somehow been robbed of their power by Donald Trump and his uneducated minions. No one in the press wants to claim the very bad job they’ve done at ferreting out truth, the intentional lies they’ve told in defending Obama’s failed policies and promoting his would-be successor, and their disdain for their own country. Nearly all who commented here voiced his/her opinion as to the NATURE of Conservatives and expressed venomous versions of WHY we voted for Trump. Hillary deserved to lose and the press even more so. She is who she is but the press chose their role. Trump is no bargain and no one knows what he’ll do but we knew that the alternative(allowing the “progressive agenda” to proceed uninterrupted) was unacceptable, in all possible ways.

Ann Hatchell says:

I concur

punching, wind says:

Basically, the advice is this: Focus on the basics, and nobody gives a crap about your opinion, and break real news.

As Willard said: “Every minute I stay in this room, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger.”

I’m with Charlie.

I tracked down your piece after reading a column in my local paper. The writer admitted being inspired by your two-part series. You are right on many counts but the problems have deep roots with branches extending across the globe. Why? Because many of the problems infecting journalism have become endemic to the business – I hate to call journalism a profession. It is certainly not a profession in the same sense as that of say electrician. I have discovered that many journalists cannot be criticized. It is often reported that Edward R. Murrow said of his own profession, “Journalists don’t have thin skins. They have no skins.” My findings since retirement from the business in 2009 support this claim. I have noticed factual errors in published stories but discovered it is impossible to engage many reporters in a discussion. In my experience on the Web, newspaper reporters are the only group to respond to criticism with terse e-mails typed using massive fonts in a screaming bold style. Before journalists can act as checks on power, journalists must be willing to accept criticism and learn from their errors. And then journalists can begin to move their business forward.

No more slavish “journalism” now that obama is on the way out, time for some critical reporting to really prove to us stupid rubes that trump is bad, and whatever else we need to be influenced by you into believing. Point #20 according to you, the Washington Post is going investigative. You forgot to say who owns the Post. Jeff Bezos. Mr. Money Bags. Be nice to him.