The Facts of Life: “Meet the Press”

Because I know how to get facts out of newspapers, I’ve been kinder to the news media than a lot of people.

I’ve explained that…

As I learned in high school, every news medium displays some political lean, but facts themselves do not. It’s the strength of great news writing to thrill, move or anger us with stories well told. Yes, a journalist’s personal impressions of an event are conveyed by choice of words, but no matter how provocative the language, the facts in those stories are just…facts.

True, I still maintain, but I have not been unaware or accepting of the way newspapers have chosen to highlight certain aspects of news. Just because I knew from collecting the facts that Hillary Clinton wasn’t untrustworthy, wasn’t guilty of I-don’t-know-what doesn’t mean I wasn’t aware that my main news source, the New York Times, had overloaded their news pages with repeating the email story as if it were a scandal. And placing that non-story on the front page.

When it was nothing. The scandal was that the New York Times kept reporting the email story as if it were a scandal.

I got angrier and angrier. But apparently a number of voters in certain states got more suspicious of Hillary Clinton, rather than critical of the Times.

For me, the major problem we’re facing when it comes to fake news and lousy reporting?  The people who reject facts, reject expert opinion based on facts, don’t want to pursue facts, don’t want to think, don’t want to do anything except believe. In god perhaps, but certainly in brain garbage.

However mildly I view how the press reported on the election, and however ferociously I view the masses of ignoramuses who are to blame for the fascist takeover of the country, I still found this report on “the press and the hustlers, hucksters, and cowards who helped elect Donald Trump” from Rick Perlstein in the Washington Spectator hugely powerful.

For one thing, Perlstein gave me some history and context I didn’t know. For instance, re emails [my bolding]:

The elite gatekeepers of our public discourse never bothered with context: that every Secretary of State since the invention of the internet had done the same thing, because the State Department’s computer systems have always been awful; that at the end of the administration of the nation’s 41st president a corrupt national archivist appointed by Ronald Reagan upon the recommendation of Dick Cheney signed a secret document giving George H.W. Bush personal, physical custody of the White House’s email backup tapes so they would never enter the public record. (A federal judge voided the document as “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion, and contrary to law.”) The White House of his son George W. Bush erased 22 million of its official emails, including those under subpoena from Congress. Newspapers archived by the Lexis-Nexis database mentioned Hillary R. Clinton’s 33,000 erased private emails 785 times in 2016. I found six references to George W. Bush’s 22 million erased public ones: four in letters to the editor, one in a London Independent op-ed, another in a guide to the U.S. election for Australians, and one a quotation from a citizen in the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun.

Perlstein ends his essay with this, re Time Magazine:

Time magazine: they just ran a very illuminating piece by historian David Kaiser exposing Steve Bannon’s alarming interpretation of a theory advanced by amateur historians Neil Howe and William Strauss in books like The Fourth Turning: An American Prophesy, that every 80 years or so the United States endures a nation-transforming crisis: “More than once during our interview,” Kaiser wrote of an earlier interview with Bannon, where “he pointed out that each of the three preceding crises had involved a great war, and those conflicts had increased in scope from the American Revolution through the Civil War to the Second World War. He expected a new and even bigger war as part of the current crisis, and he did not seem at all fazed by the prospect.”

That the president elect’s closest adviser both welcomes apocalyptic conflagrations, and will soon be well-positioned to bring one about, is the kind of news you’d think a more responsible national press would be pursuing. I haven’t seen much mention of the fact, beyond my Bolshevik friends on Facebook, however. From the warm and fuzzy confines of Time’s editorial offices, however, I received the following reassuring missive by way of balance:

“5 Potential Quick Victories for President Donald Trump: Few have high expectations for the President-elect’s foreign policy. But he could make some big improvements.”

Click the link. Print it out. Seal between two six-inch thick plates of Lexan glass and bury it 50 feet deep in a lead-lined bunker. Future archaeologists are going to need it. It will help them explain how a once-great civilization fell.

It’s a long essay and it’s worth every minute you spend reading it. Meet the Press | Washington Spectator

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