The Media Drops The Ball-Again

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For over three years now, our national media continues to try and normalize this president. Nobody points this out better than media critic Eric Boehlert. You’ve maybe seen Eric on MSNBC, as he’s regularly on AM Joy on most weekends. For years he wrote for Media Matters, a progressive non-profit organization that specializes in monitoring and analyzing conservative media lies and misinformation. In addition, he has a regular segment on progressive talk-show host Stephanie Miller every Monday on SiriusXM Channel 127. Now, he has his new website: Press Run. I hope you enjoy Eric’s take. As usual, he’s spot on. There are links below if you’d like to subscribe to his site. It’s free.

 

How Ap, NPR, and NYT help whitewash Trump’s virus madness

Normalizing carries a high price

By Eric Boehlert

After three years we start to lose the words and the right language to describe Trump’s often demented behavior. Unhinged, incoherent, and relentlessly misinformed, Trump has done untold damage to the presidency. And now, with America facing a looming pandemic, Trump’s dangerous actions threaten to take a deadly toll.

Yet the Beltway press, determined to normalize Trump at every turn, refuses to break with its three-year timidity and to be honest with news consumers about what’s happening. The latest, and most stark, example of that failure came when Trump visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta on Friday and briefed a troubled nation on the state of the novel coronavirus, the disease that has so far infected more than 100,000 people around the world and killed more than 3,500—including at least 19 in the United States.

These were among the low-lights as Trump addressed reporters while wearing a campaign hat at the science institute:  

-He lied and said anybody who wanted to could get tested for the virus.

-He insisted he didn’t want infected passengers let off a cruise ship in San Francisco because that would increase the tally of victims in the United States.

-He called Washington’s Democratic governor a “snake.”

-He bragged about his uncle who was an MIT professor.

-He referenced Fox News reporting instead of government reports regarding the virus.

-He asked a Fox News reporter about the TV ratings for Trump’s recent town hall on that network.

-He bragged that he was a gifted science student: ” Maybe I have a natural ability.”

It was the equivalent of a national emergency — a declaration of incompetence and delusion on a grand scale. And yet much of the press coverage looked away, refusing to simply detail Trump’s transparently shocking behavior.

The New York Times covered the stunning event as a straight ahead news story, feverishly whitewashing all traces of the Trump madness and presenting the CDC visit as somehow being normal. “‘It Will End’: Trump Urges Nation to Avoid Panicking” read the absurd Times headline.

Readers were left absolutely clueless about Trump’s actual unhinged performance:

President Trump sought to play down the coronavirus outbreak on Friday and offered a vote of confidence to besieged federal health officials as infections spread further, markets tumbled again and the authorities scrambled to accelerate the availability of testing kits across the country.

Imagine witnessing what Trump did at the CDC and coming up with that news lede.

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Thankfully, some journalists pulled back the curtain. “As a reporter, in general I’m not supposed to say something like this, but: The president’s statements to the press were terrifying,” wrote Adam Rogers at Wired, following Trump’s  CDC fiasco.  “That press availability was a repudiation of good science and good crisis management from inside one of the world’s most respected scientific institutions.”

But all last week as Trump abandoned attempts to lead a country in a time of crisis, the press too often bent over backwards to try to normalize his bizarre and dangerous behavior, portraying him, at worst, as slightly eccentric.

This was the innocent question the Associated Press posed, as Trump did his best to mislead the public: “Whom to believe on the coronavirus threat — the president saying one thing or the public health officials standing beside him and saying something a little different?”

The AP stressed there was a “disconnect” between Trump’s “breezy” style and what he was saying, and the actual truth about the virus, Why not just come out and report that the President of the United States was relentlessly lying about a public health crisis?

In a cringe-worthy report last week, National Public Radio stressed that Trump’s “breezy” approach (there’s that word again), where he relies on his “gut” for information, was “colliding with a public health emergency in the form of coronavirus.” Specifically, Trump, as part of his calculated misinformation campaign, had appeared on Fox News and completely contradicted government experts’ estimates for the virus’ mortality rate. There’s nothing “breezy” about that.

Over the weekend, Politico went with a headline that blamed Trump’s “haphazard” management style for the coronavirus confusion. (The headline has since been changed.) “Haphazard” suggested that Trump had been needlessly sloppy and disorganized in his handling of the virus crisis, which honestly would be welcomed if that were the case. Instead, Trump has been purposefully lying to the American people about the virus. Yet how many “Trump Lies About Pandemic” headlines have you seen in recent days? Zero, right?

Let’s be clear: There has been some outstanding and brave reporting on coronavirus in recent weeks, as news organizations throw extraordinary resources at the historic story and try to make sense of the fast-moving crisis. But in terms of the Trump coronavirus coverage, the press has utterly failed in telling the truth. And that stems from the press’ three-year commitment to normalize Trump. By refusing to call him a liar, refusing to call him a radical, refusing to question his inability to communicate in a coherent, cogent way for days on end, the press has shied away from truth-telling in favor of normalcy.

And now, as the country teeters on the precipice of a truly dangerous chapter in our history, the consequences of that normalization campaign are exploding into full view.

24 comments

  1. Important post, Jeff. I was just thinking yesterday that even we who openly criticize the Liar-in-Chief too rarely highlight the obvious fact that the President of the United States has to be one of the most mentally-challenged individuals ever to hold any elected office. When I say our current president is stupid, I mean that not as an insult but as a plain statement of fact.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It absolutely is a statement of fact Jerry. At a time of heightened worry and uncertainty, this is an absolute disaster. At the bare minimum, we should expect our presidents to just give us the facts as they are. With this one, not one word can be believed.

      Like

  2. Glad to see someone is calling this crap for what it is. After hearing Trump’s comments about the passengers on the cruise ship, I disconnected myself from the corporate media feeds as much as I could.

    I honestly think that America needs to move from mass media sources and return to independent journalists and writers. I believe that my 5 year old is more capable of delivering straight and honest news than the people covering Trump.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. One problem, Bros, is that the mass media have the money that makes in-depth investigation possible. Without the money behind them, independent reporters would not be able to afford to research and write the stories we need to hear. Obviously, this is a two-edged sword, because mass media can force reporters to dummy-down their stories as well as their passion. This is obviously what is happening more and more these days, even the media moguls are scared that Trump will put them out of business, so they are kowtowing to his threats.
      Where are the media owners with balls to fight this? There don’t seem to be many left, not in the USA. Trump right now has more power than Hitler or Caesar ever had. He is not yet the dictator/king he yearns to be, but he is working his way there.
      This should frighten the mass media, but instead it is wearing them down. Maybe it is time to stop paying attention to American media, and start looking at news events through the eyes of the world. Us “foreigners” do not need to kiss Trump’s ass, although some do.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. A few years ago, Trump’s reign was being called “the new normal.” Now it’s no longer new and was never normal, and the people are finally awakening to the fact that Trump is an abomination and must be defeated in November….as attested by the amazingly sudden groundswell and coalescing around Joe Biden in the realization that someone has to take on that destiny in order to save the country.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, Biden’s rise has been nothing short of miraculous. The people are speaking. They’re saying: Enough!! Time to coalesce, come together, and get rid of this absolute nightmare of a president. The earlier we have our nominee, the better off we’ll be in November. It appears that’s exactly what’s happening.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I see that Bernie’s staying in the race, but probably more by way of pressuring Biden to steer a more progressive course than in realistic hopes of beating Biden for the nomination. I hope and expect that Bernie won’t go all “my way or the highway” to the bitter end, but will instead end up urging his supporters to back Biden 100%. We’ll get where Bernie wants to go eventually, but “middle America” isn’t there yet, and trying to get there all at once risks another four years of Trump.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I think you’re spot on mistermuse. We need to let Bernie leave on his own timeline. I don’t think he will prolong this for months. Like you said, he wants to pressure Biden on these issues. And, in the long run, I think it will be a good thing. We’re going to need as many Bernie voters as we can get in November. I think Biden will let him exit on his own terms.

        Like

      3. I have found that sometimes the system has to “reset” to “recognize” you before it will register the “Like” option. It doesn’t happen on most blogs, but I’ve come across a couple that do this. Probably has something to do with the selected theme.

        Like

  4. Eric, good post. The US president is not just “rough around the edges” as his followers say. This independent and former GOP (and Dem) voter thinks Trump is the most corrupt anf deceitful president in my lifetime, including Richard Nixon who was a crook. Taking the president at his word is a fool’s errand.

    We need more Republicans to state the obvious as did this GOP Michigan mayor.

    Here is a headline and subheadline from The Guardian yesterday. It speaks for itself:

    “Republican Michigan mayor endorses Biden instead of ‘deranged’ Trump

    Michael Taylor, mayor of Sterling Heights, says he’s voting for former vice-president as Biden and Sanders battle for key state.” Keith

    Liked by 1 person

    1. PS – I was pleased to see my local newspaper print my letter to the editor this morning. The Charlotte Observer ran it under the headline, “White House chaos leave us in a lurch.”
      Here is the piece:
      “As an independent voter and older person, I was well aware of the untruthful nature of the now president. Thomas Wells, an attorney who worked with him said before the election “Donald Trump lies everyday even about things of no consequence.” Yet, what has surprised me most is what conservative pundit David Brooks described about the Trump White House after the disastrous travel ban roll-out calling it “equal parts chaos and incompetence.” Valuing loyalty over competence, preferring a chaotic management style, and having a disdain for planning ahead have consistently left his staff, Congress and our country in a lurch. The coronavirus lack of preparation and firing the global pandemic team last year is par for the course.”

      Please fee free to adapt and use. I am delighted they uses the quotes. Keith

      Liked by 2 people

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