I used to edit Page 1 stories for the Chicago Tribune, including many from Washington. In this thread, I explain why the media (including me) have been unintentionally complicit in the rise of fascism that threatens our democracy.
Mainstream media have long tried to treat Republicans and Democrats equally. Some, like me, thought that was the way to be fair. In fact, it was the way to be lazy and not have to sort out the facts. Just quote a Democrat and quote a Republican and you’re done.
When I edited political stories, I went so far as to count the quotes from Republicans and Democrats, thinking an equal number would make us fairer. I didn’t think I was helping either party. I thought I was helping the readers. I was wrong.
The Republicans have overwhelmed the media with corruption. They’ve created scandal fatigue, prompting journalists to do something I call ethics norming. That’s when something that would have been a huge scandal in the recent past is considered normal now.
The Republicans have pulled off quite a trick. If news is defined as something unusual happening, GOP corruption is not news because the party is so widely corrupt. Some media have turned off their outrage impulse and decided that corruption is normal.
Will Bunch/Philadelphia Inquirer:
NY Times’ cluelessness is wrecking journalism
Hey, New York Times, Trump voters will always hate you. Just write the truth.
Yo, Trump voters in rural Ohio diners! Wake up! It’s time to put your MAGA hats back on, grind some bitter coffee and wipe the layers of grease off that Formica countertop. The New York Times still desperately wants you, and they’re coming back your way! Like, for the umpteenth time.
That may sound over the top, but I don’t know what else to say after learning that America’s most influential newsroom — after more than four years of dozens of stories informing its largely left-leaning readers that Donald Trump voters still love Donald Trump — is doubling down on efforts to persuade media-bashing right-wingers to like them, and maybe even subscribe.
That’s the take-away from a recent report by Vanity Fair’s Joe Pompeo into what’s behind this month’s somewhat opaque announcement from the Times that it’s launching a high-powered 10-member team, including three prominent journalists, aimed at addressing readers’ trust in the media, particularly in the so-called “Paper of Record” itself. Pompeo’s sources told him the team — a top priority for Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger — is aiming to “sort of win people over” with an amped-up effort to teach people how journalism works, “to show the rigor we use in preparing our report.”
Trump’s Plans for a Coup Are Now Public
Some of the plots to overturn the election happened in secret. But don’t forget the ones that unfolded in the open.
Last year, John Eastman, whom CNN describes as an attorney working with Donald Trump’s legal team, wrote a preposterous memo outlining how then–Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the 2020 election by fiat or, failing that, throw the election to the House of Representatives, where Republicans could install Trump in office despite his loss to Joe Biden. The document, which was first reported by the Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa in their new book, is a step-by-step plan to overthrow the government of the United States through a preposterous interpretation of legal procedure.
Pence apparently took the idea seriously—so seriously, in fact, that, according to Woodward and Costa, former Vice President Dan Quayle had to talk him out of it. Prior to November, the possibility of Trump attempting a coup was seen as the deranged fever dream of crazed liberals. But as it turns out, Trump and his advisers had devised explicit plans for reversing Trump’s loss. Republican leaders deliberately stoked election conspiracy theories they knew to be false, in order to lay a political pretext for invalidating the results. Now, more than 10 months after the election, the country knows of at least five ways in which Trump attempted to retain power despite his defeat.
Jamelle Bouie/NY Times:
We Underestimated Trump Before. It Didn’t Go Well.
Now, 10 months after the election, “Stop the Steal” is something like party orthodoxy, ideological fuel for a national effort to seize control of election administration and to purge those officials who secured the vote over Donald Trump’s demand to subvert it. Assuming that he is in good health, Trump will almost certainly run for president in 2024, and if he does, he’ll do so in a Republican Party pacified of any resistance to his will to power.
The upshot is that we are on our way to another election crisis. Or, as the election law expert (and frequent New York Times contributor) Rick Hasen has written in a new paper on the risk of election subversion, “The United States faces a serious risk that the 2024 presidential election, and other future U.S. elections, will not be conducted fairly, and that the candidates taking office will not reflect the free choices made by eligible voters under previously announced election rules.”
Why Bipartisanship In The Senate Is Dying
The political environment most senators inhabit makes public bipartisanship anywhere from difficult to politically suicidal. This is for a variety of reasons, including that so much of our politics is now nationalized, that party leaders keep most potential “bipartisan” bills from reaching the floor and, perhaps most importantly, that the national parties are now geographically isolated, meaning there’s minimal overlap in the interests and values the parties represent.
This is, of course, not limited to the Senate, but for the purposes of this article, I’m focusing primarily on how bipartisanship has largely disappeared from the Senate, as that’s historically where more bipartisanship has taken place.
Robert P Jones/Religion News Service:
White Christian nationalism found fertile soil in post-9/11 America
Since the Bush era, the attitudes of Republicans, including white evangelicals who comprise the party’s base, have increasingly aligned with a worldview rooted in centuries of white supremacist theology.
In the aftermath, we rallied to build memorials to those lost and to repair the physical damage.
- The National September 11 Memorial & Museum honors victims and their stories on the former site of the twin towers, and One World Trade Center — intentionally built to a height of 1,776 feet to reference the nation’s founding — is the most distinct column in the skyline of lower Manhattan and the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere.
- The Pentagon repaired the breach in its walls within a year, and the outdoor National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial opened in 2008 to honor the victims who died inside the building and on the plane.
- And near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, at the crash site of the fourth plane — the only one not to reach its destination, presumed to be either the U.S. Capitol or the White House — the Flight 93 National Memorial provides a platform for visitors to remember those lost when passengers on the flight heroically attempted to wrest control from the hijackers.
The cultural damage, however, has proved much harder to repair. As we dealt with the grief and anger from that day, the legacy of white supremacy and Christian nationalism, particularly in white evangelical circles, has pulled us apart. For many white conservative Christians in particular, Islam, rather than terrorism, snapped into focus that day as the enemy.
Trump's new interviews and appearances show that a storm is brewing
Trump was in the middle of a fact-free rant about "vicious" Democrats cheating on elections when he said "they're destroying our country. Our country will not survive this. Our country will not survive." Then he sniffed and shifted to immigration, saying "look at where they're coming from," clearly mimicking the "great replacement theory" talking points that Tucker Carlson has been mainlining into homes across the country.
These are all signs of the gathering storm. Trump's incessant lies about the last election (Biden "didn't get 81 million votes, there's no way," he told OAN) pose obvious threats to future elections. The so-called "Stop the Steal" movement is "racing forward," ignoring the Arizona audit "humiliation," the NYT pointed out
over the weekend.
Most of us can feel the instability in the air the same way a weather forecaster can feel a storm coming on. News outlets need to be providing storm warnings -- but some are ignoring the threat
. That's what my opening essay
on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" telecast was about. Anti-democratic talking points are being paraded across networks like Newsmax, and averting one's eyes doesn't make the parade go away...
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