The Winter of Our Discontent

I don’t see how the vitriol on either side of this election ends after the votes are counted. No matter who wins in November the schism in this nation will only grow and get nastier unless something is done to restore people’s faith in the institutions of politics and the press.

Recent Wikileaks disclosures about press bias, Project Veritas videos that show Democratic political operatives admit to voter fraud and political violence, added to President Barack Obama’s legacy of lies don’t make people confident.

The people already believe Hillary Clinton should have been indicted over her e-mail mess.

Of course, what the people believe isn’t necessarily the law, but now FBI agents are now talking to the press and are angry with FBI Director James Comey. They say he got in the way of their investigation. That’s a serious charge.

If you’re keeping score that’s the IRS, and the possibility of the Department of Justice colluding with the administration to break the law for political gain.

Those Podesta Wikileaks don’t do Hillary Clinton any favors. Seems Patrick Kennedy tried to make a deal with FBI investigators into declassifying some of Hillary Clinton’s documents.

Everyone’s denying it. Like that insurance commercial says, “that’s what we do.”

There are many other disturbing Wiki revelations if you can find them.

Which brings me to the news media.

I think the proffering of a quid pro quo (bribe) for changing a security classification is a serious thing. People get in trouble for stuff like that. Most people.

But it seems that Will Rogers had this situation covered.

“All I know is what I read in the papers, and that’s an alibi for my ignorance.”

I went looking for stories about the quid pro quo on the afternoon of 10/17. As of about 4:00 pm neither the NY Times or Washington Post had stories up.

It took the Washington Post print edition until Tuesday the 18th to report the story most other media had reported for days. Yesterday’s news tomorrow.

If you go through the print edition of the Post you’ll see article after article bashing Trump while ignoring Hillary’s problems. This has been going on for months.

The latest batch of Wikileaks show the NY Times’ Maggie Haberman as someone the campaign can count on to get out their message.

So far, I’ve seen no comment from the reporter or the NY Times. Other reporters at various news organizations are named throughout as “friendlies.”

Before I retired, a DC councilman used to refer to me as “Fucking Gottlieb.” My colleagues would laugh when they knew I had him on the phone. I guess I got under his skin. He wasn’t used to being pushed.

And no, despite what you might have heard, DC Council people are not read their rights as they’re sworn in as a time saver.

The people’s confidence in the press is at the lowest point it’s ever been. Who can blame them?

The frustration also comes from the obvious media bias displayed by what we call the mainstream media. As I’ve written in the past, more coverage is better than less coverage when it comes to anything.

But the news media doesn’t seem to agree.

While there’s been some good, if not hysterical, reporting on Donald Trump and his past, it’s as if Hillary Clinton were born yesterday.

If you’re in your twenties or thirties you probably don’t really know much detail about the Clinton administration and especially about Hillary’s past behavior.

Hillary’s first act as First Lady was the destruction of a man named Billy Dale. Dale ran the White House travel office for years before Clinton decided she wanted her cronies in there.

Yes, the president has a right to choose employees, but Hillary literally destroyed Dale by having him prosecuted for embezzlement. He was exonerated but broke from defending himself. His crime? Wanting to keep his job.

Of course, Hillary said she had nothing to do with Dale’s troubles. You’ll be shocked to know she lied. (Transparency note: I did business with Dale when I was a DC Bureau Chief.)

Or there was Hillary’s behavior during the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Maybe Maureen Dowd put it best: Hillary killed feminism.

I’m not the only one who thinks the media have screwed the pooch. Here’s what the Wall Street Journal’s Kimberley A. Strassel wrote.

Hillary’s health? A big meh, and you better not report on it said the press, but here’s how the Federalist’s Mollie Hemingway took apart the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza.

Cillizza was torn to shreds on Twitter after this inexplicable Tweet:

cillizzatweet10-16-16

My response was simple, and perhaps not so eloquent. “Bullshit.” It was retweeted dozens of times over twenty four hours.

If you follow Cizzilla on Twitter you can see his open derision of Trump and his supporters. If you follow some of his colleagues at the Post and NY Times you’ll see the same thing.

It’s keyboard courage.

Now, Cillizza and others, are shocked angry citizens are fighting back and “yelling at them.” Grow a pair. At least no one is “grabbing your arm.”

But even “The Fix” sees the public’s love affair with the press is long over. So he writes piece defending journalism against Donald Trump’s criticism. The piece is worth reading for the statistics and for one unintentionally ironic line.

“If one group allowed itself to be attacked relentlessly for decades, what do you think people would think of it?” Cizzalla then shows a graph showing America’s disdain for the media.

Isn’t piling on what they just did to Trump?

Admittedly, some of the newspapers did decent reporting on the Clinton Foundation. Like the NY Times on Hillary’s uranium sell out to the Russians.

And the Washington Post story on buying access to then Secretary of State Clinton.

Good stories, but too few and much too far in between. It doesn’t matter how much you hate Donald Trump. You still have an obligation to report on Clinton.

Cable and network news have become a hot mess of anything negative about Trump, and as little as possible that can hurt Hillary. Even when Hillary’s troubles are reported by media they’re underplayed.

I used to watch MSNBC and CNN in the morning. I thought the talk was smarter on MSNBC, but Mika’s insane rantings became too toxic for me. Angered up the blood and threatened to give me skin failure or even worse: bonus eruptus. Not a good way to start the day.

Over on CNN, Chris Cuomo would occasionally do a decent political interview, but it’s obvious where his heart is. Cuomo also says stupid stuff. His latest tweet about who can and cannot see stolen Wikileaks material was bizarre if not uninformed for a lawyer and journalist.

Cuomo’s comments and the media’s initial reluctance to publish the Podesta and other Wikileaks (after some media – cough, cough the Washington Post, crowd sourced the Cairo leaks) made me wonder what Daniel Ellsberg would think about all this.

Daniel Ellsberg, a State Department analyst, leaked “The Pentagon Papers” to the New York Times in 1971. The Pentagon Papers showed that our government knew early on that we would not win the Vietnam War and grossly lied about casualty projections and more.

The Nixon administration blocked the Times from publishing, but the Supreme Court sided with the Times and the paper published the leaked info for two weeks.

Ellsberg was charged with espionage, conspiracy, and theft. Because of the government’s misconduct the case against Ellsberg was dismissed. Here’s what Ellsberg had to say about Wikileaks.

CNN even has its very own Hillary media apologist in Brian Stelter. His daily newsletter tries to set the agenda for Trump bashing, while ignoring Hillary’s bad news.  It’s also a thinly veiled house organ.

When I once asked Stelter on Twitter where all the news was about Hillary’s e-mails, his response was that “Trump is a media story.” OK, and Hillary’s not?

Stelter has been a big proponent of the “false equivalency” argument in covering Trump that was started by the NY Times’ Jim Rutenberg.  Simply stated, Trump is so horrible that media shouldn’t be objective in their reporting about him. Rutenberg is a good writer and journalist. His piece is worth reading even though I strongly disagree with him.

My problem is that Rutenberg and Stelter are giving the media cover for biased reporting.

Remember, Stelter is a former TV gossip site guy, who became a media reporter for the NY Times, who is now a media reporter/gossip guy for CNN. It’s tough to take him seriously sometimes given his track record. Apparently, some of his media reporting colleagues don’t either.

When Katie Couric was caught doing misleading edits to a gun documentary Stelter didn’t run the story on TV for a week. Naturally, stories popped up that Jeff Zucker, Stelter’s boss, spiked the story to help his old NBC friend Katie.

Stelter denied everything.

FTV’s Scott Jones was having none of it. For those of you not familiar with FTV, it’s a sometimes raw and derisive look at the TV and media business. Scott takes no prisoners.

It’s not often media critics attack each other, but Stelter drew fire from the Daily Caller’s Betsy Rothstein after his toadish reporting on Hillary’s health issues.

Most recently Stelter blamed Donald Trump’s rhetoric for the fire-bombing of a GOP headquarters in North Carolina. Basically, that’s the argument that “if I say something you don’t like enough, it’s OK to attack me.” I’ll let that just sit there.

As a news guy, I know to get my news from multiple sources. I now do so while sitting on my deck with a cup of coffee. With no multiple daily deadlines or producers to annoy me, I’m able to read a pretty good sample of news from the left and the right. Instead of news people braying teases into commercials for diseases I’ve yet to get, I hear birds singing. That eases the absurdity of the day’s news. There’s one cheeky squirrel who hangs out on the deck rail and eats nuts. While his impudence annoys me, he’s preferable to watching the same pundits make the same party talking points day in and day out. Think “Groundhog Day.”

The way things stand today it looks as if Hillary Clinton will win the election. While poll numbers are all over the place, most have her ahead.

Donald Trump has charged that the election is rigged. This freaks out journalists and political types to no end. While he has no proof this is the case, and that makes me nervous as a journalist, Trump’s charges would get no traction if people trusted the government.

And it’s troubling we’re seeing more and more stories like this.

Like him or not, James O’Keefe may have uncovered systemic fraud in the system. His latest videos should be taken seriously.

It’s unreasonable for people to ask:  How can I trust the government that just silenced its political opposition by using the IRS against them and no one went to prison. How can I trust the government after FBI agents say their boss impeded their investigation into their boss’ chosen successor?

Yes. Donald Trump is an asshole for making unsubstantiated charges and for many other things. But if the government is going to cheat in the ways described above, why is it impossible they would rig an election?

Is there “even a smidgeon” of rigging? I would ask Barack Obama, or Elizabeth Warren who’ve complained of a rigged system themselves.

As they say on social media: “where was the outrage?”

Should we consider information rigging a form of election rigging? Information is power, and without that information voters can’t make a wise decision on who to vote for. It’s the press’ job to show us all the warts, not just the warts they don’t like. When the press withholds information from the people, it’s the media making voting decisions for the people.

The Podesta Wikileaks show former CNN commentator and head of the DNC Donna Brazile leaked a question to the Clinton camp. Here’s what Jake Tapper had to say.

As Chris Cizzilla says, a constant pounding has an effect. Americans don’t like the pounding they’re getting from the press. They have an absolute right to be angry. The press won’t even buy lunch first.

Those opposed to the status quo have chosen Donald Trump as their instrument of destruction. While Trump, for some, is a big symbolic FUCK YOU to both the political and media establishments, most supporters are not the loudmouth louts the media portrays them to be. Salena Zito is one of the few reporters today that has a feel for the American people.

Zito also writes about American’s frustration with the news media. She’s spot on.

You may think I’m going to vote for Donald Trump. You’d be wrong. At this point in time I am not voting for president. I’ll vote in the other races, as if that matters. I live in the People’s Republic of Maryland, where Democrats tax the rain on your roof and gerrymander Republican districts out of existence. I reserve the right to change my mind based on events between now and election-day.

Our choices for president are down to Hillary Clinton, perhaps the most self-serving, dishonest politician who ever walked the earth. A woman that sold her office at the State Department. A woman that trashed her predatory husband’s victims while proclaiming all sex assault victims should be believed. A woman that continues to lie, in the face of reality, about classified e-mails.

Hillary is the business as usual candidate who represents everything we say we hate about politics. Clinton is the rotten intersection of politics, influence and money that we all despise. Yet she is the media’s darling. This is hard for me, and many others to understand. The Clintons simply have no moral or ethical center. What does that say about the press? And no, it is not a binary choice.

One writer called Hillary the most unfit and undeserving candidate to run for president.

Donald Trump has brought to light a number of issues that needed airing like illegal immigration and the real threat of Islamic terrorism. Say it Barack. Just say it.

At the same time, whenever I would start to hold my nose enough to vote against Hillary, Trump would say something ignorant and make unforced errors. Knowing the news media will jump down your throat if they found out you said “doody” when you were eight, why would you not be more careful? Because Trump is all over the place on many issues it doesn’t feel like he has a coherent vision for the nation. I don’t know who he is.

The who he is that I do know, I don’t like.

Donald Trump is American businesses Hillary Clinton. A bragadocious bullshitter stuck in a bad time warp. He’s the dark side of the retro days we love reminisce about. The bad old days of three martini lunches and what followed. Trump was that “international guy” girls would dread. The guy with “Roamin’ hands and Rushin’ fingers.”

As for the locker room tape, there’s no defending it. At that point in Trump’s life he should have been beyond that kind of talk. I say beyond that stuff because despite what anyone says, that kind of talk, and worse, did go on in some locker rooms. I don’t care what athletes say when interviewed by reporters. No one admits to behavior like that. “Sure, that shit goes on all the time over in our locker room. “

The same media that trashed Trump for his recorded comments about “grabbing pussy,” ignored a host of accusations against Bill Clinton, saying they were just accusations. While Trump shot off his mouth about vile acts, President Clinton committed those acts. See Paula Jones.

Here’s what Michelle Obama had to say about Hillary Clinton in 2008.

Now Michelle is out campaigning for Hillary? See why the people are frustrated?

The Trump accusers who sat quietly for years, then emerged followed the video that was buried until a month before the election are just that, accusers. It’s not like the media ever jumps to conclusions. If you believe Trump’s accusers why not believe Clinton’s accusers?

Compare media’s treatment of Trump to how they treat the Clintons.

Still, none of the above is an excuse. The standard can’t be “vote for me because I’m the same as Bill Clinton.” We have to do better, if we’re going to get better.

While Victor Davis Hanson makes a strong case that you have to vote for Trump to stop Hillary, at this point I can’t.

In fact, most Americans are voting against a candidate rather than for a candidate.

On November 9th, when we wake up and one of the two worst people in the world is our president elect, it’s hard to see us coming together. Whoever wins will do everything they can to hold onto and extend their power. The democrats have already signaled their move. They plan to use Obama and Eric Holder to gerrymander the GOP out of existence.

While I have little hope for the politicians, I want to have hope for the press. How does the news media regain the trust of the people it claims to serve? The first step is to admit there’s a problem. Right now defensive is what I see.

Here are a few things to think about to start the conversation.

Do we need an affirmative action program to recruit conservative journalists into media? We did it for women and minorities saying that their viewpoints should be represented in newsrooms. Why not conservatives? Only 7% of media identify as Republicans. That’s way below their representation in the population. Isn’t that how we look at diversity these days?

Since journalists have decided to drop impartiality it would only be fair to be transparent about who they are. Let’s develop on screen symbols for how people reporting, or opining, on elections have voted in the past. Has the journalist or pundit worked for a political party? Are they related to someone in politics or to a political operative? Like so many of the bloviators you see these days, do they work for an organization that promotes or supports a point of view, candidate, or party? You get the idea.

Should we vet the people who purport to vet our leaders?

How do we hold the media accountable?

What should the people’s reaction be to media they know isn’t telling the whole truth? Is the answer an economic boycott of media sponsors? That seems to work for some pressure groups. Why not a pressure group to fix journalism?

How about accuracy ratings? How often do they get it right?

I’d like this to be the start of a conversation. That’s what journalism is. Everyone is a stake-holder in a trustworthy and honest news media. I’m interested in what news consumers have to say. Sometimes journalists can’t see the forest for the trees.

Oh, and The Winter of Our Discontent?

For those of you who haven’t read John Steinbeck’s last book (1961) it may have some relevance to what we see in front of us these days. (Steinbeck took the title from the first line of William Shakespeare’s “Richard III.”)

It’s the story of a man who will do anything to regain the wealth and status his family enjoyed before his father lost their fortune.

He will cheat friends and take bribes.

He turns in an illegal immigrant who unwittingly trusts him, and signs over his store as he’s being deported because he thinks the man who screwed him is honest.

Can you guess the two people I’m thinking of?

I won’t tell you how the book ends. Read it and find out.

As for how this election ends, it won’t. I think we’ll be litigating it for a long time.

The mistrust is too deep. The wounds we’ve inflicted on each other are fierce.

Revelations that Hillary Clinton’s team is behind some of the violence at Trump rallies just turned the dial up to eleven. This seems like a violation of civil rights.

Reports of another GOP office vandalized, this time in Delaware, feel like attempts at intimidating voters.

What happens when victims of this violence and intimidation have had enough?

What do you think?

I don’t know how we bring out our better instincts. I don’t know if we have better instincts.

I’ve spent the better part of this piece blaming the politicians and news media for Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. They deserve it.

But truth be told we’re responsible for the institutions we don’t trust. They couldn’t exist without our acquiescence.

Walt Kelly’s “Pogo” comes to mind:

“We have met the enemy and he is us.”

 

© 2016 carlgottliebdotnet

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