Category Archives: Media Watch

Donald Trump’s media mistake

Caricature of Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

Caricature of Trump White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer

For over 40 years, Donald Trump has been a media creature. He has successfully used the media, from his books to his TV and radio interviews to his reality TV shows to his tweets, to further his business and political interests. Trump’s love of the spotlight was well rewarded during the 2016 Republican primaries and general election with an astounding $2 billion or more of free media coverage. That’s why Trump’s rookie mistakes towards the media since stepping into the White House are so surprising.

In the Trump age, be your own news editor

Faux News, the original Fake News

Faux News, the original Fake News

In September 2015, we gave some recommendations on how to bypass the corporate mainstream media, which were doing an awful job reporting real news. We suggested that readers and viewers choose their own news sources, follow such sources on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, and share important stories. This way, you can act as your own news editor and broadcaster. Given the mainstream media’s abysmal 2016 election coverage, and with Donald Trump now in the White House, these efforts are more important than ever.

Trump’s troubling ties to Russia

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chairs Cabinet meeting in Moscow, Feb. 1, 2010. (AP Photo/Alexei Druzhinin, Pool)

Several weeks ago, Donald Trump kicked off a constitutional crisis by firing the Acting U.S. Attorney General, Sally Yates, after Yates opposed Trump’s Muslim Ban. Since then, after rulings by numerous federal courts, Yates’ view has been validated. Now it turns out that another correct decision by Yates, regarding Russia, was ignored by Trump and his White House staff, with dire consequences.

Republicans obsessed with fighting Culture War

Budweiser beer, latest target of Republican Culture War

Budweiser beer, latest target of Republican Culture War

Like a dog with a bone, many Republicans just won’t let go of their battles over culture in America, from LGBT rights to guns to infusing government with their religion — often referred to by the phrase “God, Guns and Gays” — to the media we consume. Led by Donald Trump himself, these conservatives seem to be spending an awful lot of time fretting over Super Bowl commercials and other corporate policies. The results vary from ill-fated boycotts to a further tearing of the fabric of America.

The Breitbarting of America

Trump/Breitbart propagandist Stephen Bannon

Trump/Breitbart propagandist Stephen Bannon

Donald Trump‘s unofficial electoral win, as well as the elevation of Stephen Bannon to Trump campaign CEO and then future White House counsel, demonstrates how Andrew Breitbart‘s style of propaganda and fake news has triumphed. The mainstream media helped the Breitbart model win, cheering every step of the way. All of this is dangerous for the country.

Before his death in 2012 from a heart attack at age 43, Andrew Breitbart launched Breitbart.com, Breitbart.tv and other related sites, which furthered right wing narratives such as “Scary Brown People” and “Corporations Good, Government Bad.” During President Barack Obama‘s administration, Breitbart helped to push anti-Obama and anti-Democratic Party stories, many of which were at least partially fake or based on doctored videos (i.e., propaganda), but which got picked up by the major news media and became the news, with marvelous results for the GOP. Among the best-known stories flogged by Breitbart were:

The Republicans’ basic electoral problem

2012 electoral map

2012 electoral map

From the beginning of this election cycle, we have focused on cold hard math, because that’s how you know who is winning and who is likely to prevail. In a presidential election, the cold hard math is the state count of electoral votes. With just one day left before the 2016 elections, and after all the controversies, conspiracies and insults, plus widespread early voting, most of the electoral vote models show Hillary Clinton winning decisively over Donald Trump. These models include the Los Angeles Times with a whopping 352 electoral votes for Clinton, Real Clear Politics with 301 EVs for Clinton when “toss-up” states are assigned, and virtually every other scientific prediction showing Clinton well ahead even before assigning the toss-ups.

The oft-neglected fact about this election is that, since electoral votes are based on state population, the Republicans have a basic electoral problem: they are more popular in states with fewer people and thus fewer electoral votes. In essence, the GOP had a steep uphill climb before this campaign even began.

Donald Trump’s dangerous endgame

Anti-Trump protesters in Dallas, Texas

Anti-Trump protesters in Dallas, Texas

Not long ago, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders had a well-organized, unifying end to their Democratic Party primary battle. Both sides acted like adults, sat down and negotiated over the party platform and the Democratic National Convention. The result was a hugely successful convention and a more unified Democratic Party, after which Clinton took the general election lead from Donald Trump. As new revelations about Trump’s sexually predatory behavior pile up, Clinton’s lead has extended to the point where nearly no one, including Republicans, says that Trump can win. The question now becomes, how will Trump lose, and what will he do afterward? Unfortunately, the signs thus far point to an ugly and dangerous electoral withdrawal from Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton beats Donald Trump in the debate and the expectations game

"If you could vote for anyone" Clinton vs. Trump

“If you could vote for anyone” Clinton vs. Trump

In their first presidential debate last night, expectations were set unfairly high for Hillary Clinton and unfairly low for Donald Trump. Surprisingly, however, Clinton exceeded and Trump fell short of such expectations. In terms of substance, style and presidential temperament, the contrast between the two candidates was stark, and Clinton walked away with a decisive win. 

U.S. political media on life support after NBC Matt Lauer forum

NBC's Matt Lauer with former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

NBC’s Matt Lauer with former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders

Wednesday night’s NBC News “Commander-in-Chief Forum” has been roundly criticized. In particular, moderator Matt Lauer is taking the heat for his biased, amateurish performance. However, the NBC forum is just one of many examples of the U.S. Beltway media tipping the scales against Hillary Clinton and for Donald Trump in this election, and failing to do their job. One Twitter user even started the hashtag “#LaueringTheBar” to describe this trend. With the first presidential debate just days away, time is quickly running out to cure the problem.

News media recycle Clinton/Sanders playbook in Clinton/Trump race

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at unity rally in July 2016.

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders at unity rally in July 2016.

Hillary Clinton is in trouble.” “The race is close.” Those are the types of statements we heard from the news media during the Democratic Party primaries between Clinton and Bernie Sanders earlier this year. In truth, the Democratic primary race wasn’t that close. Clinton won by hundreds of delegates and millions of votes, and her victory arguably came as early as the New York primary on April 19, followed the next week by the Connecticut/Pennsylvania/Maryland/Delaware/Rhode Island primaries, when Sanders lost by many delegates, which he failed to gain back thereafter.

Yet the mainstream corporate media did everything they could to create an artificially close horse race between Clinton and Sanders. One key tactic the media employed was to play up phony scandals against Clinton, play down similar stories against Sanders (his illegitimate son, he and his wife’s possible financial shenanigans, his failure to show his tax returns as his campaign had repeatedly promised, etc). Now that Clinton is battling Donald Trump in the general election, the national press are doing the same thing to make for a phony horse race between them.