The mainstream media are reverse engineering the 2016 election

Republican Presidential Primary debate, September 16, 2015

Republican Presidential Primary debate, September 16, 2015

If you are trying to decode the rather bizarre mainstream media coverage of the 2016 election, it’s pretty simple: The corporate mainstream media are reverse engineering the election to suit their profit motives, and maybe their political biases as well. Take a look at what they’re doing, after the jump:

Yosemite National Park: the best of good government

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park

We have previously touted the benefits of “good government,” from Social Security to Superstorm Sandy relief. But perhaps no result of good government is more beloved than America’s fabulous national parks. And the first park land set aside in America by the federal government for public use — by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 — was the land that is now Yosemite National Park.

Bypass the corporate mainstream media

Dick Cheney, CNN's go-to right wing apologist

Dick Cheney, CNN’s go-to right wing apologist

In 2015, the traditional news media — what we call the Corporate Mainstream Media — have continued to move to the right, in some cases sharply so. These television and newspaper media outlets are no longer reliable conveyors of facts that Americans need to make decisions at the voting booth and elsewhere. We should ditch these corporate mainstream media. Instead, we need to become our own news aggregators.

Here are some of the many examples of the mainstream news media’s rightward drift:

Republicans pummeled by two hurricanes

President George W. Bush's "Brownie" moment, Sept. 2, 2005

President George W. Bush’s “Brownie” moment, Sept. 2, 2005

The anniversaries of Hurricane Katrina (landfall in Louisiana August 29, 2005) and Hurricane (Superstorm) Sandy (landfall in New Jersey August 29, 2012) represent a perfect storm that continues to damage the Republican Party. Katrina showed President George W. Bush‘s detachment, and the criminally negligent incompetence behind his administration’s hands-off conservative Republican governing philosophy (“Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job.”) Sandy is said to have helped President Barack Obama win and the Democrats do well in the 2012 elections, but that’s only true if one rejects the Republicans’ “government is bad” frame and accepts the Democrats’ “good government” philosophy. Apparently, many Americans have done just that.

Obama White House intensifies messaging on Iran deal

Demonstration against war with Iran, U.S. Capitol

Demonstration against war with Iran, U.S. Capitol

President Barack Obama is undertaking an intense effort to sell his deal to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. On Tuesday, White House officials reached out to progressive voters on a joint conference call with Keystone Progress, which is “Pennsylvania’s largest online progressive action network.” Keystone’s executive director, Michael Morrill, was on the call, as well as Mary¬† Kaszynski, the Communications Manager for Ploughshares Fund, which supports efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons and threats. They were joined by John Bisognano, the White House Associate Director of Public Engagement, and Marie Harf, Senior Advisor to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Trump the builder, Trump the destroyer

Time magazine's latest Donald Trump cover

Time magazine’s latest Donald Trump cover

It seems like there are two Donald Trumps. New Yorkers came to know Trump beginning in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when Trump took on massive building projects, as well as massive city and state bureaucracies, and usually succeeded. This includes building the Trump Tower; renovating the old Commodore Hotel next to Grand Central Station and turning it into the black-glassed Grand Hyatt; and rebuilding the Wollman ice skating rink in Central Park after New York City officials failed for years to accomplish the task. Trump also navigated strict New Jersey licensing requirements to build casinos in Atlantic City. Moreover, long before Donald Trump became a politician, in taking on all the challenges of these building projects, Trump loved to criticize politicians.

Iowa Fair

Trump copter

Trump helicopter

One advantage of America’s long presidential campaign is that, eventually, each candidate’s character, intelligence and fitness to be president (or lack thereof) emerges. That process is currently on display at the Iowa State Fair. Thanks to C-SPAN, we can see and hear the candidates in Iowa, in long form.

Donald Trump showed up in his TRUMP-badged helicopter. No stranger to branding, Trump spoke with his helicopter in the background, a symbol of power and status similar to a president standing in front of Air Force One. In a bright red hat with his slogan “Make America Great Again,” Trump aggressively addressed or swatted away reporters’ questions, attacking his rivals, especially John Ellis Bush, in the process. Then Trump handed out helicopter rides to local kids and their moms, posing for selfies. Trump may know more about what the American people want than anybody in this presidential race.

Trump, Bernie and the entertainment campaign of 2016

Protesters disrupt Bernie Sanders event in Seattle, WA

Protesters disrupt Bernie Sanders event in Seattle, WA

Jeb Bush vs. Hillary Clinton. A presidential race between two dynastic candidates, focused on sharp policy differences. That’s the campaign we were supposed to get. Instead, as of August 2015, we are getting the Entertainment Campaign featuring sideshow issues involving Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Maybe it’s the presidential campaign we should have expected.

Donald Trump falls to Earth in GOP debate

Donald Trump, focus of first GOP debate

Donald Trump, focus of first GOP debate

Most of the chatter before last night’s Republican Party presidential primary debate in Cleveland, Ohio was about Donald Trump: What would Trump say? How would Trump do? How would the other candidates react to Trump? It turned out, though, that Donald Trump was attacked more by the Fox News debate moderators than by his competitors.

Fox’s Megyn Kelly asked Trump about his characterization of some women as “fat pigs,” “dogs,” “slobs” and “disgusting animals.” Kelly even invoked the Democratic phrase “War On Women,” something Republicans try not to mention since it puts them on the defensive. Trump replied that these labels were reserved for Rosie O’Donnell, although Kelly pointed out that they go well beyond O’Donnell. Trump was also asked about his companies’ four bankruptcies, and his answer, like many of his other answers, revealed a blunt, brutal honesty that, while maybe great for a corporate CEO, comes off as unseemly for a politician. Trump said that he had taken advantage of laws in place, and that “everybody else” in his position has done the same thing.

Huckabee and Christie help Trump tear down the GOP

 Donald Trump, GOP destroyer

Donald Trump, GOP destroyer

First it was Donald Trump destroying the Republican Party brand by calling Mexican immigrants “rapists,” denigrating John McCain‘s military service and calling¬† a female professional who had to pump breast milk for her baby “disgusting.” But as Trump has surged in GOP polls and sucked all the air out of the room, other Republican presidential candidates have had to scramble for attention. Rand Paul and Lindsey Graham pulled stunts involving chain saws, fire and baseball bats. But Mike Huckabee and Chris Christie apparently have decided the best way to compete with Trump is to out-Trump Trump in making outrageous statements.