Tag Archive: CNN

Instead of getting distracted, drive the narrative

 

Puerto Rico devastation from Hurricane Maria

Back in February 2011, we published Messaging Maxim #1: Go On Offense. Perhaps some folks need a refresher course. In that post, we wrote, “If you’re fighting a political battle on the other side’s rhetorical turf, you’ve already lost.” At the time, such advice was referring to phony cultural issues like “Ground Zero Mosque” and “is President Obama a Muslim?” that Republicans had ginned up and repeated everywhere they could (see Messaging Maxim #2: Rinse and Repeat). With their herd mentality, the mainstream media then picked up these issues and focused their broadcasts, cablecasts and column space on them.

Fast forward to today. Donald Trump and the Republicans are doing the same thing again, and it’s working. Currently, the phony cultural issues are: “Kneeling NFL Players” and “Harvey Weinstein.” To those, you can add, “NBC and CNN Licenses.” By next week, expect different cultural issues.

Donald Trump, the Great Divider

Armed white supremacist in Charlottesville, VA

Successful presidents of both political parties are usually the ones who, in times of crisis or difficulty, rise above partisanship and unite America. There are many examples of this, from Abraham Lincoln literally keeping the Union together, to Franklin Roosevelt leading us against Germany and Japan in World War 2, to Ronald Reagan eulogizing the Challenger Space Shuttle astronauts or calling upon Soviet head of state Mikhail Gorbachev to “tear down” the Berlin Wall, Bill Clinton soothing a shocked America after the Oklahoma City bombing, George W. Bush standing with firefighters at the World Trade Center site after the 9/11 attacks, and Barack Obama successfully hunting down and killing Osama bin Laden. We may not agree with the policies these presidents pursue after such crises (for example, Bush’s Iraq War), but at least for a time, these leaders make us feel like we’re part of one big, strong nation.

Unfortunately, this is not the case with Donald Trump. Rather than being a Great Uniter, he has repeatedly proven himself to be the Great Divider, usually along racial and ethnic lines. Indeed, Trump essentially begun his presidential run during Barack Obama’s presidency by being one of the head cheerleaders in the “birther” movement, which questioned Obama’s Americanism and his birth certificate. Trump then ran his own presidential campaign in a divisive manner from the get-go, saying in his presidential announcement speech about Mexican immigrants:

They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.

From there, Trump has pitted one group (often his base of white males) against another, including the following partial list:

Trump spokesman gives up on Liberty

The Statue of Liberty, gateway for many American immigrants.

On Wednesday, Donald Trump‘s senior policy advisor Stephen Miller had a shocking exchange with a reporter in the White House Press Room, regarding Trump’s immigration policy.

Miller spoke about a Republican proposal co-authored by Trump White House officials which would reduce legal immigration into the United States by about half in the next 10 years, and favor English-speaking immigrants and skilled workers. CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta then asked about the change this would mean for America. Acosta quoted “The New Colossus,” the poem which adorns the Statue of Liberty, asking:

The Statue of Liberty says, “give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or being able to be a computer programmer. Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you’re telling them, you have to speak English? Can’t people learn how to speak English when they get here?

Miller responded by saying “the poem that you’re referring to was added later, is not actually part of the original Statue of Liberty.”

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.

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.

Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley show substance at Democratic Town Hall

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama after clinching 2008 Democratic presidential nomination

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama after clinching 2008 Democratic presidential nomination

Last night, one week before the Iowa Caucus, CNN hosted a Town Hall event at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa, featuring Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley. The three candidates showed differences in their views and policies while answering questions from the audience of mostly undecided Democratic voters and from moderator Chris Cuomo. But perhaps more striking was the level of knowledge, substance and forcefulness each candidate exhibited on the issues.

Barack Obama, the anti-lame duck president

President Obama at the COP 21 climate conference in France

President Obama at the COP 21 climate conference in France

President Barack Obama this week signaled that he would have a robust final year in office as he announced executive actions on the registration of gun purchases, especially narrowing the “gun show loophole.” Obama also held a town hall meeting aired by CNN on Thursday to talk about his anti-gun violence actions. Moreover, just a week ago, President Obama appeared on an epic, hilarious episode of Jerry Seinfeld‘s web series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.” Obama was not only very funny and relaxed, he also managed to plug his Affordable Care Act, which has covered an estimated 17.6 million more people in the past two years, causing the percentage of Americans without health insurance to drop to the lowest level ever measured. In short, President Obama is exploding the stereotype of the lame duck president.

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:

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:

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.