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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Wile E. Coyote journalist places another order with Acme

I always try to help my fellow man unless he is Hitler, Stalin, or Mao.

Jim Rutenberg, media columnist for the New York Times is as far from that trio as anyone, and so I shall try to lend a hand to him.

He had a terrible year last year. He kept giving the media advice on how to stop Donald Trump. They kept taking that advice. Trump kept winning.

Now Rutenberg continues to give bad advice.

My suggestion is that he stop giving advice and instead review just what he has done.

The day after Trump clinched the Republican nomination, Rutenberg headlined his column, "The Republican Horse Race Is Over, and Journalism Lost."

I think I spotted the problem.

Rutenberg thinks journalism should affect the outcome, instead of merely reporting it. That is because his background is political writing.

Had he spent more time as a sportswriter, he would know how absurd that notion is.

I am sure that Paul Hoynes of the Plain Dealer did not blame himself for the Indians losing the World Series in extra innings.

Sportswriters by and large play it straight. The rest of the staff? Sadly, not so much.

In that May 5 piece, Rutenberg wrote:
You can continue to blame all the wrong calls this year on new challenges in telephone polling when so many Americans — especially the young — do not have landlines and are therefore hard to track down. Or you can blame the unpredictability of an angry and politically peripatetic electorate.
But in the end, you have to point the finger at national political journalism, which has too often lost sight of its primary directives in this election season: to help readers and viewers make sense of the presidential chaos; to reduce the confusion, not add to it; to resist the urge to put ratings, clicks and ad sales above the imperative of getting it right.
And yet, his column is exactly that: click-baiting.

The New York Times media columnist focused on three events in 2016: Trump, Roger Ailes leaving Fox News, and Megyn Kelly. He had eight columns on Ailes. Zero on Hillary Clinton alone.

She was an afterthought, paired with Trump six times as a subject of a column.

Trump was featured 20 times in columns from May 5 forward. One of Rutenberg's themes was the media paid too much attention to Trump -- a point Rutenberg made over and over again.

Rutenberg hit the mother lode of clickbait when the Drudge Report linked his August 7 column, "Trump Is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism."

Rutenberg's argument was Trump is Hitler and the media must stop him.

From the column:
If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?
Because if you believe all of those things, you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non-opinion journalist I've ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.
He rationalized turning journalism into a blatant propaganda machine for Clinton:
It may not always seem fair to Mr. Trump or his supporters. But journalism shouldn’t measure itself against any one campaign’s definition of fairness. It is journalism’s job to be true to the readers and viewers, and true to the facts, in a way that will stand up to history’s judgment. To do anything less would be untenable.
So the journalists threw out their textbooks, and now six months later, they are wondering where their credibility went.

On Thursday, Rutenberg wrote:
As Trump Berates News Media, a New Strategy Is Needed to Cover Him
Well, that sure escalated quickly.
“That” was Donald J. Trump’s inaugural news conference as a duly elected United States president-to-be, in which he called BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage,” dismissed CNN as “fake news” and more or less told the whole lot of reporters at Trump Tower to stuff it when it comes to his unreleased tax returns because everyday Americans don’t care and, anyway, “I won.”
There were two big lessons in the Wednesday morning melee.
1. Mr. Trump remains a master media manipulator who used his first news briefing since July to expertly delegitimize the news media and make it the story rather than the chaotic swirl of ethical questions that engulf his transition.
2. The news media remains an unwitting accomplice in its own diminishment as it fails to get a handle on how to cover this new and wholly unprecedented president.
He needs a third lesson: Don't lie. CNN did. CNN no longer is in the press pool.

New strategies did not serve journalism well in 2016, as journalists sacrificed their credibility at the altar of Podesta but still failed to elect Hillary.

How about dropping the assumption that nearly 63 million Americans are mouth-breathing, uneducated bigots who fell for a conman?

How about looking inside and asking just what did all those moon-eyed reporters like Andrea Mitchell see in Hillary Clinton that made them sacrifice their reputations like that?

How about going back to January 20, 2009, when most Republicans gave Barack Obama their support as he took his oath of office?

How about this strategy? Report the news on a straight-forward manner after verifying facts and giving the other side ample opportunity to reply, CNN did neither in its hysterical Russian pee story and exposed its bias and incompetence.

The cure for journalists is to return to practicing journalism. Ditch the narrative in favor of answering the Six Questions. Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?

The problem with journalism is it so rare in America. We no longer have a free press. We have one beholden to the Democratic Party.

Americans see that now and accordingly discount what reporters report. The power of the press has eroded. It failed to elect a president in 2016.


Please read "Trump the Press," in which I skewer media experts who wrongly predicted Trump would lose the Republican nomination. "Trump the Press" is available as a paperback, and on Kindle.

It covers the nomination process only. The general election will be covered in a sequel.

For an autographed copy, email me at

Be deplorable. Follow me on Twitter.


  1. "Sportswriters by and large play it straight."

    Excluding those who write for ESPN, of course.

    1. That, and more. My favorite Chicago sports columnist, Barry Rozner of the Daily Herald, is a total SJW and so are most of all of the local sports talk radio guys.

      These people are all quite happy to embrace rape culture politics and toss aside objectivity by waiting for facts in cases like the Patrick Kane rape case, which was complete bullshit from the beginning. That's why you wait for the evidence and facts to come in, but that's not progressive enough for these "sports journalists".

      They anxiously offer their BLM cred by defending Kaepernick as some kind of hero, defending the "hands up don't shoot" bullshit. Etc. Never a word of criticism leveled at BLM as cop-killers, at least that I can recall. Even when the NFL stupidly rejected the Cowboys' request to honor the five dead cops at the hands of that BLM-inspired attack, I don't recall any criticism of the league, which should have been instantaneous and loud.

      Politics has infected EVERYTHING now and it's annoying as hell.

  2. “I won.” - What coping Obama is a bad thing to him?

  3. The renewal process has to start with the owners and chief editors, otherwise it's pointless.

  4. "You can continue to blame all the wrong calls this year on new challenges in telephone polling when so many Americans — especially the young"
    It was harder to track people down during the landline era. With smartphones, you can get in touch with people at all hours IF they want to be reached

  5. It is not a press pool, it is a CESS POOL.

  6. I used the two thumb method. Left thumb on answer, right thumb on end call. The trick is not to get confused and push the end call before you hit the answer button.

  7. Now the peace-lovin' hippie crap is a security risk :

  8. "Rhodes singled out a key example to me one day, laced with the brutal contempt that is a hallmark of his private utterances. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

  9. Perhaps Rutenberg sees himself as Hemingway in Spain reporting to the folks back home, even risking his life to help the Communists under The Little Father , former Russian Orthodox acolyte Jose Stalin, exorcise the Fascists under Franco and The Jackboots, they who had "stolen" a legitimate election from the leaders of the Spanish Republic. Yes there he is now, hold up in some pock marked church near the Palace Hotel in Madrid, banging out copy on his Portable as the bells above toll evensong. In a few minutes he may warp into the Ritz Bar in Paris, share a liberation libation of champagne with American troops, make the cover of Life. How much better it is to write with righteous prejudice against Hitler, Fascism, Donald Trump, and for social justice, equality, things of eternal value rather than just being a steno for some public figure, or worse, the truth. Boring, very, and common too. Really, That Papa, he was somebody. Everybody loved him.

    1. Hemingway was one messed up dude. So were his
      daughters. Knew Margaux in my old aviation business a bit. totally messed up and drunk whenever she got on the plane..
      Sad, very sad...

    2. Hemingway had no daughters. Margaux was a grand daughter. Hemingway was a great genius but he did suffer from alcoholism and sever suicidal depression. The treatment he received for the latter included electroshock therapy which was crude by today's standards and was unassisted by modern drugs. Many thought it made him worse. Fortunately for literature in general he had written many great things before he was overcome.

  10. Dissed, The Donald fires back. These numbnuts STILL haven't learned, have they?

    "Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump
    .@FoxNews "Outgoing CIA Chief, John Brennan, blasts Pres-Elect Trump on Russia threat. Does not fully understand." Oh really, couldn't do...
    1h1 hour ago
    Donald J. Trump ‏@realDonaldTrump
    much worse - just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?"

  11. "2. The news media remains an unwitting accomplice in its own diminishment as it fails to get a handle on how to cover this new and wholly unprecedented president." I believe that should be "remains an unwitting >>but willing<< accpomplice..."