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Thursday, March 09, 2017

Eight simple rules for covering my president

The American news media is held in such low regard that I am developing a new app that converts lawyer jokes into reporter jokes. ("What do you call 10,000 journos at the bottom of the ocean? A good start.")

Things are so bad that Matt Taibbi of the Fake News Rolling Stone wrote a piece scolding reporters for jumping to conclusions on the alleged (meaning imaginary) Trump-Putin connection.

From Taibbi:
We have to remember that the unpopularity of the press was a key to Trump's election. Journalists helped solve the billionaire's accessibility problem by being a more hated group than the arrogant rich. Trump has people believing he shares a common enemy with them: the news media. When we do badly, he does well.
Trump calls us "enemies of the people" who purvey "fake news." Together with what vile ex-CNN turncoat Lou Dobbs calls the "global corporatists" who own the major media companies, we are said to comprise the "opposition party."
We can't afford to bolster these accusations of establishment bias and overreach by using the techniques of conspiracy theorists to push this Russia story. Unfortunately, that is happening.
This is from a dude who works for a magazine that fell for an absurd tale of a gang rape at a college fraternity written by a long discredited reporter.

Taibbi cited the many times the media has fallen for equally weird tales on Trump from the Obama regime.
Take the Times story about Trump surrogates having "repeated contacts" with Russian intelligence officials (an assertion that can mean anything, incidentally – as a reporter in Russia I had contact with Russian intelligence officials, as did most of my colleagues and friends in business, and there was nothing newsworthy about those interactions).
That story not only didn't explain whether the contacts were knowing or unknowing, it also brought up a host of other "dots" in the Russia narrative for the reader to connect. For instance, the Times mentioned the bizarre (and unverified) dossier prepared by Christopher Steele.
That dossier included a wild tale about Trump hiring hookers to pee in a bed Obama had slept in.

At that point anything and everything in the dossier should have been dumped in the nearest trash bin.

Instead Fake News CNN and the Fake News York Times went with the story.

They are mad. Angry. Crazy. The editors, publishers, and owners of these news outlets no longer are capable of thinking straight -- and so discredits the press that it imperils democracy in this country. For without a free press, we are subject to a steady stream of government propaganda distorting our reality.

We already endured eight years of that under Barack "Crease of His Pant" Obama.

Victor Davis Hanson, a professor of the classics, described exactly what is happening:
If the progressive media and intelligence agencies were hand-in-glove leaking damaging rumors about Trump, and if none were yet substantiated, then the issue reversed and turned instead on a new question: How were they trafficking in confidential intelligence information if not from skullduggery of some sort?
No wonder that some smarter observers backtracked from the Russian-Trump collusion charges of the past six months, given that the leaks were less likely to be credible than they were criminal. The accusers have become the accused. And who would police the police?
The media and the anti-Trump Republicans decried Trump’s reckless and juvenile antics as unbefitting a president. Perhaps, but they may have forgotten Trump’s animal cunning and instincts: Each time Trump impulsively raises controversial issues in sloppy fashion — some illegal aliens harm American citizens as they enjoy sanctuary-city status, NATO European partners welch on their promised defense contributions, Sweden is a powder-keg of unvetted and unassimilated immigrants from the war-torn Middle East — the news cycle follows and confirms the essence of Trump’s otherwise rash warnings.
We are learning that Trump is inexact and clumsy but often prescient; his opponents, usually deliberate and precise but disingenuous.
The opposition press needs to get off this trolley. Fast.

The time has come to re-institute Journalism 101 again in America's newsrooms.

Make Journalism Journalism Again.

That means:

1. Remember, the American people duly elected Donald John Trump as the 45th president of the United States through a process that was key to the ratification of the Constitution. He deserves the same respect the office entitled each of his 44 predecessors.

2. No story about President Trump shall be published without a comment from the president or one of his official surrogates. The Associated Press did not follow this basic rule, and wound up with a ridiculous "exclusive" about Trump preparing to have 100,000 National Guardsmen round up 11 million illegal aliens.


3. No quotes from anonymous sources. The Washington Examiner reported: "Almost half of U.S. voters believe journalists fabricate their anonymous sources, according to a new poll." Unless someone is willing to go on the record, you cannot go with the story. And again, once someone goes on the record, you must do Rule 2 as well.

4. Ban all reporters, editors, and other staff members from Twitter. Too many Twitter feeds show an anti-Trump bias, and that CYA line about "retweets don't necessarily reflect my opinion" are garbage. Less time on Twitter and Facebook. More time actually doing the job for which you are paid.

5. Barron Trump is off limits. So are Trump's grandchildren. Being used in a photo op does not make you a public figure. The press protected Caroline, John-John, Chelsea, Malia, and Sasha. How dare anyone disparage Barron?

6. If the president attacks you or your news organization, ignore it. Don't report it. Show that famous thick skin reporters say they have but seldom show. Eventually, he will realize he is barking up the wrong tree, and move on.

7. Before filing a report, check the files and see if there were a similar story when Obama was president. If so, was the Obama story positive? Is the Trump story positive? If not,  make a few more phone calls and re-write it, and keep re-writing it until you come up with a story that is fair and balanced.

8. Before filing any report, check to see if it is biased by changing the name Trump to Obama. Would you have filed the story? If not,  make a few more phone calls and re-write it, and keep re-writing it until you come up with a story that is fair and balanced. That is a lot of work? That is what you are paid to do.

I retired after 40 years or so in newspapers, the last 27 years as an editorial writer. My editorials were less biased than some of these things that journos now call news stories.

"Trump the Establishment" is now on Kindle!

"Trump the Establishment" is also available in paperback.

This is the sequel to "Trump the Press," which covered the nomination. The original -- "Trump the Press" -- is available on Kindle, or in paperback on Create Space.

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  1. The lap dog media made us their enemy by commission about Republicans and omission about Democrats and themselves. They thereby wiped out any and all reasons for trusting them.
    The media leopards have NOT changed their spots.

  2. "Yee-haw!" Every article about President Trump should begin and conclude with "Yee-haw!" - Elric

    1. Elric, that's how we roll up here at our Woods Ukulele Group! Check out May The Bird Of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose on YouTube.

    2. John MacClane's "Yippee-ki-yay, etc" might more suit what Trump is doing to the Left and the MSM.

  3. Have you ever thought of teaching a college course on journalism, Don? You could sign on as an adjunct instructor and teach aspiring journalists how it SHOULD be done. And then, after your teaching career is over, you could write an expose about the disgraceful conditions endured by the many adjunct slaves who labor in place of the tenured faculty at our nation's universities.

    1. My university has a large journalism department. They would slit their own throats before they would let Don within fifty feet of a student.

    2. Well, when you put it that way, teapartydoc, maybe I should pay a visit...

    3. I second the motion. - Elric

    4. Doc, I agree the MSM is desperately in need of surgery, but are you sure you ain't confusing a mediastinotomy with a tracheotomy?

    5. And Don, you'll need some walk-on music for your Journalism Masterclass.

      "All this aggravation ain't satisfactioning me
      A little more bite and a little less bark
      A little less fight and a little more spark
      Close your mouth and open up your heart and baby satisfy me."

  4. Heh. The beauty of this post is that anyone employed by the MSM of any type will promptly ignore the recommendations. YEE-HAW, indeed.

  5. Dare say you are a DREAMER. but a legal one.

    1. An ounce of GOYA is worth a pound of dreaming.

  6. Sorry Matt, the "journalists" just can't help themselves: their urge to smear republicans is infinitely stronger than any professional impulses. And honestly, I can't believe journalism schools still exist: I'm picturing pastel colored rooms filled with stuffed animals and pudding, and as much academic rigor you'd assume went along with it, for the classrooms.

    1. All the class rooms tastefully decorated with rigor mortises, no doubt.

  7. Make "Journalism" "Reporting" again.

  8. I don't mind them jumping to conclusions as long as there is some one on the ground to stop people from getting in the way, and a trash truck handy to shovel what is left in to.

  9. "No quotes from anonymous sources."

    When I was a Village Administrator our councilmembers, Mayor, and I received anonymous complaints several times a year. I filed the ones I received in the circular file and highly recommended the others do the same. Most of the council folks eventually learned to do that.

    If you don't have the guts to attach your name to something I really don't give a tinker's damn what you think.