The mainstream media has done a pretty good job, in my opinion, of adhering to the basic rules of journalism in reporting the news. Forget the far left and right. I’m talking about the news agencies that have served us well during tough times when our Democracy has been threatened, whether it was the Red Scare of Joseph McCarthy or burglars breaking the law with the blessing of a president and his minions. And, yes, even the sexual liaisons of a president with a willing aide that led to impeachment proceedings.
Journalists still have a code of ethics, something that is becoming nonexistent in American politics. That means they strive to give both sides of a story and if they err, they’ll run a correction or even a follow-up story that sets the record straight. Politicians don’t have to do that. They don’t have to admit mistakes and correct their misstatements for the record. As for the press, any bad behavior on its part taints their credibility— something else people once expected from their news sources.
Nobody is better at bad behavior than former Democrat (1968-87 and 2001-09) and reality TV star, Donald J. Trump.
We’re seeing some of our most venerable news organizations taking a pounding for generating “fake news,” an incessantly repeated accusation the president has relied upon to solidify, even rev up, his base. That base is comprised of a nucleus of angry old white guys. These are my peers, and you would think we have lived horrible lives the way they whine and moan about perceived inequities they have endured.
Fake news, falsehoods and outright lies are persistently alleged against mainstream media, but seldom with any proof. I’m talking about news reporting, not news commentary, but even the latter requires some kind of substantiation. Unlike President Trump, they cannot dismiss someone as a liar or crook without backing it up with facts. For every fact there is an alternate fact in Trump World. The most disturbing part of this for me is that it seems the remnants of decency in politics have been vanquished and, at the same time, we are seeing freedom of the press being threatened as never before.
Much of that sense of decency, the vulgar name calling, has been directed at the press in a concerted effort to destroy its credibility, as is also the apparent tactic of denigrating our own Department of Justice and the FBI.
I know some find Trump entertaining, like having an insult comic in the White House, but we have to remember this is reality, not a reality show where the boss gets to fire or disparage whomever he chooses. Then again, maybe he can.
Following are some of the epithets directed against the press and representatives thereof by the president in Tweets and public proclamations:
ABC News — have done so much dishonest reporting that they should be allowed to get awards for fiction… sick and biased…. Fakers…
The Associated Press— They have lost their way and are no longer credible… dishonest reporting…
CBS— The enemy of the American people… Fiction writers!
FOX News (During the campaign before it became his go-to network for softball interviews)— so biased it is disgusting… clown announcers… a real joke…
NBC— so much dishonest reporting they should only be allowed to get awards for fiction (See ABC)… Viewers beware!
New York Times— disgraced the media world… failing… making up stories and sources…
And that’s just a sampling of his attacks on the press and news broadcasters, which can literally be multiplied hundreds of times, with the same insults and barbs used repeatedly by candidate and President Trump. A few of his insults are actually pretty funny and worthy one-liners for an insult comic, but is it presidential behavior? Like FOX News, he may change his opinion of your worthiness. Remember that guy he was calling “little Rocket Man” and a “madman” just a few weeks ago?
Some of his most Tweeted insults against those who disagree with or defy him are: dummy, ungrateful fool, clown, crooked, a joke, a pathetic figure, a lying machine, desperate and sad, very dumb, fear-mongering, stupid, nasty and dopey.
As long as I’m into Trump quotes, let’s go into some of his responses to news coverage of his history of sexual misadventures, if you will, and inappropriate treatment of women: “totally phony” and “100% made up” and “may poison the minds of the American voter” and, of course, “fake news.”
The other quotes on that same subject have been out there for everyone to see in his recorded interview with Billy Bush three years ago. Bush lost his job and Trump went on to be elected president.
“You know, I’m automatically attracted to beautiful — I just start kissing them,” Trump said. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
And just in case you think this is just about kissing. There are his comments that can’t be repeated here about the actual acts he has committed, or tried to commit, with assorted women, as well as specific bodily parts where he likes to “grab ‘em.”
What does all of this have to do with his effectiveness as president? If the end justifies the means, maybe it means nothing to you.
I would ask the same of President Trump as Joseph Welch did of Sen. Joseph McCarthy who called out a young lawyer in Welch’s firm as a Communist during a congressional hearing in June of 1954: ”You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
Wes Skillings is a Pennsylvania-based copywriter whose recent emergence into this field brings a freshness and vitality that will make the words on your website, newsletter, direct mail marketing or news release reach out and grab the customer base you are seeking.