Apparently there is no problem caused by Republicans that cannot be solved by adding more Republicans

14 Mar 2017 12:22 am
Posted by: Donna

margaret sullivan
Margaret Sullivan

I like Margaret Sullivan and think she did a solid and thoughtful job as NYT’s Public Editor when she was in the position. Now she’s at the Washington Post as a media columnist and her latest on fake news and Trump supporters makes a decent observation about how the false info spreads and morphs into voter perceptions that are often completely bonkers but understandable at the same time:

As right-wing sites concentrated during the campaign on immigration stories — often with exaggerated or false claims about the dangers of refugees and immigrants — they also endlessly attacked Hillary Clinton over Benghazi and her use of a private email server.

These sites often traffic in “decontextualized truths, repeated falsehoods, and leaps of logic to create a fundamentally misleading view of the world,” the report said.

This brings to mind a Trump voter I met in northeast Pennsylvania who took right-wing talking points and put them in a blender. She told me she couldn’t trust Clinton because “I didn’t like how she stole those emails and it got people killed in Benghazi.”

This tainted media sphere not only set the conservative media agenda, “but also strongly influenced the broader media agenda, in particular coverage of Hillary Clinton.”

Oh true that, Margaret! Mainstream media ran with those right wing attacks as well, but were careful not to go to far. Pundits like Chris Cillizza and Andrea Mitchell knew they’d look like doofuses going full Benghazi but other bogus allegations against Hillary Clinton were blandly vague enough for them to Very Seriously furrow their brows and make frowny faces over them a lot. Hence “emails” being in heavy rotation and since most media people didn’t understand the technical details of what they were reporting and couldn’t explain it properly, voters filled in their own blanks.

It was, with noteworthy exceptions (like David Farenthold of WaPo) an election of stunning journalistic malpractice, as everyone from lowly bloggers like myself to media experts have pointed out. It was gratifying to see someone like Margaret Sullivan grasp it.

Sadly, instead of coming to the logically obvious solution of “never listen to Republicans ever again”, Sullivan prefers a different course:

There’s another way that the traditional press has allowed right-wing media to flourish — by moving too far to the left itself.

Mainstream newsrooms were once much more ideologically diverse, said Tom Rosenstiel, executive director of the American Press Institute.

“The best data out there shows that there are fewer Republicans working in traditional newsrooms and news generally than there used to be,” he told me.

Many people have been criticizing the lack of diversity in newsrooms, but they mean gender, race, and other identities typically excluded from high profile positions in print and broadcast media. But nope, Sullivan is more concerned with ideological diversity, which presumably means a newsroom predominately white, male, urban, and Ivy League educated would be fine so long as there were balance in political affiliations.

And I can’t fathom how Sullivan (and I’ve seen others in prominent media positions make this argument) can look at the problem of bad, fake, misleading information flooding the internet and airwaves and say, “this clearly calls for more Republicans!” The Arizona Republic and local news stations here in Phoenix are chock full of Republican or right leaning reporters and I haven’t noticed it doing much to tamp down the fake news, conspiracy theories, and downright goofy beliefs that proliferate around here. This appears to be another iteration of the impossible-to-kill Magical Moderate Republican Unicorn myth.

Sullivan also cites some flimsy evidence for her claim newsrooms were biased toward the Democrat in the 2016 election:

Pope puts it more bluntly, referring to the “unarguable partisanship” he saw from some mainstream journalists as Nov. 8 neared, evident especially on social media. Favoring Clinton, they not only mocked Trump but also were unable to fathom that he might win.

Most people thought Clinton would win and reporters acting as such, and mocking Trump as the self-evident buffoon he is, in no way means they were remotely pro-Clinton in their coverage at any point up to the election. It was quite the opposite!

Pope now sees “a huge corrective” underway, as journalists dig in, providing meaty accountability coverage of Trump and spending more time listening to Trump’s core of voters.

Oh, as opposed to before the election when the MSM was laser-focused on Clinton vot….ha ha, no. It was pretty much all Trump voters all the time then too. Nevertheless, “more Republicans” is the go-to solution here.

1 Comment(s)

  1. Comment by Mark on March 14, 2017 10:37 am

    Nice post. This [third] “Great Awakening” by the media may have come too late. The success of fake news in the election cycle, the continuing lying and abuse of facts by Trump and his cronies apparently wearing down the value of truth in reporting, and the momentum toward a Constitutional Convention to thwart a serviceable government may make debates about “doing a better job” moot.

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