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Monday, May 02, 2016

Best Thing I've Read Today

Campbell Brown, former anchor and reporter for CNN and NBC, blames TV news outlets for the rise of Donald Trump:

I really would like to blame Trump. But everything he is doing is with TV news’ full acquiescence. Trump doesn’t force the networks to show his rallies live rather than do real reporting. Nor does he force anyone to accept his phone calls rather than demand that he do a face-to-face interview that would be a greater risk for him. TV news has largely given Trump editorial control. It is driven by a hunger for ratings—and the people who run the networks and the news channels are only too happy to make that Faustian bargain. Which is why you’ll see endless variations of this banner, one I saw all three cable networks put up in a single day: “Breaking news: Trump speaks for first time since Wisconsin loss.” In all these scenes, the TV reporter just stands there, off camera, essentially useless. The order doesn’t need to be stated. It’s understood in the newsroom: Air the Trump rallies live and uninterrupted. He may say something crazy; he often does, and it’s always great television.
She goes on:
It is not just the wall-to-wall coverage of Trump. It’s the openness with which some are reveling in his attention. It’s the effort, conscious or not, to domesticate and pretty him up, to make him appear less offensive than he really is, and to practice a false objectivity or equivalence in the coverage. Here, journalism across all platforms -- corporate, as well as publicly funded -- is guilty.

Trump is a chronic liar and dissembler; this has been demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt. He repeatedly makes factual errors, large and small, in his statements. He is also a misogynist, has a cruel streak (including mocking people’s looks and physical disabilities), has condoned physical violence among his supporters and is shockingly ignorant. To ask journalists to pretend otherwise is akin to asking them to have pretended in the 1960s that George Wallace wasn’t a racist or in the 1950s that Joe McCarthy wasn’t a demagogue. Yet when former ABC anchor and National Public Radio’s legendary pioneer Cokie Roberts dared to state the truth, calling Trump “one of the least qualified candidates ever to make a serious run for the presidency,” NPR took pains to distance itself. The vice president for news issued a memo reminding staff that she is just a “commentator,” not a member of NPR’s staff.

It need not be this way.
Read Brown's full piece here.