Category Archives: MSM

Chart of the day: Partisan divide on news coverage

From a new survey from the Pew Research Center:


Quote of the day: It’s a reality television show. . .

From Matt Taibbi, writing in Rolling Stone:

There’s an old Slavic saying about corruption: One thief sits atop another thief, using a third thief for a whip. The campaign trail is similarly a stack of deceptions, with each implicit lie of the horse race driving the next.

Lie No. 1 is that there are only two political ideas in the world, Republican and Democrat. Lie No. 2 is that the parties are violent ideological opposites, and that during campaign season we can only speak about the areas where they differ (abortion, guns, etc.) and never the areas where there’s typically consensus (defense spending, surveillance, torture, trade, and so on). Lie No. 3, a corollary to No. 2, is that all problems are the fault of one party or the other, and never both. Assuming you watch the right channels, everything is always someone else’s fault. Lie No. 4, the reason America in campaign seasons looks like a place where everyone has great teeth and $1,000 haircuts, is that elections are about political personalities, not voters.

These are the rules of the Campaign Reality Show as it has evolved over the years. The program is designed to reduce political thought to a simple binary choice and force more than 100 million adults to commit to one or the other. Like every TV contest, it discourages subtlety, reflection and reconciliation, and encourages belligerence, action and conflict.

Trump was the ultimate contestant in this show. It’s no accident that his first debate with Hillary Clinton turned into the Ali-Frazier of political events, with a breathtaking 84 million people tuning in, making it the most watched political program in American history.

CPJ chair: Trump threatens freedom of the press

The Committee to Protect Journalists, an international organization headquartered in New York is so alarmed at the implicit and sometimes explicit threats to journalism coming from the Republican president candidate that they have issued a formal alarm.

From the statement:

New York, October 13, 2016–In an unprecedented step, the Committee to Protect Journalists today released a statement recognizing that a Donald Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom. In response to Trump’s threats and vilification of the media during his campaign, the chairman of CPJ’s board, Sandra Mims Rowe, issued the following statement on behalf of the organization:

Guaranteeing the free flow of information to citizens through a robust, independent press is essential to American democracy. For more than 200 years this founding principle has protected journalists in the United States and inspired those around the world, including brave journalists facing violence, censorship, and government repression.

Donald Trump, through his words and actions as a candidate for president of the United States, has consistently betrayed First Amendment values. On October 6, CPJ’s board of directors passed a resolution declaring Trump an unprecedented threat to the rights of journalists and to CPJ’s ability to advocate for press freedom around the world.

Since the beginning of his candidacy, Trump has insulted and vilified the press and has made his opposition to the media a centerpiece of his campaign. Trump has routinely labeled the press as “dishonest” and “scum” and singled out individual news organizations and journalists.

He has mocked a disabled New York Times journalist and called an ABC News reporter a “sleaze” in a press conference. He expelled Univision anchor Jorge Ramos from a campaign press conference because he asked an “impertinent” question, and has publicly demeaned other journalists.

Trump has refused to condemn attacks on journalists by his supporters. His campaign has also systematically denied press credentials to outlets that have covered him critically, including The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, Politico, The Huffington Post, The Daily Beast, Univision, and The Des Moines Register.

Throughout his campaign, Trump has routinely made vague proposals to limit basic elements of press and internet freedom. At a rally in February, Trump declared that if elected president he would “open up our libel laws so when they write purposely negative and horrible and false articles, we can sue them and win lots of money.” In September, Trump tweeted, “My lawyers want to sue the failing @nytimes so badly for irresponsible intent. I said no (for now), but they are watching. Really disgusting.”

While some have suggested that these statements are rhetorical, we take Trump at his word. His intent and his disregard for the constitutional free press principle are clear.

A Trump presidency would represent a threat to press freedom in the United States, but the consequences for the rights of journalists around the world could be far more serious. Any failure of the United States to uphold its own standards emboldens dictators and despots to restrict the media in their own countries. This appears to be of no concern to Trump, who indicated that he has no inclination to challenge governments on press freedom and the treatment of journalists.

Quote of the day: One-dimensional journalism

From journalist, essayist, and fellow native Kansan Sarah Smarsh, writing in the Guardian:

One-dimensional stereotypes fester where journalism fails to tread. The last time I saw my native class receive substantial focus, before now, was over 20 years ago – not in the news but on the television show Roseanne, the fictional storylines of which remain more accurate than the musings of comfortable commentators in New York studios.

Countless images of working-class progressives, including women such as Betty, are thus rendered invisible by a ratings-fixated media that covers elections as horse races and seeks sensational b-roll.

This media paradigm created the tale of a divided America – “red” v “blue”– in which the 42% of Kansans who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 are meaningless.

This year, more Kansans caucused for Bernie Sanders than for Donald Trump – a newsworthy point I never saw noted in national press, who perhaps couldn’t fathom that “flyover country” might contain millions of Americans more progressive than their Clinton strongholds.

In lieu of such coverage, media makers cast the white working class as a monolith and imply an old, treacherous story convenient to capitalism: that the poor are dangerous idiots.

Trump’s brass revealed as the gold plate rubs off

In our previous post, a compilation of Trumpisms from the London Review of Books, The Donald explained himself precisely in a mere nine words, seven of them — of which two have two syllables, the rest have one:

‘The beauty of me is that I’m very rich.’

The beauty of Donald Trump is one of class, an arrogant classy sort of class, characterized by his Wharton sense of branding — one given a gold-plated veneer [toilets included] and burned into his properties like a Texas cowboy used to brand his steers.

Through a combination of a primate predispositions and relentless programing [in both senses of the term], our inner ape’s attentiveness to hierachy and sex has been captivated by Trump’s relentless multimedia self presentation.

Trump’s voters are male, while women dominate the now-solidly leading Hillary half of the polls. For them, Trump is an exciting guy because they’re secretly both jealous and aroused by the shit he gets away with. He is correct in asserting that his only real attraction is the wealthy persona he’s crafted. But more than that, it’s a secret admiration.

And sufficiently ample women are drawn in by that same allure, ny the repitlian gaze and the sheer, unapologetic hubris of it all. Hell, the guy is rich, and some of it’s gotta rub off, right?

[And that’s not to say that nature dominates nurture; we’ve all seen lots of folks less susceptible to a purely reactionary mode, nor that we’re doomed to endless manipulation. We can gain control of the

But that golden luster is suddenly looking bit tarnished, the brass underneath revealed as the thing layer of gold plate is rubbed away.

The latest tarnish is sexual

First, from the Guardian:

A wave of claims about Donald Trump’s alleged sexual transgressions and inappropriate behaviour – in one case with a 10-year-old girl – has emerged, threatening the Republican presidential nominee’s already fragile campaign less than a month before election day.

Ever since video of the real estate mogul surfaced on Friday showing him bragging about how he could grab women’s genitals with impunity, more and more women have come forward to claim they were demeaned and touched inappropriately.

By late Wednesday evening the list of new allegations against Trump included:

  • two Miss USA contestants who claimed Trump deliberately walked in on them when they were naked in a dressing room.
  • two women who allege Trump groped or kissed them without consent – one in the first-class seat of an aircraft.
  • a claim by a woman that she was groped at a Trump event at his Mar-A-Lago estate in Florida.
  • a People magazine reporter who says Trump forced himself on her shortly before she was due to interview him and his wife in 2005.
  • an incident in which Trump appears to sexualize a 10-year-old girl.

An allegation in detail

From CBS News Digital:

As Republican nominee Donald Trump’s campaign tries to move past a recently released 2005 tape of his lewd remarks about women, more video of similar comments made by Trump is surfacing.

In an “Entertainment Tonight” Christmas feature in 1992, Trump looked at a group of young girls and said he would be dating one of them in ten years. At the time, Trump would have been 46 years old.

The video, released Wednesday evening, was shot at Trump Tower.

In the clip, Trump asks one of the girls if she’s “going up the escalator.” When the girl replies, “yeah,” Trump turns to the camera and says: “I am going to be dating her in 10 years. Can you believe it?”

It is not the first time Trump has made reference to his interest in dating much younger women.

In 2006, he made a similar comment about his own daughter, Ivanka Trump: “I’ve said that if Ivanka weren’t my daughter, perhaps I’d be dating her,” Trump said.

Hillary Clinton, the bankster’s and frackster’s BFF

We’ve characterized Campaign 2016 as a contest between the Despicable [Donald Trump] and the Deplorable [Hillary Clinton].

Events of recent days have done nothing to change our opinion and everything to confirm it, most notably the leaked Trump tape and the massive cache of Democratic Party and Clinton campaign emails handed over to Wikileaks.

Today’s we focus on the massive Clinton documents, confirmation that Trump’s got one thing exactly right: She really is Lying Hillary, campaigning as a candidate who favors strong financial regulation and opposes fracking, while privately telling industry folks she opposes the former and favors the latter.

From Democracy Now!:

Leaked Hillary Clinton Emails: Could Bernie Sanders Have Won Primary If Leak Occurred Earlier?

From the transcript:

LEE FANG: These emails are very interesting. They provide a window into Clinton and her experiences, certainly her speeches. I don’t believe that there are any huge bombshells, that this will change the course of the general election. Maybe if these emails came out earlier in the year, during the Democratic primary, that could have maybe changed history. But this won’t change the course of the general election.

That being said, the emails really show, including the transcripts, that Hillary Clinton is far more conservative, far more business-friendly, when she’s speaking with aides, when she’s giving speeches to these Wall Street banks. Also, the emails show that Clinton’s inner circle is filled with wealthy people, Wall Street types, Washington insiders, that are kind of part of a—what you might call a Washington bubble. They are very quick to attack and show a lot of contempt for anyone that they perceive on their political left, whether that’s activists or certain journalists. So, you know, these are interesting emails, but for folks who have followed Hillary Clinton’s tenure in government, they aren’t particularly surprising. They certainly fit a larger pattern.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: And, Lee, they do reveal that, especially with Wall Street firms or commercial interests, that they expect to be able to be heard, given the money that they contribute. They also show, though, some of the major labor unions in the country also seeking to get heard because of their donations, as well, to the Clinton campaign, don’t they?

LEE FANG: Yeah, that’s right. You know, I think the Dodd-Frank comments are really interesting, the ones you just highlighted. You know, on the campaign trail, as she competed with Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton embraced Dodd-Frank, the big financial reform law passed by President Obama, called it a great law that she will defend. She was very proud of it. But, you know, speaking to bankers, she showed a contempt for the law. She sympathized with bankers who were opposed to this law, basically made the argument that it was only passed because of politics, that, you know, after the financial crisis of 2008, Democrats had to do something, and so they had to pass this. And she mentioned to Goldman Sachs in some of these paid speeches that she sees the financial sector, folks who work on Wall Street, that they know how to make the rules better than those in Washington. So it’s a stark contrast.

Graphic Representation: Debating considerations

Sunday’s presidential “debate” was the final nail in the coffin containing the corpse of American democracy, the reduction of discourse to carefully crafted sound bites designed not to inform and provoke serious thought but to inflame and trigger knee-jerk reactions.

On on side we saw the looming narcissist, grabbing attention by the power of his sneers and on the other the stiff, robotic technocrat.

If anything, Trump dominated the debate, in part by keeping his eye firmly on the cameras’ red lights and lumbering into its relentless gaze, hovering behind his opponent whenever it was her turn to speak.

Trump, the cartoonish, hulking media star best known for declaring “You’re fired!,” knows the medium well. But like all sociopaths, he is dazzled by the kleig and so self-assured that he overplays his hand to anyone with a skeptical eye.

Clinton, the epitome of the backroom dealer, is awkward in the public gaze, coming off as stiff when she relentlessly keeps to her script.

Part of the problem with the modern presidential debate is the format, shaped by medium in which they are conducted as candidates are forced to confine their answers to brief sound bites.

Consider, by contrast, the gold standard of American political debates, the seven 1856 confrontations between the consummate insider, between the diminutive [5’4″] Democratic incumbent Illinois Senator Stephen A. Douglas, and his challenger, the looming [6’5″] Republican challenger Abraham Lincoln [and the matter of stature is about the only resemblance between today’s opponents and those of 158 years ago].

While Douglas would go on to retain his senate seat, it was Lincoln who two years later defeated Douglas to win the White House.

The Lincoln-Douglas debates set the stage for the presidential race two years later, and election that sparked a civil war.

Those debates bore no resemblance to Sunday’s debacle.

Consider, first of all, the format:

Lincoln and Douglas agreed to debate in seven of the nine Illinois Congressional Districts; the seven where Douglas had not already spoken. In each debate either Douglas or Lincoln would open with an hour address. The other would then speak for an hour and a half. The first then had 30 minutes of rebuttal. In the seven debates, Douglas, as the incumbent, was allowed to go first four times.


On seven separate occasions voters got to hear each candidate speak for 90 minutes!

Candidates could develop their ideas in detail, giving the voters a deeper understanding of the issues, developing their platforms and revealing what they actually stood for and intended to implement during their terms of office.

Not so today, when each candidate speaks for about as long as a reasonably skilled person can hold her breath, a time limit about as long as a campaign television commercial.

How can democracy thrive under such conditions? A climate in which impressions carry more weight than ideas?

Enough said.

Now on with today’s Graphic Representations

And rarely, if ever, have we seen such unanimity in the world of editorial cartooning.

First, from the editorial cartoonist of the Washington Post, the first of two offerings employing a similar metaphor:

Tom Toles: Donald Trump is breaking some barriers, too


And the second falling image, via the Charlotte Observer:

Kevin Siers: Trump in free fall


UPDATE: One more image we just discovered from across the pond via the Independent:

Dave Brown: Hair-raising experience


From the Los Angeles Times:

David Horsey: Trump steers the presidential debate into the lurid side of politics


From the Lexington Herald Leader:

Joel Pett: The GOP and women


And from the Columbus Dispatch:

Nate Beeler: Defending Liberty


Similarly, from the Arizona Republic:

Steve Benson: Trump targets women in new campaign slogan


And from the Tulsa World:

Bruce Plante: Trump in the locker room


Back to the locker room again, this time from the Baton Rouge Advocate:

Walt Handelsman: “Locker Room Talk”


Next up, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the first of three offerings on a parallel theme:

Mike Luckovich: Presidential grab


From the Chattanooga Times Free Press, the second:

Clay Bennett: Respect


For our penultimate cartoon, the Philadelphia Daily News weighs in:

Signe Wilkinson: A GOP power grab


Finally, from the Washington Post again:

Ann Telnaes: The Donald nose whereof he speaks


We close with another image, this one painted by Caravaggio, and telling the story from Greek mythology of Narcissus, a man so enamored of self love that when he gazed into his own reflection in a lake he pined away and died from unrequited love.

Remind you of anyone?: