The Well Made Bed, Ready for Lying

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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26 Responses

  1. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    I think journalists, especially those for TV and other big outfits, are incapable of dealing with someone like Donald Trump. They have absorbed decades of training from J-school onwards that their job is to report objectively and neutrally on things, partially because this avoids alienating market share. Plus they all seem to have this view that their job is to be cheerleaders for “Team America” and that calling the President a bullshitter is not what a cheerleader for Team America does. This is why you have countless takes of “Today is the day Donald Trump became a real President.” Alexandra Petri covered this well: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2020/04/01/i-think-president-struck-different-tone-today-then-again-i-am-goldfish/

    In the last week or two, Seattle’s NPR station stated they would no longer be covering the Presidents briefings live because of the amount of misinformation in those pressers such as his continued boasting of an anti-malarial drug which can be very deadly if not used properly and is not proven to work. But I think for most journalists, the idea of taking a stance like that is something their brains can’t process. COVID-19 is an important story, the President is the President, we must cover his pressers seems to be the only chain of thought many of them can muster.

    There is also the fact that “access” journalism means a lot of journalists end up playing the role of courtier whether they realize it or not.

    I am not always a fan of the journalism style that Gawker did when they were around but at least they would rather tell the truth as they saw it than get invited to swank parties in Georgetown and Davos for the sake of kissing the asses of the powerful. I imagine CNN’s pundits response to this is “Whatever nerd, have you seen my kitchen remodel?”Report

    • Avatar Jaybird
      Ignored
      says:

      From the New York Times:

      Rhodes singled out a key example to me one day, laced with the brutal contempt that is a hallmark of his private utterances. “All these newspapers used to have foreign bureaus,” he said. “Now they don’t. They call us to explain to them what’s happening in Moscow and Cairo. Most of the outlets are reporting on world events from Washington. The average reporter we talk to is 27 years old, and their only reporting experience consists of being around political campaigns. That’s a sea change. They literally know nothing.”

      Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        Reporting is one job that was definitely not helped by professionalization. It used to be something that you did right out of high school or college if you could write well. You started at a local paper covering crime or something like that and worked your way up. A college degree was really only needed if they wanted a journalist with a bit more posh for some very specific beats like diplomatic journalism or the society pages.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird
          Ignored
          says:

          And now we’re in a place where there are more graduates with journalism degrees, every year, than their are jobs in the industry. Not “available jobs in the industry”, mind. But if every single person in the industry quit today, you could replace each of them with a fresh journalism graduate and still have fresh journalism graduates left over.

          I suspect this is why you have sports journalists who hate sports, gaming journalists who hate games, and so on. It’s because they wanted a job doing Real Journalism and this bullshit job where they have to write 800 words about feng shui in Animal Crossing is all that they could get within the industry.Report

          • Avatar Aaron David
            Ignored
            says:

            The question for me is, among those who do get hired, are they in it to do journalism, or do they want to trade bon mots on Twitter? There are even less paid positions writing op/eds than shoe leather reporting.

            Tons of free interships online though.Report

            • Avatar InMD
              Ignored
              says:

              Maybe I’m being overly charitable but I think the people involved don’t really understand the difference. At least not at the national press corps level.

              Totally anecdotal but my wife started college as a journalism major at a reputable enough school. She was left with a very negative impression.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                No, I don’t think they do, charitable or uncharitable.

                If, and that is a big if, you are able to bring hard facts to the table, honestly look at them and put forth an opinion that you are going to stand behind, and be prepared to eat a lot of crow, you can earn your way into that august profession. But you really cannot up-jump into it. There are some who can do it, but they spent time in the trenches, working for free and even after all that they are still considered partisan hacks.Report

              • Avatar Aaron David
                Ignored
                says:

                Oh, and my wife was a language major in college (German) and at this point, even though she is a director at a university, she tries to have as little contact with the liberal arts departments as possible.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F.
          Ignored
          says:

          Sometimes, a journalism degree could hurt too. When my great-grandfather was hired at the Brooklyn Eagle, it was a selling point that he had a degree in something else. The head editor was fond of telling applicants with journalism degrees to go work elsewhere until they had forgotten everything they learned in school and then come back.Report

    • Avatar InMD
      Ignored
      says:

      I think you’re absolutely right. Real journalism involves being a bit of a gutter reptile with a healthy contempt for authority. There’s also a gumshoe aspect of being willing to go out into the world and sniff around in uncomfortable things.

      Instead we have a corporate self-styled fourth estate compromised mostly of highly awarded and educated folks who are a terrible combination of overly credulous, lacking in self-awareness, and not all that bright.Report

      • Avatar Philip H
        Ignored
        says:

        Real journalism involves being a bit of a gutter reptile with a healthy contempt for authority. There’s also a gumshoe aspect of being willing to go out into the world and sniff around in uncomfortable things.

        Seems to me this is a major attractive feature of the many non-corporate online types these days, recognizing many of them eventually get bought up by the corporations.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq
        Ignored
        says:

        In other words, we have courtiers. Years ago I read a theory that British journalists do a slightly better job at this than American reporters because London is the political, media, and economic capital of the United Kingdom. It also helps that many of the politicians and journalists were educated together and grew up with a mutual distrust. Since American geography is more diffuse, our journalists do not really distrust the politicians so much.Report

        • Avatar InMD
          Ignored
          says:

          Yea I hear in the UK they all come out of the same private schools and upper class social circles. It’s a lot harder to be in awe of people you’ve been in close enough proximity with to see their flaws and foibles up close.Report

  2. Avatar Saul Degraw
    Ignored
    says:

    There was also an NPR high up who got really defensive a year or so ago when the station was challenged on sticking to objective reporting. I can’t quite remember which of Trump’s many bullshits caused the pushback against NPR in this case.Report

  3. Avatar Aaron David
    Ignored
    says:

    Much of the media spent eight years trying out to be fluffers in an Obama porno, and they immediatly (whiplash inducing) showed so much venom to Trump, that at this time unless I hear collaboration form multiple, idiologically differing news sources I basically consider what any of those groups tell me to be BS.

    The left aways said Fox was bad, but then the major news outlets turn around and show that was the normal in their world.Report

  4. Avatar Philip H
    Ignored
    says:

    The Brady Briefing Room is, like the Raised Dais on the Hill, a setting designed to project a powerful image. To that end it still works amazingly well in the 21st Century, so I doubt it will get canned off anytime soon.

    That means it is an effective substitute for the campaign rally’s the President is for the moment foregoing, and while it would be great if the Task Force Briefings were the only part covered, its not gonna happen.

    So for me, the issue comes down to whether the media outlets involved do any sort of credible job separating the wheat from the chaff. So far I’d give them all a D+ in that regard.Report

  5. Avatar Stillwater
    Ignored
    says:

    But pressers are still good for ratings, and old habits die hard, so tomorrow the president and the media will light up the LED lights

    From Politico: “Donald Trump isn’t benefiting from what political scientists refer to as a “rally ‘round the flag” effect — a traditional surge in popularity as the nation unites behind its leader during an emergency situation. Even as the country confronts the greatest disruption to daily life since World War II, a series of new polls released this week show Trump’s approval ratings plateauing in the mid-40s, roughly where his approval rating stood a month ago, before the coronavirus shuttered much of the nation’s economic and social activity.”

    From the failing NYT: Aides and allies increasingly believe the president’s daily briefings are hurting him more than helping, and are urging him to let his medical experts take center stage.

    Live and die by the sword I guess.Report

    • Avatar George Turner
      Ignored
      says:

      That’s hilarious because if the briefings were hurting Trump, the NYTimes, WaPo, and CNN wouldn’t be saying the press shouldn’t air them. Having signaled how successful they think the briefings are, they’re now claiming that it’s the Republicans who say they’re damaging Trump. But if that were true, the media wouldn’t be trying to yank them off the air, they’d be asking Trump to have two or three a day. ^_^

      What’s equally interesting is that the press wouldn’t carry live Biden counter-briefings because they’d expose how bad he is. He and his team can sit at his house and spend all day putting together carefully crafted releases, but what results is Biden failing to maintain a coherent line throughout an entire sentence. If those are the takes his people release, what are the takes on the cutting room floor like?

      I gave up on decoding the one from two days ago, but since then Biden has demanded Trump release virus data that he says will reveal America’s structural racism. He’s focused on the important things! And let me tell you, if you’re a dog-faced pony soldier who’s up a creek and a wheel falls off, you’re going to need a bigger doghouse.

      In a crisis where people are judging leadership style and competence, Biden is the senile grandpa in the upstairs bedroom who only slips downstairs for dinner, and when he does he keeps interrupting everybody to rant about the squirrels raiding his bird feeder, something that never happened in his day because back then people knew what to do about those dang squirrels.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater
        Ignored
        says:

        That’s hilarious because if the briefings were hurting Trump, the NYTimes, WaPo, and CNN wouldn’t be saying the press shouldn’t air them.

        And yet….

        Chalk it up to your own priors?Report

  6. Avatar Damon
    Ignored
    says:

    ““The press is biased!!!” Yes, what are you, new here? ” Nope…pay attention long enough with an open mind, and u realize this. My issue is they keep CLAIMING the aren’t. Don’t lie to my face when I see you actions contradict your protestations of innocence.Report

  7. Avatar Urusigh
    Ignored
    says:

    ““The press is biased!!!” Yes, what are you, new here? The media, the press, or whatever other term you want to use to lump all of reporting together into two or three syllable invecting is made up of people. People, all of them, are biased. Factor in how honestly those folks attempt to broker truth balanced against their jobs and roles in the grand scheme of things as part of discerning who to believe on what subject. But “unbiased” is the stuff for the reading circle on the quiet rug in kindergartens, not the healthy antagonistic give-and-take between the free press and elected officials.”

    See, this false dichotomy increasingly irks me. You can say “All humans are biased, therefore all reporting is biased”, but to do so you have to ignore any measure of degree in the product and quality of the tradecraft. Humans are by nature imprecise too, yet we have created tools with precision so exacting that it’s difficult to actually understand. Asking for “unbiased” reporting isn’t any less possible or reasonable than asking for any other product to meet spec to a desired precision. We know what cognitive biases are, how they work, and what structured analytic techniques compensate for, minimize, or outright prevent each. Reporting truly could be as accurate as a published scientific paper if that’s the standard we actually trained and demanded reporters to uphold. What we have instead is a failure of interest, because too many customers merely want to be entertained and/or told they are right, too many reporters just want to be rich and/or famous giving those selfsame customers what they want (or aren’t willing or able to do otherwise), and a failure of economics in that there clearly is a market opportunity for fair, objective, timely, accurate reporting…yet we don’t have that anymore, if we ever did. That’s on us and on them.

    “the healthy antagonistic give-and-take between the free press and elected officials.””

    Are we watching/reading the same news? “Antagonistic” is an excellent word for it, but “healthy” certainly isn’t, and “free” isn’t the best word for a press corp that seems little distinguishable from propaganda arms of the political parties. In the age of “access”, “outrage”, “opinion” and ignorance; where the old guard has mostly been replaced by inexperienced activists and the locals who actually knew their beat personally have been replaced almost entirely by national press sitting smug in their bubbles…the press is NOT healthy or particularly free.Report

    • Avatar InMD
      Ignored
      says:

      This is a good point. Just because it isn’t being done well doesn’t mean it can’t be. Of course the economics seem to be strongly weighted against quality.Report

    • Avatar George Turner
      Ignored
      says:

      And yet the most effective treatment found so far is an antiparasitic paired with an antibiotic. I guess she majored in journalism instead of STEM, but journalists are the least capable people to be trying to cut off information from the publc.Report

      • Avatar beelzebob
        Ignored
        says:

        Do you mean the French study? “ISAC shares the concerns regarding the above article published recently in the International Journal of Antimicrobial Agents (IJAA). The ISAC Board believes the article does not meet the Society’s expected standard, especially relating to the lack of better explanations of the inclusion criteria and the triage of patients to ensure patient safety. “Report

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