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Looking back and forward at 'the media' and Trump

President-elect Donald Trump talking to reporters
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President-elect Donald Trump talking to reporters as he and his wife Melania arrived for a New Year's Eve celebration at the Mar-a-lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Happy New Year to all MinnPost readers.

In my last post of 2016, I confessed how heart-broken and horrified I felt (and still feel) about the turn our politics has taken and the prospects for government policy in the years just ahead. I don’t take any of it back. But heartbroken and horrified is no way to live, nor is it a plan to make things better.

I hope this won’t sound like too much of a cop-out, but it’s not the job of scribblers like me to directly make things better, unless by “better” we mean informing the public, and especially informing the electorate in ways that support your role as voters and citizens in a self-governing society.

As I mentioned in the previous piece, a lot of people seem to be blaming “the media” for the outcome of the election. I also mentioned that I don’t really agree with that theory of news media blameology. I’ll just say a couple of things about that, and then pass along some analysis and thoughts from a much smarter media observer/reformer.

The public had access — easy access across all platforms and more access at less cost than ever before — to the information it needed to exercise its franchise knowledgeably in November. Many media outlets, in print and on air, abandoned old norms that prohibited calling a politician a liar and his statements false. I never seen anything remotely like it, but I agree that it was the correct response to a candidate telling so many lies and refusing to stop telling them even after they had been clearly proven to be false.

If many members of the public preferred to get their “information” from Donald Trump's tweets, or from fake-news sites or from dishonest voices online or on the air, they had the right to do so. But they had a responsibility not to do so. Many of them exercised that right and neglected that responsibility.

Many Americans made a sort of a choice to be misinformed because misinformation apparently made it easier to believe things that they like to believe, about how the world works, about how the economy works, about the likely efficacy of Trump's so-called policy ideas, which he changed frequently without apparently paying a political price.

To me, it is a sucker play to put one’s confidence in a candidate who has no coherent position on many important issues, has positions that don’t track with facts or logic on others, and whose positions change from week to week. And that’s without getting into the matters of character or biography that should have raised serious questions about whose interests the candidate would pursue once in power based on how he has used power in the past.

But, however obnoxious or condescending my attitude sounds to some, I do not dispute that all eligible voters have the right to award their vote on any basis they choose. Nor do I reflexively defend the performance of the media in all things. I assert only that since the media included easily accessible information that would enable voters to exercise their franchise on an informed basis, it doesn’t make sense to me to blame the “the media” if many voters preferred to vote their emotions or their grudges or their biases. I dearly hope that I am wrong in believing that Trump will deeply disappoint his followers to the degree they  were voting for him in hopes of seeing their circumstances improve.

Long ago, I was introduced to twin demons called “selective perception” and “confirmation bias” that get in the way of informed rationality. Those who prefer to believe certain things often have a “bias” in favor of arguments and facts (or fictions) that enable them to keep believing in those things. If that is one’s goal, it is easy to selectively perceive, or note, or rely on, only those facts (or fictions) and arguments that enable them to keep believing in those things. In my view, the election of Trump was a triumph of those twin demons.

But that triumph challenges journalism to try harder to communicate facts and truths to the widest audience willing to know them. So, as I struggled  over the long holiday weekend, I stumbled upon two posts by an old acquaintance of mine, journalism professor Jay Rosen of New York University, who also opines on media matters in his blog “PressThink.”

Rosen’s two-part series is titled “Prospects for the American press under Trump.” Part 1 is titled: “How Bad Is It? Pretty Bad,” and was devoted to a descriptions of many dangers facing the country and challenges facing journalism in the years ahead in 17 numbered paragraphs. Here are a few of the observations I found most compelling:

8. A figure in power who got there in part by whipping up hatred against the press, and who shows no signs of ending that abusive practice … coupled with a disturbing pattern in which Trump broadcasts through his Twitter feed outrageously false statements, the press reacts by trying to “check” them, and the resulting furor works to his advantage by casting journalists in the role of petty but hateful antagonist, with Trump as the man who takes the heat and “tells it like it is.”

9. The emergence of an authoritarian political style in which trashing the norms of American democracy (as when he cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election, or suggested prosecution of his opponent) works to Trump’s advantage with a huge portion of his supporters, while failing to alarm the rest. This is especially troublesome because norms of democracy are what give the press its place in public life and representative government; if these can be broken without penalty that means the press can be shoved aside and not much will happen.

10. The increasingly dim prospect that there will be a fact-based debate to which journalists can usefully contribute when the leader of the free world feels free to broadcast transparently false or ignorant claims… coupled with the full flowering of the “we make our own reality” attitude (circa 2004) into a kind of performance art that simultaneously kicks up hatred of anyone trying to be evidence-based and liberates the speech of powerful actors from even the most minimal factual constraints.

16. A crisis of representation around covering Trump in which it is not clear that anyone can reliably tell us what his positions are, or explain his reasons for holding them, because he feels free to contradict advisers, spokespeople, surrogates, and previous statements he made. As Esquire’s Charles Pierce put it to me: ‘Nobody speaks for the prez-elect, not even himself.’ I list this because the press is not good at abandoning rituals and routines when they cease to make sense. Every interview with Kellyanne Conway or Reince Priebus is premised on a claim to represent the man in power. This claim may be false. But journalists need people to interview! So they will continue to do it, even though they may be misinforming the public. They may even realize this and be unable to shift course. What I’m trying to point out is that existing methods for “holding power to account” rest on assumptions about how it will behave. A man in power untroubled by contradictions and comfortable in the confusion he creates cannot be held accountable by normal means.

Rosen listed a few rays of sunlight in this bleak sky, and then a list of things “not to do,” which included:

Don’t settle for accusation-driven over evidence-based reporting, just to avoid drawing flak from Trump’s press-hating supporters or demonstrate how even-handed you are.

I endorse that suggestion.

To avoid starting off the new year with a too-long post (unless I already have, in which case sorry), I’ll just give you a taste of Rosen’s Part 2, in which he talks about ideas for approaching the crisis, but first reiterates how serious it is, thus:

This is a crisis with many overlapping and deep-seated causes, not just a problem but what scholars call a wicked problem — a mess. You don’t “solve” messes, you approach them with humility and respect for their beastliness. Trying things you know won’t “fix” it can teach you more about the problem’s wickedness. That’s progress. Realizing that no one is an expert in the problem helps, because it means that good ideas can come from anywhere. …

Here’s an abstract answer (sorry: it will only take a minute!) Journalists, I think, need to listen for people’s troubles, and find the points where they connect to public issues. And they have to be better at that than a broken political system is. From there they can start to rebuild trust.

The distinction between “troubles” and “issues” was struck by sociologist C. Wright Mills in the 1950s. He said troubles were the problems that concern people in their immediate experience. “An issue is a public matter: some value cherished by publics is felt to be threatened.” When the issues that get attention fail to connect to people’s troubles, or when common troubles don’t get surfaced and formulated as public issues … that is where journalism-as-listener can intervene, and earn back trust.

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Comments (80)

The problem is

that most voters did NOT swallow Trump's nonsense (in the literal sense of not making sense -- self contradictory). Trump did not get more votes than the two previous (and unsuccessful) Republican candidates, and he lost the popular vote by a record setting margin.

The numbers show that the reason that he squeaked through in the Electoral College was that too many Democrats didn't bother to vote, either because they thought that Trump would lose anyway, or because they dislike Clinton nearly as much as Trump.
And I say 'squeaked through' because, while he had a comfortable EC margin, it was not terribly large by historical standards, and a very small number of votes in a few states would have reversed the outcome.

Clintion's entire margin in the popular vote came from CA

Trump won the popular vote in 49 states but Clinton's margin in California, where Trump never campaigned, was bigger than Trump's in the other 49.

I don't want the people in CA deciding who the president is.

If MN a portioned electoral votes like ME & Ne then Trump would have won MN 6 electoral votes to 4 for Clinton.

To cite a recent quote . . . .

"Wrong"

From the Minnesota Secretary of State Website (http://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/2016-general-election-results/):

Hillary Clinton 1,367,716 Total Votes, 46.44%
Donald J. Trump 1,322,951 Total Votes, 44.92%

So no, T.Rump did NOT win the popular vote in every state except California. I'm not going to go find all the other numbers for you, but posting on a Minnesota-based website, I'd at least expect you to be aware of the Minnesota numbers.

"I don't want the people in CA deciding who the president is."

What does this even mean?

I don’t want the people in Oklahoma deciding who the president is. Or Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, South Carolina, Mississippi, West Virginia, Alabama, or a bunch of other states. I don’t want the folks in Renville County deciding who the president is, or the folks in New Prague, or the guy that was in front of me in line at Target, or my Uncle Gene, or frankly anyone who voted for the guy that got elected.

If it weren't for these folks whom I don’t want deciding who the president is, the election would have turned out differently.

psychobabble to the rescue

While the expansion of available "media" outlets is a real thing, and while everyone is certainly responsible for their own level of ignorance or lack thereof, these observations strike me a transparent effort to miss the the point. It's rather like saying: "Its not our fault people pay attention to the stuff we broadcast and print, so we can't be held responsible for what we braodcast and print".

While selective perception and confirmation bias are legitimate psychological phenomena, using these concepts to explain media behavior or consumption borders on pseudo-science. Neither of these concepts were developed to explain how or why people choose news sources or develop a media bias. "Selective Attention" is a cognitive process whereby subjects filter out extraneous noise in the environment, and confirmation bias is a methodological error. Adopting these concepts as some form of media critique is very much like the pseudo-intellectual impulse that transformed Thomas Kuhn's scientific paradigms into the organizational models so popular among business jargon aficionado's not too long ago. Sounds impressive, but it doesn't really tell you anything. In fact, the attempt to import scientific concepts in the service of media critiques more often than not obscures rather than enlightens.

If you want to critique the media use a media critique, not a watered concept from cognitive psychology. All you have to do here is a basic market analysis, look at who the consumers are and look at who responds to that consumer demand. The difference between being a consumer and being an informed citizen revolves around a focus of responsibility, not confirmation bias. The only responsibility a consumer has is self gratification. When applied to news this "consumption"translates into a search for news that the consumer enjoys and finds entertaining regardless of reliability. Market researchers can explain the particulars of those demographics to you if want, suffice to say the dearth of actual "news" in any given local news broadcast is a response to that consumer demand, not a product of conformation bias.

Self gratification is NOT the primary responsibility of a citizen in a democratic society. Self governance is the business of citizens and THAT requires sound judgement and problem solving based on reliable observations and rational thinking. The confusion between "news" and "entertainment" is the confusion between "citizen" and "consumer". Beyond the mundane observation that a citizen should selectively "attend" to news rather than entertainment when being a citizen; a concept like selective attention doesn't really illuminate the problem.

When content providers try to critique themselves under the guise of exploring the psychology of consumers I always suspect a little smoke is being blown in front of a few mirrors. One would think that a serious self analysis would focus on one's own content i.e. why so much time talking about Trump and so little time talking about Sanders etc. If you really want to talk about the effect you may or may not have had on the election that seems like the most logical place to start. Instead we get this pseudo-analysis of public mentalities that dismisses any effect the media coverage might have had on the election as mere noise that individuals selectively attend to?

The media does not equal journalism

The Trump election is the inevitable outcome of years of abuse by the left wing, fake news, establishment media who have disguised their liberal agenda and views under the headline of "journalism."

These "journalist" have been and are currently being exposed but there tactics will continue because they have abandon true "journalism" long ago.

An educational exercise for establishment media supporters

Eric and fellow travelers in the establishment news media make a major issue of “lies” told by Donald Trump. The Donald tells some but there is no way he can ever match, “If you like your health care plan you can keep it.”

Eric is critical of people who don’t trust the establishment media to provide a fair and balanced news story. But there is good reason for distrust. Take, for example, our award-winning local newspaper. The Star Tribune has a difficult time finding any stories informing readers Democrats rammed through the Affordable Care Act without one Republican vote.

Retiring GOP congressman John Kline was quoted directly in a Star Tribune story and mentioned GOP total opposition in a recent Star Tribune interview and that is it. Our award-winning local newspaper recently ran a 25-inch Associated Press news story focusing on prospects for Obamacare and never mentioned that significant detail.

A revealing test for establishment news media supporters will be to keep watch on upcoming ACA stories. See how many note the Act passed without any Republican support. It will be a very educational exercise for them and Eric.

Interesting

That you mention the Obama “If you like your health care plan you can keep it.” quote. It also made the Strib's article today on the role of fact checkers and this was described:

"Debating his proposed health care reform in October 2008, Barack Obama said that “if you’ve got a health care plan you like, you can keep it.” At the time, as the Wall Street Journal’s James Taranto has pointed out, PolitiFact rated this “True.” In 2009 and 2012, it rated the same statement “Half True.” In 2013, PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” was “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.”"

Seems to be a little bit of a gray area here. Believed to be truth in 2009 proved much less so 4 years later. Time won't have much an effect on this one:

"I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down," the Republican presidential candidate said at a Nov. 21 rally in Birmingham, Ala. "And I watched in Jersey City, N.J., where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering."

Trump lies at nearly twice the rate of any previous prominent politician, left or right. And as the article that Eric cites describes, Trump supporters much prefer agreeable lies to disagreeable truth. And that is the primary dilemma at hand.

Worse

And Trump lies about things that have occurred in the past and we know are lies.

At least when Bush was wrong about WMD's and Obama was wrong about keeping one's doctors... They were forward looking with no proof either way.

Now I voted for Trump, but only because Clinton went so far Left and I did not find much more transparent.

It is...

An evolving legacy that can be traced back to the Clinton's and their propensity to "trim and spin" the truth to best suit their needs. From "trim and spin" we move on to Karl Rove's "we make reality in the form we choose", which, I believe, is a step further from the truth than "trim and spin" and finally we reach bottom where a Trumpian agreeable lie is much preferred to disagreeable truth.

The way that the Russian hacking case plays out will tell us a lot about our future: If Trump wins it means truth and fact are pretty much irrelevant and extremely consequential decisions will be made on the feelings and desires of one Donald J Trump. My father in law, a life long Republican and resident of New Jersey always pointed out that Donald Trump's partners NEVER came out very well in any of his deals and always behind the returns to the man himself. Hillary would have been a competent caretaker as President: throwing a few bones to the progressive left, providing for Wall Street's basic needs and hawkish enough to satisfy those on the right who care most about those things. Maybe big time change works, maybe big time change blows up the world. Seems a risky bet made by otherwise rational conservative voters like Mr Appelen.

Uncertain

I agree that the future with Trump is uncertain and risky. However I think following our previous path is equally so for different reasons. Here are the concerns as I see them.
http://give2attain.blogspot.com/2016/10/boiling-frog.html

I keep hoping that somehow both sides will change...
- Liberals will start insisting that poor Free Loaders change
- Conservatives will start insisting that rich Free Loaders changes

But it seems both sides just keep digging in further to protect their preferred Free Loaders.

Or maybe we are a nation of whiners...

As conservative Phil Gramm told us just prior to the start of the Obama administration:

“You’ve heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession,” he said, noting that growth has held up at about 1 percent despite all the publicity over losing jobs to India, China, illegal immigration, housing and credit problems and record oil prices. “We may have a recession; we haven’t had one yet.”
“We have sort of become a nation of whiners,” he said. “You just hear this constant whining, complaining about a loss of competitiveness, America in decline” despite a major export boom that is the primary reason that growth continues in the economy, he said."

So, a leading conservative voice tells us that we were not in such bad shape 8 years ago and anyone who applies the analysis honestly knows things have only improved from our 2008 financial crisis.

These are the good old days and if you would like proof, go down to your basement workshop, get a tape measure, go back upstairs and measure the diagonal of your TV set. A big one used to be 19"....

I like this!

"I keep hoping that somehow both sides will change...
- Liberals will start insisting that poor Free Loaders change
- Conservatives will start insisting that rich Free Loaders changes"

Only 1 question: Ethically, morally whatever, if you had to chose 1 to start on first which would it be?
Free loading Rich or freeloading poor?

PS: I am not a big hope guy, you know the John E. Lewis quote:
“If not us, then who? If not now, then when?”

Well

The Bush Tax Cuts gave everyone some great credits and tax reductions. Then ACA raised the taxes on the wealthy and their Bush tax cuts were cancelled in ~2012, while the poor got to keep all those great tax credits.

So now that the rich are giving more, what have we done to work on the other end of the spectrum?

Well I guess thats where we disagree!

Seems we get our Rich vs poor information from different sources or calculate it differently or see it differently or?
Below are a couple quick google searches, no cherry picking, on "Who has the wealth in America" the 2nd one (From Slate/ a little left leaning) shows the top .1%. The 3rd was concentration of wealth in America. Now my reasons for leaning left (and being a fiscal conservative)
1. The framers "I believe" did not want an England land of the lords & the kings (Wealth and power) That is what the Declaration of Independence is all about. (We have 20 people having more wealth than 50% of Americans. (My opinion Looks like King George to me.
2.I also believe the frames understood that if there becomes to much wealth disparity, there will be an upheaval (civil discourse) they spoke to this in the pre3amble, and the revolutionary war, as well as the French revolution, riots in the 60's are examples, of what happens when the burden on the suppressed becomes to much to bear. So my conclusion is the rich are still getting richer, the poor poorer. a 10% Tax reduction for a person paying $1500 a year in taxes is $150, a 10% tax credit for someone paying $1M is $150K. a difference of 1000X.
Now the next question: Is there a factual-logical-data driven path out of our direct disagreement?

http://fortune.com/2015/09/30/america-wealth-inequality/

http://www.slate.com/blogs/moneybox/2014/12/31/best_graph_of_2014_the_ri...
https://www.thenation.com/article/20-people-now-own-as-much-wealth-as-ha...

Purpose

The purpose of the tax code should be to pay the nation's bills, not to manipulate the wealth of individual citizens. Now I realize that the wealthy will pay most of the bills for the poor and lower middle class citizens because they have the money to do so, and the poor and lower middle class do not.

Remember my old question, what is fair taxation:
1.Dues: we each live here we pay the same amount
2. House gets a cut of earnings. (fixed % of $ earned)
3. Progressive: Negative % at low income (ie credits, welfare, medicaid, SNAP, TANF, etc) exceed taxes) / High % High Income

Personally I think #2 is fair, however Liberals seem to think #3 is fair. Which I can not understand. Why are some of our citizens paid to be here?

Can you remember when...

The budget was balanced and the debt was declining?
That would be just before those "great Bush tax cuts".
You remember, when, at that time, Dick Cheney told us:
"Deficits don't matter, Reagan proved that".
The Bush tax cuts are the single most irresponsible act of government in the past 30 years. Give's Trump something to shoot at though.

And

I don't disagree I would have preferred a deeper 2001 recession and small/ no deficits.

And when given the chance to let all of those tax cuts lapse, Obama and the Democratic party let all of us and the low income people keep all of their cuts, credits, etc. Being anti-big national debt, I was hoping they would have let all of them lapse.

Compass Indicator

When the White supremacists and the KKK are celebrating my candidate: It is a clear north star that I am supporting the wrong person.

Fake News and Propaganda

Many Americans no longer trust the legacy media, seeing it as propaganda for corporations, banks and billionaires, in their ongoing attempt at total global domination - while America is hollowed out by globalism, by predatory financialization, by eternal war and by neglect.

There are systemic problems in the economy - but a fact so simple as 90% of the jobs created the last 8 years are part-time/temp goes unreported; the unemployment and inflation numbers are pure hokum; corporations foreign and domestic are allowed to run roughshod over the land and people; gov appears entirely captured by corp and bank; debt is growing much faster than GDP; automation is wiping out whole sectors - and yet this is all either ignored or spun as inevitable.

Meanwhile the increasingly privatized security/war footprint expands globally and at home, while media distracts, or feeds hysteria, as we are seeing about this Russia thing lately.

Many Americans are informed, and see the major media as chief purveyors of fake news propaganda. See Syria and Ukraine. See TPP/TTIP/TISA Trade agreements.

Trump sees it. What will he do about it? Gut the country probably, just like the neoliberals and neocons did.

Real reason

The reason many people voted for Trump, as I pointed many times here, was that they voted against Obama’s policies, against Clinton as a person and another incarnation of Obama, and against those who insult them. None of these reasons falls under the category of “misinformed and lazy” voters or “confirmation bias.” Sure, there were plenty of Trump voters who did fall under those categories but there were plenty of them among Clinton’s voters as well (and, of course, among Sanders’ ones).

Now, about “whipping up hatred against the press” (Mr. Rosen’s # 8). How many times did Obama blame Fox for his troubles? Right, countless times. Sure he didn’t blame others but they were in cahoots with him so he didn’t have a reason to be unhappy with all other media outlets. And wasn’t Obama the first president who used Internet to his advantage? Now Trump is using Twitter –a step further and a logical idea, since it is obviously working.

Casting doubts on legitimacy of the election and suggesting prosecuting his opponents (Mr. Rosen’s #9). How can what the Democrats have been doing since November (popular votes, Russian interference, recounting of votes in three states that Trump won but in none that Clinton won, demanding that EC votes against voters, etc.) be called any different than trying to emphasize doubts in legitimacy of the election? As for prosecuting Clinton, did anyone take it seriously?

Dim prospect of fact-based debates (Mr. Rosen’s #10)… Well, here we can use the confirmation bias theory: of course, Mr. Rosen is sure that he knows the answers and those who disagree with him are ignorant Trump’s voters… But maybe not…

And finally, about that accusation-driven over evidence-based reporting: Great idea but it applies to both sides so saying that Trump is racist falls under accusation-driven one – so let’s not do it.

No jumping to conclusions here

" saying that Trump is racist falls under accusation-driven one"

Birtherism. "He's a Mexican". Ban Muslims. "I'm sure there are some good (Mexicans)." Okay, I'll play. John Wilkes Booth is the accused assassin of Lincoln.

well

Fox 'news' is really Fox 'opinions'. They postulate something by first stating an opinion stated by someone else then treat it as if it's real. Ailes himself said opinions are free speech and should be allowed to be stated as 'news'. So that's what Fox does.

As far as twitter is concerned, it diminishes the role of President of the United States that he would argue and start arguments over everything and anything with anyone. He should pay attention to his staff etc. Not an individual on twitter.

I'm not sure how you feel about Russian interference (if proven true) or the ties that Trump etc have with Putin? Are these good things in your mind?

Response

Mr. Everson, whatever you listed as evidence of Trump’s racism has nothing to do with racism. “Birtherism” was a purely political way to undermine Obama and cannot be tied to Obama’s race. “He is Mexican” was said about a judge, I believe, who Trump thought would not be fair to him but, considering perception that Trump is anti-Mexican, Trump may have had a point and it does not prove that he is indeed anti-Mexican; on the other hand, this is similar to saying that white jurors or prosecutors cannot be fair to blacks. And “Ban Muslims” has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with terrorism. So again, where is Trump’s racism?

Mr. Lord, so Fox News is an opinion but MSNBC and CNN are not? However, opinion or not is beside the point which that Obama was doing exactly what Trump was doing. You are right – Twitter diminishes everyone but as an election tool it proved to be effective so accusing Trump of using it is disingenuous. And to answer your question about Putin, I feel that Obama, first, tried to suck up to Putin, and then ignored much greater transgressions than hacking Podesta’s e-mail such as invading Ukraine, bombing Syrian rebels, selling missiles to Iran, etc. so again, accusing Trump of being cozy with Putin is not honest.

Maybe MSNBC or CNN rely on

Opinions. CBS and ABC do not. They may report on someone's opinion but if it's not true, they will not say it is. It's easy enough to say Obama is just like Trump but they aren't the same in temperament or style. How is mentioning that twitter isn't where the President should fight his battles disingenuous? Truth is it makes him seem like a twit. I'm not asking what Obama did about or thought about Putin!! I didn't actually ask what Trump is doing or going to do. I asked what 'you' thought and think of Putin...how favorably disposed towards Russia are you now? You yourself! You are playing in a different ballpark so far.

In that ballpark you mention Obama didn't stand up to Putin. So you feel that Trump will. We'll see. In your ballpark I will ask you if you think we should 'not' ignore Russia's invading Ukraine and what do you think Trump should do?

What do you think about Trump's favorable remarks about Putin, yet is hardline when it comes to Russia's partner Iran?

My position

Unfortunately, both CBS and ABC report a lot of “fiction” such as “hands up, don’t shoot.” I never said that Obama and Trump are the same, I just said that they both (like all of us) like blaming someone for their problems. Trump was using Twitter to win the election, just like Obama started using the Internet to win the election – same idea, do what it takes to win, as long as it is legal.

Now, about Putin. I don’t like him and I think he is bad for Russia in the long run. If Bush or Clinton asked me, I would have told them not to trust Putin. However, Putin did outplay Obama in the world chess and this is what I think Trump meant in his praise. In cases like Ukraine, economic sanctions don’t work – Putin has enough food on his table even without European import and people in Russia will not turn on him because strong Russia is more important than having a choice of 10 cheeses. But getting rid of Assad would have hurt Putin and Iran and that is where Obama dropped the ball.

Do you

think that sending planes to take out Assad would have made Putin back down without retaliation? What reason would Trump have for not doing so himself. It's still Syria backed by both the Russians and Iran. Apparently these are our 'triad of evil' today. From what I understand we, or Nato, have tanks in the Ukraine. There haven't been any clashes between them and any of the Russian backed rebels but it is possible.

What should Trump do about the hacking from Russia? Other than disagree with it although four intelligence agencies report it as true. From what I understand most of the people in Russia wanted Putin as their leader because they did not like the past turn towards Capitalism and away from Communism. It's been said most of the population in Russia are happy with Putin and with the hacking. Trump hasn't given us what he would do. Syria and Iran are something he'll need to address in some way since he's said he would. Exactly what doesn't seem to be clear?

Some people are responsible for some of our problems. That's just life. Some are more responsible than others. Trump and the GOP can cause problems for the poor and aged easily enough. The idea to take whatever it takes to win isn't a bright idea in the long run since it tends to ignore others and their needs etc (although they might not care as long as they win). It leads to ignoring the pitfalls that arise from ignoring what it might cause in the short and long run. Blind ambition coupled with short sightedness is dangerous by nature. Using twitter, I believe, does get Trump more involved in pettiness when he starts arguing with things that will distract him from doing what the position of President calls for. Whether that's a good thing or not depends on which side one is on I suppose.

I don't get the idea that CBS and ABC report fiction? Why is 'hands up, don't shoot' fiction?? I think it's only a fiction or disagreement in the minds of those who don't agree with what is being said. I think ideas of and in disagreement should be shown side by side and discussed

When Putin grabbed Crimea, he

When Putin grabbed Crimea, he did not have any troops in Syria, if I remember correctly, so there would be very little he, or Iran, could have really done at that time. Of course, now is a totally different situation with S-400 in Iran and Russian planes in Syria so Trump is in a much more difficult position. And I highly doubt that there are NATO tanks in Ukraine, and definitely, not in the Eastern Ukraine.
Now about hacking. It is my understanding that no government organizations were hacked (DNC is not government) and that it wasn’t a very sophisticated operation. And of course, planting fake news is not much different from all European leaders rooting for Clinton this time and especially for Obama last times. So sure, Trump will have to address all the things that a left for him by Obama but it is what Presidents are supposed to do. I don’t know if he will do it correctly but I sure know that Obama was doing it incorrectly.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to win (in fact, there is a lot wrong with not caring about winning which was Obama’s problem in the international affairs) and it doesn’t mean that the same strategy and tactics will be used after winning. Obviously, winning the presidency and being a President are two totally different things and people good at one are not necessarily good at the other (again, Obama is a prime example). We don’t know yet if Trump will be a good President or terrible President and will not know it for a while. I don’t see any problems with Trump’s continuing Twitting so long as he is doing the right things as a President.

I thought it is an established fact now (including by the DOJ) that “hands up, don’t shoot” was never said…

Do some more reading

"It is my understanding that no government organizations were hacked..." Your understanding is incorrect. Not only did the DNC get hacked, but several state and local electoral boards. So, yeah, they hacked government organizations. What they did with that information is either unknown or classified at this time. Regardless, the fact that Putin ordered interference with our elections WHATEVER THE METHOD, is terrifying. I don't care if they only hacked Fido's smart water dish in an effort to influence our elections. It cannot be excused. Any true American should be angry and afraid that our system has been manipulated in such a way, whatever the outcome. We are a sovereign state, and should not be puppeted by a foreign government in such a way.

And, in any case, it wasn't just hacking and leaking of information, it was the use of other methods, including paid trolls to influence opinion. People paid to feed lies and disinformation DIRECTLY to the American electorate. It is hard to believe that no one was influenced by Russian propaganda machines, let alone that the outcome may have been influenced by direct Russian government orders to elect the "leader" that Russia wanted, not the majority of the American people.

By the way, for someone who has direct experience of Russia, and has always used it as a very negative example in your posts, why are you now seeming to be just fine with their nefarious manipulation of our electoral process? Did the narrative get a little too convoluted?

DNC is not a governmental

DNC is not a governmental organization and hacking state and local governments has been debunked. I am not suggesting that Putin is a good man, as I have pointed out before, but it is Obama's fault that Putin had a free reign in the world and felt strong enough to interfere in our election.

On the otehr hand, he paid trolls? Propaganda? The entire mass media with few exceptions was trolls and propaganda rootingfor Clinton...

And let me put your fears to rest - I did not change my opinion about Russia and the Soviet Union (by the way, my experience was in the latter, not the former and that is what alwasy use as a negative example) but I am not fine with Putin and his interference in our election (again, I said it before). But blame Obama who let him do it...

Ilya

What Rachel said. (thanks Rachel)

Plus, US tanks are now moving into Poland heading for Ukraine. That's in the news. NATO does have a force in the Ukraine. Whether or not they are in eastern Ukraine isn't something I know about. You can and do think what you want when it comes to Russian involvement in the Ukraine and in their hacking practices. Your views about those things, about Syria, and Iran, are puzzling.

You and other GOP'ers seem to forget that Obama was facing a very negative Congress. Nothing he would have done or for that matter has done would have been acceptable by that Congress.

Say what? "hands up, don't shoot" was one of the signs, and Slogans, used by Black Lives Matter. They also said it often.

Where am I puzzling?

Tanks in Poland is not the same as tanks in Ukraine, which is not a NATO member so I am sure no lethal NATO weapons in Ukraine. And I still don't see where my views are puzzling; instead, they are logical and consistent so please ask more questions and I'll try to answer.

What difference does it make what Congress Obama faced if international policies are his prerogative? But he was consistent with his idea of "hands-off" approach and we are all victims of that.

"Hands up, don't shoot" was a slogan, as you said, but it was a quote of what supposedly had been said while the fact is that it was not said. And the media presented those words as real for a very long time... So yes, there is a problem here, a big problem, because it cost lives of police officers.

you asked

for a question. You don't think NATO or the US are moving military equipment toward the Ukraine? You don't think the Ukraine would ask for help? I do understand you don't trust the media.

Any President is subject to impeachment (proceedings anyway) if Congress thinks he or she has gone beyond what they consider proper. However, Congress just didn't want to agree with Obama on anything and they said as much from start to finish. That never makes it easy for the Pres. And, think about it. US tanks are heading to Poland and toward the Ukraine and who authorized that? Western Ukraine attempted to join but Eastern Ukraine blocked it. NATO in 2015 agreed to hold military exercises with Western Poland.

It is true that the President can press the nuclear button at his whim. That should start to worry you now.

Okay Ilya! I'm not aware if it was said exactly like that or wasn't a fact that it was said exactly like that. Please provide the link.

Policemen have to be held accountable for their actions towards the public and surely vice versa. The best way going forward, to prevent any question about what happens, or happened, between the police and the public is for the police to wear operating body cameras that starts as soon as there is action between police and public. And when there is a killing the video should be presented as soon as possible to the public.

I answer

You said NATO has tanks in Ukraine and I said no way. Sure NATO is moving troops east but it is not the same as having tanks in a non-NATO country.

Obama was not afraid of impeachment and no one threatened him with it (at least not because of his foreing policies). And yes, he authorised some movement in Europe but it is after withholding missiles from there and hitting reset and doing practicvally nothing abouit all Russian transgressions. What link are you asking me to provide?

Policemen, just like anybody else, have to be accountable for their actions. However, using lies and misinformations about what happened during a particular confrontation with police is not the way to do it. Do you disagree with this?

It Seems

It seems many have not learned that calling people irredeemable racists, xenophobes, misogynists, etc tends to turn them off And I agree that most felt they could not afford another 4 years of Liberal policies.

Besides the whole "status quo politics" is unacceptable thing.

It Also Seems

It also seems that calling people "free loaders" remains acceptable.

the next

the next four years will not be to most people's liking. Most won't be able to afford it.

What should people call those who are against others not like them when they don't like them? Do you have a PC word or so for it?

Well

Personally I would say that they believe differently from me. And I would not call them anything except maybe Religious Right, Republicans, Social Conservatives, People against having Illegal Workers in the USA, etc.

They disagree with you, what would you like them to call you?

RB raised a good question above when I used the term Free Loaders.. Technically I am talking about the behaviors of a group of people who are okay with letting others do the work and /or pay the money while enjoying the benefits of that labor. You have met them I am sure, in your classes, in your churches, in your committees, our society's criminals, etc.

So I should probably have said. People who are okay receiving benefits from the work of others on a consistent basis. Do you have a better term?

Well John

I would call them the people who are against the poor, the middle class, people on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the ones you seem to want to overlook. It's very easy to sit back and call them freeloaders.

There might be a small class of people who are freeloaders among those people but it's small compared to the Free Loaders of the Wealthy class who do nothing but sit back and collect interest. Why aren't they working and just sitting back and letting others do the hard work? Talk about getting the majority of benefits of others labor! The difference is a wide gulf that some want to be even wider. It's unlikely I'll meet many of those types (I've met some), just as it's unlikely I'll meet those you call Free Loaders (I may have met some).

Being poor isn't some sort of panacea, not some kind of Utopia to seek out. Take one male who is collecting welfare. Here in Minnesota that person must work one week out of a month for the State and doesn't get that money for that work. He gets maybe a couple hundred to live on in miserable conditions from Welfare. Some of them are resigned to their lot in life but that doesn't mean they aspire to it!

What you call freeloaders I call the poor. I once asked a person like you what he would do if he found himself destitute without any place or person to turn to and no prospects except aid from the government. He said he'd opt to starve to death. Later, when the company we were working for downsized I found him in the same unemployment line I was in. He wouldn't talk to me.

You probably talk only to the people you know who have never been poor for any extended period, not because you couldn't but because you wouldn't want to associate with them.

Sorry to interfere

Apparently, wealthy comprise only 1% of the population so there may not be too many wealthy free loaders. Poor is not a synonym for free loaders, of course, so dividing the world into rich and poor is the wrong approach. The world should be divided into responsible and irresponsible people, which would make everything much easier. By the way, unemployment is not welfare because it has been earned.

Agree

I agree with Ilya, I have no heartburn with people on Social Security, Medicare, Normal Unemployment, disability and/or the truly unfortunate who need a hand up. These people are not Free Loaders, they either earned their benefit or have no good immediate options. Please remember that I am a huge supporter of charity, just not a fan of systems that encourage the creation of a dependent lower class of citizens.

By lower income Freeloader, I am talking about those folks who have more children than they can afford to care for and expect the tax payers to pick up the bill. Those folks who did not learn in school and do not make a dedicated effort to learn / improve as they get older. I know many poor folks who are not freeloaders, and most of them moved to lower middle class or above by learning, working, family planning, staying married, etc.

By upper class Freeloader I am talking about wealthy people who do not support charity, or those who engage in fraudulent activities. Being wealthy, investing your money and being able to live off it is not Freeloading. Our country needs capital just as much as it needs labor.

so...

What will happen if all the lower income freeloaders who don't have good jobs and the 'good' unemployed are to seek jobs? Who will get those better jobs?

If there aren't enough of the better jobs, or enough of any type of job, what then?

Those people with too many children to care for what should be done with them if they can't find a better job to care for those children?

Taxes are Capital.

I believe

Trump had no intention of winning the presidency. He was in it strictly to feed the narcissism and stir the political pot, which creates attention.

He didn't have any real plans. That is why he changed plans every 15 minutes. He has already backed away from nearly everything he campaigned on.

Trump won mainly because of the hatred of Hillary. Republicans have shifted from racism with President Obama to sexism with Hillary.

American votes have the attention span of a 5-year-old, just the way Washington likes it.

America has always been for the maverick, in this case Trump.

Voters are fed up with the corruption in Washington. Both parties are corrupt but more heavily weighted on the right. What was the first thing the Republican congress tried to do today – reduce the power of the Ethics Committee. What a stupid move when they want a new image. It was so bad even Trump couldn’t go for it. That says a lot right there.

Trump is going to find out it is much harder to govern than it is to dictate.

Congress will find it difficult to get a lot done. 3,000,000 more people voted for the Democrats than Republicans. Some that voted for Republicans are Democrats and Independents that may reverse course in that Trump has backed away from most campaign promises.

Trump can’t just talk he must deliver for everyone, not just those at the top.

Voters are going to be impatient and if not satisfied the next election will be different.

Republicans won’t be able to repeal Obamacare after 8 years, 60+ tries, and no replacement. It is too volatile to repeal because it impacts too many people. It can be fixed. At best they will make some fixes and change the name.

The media rode the provocative Trump approach to drive profits. Why did he get so much fee air time - profits. I don't think the press knew what to do with him without damaging their own brand.

Hang on to your hats it is going to be a bumpy ride.

The continuing legacy of ODS

"At best they will make some fixes and change the name."

And if they roll out essentially the same thing, this time - because it will be called TRUMP-Care instead of OBAMA-Care - everything will be just hunky-dory.

I guess the "glass half full" way of looking at this potential outcome is that at least people would still have their health care and hopefully any harm to them would be minimized.

But the continuing commitment to Obama Derangement Syndrome will be just breathtaking.

The only people who didn't see this coming

were the ones who didn't see the Dems lose both Houses, Governorships and 1,000 state seats. The writing was on the wall for those willing to look beyond their bubble and see Americans were not happy with the past 8 years. Hillary promised 4 more of the same and the folks said NO!

What the Folks Said

More folks said yes to what Senator Clinton promised than said yes to what Donald promised. More folks in 2016 also opted to be represented in Congress by Democrats.

We will see what the folks in the states say in 2018.

More of the folks

(three million and counting)
said YES.

Let's clarify

Mr. Holbrook, Mr. Brandon, let’s clarify: Many more folks in California said yes to Clinton than Trump (who didn’t care about California) and more folks in the rest of the country said yes to Trump than to Clinton.

And . . .

What's your point? More Americans voted for Hillary Clinton than voted for Donald Trump. It doesn't matter if they live in California, Minnesota, or Arkansas.

I know conservatives like to promote schisms between Americans, but we are still supposed to be one country.

One Country

Yes we are one country where every State gets a say in how the country is run, not just the one's where a lot of people live. This is why we have been so strong and stable for so long.

Now are the urban people going to learn that there are many other Americans who also deserve to be heard, who face different challenges, have different beliefs, etc? Or they are going to keep demanding policies that are specific to their local wants?

We are one country full of very different people. Hopefully we learn to respect each other and listen.

"Hopefully"

I recommend you listen to the discourse of your fellow Trump supporters, or of the man himself. If you think they believe we are "one country," or that we should all "learn to respect each other and listen," all I can say is that I am a member of the Nigerian royal family with an urgent business proposal for you.

Agree

I agree that there are many on both side who can only hear their own voices. Sad isn't it.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” Tolstoy

Interesting

Interesting choice to quote Tolstoy.

Fake News

When the history of 2016 is written, one of the more interesting topics will be the "fake news" meme. Specifically, what will prove of greatest interest is the speed with which the ideologically obedient pivoted from calling the media "biased" to calling it "fake." "Fake" as in "the stories I want to hear repeated [e.g. "If you like your health care plan . . ."] are not repeated as much as I would like." "Fake" as in "The negative story about someone I support is not automatically balanced by an equally negative story about someone I don't support." "Fake" as in "Facts I don't like are assumed to be true."

In a sense, it is the ultimate consumerism: Truth is what I declare it to be. Anything that doesn't fit my preconceived notions must be false. It's not a lie because someone else told a lie I think is even worse. This is not a line of thinking unique to our times. What makes it noteworthy today is that it has become a dominant theme of political discourse.

Here's some of

What I've heard from friends who voted for Trump. The reasons: "I can't explain things well but I like the idea of a wall.." "I hear what I want to hear then I don't watch or listen anymore.." "I want to keep my guns." "I don't want to pay taxes anymore!" "I want those lazy people off of welfare"...then later from the same person..."I don't have a job but I want to work..."

What really floored me was most of them didn't know anything about socialism or fascism but confused the two. I suppose that would make it Capitalism.

I talked to Sanders

I talked to Sanders supporters and they don’t know what socialism is either… On the other hand what is wrong with saying “I don't have a job but I want to work...?" Much better than saying “I don’t have a job and don’t want to have a job because I am fine with what the government gives me.”

How

How many of both of those types do you know? It's important to know who you are talking about. It's easy to speak about people one doesn't know or about conditions one never has faced. There are people who work who also have to rely on what the government can provide or they'll find themselves living in the streets or going hungry.

If there are people who can't find work how can one say those people shouldn't get government aid? There are many who find themselves in that position. Or they find they have to work part time and can't get by on that small amount of pay without aid.

I'm sad to hear you admit you don't know the difference either, between Fascism and Socialism. You're not alone though, I've met and talked with many who don't understand either. That's not good. I don't find it acceptable since it has repercussions that too many overlook far too easily. Anyway, Fascism and Socialism are diametrically opposed to each other. Just like Capitalism and Communism are diametrically opposed.

I was poor myself and talked

I was poor myself and talked to quite a few people and I do even now, I do know what I am talking about even we forget that it is possible to get plenty of information from statistics and media (if one takes everything with a grain of salt, of course). For example, there are more men on disability now than there ever have been… why? As for Sanders supporters, my son is in college, do I need to say more?
Where did I say that I do not know the difference between Socialism and Fascism? After all, they taught that in Soviet schools every day… However, don’t forget that that German Nazi party was called National-Socialist Party…

Ah yes

That was what I was looking for. Equating Socialism with Fascism. Ilya, they are diametrically opposed. Hitler called his Germany the "National Socialist Party" for two reasons.

One; He wanted the world to think he was for peace. The world fell for it as Hitler built up his armed forces against the wishes of the League of Nations. Hitler admired Mussolini who actually started Fascism.

Two; And this is the interesting part. He wanted Stalin to believe he was no threat to Russia. But Hitler and his regime were Fascists.

Three; If the world forgets one and two, it just might go the same path as Hitler did. Fascism is one step to the right of Capitalism (Socialism is directly to the left of Capitalism).That's History. Hitler fooled the world and nearly conquered it. Interestingly enough, Fascism shares many of the same traits as Communism does in how they treat people they don't care for. Both are lead by single leader Tyrants. (Or single leader wannabes).

You should either read "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" or watch the documentary. Forgetting or not knowing History, especially History that close to our time, is absolutely dangerous to those who'd rather not go down that path again. It's a chilling documentary but I think it should be shown and talked about for every school child before they graduate.

Food for Thought

Interesting but

This is not in any way accurate. It's political for sure and an unthinkable type of propaganda but it's not Historical in its accuracy. Can you agree with it's depiction of Hitler (or Stalin) and think he did what was proper when it came to his (their) death camps and how to get rid of people one thinks of as improper, unwanted or an impediment to a prevailing party or think tank? Anyone or any party agreeing with the approach Hitler or Stalin took in dealing with people they thought below them shouldn't be viewed as part of a rational political priming the world wants or needs anymore. They are so stained in blood and hate that they can never be whitewashed. Not ever.

Psychotic megalomaniacs (those who think like Hitler and Stalin) are insane, far off the beaten path of the rational, and this world needs to treat them as such.

You need to read "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich" or watch the documentary also. If you don't know where to find it and other documentaries on both Stalin and Hitler and other megalomaniacs just watch the 'American Heroes Channel for the documentaries' or check them out on their website. If you can't find them there then check out your nearest library! No one can have any rational concept of History in the last century if they've avoided these.

Reality

They are both governmental systems where personal freedom is severely constrained and the economy is highly controlled by the government.

The sanity of their leadership is a whole different question.

Personally I would like the USA to land somewhere halfway between Clinton and Reagan on the diagram. Unfortunately the GOP keeps pulling Right and Down. And the Democratic party keeps pulling Left and Down. What it is it with Americans wanting to tell others how they should live??? :-)

One problem

Well, several problems with that diagram you posted a link to...where Libertarian is located should be labeled Capitalism. Without including Capitalism in that diagram leaves it rather distorted in meaning.

Capitalism, Socialism, Communism and Fascism are economic systems. It should be a circle divided into 4 pie shape where each one is labeled on the outside in the middle of each pie slice. Where Socialism and Capitalism meet indicates the most moderate stance economically and politically, where they butt up against the other in the diagram. Where Communism and Fascism meet is the least moderate. 'Libertarian' is political, like Democrat, Republican, Green, etc. and etc. They fit within the economic systems.

LOL...that's the problem with freedom. What is freedom? Freedom to do whatever a person, corporation, political party, etc. wants without constrains from another person, etc., etc? Should no laws be made to inhibit an individual's freedoms or a corporations, etc? No regulations whatsoever and everyone has a gun? Bring back the short lived and much exaggerated 'wild west cowboy ideal'? Do we want more Bundy's? Should it be okay for a farmer upstream from another downstream be allowed to let his cattle roam in that river dropping manure in that river when the one downstream lets his children swim in it? Or should a corporation upstream from either or both be allowed to pollute the water will dangerous chemicals? Americans disagree on this...unless they are the ones downstream, then they are adamant. Should we have no park system? etc? Etc? It's true, freedom is a problematic ideal.

Not the same

I did not equate fascism and socialism but they are not diametrically opposite; remember, Stalin and Hitler behaved almost identically (there has never been such a thing as communism actually built). The reason is that extreme right and left actually make a circle rather than go in totaly opposite directions...

The world beleived Hitler because it wanted to believe (becasue it didn't want to go to anotehr war). And Hitelr did not call his party that way to placate Stalin who supported communists in Germany anyway.

And sure the world has already forgotten all WWII lessons - otherwise it would not have made an agreement with Iran (Munich '38) or let Putin grab Crimia (Chechoslovacia '38) . So yes, forgetting history lessons is dangerous but it is not me who forgets it.

It's going to be a bumpy night . . .

To quote a Bette Davis line in her movie, "All About Eve", and by "night" I mean the next four years, and God forbid!!! the next eight years, should Trump be re-elected. Thank you, Mr. Black, for a most informative and well-written article.

I can't claim to foresee what this country is headed for (most Christians in my church feel that Trump was the most logical choice) and I stood alone in my stand against him as President - at my church, my workplace and in my community in general. I had to tread very carefully at family gatherings, lest I rankle my friends and family members. Only my very wise sister who lives in Florida turned a shoulder for me to lament upon, as she too, was very anti-Trump.

But . . . here we are, and all we can do now is pray and hope that our country will somehow survive the next four (or dare I even think it?) eight years with Trump as Commander-in-Chief of the greatest country in the world. He does seem to like power - let us hope that he loves this country as much as he has stated that he does, and that by God's grace, we'll grow united again, as in the days after the Great Civil War that once divided this country. It may prove to be an even greater challenge as it was back then, but I'm rooting for the red, white and blue.

Thank you

Thank you for some positive thoughts !!!

I may not like Trump, but I think he will upset the status quo politicians and that is worth the risk.

Naive

What Trump has done so far is promised the old 'Reverse Robin Hood': take from the poor and give to the rich. In other words, just what Republicans have always done.
Most of the people who voted for him will get screwed.

Setting aside the psychobabble

As I've already stated, I don't think any media critique organized around pseudo-scientific assumptions about confirmation bias or selective attention offers any real insight. I actually think such critiques do more to obscure the role media plays in shaping or informing public discourse.

While the phenomena themselves are genuine observations within the scientific context of psychology, journalism isn't a "science" and journalist don't deploy scientific methodology (although they sometimes hire scientists). Nate Silver for instance has a B.A. in economics and he was primarily a sports commentator before the media decided he was a predictor of elections. Actual scientist hire statisticians with advanced degrees when they need statistical analysis they can't perform themselves or when they want to check their own work. Note, there's a difference between a pollster and a statistician.

The problem with Rosen is he obscures the role of the media by removing the media from the center of the analysis and pretending that passive consumers rather than active journalists determine the socio-political effects of media broadcasts and publications. This perspective makes it almost impossible to critique media behavior as media behavior, it can only be interpreted as background noise consumers use to confirm their own beliefs. In this case, Rosen's perspective makes it nearly impossible for the media to recognize let alone assign itself any responsibility for this election outcome, there's simply nowhere to have that conversation within Rosen's discourse.

In the end it looks to me like Mr. Black is using Rosen's thesis to simply dismiss the role media may have played in Trump's election on the basis that news consumers don't want information they simply want confirmation for pre-existing beliefs. Media can't play a significant role of informing voters because it can never be more than a reflection of pre-existing attitudes and beliefs. It's a weird thesis for a bunch of people who think they're primary role is to inform the public, but it has the advantage of relieving them from any responsibility to inform the public; if the public doesn't want to be informed, the media can't fail to provide that information. So while the it's supposed the media's big job to inform the public, the media can never be at fault for an uninformed public. Nice.

The problem is Rosen's thesis (and maybe Mr. Black's) pretends that EVERYONE behaves like a consumer and NO ONE has any intellectual integrity. We're all hapless victims of our own psychology rather than rational actors. That's actually a dubious proposition.

So maybe I missed it, but the question Rosen and Black seem to avoid is: "In this world where the self described mission of a journalist is to inform, not fix stuff... did journalist succeed or fail at providing the information the public needed to know?" Confirmation bias isn't a magic wand that makes that question disappear, it still needs to asked. Any attempt to evaluate the media's role in the last election that doesn't ask that question is likely not a serious attempt. It looks to me like Rosen and Black are just assuming that they did "inform" but they can't control who pays attention.

These "bias" complaints we're seeing in these comments are silly, and the meme that major news outlets have become fake news sites it just facile debate gaming. Nevertheless there are legitimate questions to be asked about the focus and nature of "information" media decided to provide.

Cop out

The media isn't at fault, eh? Selective bias, etc., etc!

Yet, if the media knows that most people don't get past the headline (which they obviously know), or that at least the headline predisposes the reader to a particular mind set (which they VERY OBVIOUSLY know), then what's the excuse for putting up objectively misleading (or false!) headlines? Like the ones yesterday (from nearly every mainstream outlet) that highly suggested that the GOP decided not to gut the independent ethics committee based on Trump's scorn? When it was #1 obvious that Trump actually supports the move, just not the timing (read the TWO tweets--it's not like it takes a long time, they're tweets), and #2 if they bothered to actually check with said GOPers, they'd know pretty quickly that it was the massive amount of phone calls from furious constituents that forced them to scurry back to lick their wounds.

Here's a pretty good rule of thumb for journalists who want to claim that they have journalistic integrity: if the headline and/or the story appears to suggest that Trump has scruples, it's time to do some investigation before publishing.

While a milder version might be appropriate for pretty much any politician, it's absolutely necessary for Trump. If that doesn't happen, which it's not, then we have every right to place blame squarely on the media because it's the media's entire Constitutionally-protected function to provide us the information we don't have to make informed judgments. Even if it means more boring headlines.

Exactly

Not sure I could say it better. I saw as the headlines started with transition team supports the gutting, to constituents overwhelmingly saying "no way", to the President-Elect changing sides and suggesting "perhaps now is not the best time" (pretty weak IMO).

The headlines fed upon themselves throughout the day to finally result in "The President-Elect Slams Congress". Please, not much is further from reality. The media is wholly (ir)responsible for this and I have to agree with Paul U. that to deflect blame on consumers is abdication of responsibility.

Election by Character Assassination

What the media did wrong the most was to play along with the character assassination of Hillary Clinton. The editorials should have denounced it and should not have given the Republicans coverage of their accusations. Of course, the Fox News Channel is outright a propaganda machine and that too deserved criticism. I am certain the rest of the world thinks Americans are really stupid to think that the technology of Clinton's email service was important, or that she could have protected the ambassador in Benghazi. But the Republicans employed the Big Lie and kept repeating that she was a crooked liar and the media let them get away with it.

Well...

I don't think Clinton and the democrats can complain too much about the way the media treated them, and it's unreasonable to expect journalist will actually join a campaign. During the primary the media helped HRC get the nomination by marginalizing Sanders and his agenda, and during the general election the majority of media attention was far more hostile to Trump than I've ever seen during an election cycle.

HRC's problem was that she didn't really give the media anything to cover aside from attacks on Trump, which the media was already carrying out on it's own. Her campaign decided that attacking Trump should be enough to win the election, and they were wrong. We kept trying to tell them for weeks and months that they needed to give people something other than mere competence to vote for, not just something to vote against, and neither her campaign or her supporters would listen. That's not the media's fault.

So what role did the media play in this election? Part 1

Unfortunately I don't think Rosen actually offers much insight, and if we take him at his word, he has a lot to learn about journalism. Of the selections Eric offers only one catches my attention as interesting, and it's the last one, #16:

"16. A crisis of representation around covering Trump in which it is not clear that anyone can reliably tell us what his positions are, or explain his reasons for holding them, because he feels free to contradict advisers, spokespeople, surrogates, and previous statements he made. As Esquire’s Charles Pierce put it to me: ‘Nobody speaks for the prez-elect, not even himself.’ I list this because the press is not good at abandoning rituals and routines when they cease to make sense. Every interview with Kellyanne Conway or Reince Priebus is premised on a claim to represent the man in power. This claim may be false. But journalists need people to interview! So they will continue to do it, even though they may be misinforming the public. They may even realize this and be unable to shift course. What I’m trying to point out is that existing methods for “holding power to account” rest on assumptions about how it will behave. A man in power untroubled by contradictions and comfortable in the confusion he creates cannot be held accountable by normal means."

It's actually rather breathtaking that someone with Rosen's background as a journalist and a media expert would issue such a bizarre statement. It may not strike some as that bizarre of a statement but read and re-read it... He's basically saying that the mission of journalism is to report what people say and if people don't say reliable things journalist can't function properly. Now think about that.

The reason none of Rosen's other comment's are interesting or particularly insightful is because they're mundane observations that don't apply to Trump any more than they would to any other president. Is Trump going to lie to the media? Sure, but all presidents lie to the media. Are Trumps "people" going to lie and issue conflicting statements? Sure, but that's a standard feature of every administration. While Obama was refreshingly honest he still had his moments. From missile gaps to WMDs and everything in between we've had presidents and their "people" lobbing one lie after another at the world and the nation for decades, this is not a new "Trump" thing.

And it's not just presidents, power lies to the public all over the place. Remember Pawlenty claiming the state had a surplus in almost every election cycle only to reveal a record deficit the day after the election? From the Park Board to the Police you can't trust what power tells you yet here Rosen is telling us that journalism is impossible if you can't find a person in power to talk to.

I'd have to say that Rosen's real problem with Trump is not that Trump is going to be a liar, but that the media aren't going to be able to pretend that he's not a liar. With Trump the stenographic form of journalism that Rosen describes fails not because Trump's dishonest, but because his dishonesty is so transparent. If he could lie the way Ronald Reagan lied everything would be hunky dory. Rosen betrays the media's submission to power. Any journalist who thinks their mission is to simply relay power's perspectives, lies, and misinformation to the public in the form of quotes and interviews must acknowledge their complicity as agents of power, not challengers or even mere observers of power. Rosen's model of journalism is about as independent as a paid informant... and THAT brings us to how the media may or may not have influenced this election.

Weak media are to blame.Paul

Weak media are to blame.

Paul Udstrand said: "yet here Rosen is telling us that journalism is impossible if you can't find a person in power to talk to." My question is: Since when is journalism reduced to repeating what people say? Where is the digging? the research? the finding of truths that contradict or corroborate what's in the "news release" or official's statement? When all the media hunts is for someone to quote, we're lost as a country, because that technique quickly devolves into opinions, not fact.

Investigative news is what we lack, and I agree with Paul, that the problem here is not so much the citizen, even as "consumer" of what passes as news; it is the debased media scene.

I've read through this thread and see individuals saying that such-and-so item of news truth wasn't made available in the past electoral season, and I asked myself, "Then why is it that I knew all those factual truths before you listed them here?" I read them in reputable news sources--and sad to say, I do not count our local Star Tribune as a reputable news source, except sporadically and only when the owner of the newspaper has nothing riding on that particular bit of news.

Lazy journalism is what we have for the most part in the U.S. So-and-So said X, then The Other Guy said Y. Yawn. Trump said this, Kellyanne said that (trying desperately to "walk it back" because Trump so often goes off the rails of the truth and so frequently just talks off the top of his head and contradicts himself).

One of the problems with American journalism is that our schools of journalism conflate public relations/advertising with journalism. So the J-School grad could easily go to Madison Ave and equivalents or to corporate PR or to a TV station or small-town newspaper or alternative news source targeted to consumers of news, not citizens trying to inform themselves. Their J-School courses talk about how to communicate with the public so the public gets the message you want, not about the media's essential role in protecting the United States from tyrants or dictators.

Trump's tweets have now become the dictats of a tyrant--having no context, no logical explanation, no full thought rounding out an idea, no qualifications on the statement; he explodes with short insane incitements to international chaos (e.g., his taunts to North Korea on nukes, which are both ignorant and insane), treating the public like ignoramuses who can't get beyond his own insistence that governing is just like campaigning on TV or at rallies. No press conferences, of course, because the remnant of responsible journalists who DIG for truths would insist on asking him unscripted questions and then follow-up questions. Please! Government by Tweet?

The media massively let this country down in the past electoral season. They played for their own profits, gauged by TV market share or web hits and "shares." And now there's an attempt to blur the remaining distinction between honest professional media outlets and fake news purveyors, and to naturalize the election of the most unqualified and incapable president this country has ever had.

And Trump continues to pull the media's chain.

Yeah...

Rosen refers to it as a broken model of journalism, I never thought it was a functioning model in the first place.

Its simply a truism that quality reporting is about digging out the truth after being lied to, and everyone in power lies. I've found the the best and most reliable journalism frequently comes from journalist who don't interview power. Almost no one in power will talk to Amy Goodman but there she is pounding out 30 minutes of quality journalism five days a week. She's a little quirky but she breaks more stories in a month than the Strib does in a year.

So what role did the media play in this election? Part 2

Assuming this thread is still in the feed I must than Minnpost for it's indulgence.

Just summarize my comments thus far:

I'm discussing an article by Jay Rosen that Eric pointed to as an example of a media attempt at self-critique regarding the most recent election cycle. Black is pointing to Rosen's article but Black's own critique seems to revolve around the assumption that responsible journalism tries to inform but responsible journalists are losing their audience because of selective attention and confirmation bias. In other words, Black doesn't see how the "media" could have really done anything different and can't take responsibility for an audience that chooses not to be informed.

Rosen doesn't actually say that in his piece, rather he compiles a list of stuff that's wrong followed by a another list of suggestions for the future.

My point is that both Rosen and Black fail to identify the true characteristics of journalism that contributed to Trumps election. To be clear, I don't blame the media for Trumps election, in fact I blame Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party. However I think the media did play a role in pushing American voters towards Trump, and here's how:

The first thing we have to acknowledge is that the media didn't really do anything different in this election cycle than it has done in decades, so the question can't begin with THIS election cycle as if the "media" might have behaved in some unique fashion THIS year.

As I stated in my previous comment, the media reliance on access to power and a journalistic model of stenography, i.e. reporting what power says ends up transforming journalists into agents of power rather than challengers or even mere observers of power. Rosen actually seems to agree to some extent, he calls it: " A broken and outdated model in political journalism, which tries to connect to the public through “inside” or access reporting about a class whose legitimacy is itself eroding." and prescribes: "Don’t make it all about access to the President and his aides, or preserving the routines of White House reporting, as the press corps is currently doing— mostly out of habit."

While Rosen's observations are accurate, they can't escape their mundane nature because he pretending that Trump is a unique crises for journalism. While there's no denying that this was a truly bizarre election cycle, and Trump is a bizarre candidate and president elect, an independent media should have been able to cope this.

The media failed us because its an agent of power, and that status didn't just arise when Trump declared his candidacy. When I say agent of power what mean is the media functions primarily as an agent of the elite, it's not about liberal or conservative bias, it's about the elite perspective.

Trump and his cabinet will not be the first in US history to deceive the media, lie to the American public, or attack the media. The organized conservative attack on the "liberal" media began in the 70s after Nixon got impeached, this isn't a "new" feature of Trumps America.

Rosen's enumerated observations are fine, the problem is they're 40 years late. The media doesn't service the elite out of mere habit, it's an existential feature of American media. THAT'S how they ended up pushing voters towards Trump.

The primary function of a media that services the elite is to contain populism or any serious challenge to the status quo. Our "mainstream" media literally defines "populism", i.e. stuff that enjoys widespread popular support- as subversive. Just scan the headlines for a week or so and you'll see numerous "warnings" in the press about the rise of "populism" here and abroad. Every single one of Sanders's key policy proposals enjoyed widespread popular support yet the media them out as unworkable or even dangerous attacks on the status quo.

The problem with this election cycle was that the media and the elite were confronted with a widespread populist revolt emerging within both the democratic and republican parties simultaneously. They contained Sanders, but failed to contain Trump. This had the practical effect of pushed voters towards Trump because it kept a viable populist alternative off the ballot. The only effective response to a populist is another populist but that response was marginalized and ignored so that one of the most spectacular displays of elite self indulgence (i.e. Hillary Clinton's nomination) could prevail within the democratic party. At a time when American voters are clearly disgusted with the elite leadership and status-quo, democrats gave them a candidate they didn't like and didn't trust running on a ticket of "competence" against a guy promised to make American great. We live in a two party system, the myth of wasted votes on anyone other than a democrat or a republican is a frequent feature of political reporting. From that perspective once a voter decides who they don't want to vote for, the choice is made for them, you have no choice but to vote or the other candidate. Once Clinton was the only option, and voters decided they didn't want to vote for Clinton, the outcome was inevitable. The media's role was in helping to guarantee that Clinton would be the only option.

As for credibility

The media can only blame itself for its diminished credibility. Decades of service to the elite dictated "balanced" coverage that simply obliterated the concept of credibility and integrity. This began in the 80s and has been a standard feature of journalism since the debate over climate change began in the 90s. The problem was the political "elite" could be found on both the left and the right and given a choice between one elite or the other the media split the difference rather than make evidenced based choices that might alienate some members of the elite or diminish "access" to power.

Once you demolish the very concept of credibility integrity follows as the next casualty and we had a proliferation of "news" sources with little or no integrity. A series of spectacular media fails going all the way back to the Viet Nam war were just more straws on the camels back. Note, nearly all of those spectacular media fails, coverage of the Viet Nam War, recessions, multiple burst bubbles, WMD's, and predictions of Clinton's inevitable victory, emerged from media's allegiance with power and the status quo.

Once last comment

Unless someone asks for a response of some kind I'll end with this;

I'm not saying that guys like Eric Black sit down every morning and say to themselves: "How am I gong to represent the elite today?" I think Mr. Black is by and large a decent journalist with integrity and some independence.

This affiliation with the status quo, to the extent that it's present, seems to emerge from social affiliation and to some extent professional expediency. I would bet serious money that no editor has ever gone up to Mr. Black and said: "Scrap that, your job is to support the elite." The problem is once you decide that journalism is about finding authority, and reporting what authority says, you have to figure out how to recognize legitimate authority. Our media made the mistake of assuming that the elite, and those that represent the elite ARE authorities. So look at who get's invited to sit around Charlie Rose's table, Almanac, News Hour. Who shows up for Minnroast? I'm not condemning Minnroast I'm just making an observation.

Journalists don't live in a vacuum, in a nation where half the population thinks creationism "might" be a scientific theory and even liberals think living wages are akin to socialism, its not surprising that a lot of journalist have trouble locating legitimate authority. And in a profession where a single interview can launch a career journalist can be forgiven for seeking interviews.

Nonetheless, we need journalism to step outside its comfort zone now more than ever. Rosen is actually encouraging that, and there are some hopeful signs, let's just hope it's not too little too late.

Paul, I've read and appreciate your lengthy commentary here.

Your criticisms are well stated and make sense to me. I take as one of your key points that the media are deeply responsible for Trump, but that this responsibility rests on media behavior over not the past year, but the past decades. I would offer an additional level to the critique that is essential to understanding how the media do and will operate.

Namely, media critiques, both the insipid self-criticism and the external critique, implicitly treat journalists as free agents out there simply trying to operate according to what they learned in journalism school. The critique is never located within the context of the role that the establishment media serves, which is to maintain an illusion of the public interrogation and discourse that democracy demands of the Fourth Estate that ensures that this essential element of a democracy does not risk unsettling the concentration of private power that defines the establishment. As you note, journalists, pundits and the like aren’t (typically at least) subject to explicit edicts in this regard, but rather they operate within a media/political ecology that conforms thinking and rewards, threatens to punish, and punishes behavior in myriad small ways.

The defining framework of the managed establishment discourse is the two-party kabuki, and the chief operating principles are the following:
-The left, as the only source of a cogent establishment critique, is effectively excluded from the mainstream media (hence the furious rearguard action against the Sanders candidacy).
-The media will follow the right essentially as far as it wishes to go, since authoritarianism strengthens establishment prerogatives. (Trump’s ignorant heedlessness and its threat to financial market certainty has tested this proposition, but one can see these days different establishment elements coming around as they examine the niche opportunities they may secure under Trump’s crony capitalism.)
-The Republican and Democratic “sides” will, at all costs, be maintained in equipoise through false equivalence, Both Siderism, myths of "polarization" and other enforced symmetries.
-The public will be distracted by social issues, the salacious and the trivial, and its civic ignorance cultivated, to minimize the extent to which this managed framework of discourse will be questioned.

This hypothesis meets the first test of a theory, namely, it is plausible: it rests on the notion that those with the means to exercise control over the modalities by which power is exercised in our society do in fact seek to appropriate those modalities to serves their interests. Second, on the basis of several decades of observation, I think it is extremely explanatory, and the recent primary and general elections are one instance of that. Also note that access journalism serves this framework perfectly.

I agree Paul

I also think that we tend far too easily to overlook History when we think we have moved beyond the past, and if we give any nod to history we tend to overlook what was not so good about it. We'd rather make it sound as if everything happened as it should without a hitch. Or we simply ignore that which we shouldn't not unlike a person ignoring cancer. That includes the elite and those who represent them. We like the sensational but not all that bad stuff so we avoid the things we shouldn't. Usually until it's too late to recognize it.