Monday, January 29, 2018

Week of 01/29/2018

The Media Needs To Look Inside When It Comes To The “Fake News” Slur
“Fake News”.
You know, I am sick and tired of hearing that slur be uttered by people, especially from our orange-skinned narcissist in the White House.
To be clear: there is no such thing as “fake news”.  It does not exist.  It is a made-up term.  It’s like having a “vegan Angus cheeseburger” with a glass of “organic MSG-free evaporated water” while sitting in the second-story of a single-story house.
There is news.  There is truth.  There is opinion.  There are facts.  There is fluff.  There is fiction.  There is propaganda.  There are lies, slander, and libel.  There is no such thing as “fake news”.
If it is not truthful, if it is made-up, then it is not “news”.  It is either fiction or opinion or propaganda or an outright lie.
This column that I’ve been writing longer than either MSNBC or Fox News was ever in existence is not a “news” column.  It is commentary.  It is opinion.  I make no pretense that this is anything other than my view on things as I see it.  That is the very definition of an “opinion” article.
What “fake news” truly is, is anything that Donald Trump and his red-hat-fascistic Trumpets do not like or agree with.  They would go so far as to call this very opinion column “fake news”, simply because it calls out Trump and Trumpets for what they really are.  “Fake news” is nothing more than a slur slung at the media, like a racial slur or an ethnic slur or a gender slur being uttered by an alt-wrong fascist.  It’s like when I refer to politicians as “paid whores”, or referring to a lawyer as a “shyster”.  “Fake News” is the media’s form of the “N-word” or the “B-word” or even the “C-word”.  And, no, I won’t say “those words” specifically because they are *that* offensive to some people.
The problem, of course, is that in the Cult of Trump, one cannot accurately inform the public of anything truthful when it is immediately declared “fake news” not only by the narcissist in the White House, but also by millions of red-hat-wearing cult followers who would rather surround themselves by lies than listen to one piece of honest truth that goes against their own delusions.
And I hear you, members of the media.  I really do.  I know you don’t like being called “fake news”!  I know you don’t like having your credibility ruined by some narcissist.  I’ve been there.  Really.  I know what it’s like to have your credibility struck down by some claim of “fake news”, or, as it was referred to in my time, “false facts”.  It hurts.
Unfortunately, there is nothing that you can do about it that would sway those red-hat cultists.  Accept the fact that they are lost to you and to the world.  They would rather cling to their lies and delusions than to risk being told that they could be wrong about anything.
The real problem, of course, is losing even more readers or viewers because of that viral slur.  When other people start believing that you’re “fake news”, it’s really hard to get them back.  And I know that your employers are all about the profit and all about the ratings and readership, and that local media is really a slowly-dying medium.  I get it.  You need to make money too, and this stuff hurts your bottom line.  You’re scared about whether or not you’ll be around next year.  I don’t blame you.
So this is a great opportunity for you in the media to do something about it.  I know some of the TV stations are making promises to do better, or to “be different”, but this really needs to be concerning journalism in general, and it needs to be more than just an advertising gimmick.  And this can’t just be for those “in the trenches”.  This also has to include the editors and directors and producers and publishers and even the owners of the media.  You all need to take the time and actually demonstrate your honesty and sincerity.  This needs to be a systemic sea change from the top-down to prove your sincerity.
Here are some needed suggestions on how to do that.
Stop using the slur “Fake News”!  I can’t stress that enough.  Like I said before, it is a made-up term.  It’s like “confeve”.  Don’t give it credibility by using it like it is a real term.  Don’t say “fake news” when referring to fraudulent stories or propaganda or outright lies.  Call them for what they are.  If it’s fiction, call it fiction.  If they are fraudulent, call them fraudulent.  If they are lies, call them lies.  If it is propaganda, call it propaganda.  The red-hats won’t hate you any more or less than they do already, but your viewers or readers or listeners will respect you more for calling it for what it is instead of using “soft language” or the slur that actually hurts you more than it does your enemies.
Stop covering not-news stories in your news!  Once upon a time, there were editors and producers that actually knew the difference between news and not-news.  Did they stop teaching that in journalism school?
So a financial advisor predicts that Amazon will soon buy big-box Target.  Operative word is “predicts”.  Is Amazon actually buying Target?  Has Amazon put in a bit?  Made a proposal?  Did any kind of preliminary research that would lead one to believe that they would buy Target?  No?  Then it is not a story!  Period! 
See how that works?
Ditto with all of those stupid asinine medical “reports” that are not fact-checked or means-tested.  Today, coffee is “bad” according to one study published in a magazine, but in the next week or the next month, it’ll be “good” again by a different study in that same publication.  Wine will be “bad”, and then “good”, and then “bad” again for all sorts of different reasons.  And then, no matter the product, no matter the spin, they will always give the caveat.... “always take in moderation”.  Having a study published in a magazine does not make it true.  How about we abstain from stupid “studies” and “reports” like that unless they can be duplicated and means-tested?  Why can’t we take that in “moderation”?  Or, better yet, how about you wholly abstain from the junk not-news?
Lady Gaga is not news. Neither are the Kardashian Clan, Beyoncé, Demi Lovato, Taylor Swift, the British Royal Family (unless you’re in the United Kingdom), and which celebrity-of-the-moment is getting married and/or divorcing and/or having a baby.  The less we hear about them, the more we can hear about the real things that have an actual effect on our lives.  I would rather hear more about the traffic than wasting air time about someone that I will never really know having a baby or getting married.
End the Polls!  No more polling!  At all!  End it!  We do not need to know what some poll says about how we “should” feel about any issue or any politician or any wannabe-contender to some position.  We certainly do not need to know how we “should” feel today versus how we supposedly “felt” last week or last month or last year.  The red-hats won’t care, and it really should not affect the rest of us at all.  Human minds change on a subject or a person over time.  That’s not because of some poll.  That is because of other factors in the real world. 
We found out the hard way back in the 2016 Farce that polls mean nothing.  If “the polls” were really accurate, then Hillary Clinton would be president.  But she’s not, and a certain orange-skinned narcissist with a habit of calling you “fake news” is.
But even before then, there were plenty of instances here in Georgia where local polls predicted a “political upset” or even a “toss-up” in state and local elections that ended up being just plain wrong. 
Polls are not reliable.  They can be easily manipulated by the people running the polls.
Take the hint, media execs and producers and publishers, and end your love affair with polls!
Speaking of which...
Means-Test Your So-Called “Experts”!  And, yes, I’m talking about your so-called “political consultants”, but the same can pretty much apply to all your other “experts” and “consultants”.  If your meteorologist was giving the wrong forecast, predicting rain when it doesn’t and sun when it snows, would you keep that person employed?  If your anchorman or anchorwoman was constantly not reading from the teleprompter or constantly getting the teleprompter wrong, would you keep them there?  No?  Then why continue to employ a so-called “political consultant” that can’t get his or her predictions right when it comes to politics?
I’ll break it down for you so that even a Trump supporter would understand it: if your “expert” predicts an election to be “to the wire”, and it ends up not being that... then your “expert” is wrong!  If your “expert” predicts one candidate to win and they don’t, then your “expert” is wrong!  If your “expert” predicts a certain legislation will pass easily and it doesn’t, then your “expert” is wrong!
So why the hell are you still employing that failure?  That person has proven to be unreliable.  You need to terminate their association with you.
And yet, you folks in the media are not doing that.  The same people that predicted failure when there wasn’t, that predicted a close call at the ballot box when there isn’t, and predicts legislative passage that fails, is not only not fired, but they’re also not repentant on being proven wrong.  Why should they?  It’s just a game to them.  That sorely needs to end.  Let them be wrong in whatever think tank or academic institution that would tolerate them as long as it isn’t in front of your broadcast or print headline.
Understand that their failure erodes your credibility, just like it would for a meteorologist who can’t forecast the weather, or an anchor that rambles on like an idiot.
You know what else erodes your credibility?  Retaining your “political consultant” when they’re also sending out talking point memos to party members.  That’s a pretty blatant conflict of interest.  It’s one thing to have some college professor spouting ideology, but to have an active political consultant using your medium as their message board, that turns your station or publication into a political advertisement.  You forfeit any kind of perception of impartiality when you do that.  You literally give people the idea that your publication or your station is biased.
And finally... this last part is hard, but it needs to be done from the top-down...
Re-Invest in the truth!  Let’s get brutally honest here... the greatest weapons you have against the slur of “fake news” are honesty, integrity, and, most importantly, the truth.  And that needs to be paramount in your publication or production from the top-down.  Your stories need to be honest and true, not just eye-catching.  If you screw up, if something is wrong, own up to it with the same emphasis as you placed with the original story.  If your story is on page one and you find out later that something’s wrong on it, don’t bury the correction five weeks later on page nineteen next to the church bulletins.  If you don’t want to print a retraction or correction on Page 1, then you better make sure that the story in question is true without a shred of doubt!
Understand that every story that ends up being false, to be misleading, that ends up having information that is not true, that erodes your credibility in the public.  You reinforce the slur of “fake news” every time that happens.  And it’s not just your publication or your TV network or TV station or radio station that gets affected.  Ultimately they all do.  They all have an affect on how people perceive your little part of the media.
Remember Dan Rather’s downfall from CBS News?  For all of his decades of reporting the news, it all fell because of his adherence to a story that ended up being not true.  Stephen Glass seriously damaged The New Republic magazine when it came out that he made up a lot of his stories and then set up his own “verification” to sell the lie.  Rolling Stone lost their credibility in 2015 following the realization that their story on a campus rape in November of 2014 was fictional.  Every single one of these scandals, and many others, helped give birth to the slur “fake news”, which tars all publications and all productions with the same brush.  And those don’t go away either.  They stay and they are remembered and recited when your credibility is questioned.
There are two diverging views on the role of the media.  Either they are considered independent observers and honest chroniclers of activities, or else they are seen as political propagandists and for-profit marketers.  If you in the media want to be seen as the former and not as the latter, then it is entirely up to you.  How you use that medium plays a key part in defining how the rest of us sees you. 
Don’t like the slur of “fake news”?  Only you in the media can truly put an end to it.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Week of 01/22/2018

Oprah 2020?
So one of the recent questionable news stories that came out during my annual “holiday break” from commentary was the possibility of Oprah Winfrey running for President in 2020.
Yes, Oprah.
This came about after her Obama-like speech at the Golden Globes Awards, where she lectured men and energized women and people started to see shades of another figure that Oprah once had a hand in creating that eventually became the President of the United States.
To be clear, as of this column’s posting, this is still all speculation and wishful thinking.  It goes into the same category as Kanye West and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson running for president.  They’re just names and ideas and fantasies.  Mostly fantasies.
Then again... one of those names bantered about in that category used to be... Donald J. Trump.  And then all of a sudden it wasn’t just wishful thinking or a fantasy.  Now he’s our mess to deal with.
The “script” says that this idea of Oprah running is a non-starter.  Then again, the “script” said the exact same thing about Donald Trump.  The “script” is not infallible. 
But let’s speculate for a moment about what would happen should Oprah decide to take the plunge into the 2020 circus.
First of all, this would be a huge donkey-kick to the ovaries of one Hillary Rodham Clinton.  Despite her promises to the contrary, I suspect that Hillary would want to squeeze in one more try at the presidency.  She’s still throwing her name and face about, still trying to remain relevant, and still in denial about why she lost the 2016 Farce. Does that even remotely sound like someone not considering another run for the White House?
Oprah Winfrey deciding to run in 2020 would be a donkey-kick to Hillary in two different ways.  First, because Oprah is more popular than Hillary ever could be, and second, because Oprah quite literally blocked Hillary’s first run at the White House in 2008.
Remember the whole 2008 mess?  Early on, it was supposed to be Hillary’s nomination.  The “script” wanted it to be between Hillary Clinton and New York Thug Rudy Giuliani; a so-called “Subway Fight”.  But then Oprah saw this freshman senator named Barack Obama, and she gave him the push that he needed to upset the primaries and caucuses and get the Democratic Party nomination instead of Hillary.  The rest, as they say, is history.
Oprah Winfrey made Barack Obama.  Make no mistake about it.  She certainly has the public clout to challenge Trump.
Some people whine that Oprah wouldn’t win because she “doesn’t have experience” or that “she’s a celebrity, not a politician”.  Okay, all of you who are still trying to play that card need to shut the hell up – and that includes you, failed hack Sean Spicer – because we are seeing right now that the “experience” card is pure bunk.
The idea that a “celebrity” can’t run for or be president certainly didn’t apply when it came to the election of Ronald Reagan to the White House back in 1980.  Despite his career as Governor of California, back then his candidacy was dismissed because he was simply “an actor”... and a questionable one at that.  He was referred to as “That guy from ‘Bedtime for Bonzo’”.  Didn’t stop him from running and winning against President Jimmy Carter, and then winning re-election against a career politician named Walter Mondale who thought that he was “experienced enough” and that it was “his turn”.
And the idea that a “non-politician can’t win” was rendered moot even before Reagan.  Remember retired General Dwight Eisenhower?  Ike wasn’t a politician; he was a celebrated war leader from World War II.  He was a celebrity.  That didn’t stop people from insisting that he run for the White House, which he did in 1952... and won.
Plus, we have Donald J. Trump, who campaigned on the idea that he “wasn’t a politician” (even though he is one now) and that the politically-experienced people were really part of the problem in government.  Trump’s surprise nomination and election over all of the career politicians proves that “experience” is not a requirement.  Of late, it’s even been a downright detriment.
What better way to derail Trump than with someone who is his opposite on so many levels, and is someone that is more popular and celebrated than he ever was?
Let’s get brutally honest here... Oprah Winfrey is the perfect candidate for the Democrats, because she epitomizes everything that liberals and progressives want.  She pushes for change, she strives to improve lives, and she’s not above showing generosity.  Remember the whole “everyone gets a car” thing?  Anyone want to see that on a national level? 
Oprah Winfrey is quite literally everything that Donald Trump is not!  She is his nightmare; a strong celebrated African-American woman with a liberal history and media influence and a stronger following than he ever had, and that was even after the whole apple scandal.
The only real reason why Oprah wouldn’t be considered a suitable challenger to Trump, never mind someone who could beat him, would be if the Democratic Party had someone decidedly better waiting in the wings.  And, unfortunately for the Democrats, they have squat!
Think about it!  The Democrats have nothing in terms of leadership anymore.  Former Vice President Joe Biden is the closest they have, and he’s not really committed to another failed White House run yet.  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is so badly hated in America that the GOP has successfully been able to campaign in other elections against her instead of the actual candidate on the ballot!  Senator Bernie Sanders would be a good candidate, but the Democratic National Committee hates him because he supposedly “ruined” Hillary’s ascension, and after they screwed him over in 2016, I seriously doubt that he could trust them for a second time.
And then there is the train-wreck named Hillary… and I’m still waiting for her to pull an H. Ross Perot from 1996 and just say “I still own this party, therefore I name myself as the nominee!”
Face it, Democrats… Oprah Winfrey is your best bet!  She is your Donald Trump.  She has the popularity, she has the charisma, she has the compassion, and she has experience in helping people.  She is everything that you claim to cherish!
And there is another reason why the Democrats need Oprah to run.  They need someone strong enough to overpower the Cult of Trump.  Candidate Donald Trump was not a “nobody” when he first announced his campaign three years ago.  He was long-established as a celebrity and media personality.  He toyed with the idea of running for president over several years.  He stuck his narcissistic face in front of the Fox News cameras to keep his name going in the minds of the masses.  In the early years of my column, even I thought it might be a good idea for Trump to run… until I found out how bad his narcissism is.  And that was, of course, before he delved into his alt-wrong ideas.
But the Cult of Trump was a long-time brewing, and the Democrats do not have the time to build up a career politician with a sick sense of entitlement into a popular figure that can counter Trump.  They need to fight fire with fire.  They need a loved celebrity to counter a populist narcissist.
Think about this: every time since 1980 that a political party put up a so-called “experienced” candidate against a popular one, that “experienced” candidate lost.  Every.  Single.  Time.
Here’s one more reason why the Democrats should seriously consider Oprah: the conservative groups are already throwing screaming temper tantrums at the very thought of her running for president.   It’s one thing for Kanye West to announce it.  Conservatives and neo-conservatives and the red-hats were laughing their asses off at that.  Same with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.  A professional wrester and action movie star running for President of the United States?  Please!  He has a hard enough time working with Vin Diesel!
But Oprah?  Even the suggestion that she run had the editors of “The Federalist” – a publication that I used to have respect for – screaming like children in the Walmart that we should just abolish the office!  Conservative and neo-conservative groups are scared of Oprah, because they know that she could very well defeat Trump.
Personally, I don’t know if I would vote for her.  I would need to know more about her and how she views individuals and how she views the country.  But isn’t that what the whole campaign process is supposed to be about?
I know some people are whining like babies about how celebrities are supposedly “ruining” the political process.  No, children, your hyper-partisan tantrums and your failure to promote real alternatives in favor of your spoiled entitled career politicians, not to mention your dictatorial duopolistic death-cult adherence to two dominant parties through archaic and anti-American gerrymandering games, have already ruined the political system in America.  The recent government shutdowns from the 1990’s on to today are proof of that.  The rest of us are just trying to find a way out of this hole that you dug us all in while we still have a country left.
We all need to accept a basic truth about the office of the President of the United States.  It is not some entitlement position to be given to career politicians that “pay their dues” and “wait their turn”.  It is a position of leadership, and quite often charismatic people can be mistaken for leaders.  It has nothing to do with having “political experience”.  At all.
If you don’t believe me, then take a look at the face of the one-dollar bill.  George Washington, America’s very first President of the United States, was not a politician.  He saw himself as a solider, not a politician.  He took the job because he recognized there was a need for sound leadership and he was considered popular enough as a military leader to be the first leader of the new nation.  And he limited himself to two terms in office.  There was no rule back then about how long he should stay in office.  He did that on his own.  That shows true character.
In the nearly two-and-a-half centuries since General Washington became president, we’ve run the gambit of different kinds of leaders from political to pragmatic to populist.  The idea of Oprah Winfrey running for that office is only radical in the minds of those that are in fear for their own pampered careers.