I once watched an American president stand on a press conference stage and say (with a straight face) that American surgeons were cutting out people’s tonsils based on pay charts. AND NO ONE QUESTIONED IT! I was like, “WHAT?!?! They’re doing what?!?! Is that true!?!?” I’d actually still like to know.
If what (then) president Barack Obama said in that press conference was true, it would’ve been the biggest medical scandal in American history.
But instead of someone standing up and asking what I was yelling at the the TV screen, “Mr president, are you asserting that there is a systematic and concerted effort by American surgeons to mutilate people for money?” it was just taken for granted to be true and everyone went about their business. Really?
This was part of President Obama’s pitch to the American people for the ACA. And instead of journalistic curiosity, we got compliance and even complicity. And Mr Obama got press questions like, “what has been the most enchanting part of the presidency for you, so far?” Again …really?
If you watched (NOW) president Donald Trump’s recent press conference and got clammy hands and heart palpitations, fearing the free world is in jeopardy, I understand. But if you couldn’t see how someone would be standing up cheering it on …then you have no idea what’s happening right now. And what’s BEEN happening for a while. Clearly, a lot of people don’t.
The press hasn’t done its job. We all know which side everyone is on. It’s just that one side refuses to be honest with us. George Stephanopoulos is a Democrat operative. We all know this. He has talked openly about being on strategy calls with Democrats right before going to air. That’s fine, George. But just admit it. Don’t try to sell me on your “objectivity.” Sean Hannity may be a tool, but he is at least being honest about who he is.
When George inserted a “war on women” narrative (that did not exist) into the 2012 campaign, a lot of us rolled our eyes, knowing what was going on. And what was going on had nothing to do with journalism. But instead of Mitt Romney looking at him and saying, “Dude …what on earth are you talking about? That’s the stupidest crap I’ve ever heard,” he tried to prove a negative …which you cannot do.
Republicans fall for this over and over again. It’s one of the reasons I dislike them so much. They often can’t make their own case and they constantly allow themselves to be presumed guilty of something.
And so we trudged on, listening to pretty faces and well-trained voices tell us things that are at best, spin and at worst …false.
But now, there’s this brash New Yorker facing them down and calling them out. And even though I find it to be the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in American politics, I somehow find myself rooting for Trump …and I don’t even know why. I NEVER supported his campaign. But I support dressing down pompous hypocrites …even if it plays like a reality show.
He’s not doing it the way I would do it. It’s all ham-fisted and inarticulate. But at least he’s barking back at an institution that literally NOBODY trusts anymore.
An old, sage manager told me once, “the world needs music …but that doesn’t mean it needs YOUR music.”
And that’s where we are with the free press. The institution itself is sacred. But that doesn’t mean David Miur or Katie Couric or Bill O’Reily are sacred. They’re just personalities. And you can’t confuse personalities with “the free press.” Donald Trump isn’t afraid to see them as just people. And they hate that.
Now …to be fair …Trump DID start all the fights with them. But they’ve taken the bait in a way I honestly can’t believe. Maybe it’s from years and years of not doing your job.
People knew the country wasn’t headed in the right direction. And they wanted a change. They saw their health care premiums skyrocket and the whole system get weird. They saw American cities burning after every new grand jury verdict. They saw business regulation stagnating growth. They saw “red lines” get ignored and beheadings get dismissed and stupid, eye-rolling “re-set” buttons get pushed.
They saw marches and boycotts and laws being passed over things like transgender bathroom issues that they didn’t even understand.
This is where our politics and news narratives have been leading us. Instead of soaring concepts that spur us to greatness …we’re talking about toilets.
I’ve heard of full-grown adults in California who actually believed that state would never get rain again. Because drought was a permanent state of normal …due to climate change …that was making the earth’s water evaporate. Seriously …I …whatever. Well, guess what? There’s rain now. Lots of it. And somehow, the three quarters of a TRILLION dollars spent on the American Recovery and Re-investment Act didn’t shore up the dams needed to stop it.
Sometimes it feels like angry children have been running things and journalists have been reporting it in such a way as to not get wished into the corn field.
NOW, they apparently want to be brave.
My 10-year-old son recently took a tour of the Nissan plant with his 4th grade class. He told me later he wanted to own a Nissan Leaf when he grew up, because it was the most “earth friendly.” I said that was awesome. He should buy what he wants. But he pressed, “no, dad …seriously it doesn’t use ANY gas. It’s all electric, so there’s no damage to the environment. You just plug it in.”
I very gently reminded him that when you plug something in, you’re most likely using coal generated electricity. So he might just be trading one fossil fuel for another. Still, totally cool to buy whatever he wanted. But he insisted, “dad …the electricity THIS car uses is from the sun only. No coal!” I just shook my head and smiled. No matter how much reality I try to introduce into his life …he prefers fantasy. Because he’s 10.
If you want to understand what’s happening between Donald J Trump, the press and the nation, it basically comes down to this: reasonable people have gotten tired of arguing with, and being treated like, 10-year-olds …so they elected one.
Have a nice four years of news.