By Ken Perrott 24/07/2017 9


I find the US mainstream media particularly boring and uninformative these days. It has become embedded in a partisan political campaign and seems to go into a frenzy over every bit of “evidence” or fake news it can garner, invent, or exaggerate in an apparent attempt to reverse the results of last year’s presidential elections.

I think many people must be heartily sick of this campaign. I would not be surprised if this is encouraging many to turn to alternative news sources and I suspect this media obsession is encouraging an increasing mistrust of the mainstream media.

But it is not just a matter of all the fake news and media lies. This political campaign is diverting media attention away from the things that really concern people. After all, they had their election last year and sensible presidential challenges should be off the burner until 2000. Meanwhile, there are all sorts of problems the ordinary person expects their government, and the media, to come to grips with.

So I am not surprised to see recent polling identifying a huge mismatch between the concerns of the media and the concerns of the public. Jon Gabriel’s Ricochet article What Americans Care About vs. What the Media Cares About illustrates this in the following graphic.

Constraining the President

Frankly, I think this US political hysteria is being produced by an alliance of the media, elements of the intelligence community and the “establishment” in general. For one reason or another, they just can not accept the result of the 2016 election and would like to see that result reversed. At the very least, they are using this artificial campaign to constrain the president in areas like foreign policy where they have big differences.

Perhaps pressure from the neocons and deep state to constrain and control a new president is not new. Certainly, we saw this with President Obama. But the campaigners have resorted to a more public and hysterical pressure in President Trump’s case because he is basically a political outsider. He came out of “left field,” was not part of the “acceptable” political establishment and is a maverick. His personality makes him difficult to control in the normal, behind the scenes, way.

Donald Trump campaigning for President. Wikimedia Commons.

Media does itself no favours

There are a number of objective factors creating turmoil for the mainstream media these days, such as the transfer of advertising to social media, changes in technology and the loss of skilled reporters. But the old, established media is not doing itself any favours by diverting into a blatantly partisan political campaign and resorting to such bias in its reporting.

And it harms society by encouraging the growth of neo-McCarthyism and supporting those who are working to reduce international cooperation and the relaxation of tension. That is dangerous for the American people – and in fact for the whole world.

But I guess the upside is that this self-exposure of bias is an education to the public. They may now search for alternatives – and that is a good thing. They will also be a lot more critical of what is delivered to them by the news media – and that is also a good thing.

The reader does need to beware – and to question more.


9 Responses to “The main stream media is out of touch”

  • Really?

    Some points – the general populace of the USA have been polled on various issues from time to time. Their majority views at various times, reflected by this polling, are that climate change is a hoax, the world is 10k years old at most, and 9/11 was an afghani attack.

    If we take this prior polling at face value, or even as a skewed but slightly representative situation, the american population is misguided at best in its risk and reality perception.

    The reality of Trump’s political organisation (and I use that term very loosely) is that he has no policy – full stop. It is the ultimate in reactive politics, changing position daily in response to those Trump himself views (that day) as being his audience. Its entirely the place of the 4th estate to question this overarching problem in the governance of the USA – everything else is just noise until that problem is resolved despite what the corn-fed population thinks.

    • Ashton, I think you have missed my point. I was not referring to beliefs of the population – just their interests. Whatever people beleive about climate change the poll showed that about 10% of people care about or are interested in it. In this case, the media is giving about exactly the right amount of coverage.

      However, despite the public interest in health care (35%) the media seems to give it very little coverage (4%). And despite the fact that people have got thoroughly pissed off with the fake news promoting the anti-Russian hysteria (only 6% are interested) the media has got carried away and it actively promoting this hysteria with 75% coverage).

      It is not a matter of the public being misguided (although the media and the political and intelligence establishment certainly seems to be). It’s a matter of a political campaign being promoted by the media despite the public being bored with it. (That being the case I am sure a large section of the public is misguided, or at least confused, about Russia – the media has failed them).

      If it were true that Trump had no poilicies then he would make the ideal president as far as the establishment is concerned. He would be pliable in their hands. There would not be any need for this current hysterical campaign.

      He may be a buffoon and a maverick, but he definitely has policies. I personally thought the only good policies he had were collaboration to fight terrorism and working to reduce international tension. Surely only warmongers would oppose those.

      But it seems it is, in fact, these policies that the campaign is aimed at. Obama unilaterally created an obstacle for Trump be expelling diplomats and seizing diplomatic property. This has still to be resolved but the campaign makes it practically impossible for Trump to make any movement on this.

      But perhaps you have a different interpretation. You refer to an “overarching problem in the governance of the USA” but don’t specify what it is. Can you do so? At the moment the overarching problem appears to be the hysterical media campaign which is constraining the president from taking action in the interests of the country – and in fact in the interests of the whole world. The relaxation of international tension and the struggle against terrorism are, I would think, pretty overarching problems for us all.

      • Hi Ken. I hadn’t realised the media was supposed to slavishly reflect the interests of the population. My abiding concern is that it does that a little too much with the result being Mike Hosking, New Idea and Fox News.

        If it were just US media that were interested in finding out if a presidential candidate was somehow beholden to a foreign power that had spent the last 70 years as an ideological opposite (if not outright enemy) of the country, you might have a point.

        Its not.

        The world’s media and commentators are ruminating on the issue.

        IMO you have mistaken Trumps slogans for policy. Build the Wall is not policy. Neither is Bring Back the Jobs, and most especially Make America Great Again. Hell, with a complete majority in both houses the Trump administration has failed – twice – to enact its most basic slogan – ban the muslims. Probably because enacting real policy requires real thought, real consideration and real management – none being strong suits of this administration.

        Its so bad, even those on his side of the houses can’t stomach it it would seem.

        The overarching problem I refer to is the total lack of political understanding and the resulting demonstrable incompetence of the Trump administration. In six short months, the orange buffoon has managed to isolate the US from its European allies, weaken its position with its major strategic opponent, and lose nearly 50% of his political capital at home.

        The media didn’t do this to Trump – he’s done it himself whilst also turning over his communication team and the top legal positions in his administration.

        Damn right the media are focusing on these things – to not do so would be an abdication of responsibility.

        • Ashton, I suspect political, even partisan, positions are behind your misinterpretation, or perhaps misrepresentation, of my article.

          For me to point out that the US media is ignoring some of the issues the public is concerned with while at the same time pursuing a political campaign with no factual or real news content that the public is clearly not concerned with, or at least sees of little relative importance, is not an attempt to push the media into the slavish role that you suggest.

          In fact, the US media is demonstrating slavishness in its current campaign – but not slavishness to the public. They are operating as an arm of the deep state, the political establishment, and that is not in the interests of the public or in fact the real interests of the media.

          We may well disagree on policies and the extent Trump has policies (but why the hell should we disagree on the policy of fighting terrorism and relaxing international tension I can not see) but you seem to be attempting to justify a political campaign which even the protagonists in the media admit there is no evidence for. It is simply a childish reaction of a loser who claimed she lost the election because “the Russians did it” or “Putin did it.” I am simply amazed that such childish excuses can get any traction – but I guess that is explained by political partisanship.

          You are partly right that this hysteria has even partially affected local media. I was shocked to hear Kim Hill last weekend respond to the US Ambassador’s point that there was no evidence of “Russian collusion” with the interfering rebut “how do you know there is no evidence? The investigation hasn’t finished?” Kim is someone I have a lot of time for but to fall into the logical and motivated trap of accepting a charge without evidence and then imply the lack of evidence might be evidence in itself was a lapse I cannot forgive.

          So I disagree with you completely. The US media’s obsession with this hysterical campaign is an abdication of responsibility.

          Now if there was any real evidence (apart from the excuses of someone who lost an election and wants to avoid responsibility by inventing a non-existent collusion) I would be all for media coverage. But the hysterical invention of a “Manchurian candidate”, the promotion of fake news, and the conversion of politically motivated charges and dissemination of evidence-free reports into “evidence” is highly irresponsible and dishonest.

          You hang your criticism of my post around this clause:

          “If it were just US media that were interested in finding out if a presidential candidate was somehow beholden to a foreign power that had spent the last 70 years as an ideological opposite (if not outright enemy) of the country, you might have a point.”

          Consider this – you use the term “finding out.” That reinforces the fact that there is no evidence, there is a charge and the campaigners are desperately trying to find “evidecne” to support their politically motivated charge. They have worked desperately for a year now – and absolutely no evidence! The charge is fantastical and such an extraordinary claim surely requires extraordinary evidence – yet they have absolutely nothing – except their despair at having lost an election they were sure they would win.

          You are implying that cooperation to fight terrorism and to relax international tension is somehow being “beholden to a foreign power.” That is incredible. It is, in fact, an argument which dishonestly attempts to prevent the fight against terrorism and prevents relaxation of tension.

          This is the sort of argument war mongers use.

          And think about it (if you can for a minute get out of the grips of a dogmatic partisanship) – what would you think if Putin or Lavrov used the argument that the US had “spent the last 70 years as an ideological opposite (if not outright enemy) of” Russia to advocate for abandoning international agreements on arms control and nuclear disarmament, to illegally seize US diplomatic property and expel diplomats, to refuse to participate in measures to end the war in Syria, to in fact finance and arm terrorists. Or even to attempt to remove their elected president by claiming US collusion.

          We would think they were mad – and outright dangerous.

  • “Ashton, I suspect political, even partisan, positions are behind your misinterpretation, or perhaps misrepresentation, of my article.” – Likewise.

    “For me to point out that the US media is ignoring some of the issues the public is concerned with while at the same time pursuing a political campaign with no factual or real news content that the public is clearly not concerned with, or at least sees of little relative importance, is not an attempt to push the media into the slavish role that you suggest.”

    Actually, it is. The clear outcome of a media that only supplies information and views on items of current interest to the public is exactly that.

    The reality of media (and by that I mean public journalism typified by TV news, print news and commentary and on-line news and commentary) is that it is a product that has to be bought and paid for by its consumers. Since the very people who claim not to be interested in it are paying for it either directly or by accepting the advertising payload that comes with it, explain to me how the interests of the public are not served by the current media – be it print, TV or so-called “new media”?

    “In fact, the US media is demonstrating slavishness in its current campaign – but not slavishness to the public. They are operating as an arm of the deep state, the political establishment, and that is not in the interests of the public or in fact the real interests of the media.”

    This is as close to paranoid delusion as you can get without buying a remote Ozark smallholding and digging a 15 foot deep pit to bury your stash of survivalist supplies.

    “We may well disagree on policies and the extent Trump has policies (but why the hell should we disagree on the policy of fighting terrorism and relaxing international tension I can not see)”

    I dont disagree on terrorism and international tensions – I just see nothing in Trump’s administration’s actions that actually meet this aim. Perhaps you could point out an example that is working.

    “…but you seem to be attempting to justify a political campaign which even the protagonists in the media admit there is no evidence for.”

    Yes – that will be why Trump is turning over AGs faster than a tortilla flipper at a tamale stand. There is no evidence and none to be found.

    “It is simply a childish reaction of a loser who claimed she lost the election because “the Russians did it” or “Putin did it.” I am simply amazed that such childish excuses can get any traction – but I guess that is explained by political partisanship.”

    Hang on – the appointments to the investigation into Russian collusion have all been made by Republicans. Where does Hillary – who I should remind you holds no political office at all right now and so has no power to start any investigation – come into your argument? Perhaps via political partisanship?

    “You are partly right that this hysteria has even partially affected local media. I was shocked to hear Kim Hill last weekend respond to the US Ambassador’s point that there was no evidence of “Russian collusion” with the interfering rebut “how do you know there is no evidence? The investigation hasn’t finished?” Kim is someone I have a lot of time for but to fall into the logical and motivated trap of accepting a charge without evidence and then imply the lack of evidence might be evidence in itself was a lapse I cannot forgive.”

    The Trump campaign has been on record (finally) admitting to meeting with representatives of the Russian government during the elections in probable contravention of federal statutes. There now exists a significant body of evidence that there was at the least potential for collusion – and the only way to confirm that is to dig a bit more. Completing an investigation will give closure one way or the other – if there was no collusion, Trump wins hugely, so why does he want the investigation halted?

    “So I disagree with you completely.”

    This is clear. The rest of your arguments get a little ad-hom and strawman for me. Suffice to say I’m glad we live in a country where we can disagree and discuss the issue though.

    • Ashton, I am sorry I missed your comment until now. I have been riding an emotional rollercoaster since the recent death of my partner and have missed many emails, I think.

      I see this quote as a key point in your argument – one which you seem to not understand the significance of:

      “I don’t disagree on terrorism and international tensions – I just see nothing in Trump’s administration’s actions that actually meet this aim. Perhaps you could point out an example that is working.”

      I agree completely – Trump has done very little (the ceasefire agreements in Syria are perhaps an exception)

      But the question is why? Are you honestly suggesting that it was just another political lie? Come on. I have argued strongly that the purpose of this hysterical campaign was to constrain the president. When he was elected I welcomed his declared policies on cooperation and fighting terrorism But I also said I did not think he would be allowed to carry them out. That was based on the recent experience of the Aleppo agreements in September when the neocons, defence department, torpedoed agreements which had been made by the SAecre3atry of State and approved by the White House.

      That has come to pass. The Russian Federation (under President Putin’s urgings) held off their tit-for-tat retaliation for the constitutionally questionable expulsion of diplomats and seizure of diplomatic property by Obama last December – literally days before he left office. Now the Russians have finally given up. They see Trump is prevented from carrying out his constitutional role in these matters and they do no6 see this dangerous situation changing. So they have retaliated. In a way that promises automatic tit-for-tat on diplomat numbers.

      The world has now become a far more dangerous place. Not directly because of Putin or Trump – but because of a neo-McCarthyist campaign in the USA.

      You are employing typical media tactics to avoid the lack of evidence – I really cannot understand why7 you think this is relevant: “Yes – that will be why Trump is turning over AGs faster than a tortilla flipper at a tamale stand. There is no evidence and none to be found.”

      The fact is there is no lack of evidence and referring to the circus currently happening in the White House does not change that. No one has presented a single piece of evidence to support the claims of “Russian Hacking” or “Russian collusion.” If they had you would not need to revert to the tactics used in your quote.

      You say “The Trump campaign has been on record (finally) admitting to meeting with representatives of the Russian government during the elections in probable contravention of federal statutes.” Well, I missed this – perhaps you could provide a link – not for meeting with diplomats and nationals from other countries (which of course is completely normal and was pursued by the Democrat campaign as well) – but “in contravention of federal statutes.”

      I guess you concede on the lack of evidence issue by saying:

      “There now exists a significant body of evidence that there was at the least potential for collusion” But what is the evidence for that? How different is that evidence to what could be produced for any of the other 3 political parties? Why does it become evidence for a possibility for only Trump? because of the current anti-Trump campaign.

      You continue “and the only way to confirm that is to dig a bit more.” That smacks of a fishing expedition to find evidence rather than an investigation based on existing evidence. And it is biased – believing confirmation suggests that the whole purpose is not to find the truth but to fain anything, anything, which can be used for the current campaign

      Finally, you say “Completing an investigation will give closure one way or the other” – well I hope so. This could possibly be true in the limited FBI investigation of collusion stories but they have not got a remit to get to the bottom of the Democrat’s email leak by Wikipedia. Nor can one have any confidence that the various congressional political committees – so reminiscent of McCarthy’s un-American Committee – will give either truth, clarity or closure.

      And, by the way, there are currently several legal actions/investigations regarding the behaviour of the Democratic National Committee and its then head Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

      The US-Russia geopolitical struggle has objective causes so one could expect after trump there will be something else in the USA. I just hope one day more rational political forces will see that it benefits Americ and the rest of the world, to handle this struggle peacefully and by cooperation – in a grown up way.

      Finally, Ashton, you counter one of my arguments by diverting with this:

      “This is as close to paranoid delusion as you can get without buying a remote Ozark smallholding and digging a 15 foot deep pit to bury your stash of survivalist supplies.”

      I consider that disrespectful. One should not counter an honest argument by derision. And it is frustratring because such smears end dicussion.

      Professor Cohen has something to say about this in this video. Towards the end, he puts the journalist in her place for her reversion to smear tactics to counter his sensible arguments. Incidentally, Cohen is an expert on Russia and US relations and he does make a lot of sense.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTqjcb6U92o

  • The Paranoid Delusion characterisation bit stands – unless you have actual evidence for:

    ““In fact, the US media is demonstrating slavishness in its current campaign – but not slavishness to the public. They are operating as an arm of the deep state, the political establishment, and that is not in the interests of the public or in fact the real interests of the media.”

    Deep State? Really? Black Ops as well. or what? Political Establishment (my caps)? Again, really? Which part of the media hasn’t at some stage eviscerated both of the candidates and their support systems?

    Yours wasn’t wasn’t an honest argument – it was a handwaving claim backed by nothing, a response to reportage you happen not to agree with.

    You respond:

    “Finally, you say “Completing an investigation will give closure one way or the other” – well I hope so. This could possibly be true in the limited FBI investigation of collusion stories but they have not got a remit to get to the bottom of the Democrat’s email leak by Wikipedia. Nor can one have any confidence that the various congressional political committees – so reminiscent of McCarthy’s un-American Committee – will give either truth, clarity or closure.

    Again, we can both sigh, have a whisky together and agree to this – closure first, truth (if it is any different) in a future generation.

    I am fascinated by your support of Trump – I’ve always admired your blog for its adherence to demonstrable fact. Trump’s pathological avoidance of fact and love of misrepresentation as a tool of power would, I thought, have been anathema to you.

    Best regards.

    • Ashton, it is worth unpacking your last comment. I keep coming across this sort of reaction and think it really does show how, particularly when it comes to politics, we a not a rational species.

      You say I support Trump. Whatever gave you that idea? Despite my pointing out that I think he is a buffoon and the only policies of his I liked were relaxing tension with the Russian Federation and cooperating to fight terrorism you describe me as a Trump supporter! This coming from someone who also declared support these same policies. Who wouldn’t support such policies – well I can think of a few people in places of power in the US who demonstratively don’t and that is the crux of the matter.

      The last US presidential elections stand out as one where partisanship caused reason to fly out the window more than previous times. My first experience, well before either candidate had been selected, of this was the reaction from someone who I thought was a supporter of evidence-based science. He accused me of all sorts of things (and gave up on his previous sensible attitude towards fluoridation shown in his reaction to my articles) when I criticised Clinton for attempting to divert attention away from the anti-democratic activity of the Democrat National Committee in the manoeuvring against Bernie Sanders by using the McCarthyist smear. Claiming, without any evidence at all, that the Russians, and in particular the Russian president, were responsible for the WikiLeaks exposure of the emails.

      For a long time, I have had an almost pathological negative reaction to partisan politics. I think partisan politics irrational and childish. But that is me. I appreciate others think differently but I have certainly lost respect for quite a few people who I previously considered rational when they have reacted to my comments in such a partisan way.

      I am not a Trump supporter. If I had been a US citizen I would not have voted for him. Nor would I have voted for Clinton. For a discussion partner to interpret my arguments as proving I am a political supporter of any of these two candidates simply show to me they have not been paying attention – possibly because of their own partisan biases.

      You say you have admired my blog “for its adherence to demonstrable fact.” Well I have failed with you because most of my posts are not primarily aimed at expressing “demonstrable facts.” Rather they have been aimed at countering the misrepresentation of these facts, the misrepresentation of scientific findings, or the confirmation bias in the way people have approached the scientific literature. I actually don’t go into discussing “demonstrable facts” just for the sake of it.

      I believe I am doing the same thing now. I am attacking the way people have blindly accept a narrative which actually has no “demonstrable facts” to support it, or misrepresents those facts for political ends (Just think, a lawyer who just happens to be a Russian is described as an agent for the Kremlin – how pathetic is that). And the way that political confirmation bias, in this case, amounts to racism. When it comes to blaming Russians anything can be pinned on them. Facts are not required. I see that a racist. And I am not the only one – this article by Alexander Mercouris spells it out – Western racism and the stereotyping of Russians – http://theduran.com/western-racism-and-the-stereotyping-of-russians/

      I have no time for racism.

      Yes “Trump’s pathological avoidance of fact and love of misrepresentation as a tool of power “ is an anathema to me. As is Clinton’s or any other politician of that ilk. And I do not have much more time for the local political species either. That is the thing – lies and misrepresentation are not unique to Trump. My lack of partisanship here allows me to see it in other politicians as well. The clownish and buffoonish behaviour of Trump, his political lies and misrepresentations, should not be used to hide what is going on. The current political atmosphere in the US is dangerous – for the US and the rest of the world. There are very serious matters that the US and Russian leaderships need to discuss and negotiate on. This has now become impossible and the world has become that much more dangerous.

      OK, you found my references to “deep state” and political establishment “dishonest” and “handwaving” – even “paranoid.” I agree these terms are shorthand and the concepts can be rather nebulous but I am not being either dishonest or am I waving hands. The cliques and relationships that form in the political sphere and that integrate with those in the media and state are a fact of life. One thing that stands out like the proverbial in the current situation is how deep those links and relationships are. To the extent that unnamed intelligence officials and other state officials are being cited and quoted in the media. There are all sorts of links with think tanks and politicians, with corporate and foreign donors.

      I do not see my argument as at all paranoid or hand waving – but yes I can understand how the motivated political supporter of that establishment, and their useful idiots in the media and commentariat who cannot see the Emperor is naked, will say that of me.

      But, seriously, I will fire that straight back. Is it not dishonest and paranoid to see the currently legally elected US president as a “Manchurian candidate?” Placed there by the president and intelligence agencies of another country? By an alternative media accused of pushing false information simply because they did not follow the extreme partisanship of the mainstream media and actually interviewed other candidates? Seriously, the January intelligence report gave as evidence of Russian meddling in the election the fact that channel actually gave some time to the minor candidates! Shock, horror! Or perhaps this is telling us what sort of media the “establishment” and “deep state” wants to see in the US?

      There is certainly a lot of paranoia and fact-free hand waving going on. And that is what I have been trying to bring attention to – in much the same way as I have drawn attention to those creationists, climate change deniers and anti-fluoridationists who misrepresent the facts and promote paranoia about science.

      It would actually help if we avoided labels and simply dealt with evidence – or admitting the lack of evidence in this case.

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