US news just got Trumped

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

DON­ALD Trump said “jump”, and TV news said “how high?” It hap­pened again on Septem­ber 16 when the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­date held the me­dia hostage for nearly an hour af­ter promis­ing a ma­jor news an­nounce­ment.

“Break­ing News: Trump To Make ‘Big An­nounce­ment’ on Birther Is­sue,” said the ban­ner on MSNBC.

“Soon: Trump To Ad­dress Birther Is­sue,” said CNN’s ban­ner. Fox News was, of course, along for the ride.

While they waited, and waited, Trump pro­vided what amounted to a cam­paign in­fomer­cial and shame­lessly pro­moted his new Trump In­ter­na­tional Ho­tel in down­town Wash­ing­ton.

When it was over, and he had said the ab­surdly ob­vi­ous – that he now ac­cepts that Pres­i­dent Barack Obama was born in the United States – there was, at least, some long over­due indig­na­tion.

“We got played again,” CNN’s John King said on the air. And that was as ob­vi­ous as the an­nounce­ment it­self.

Trump as re­cently as Septem­ber 15 had de­clined to put to rest his long his­tory of pro­mot­ing the false idea that the coun­try’s first African-Amer­i­can pres­i­dent was not born here. Based on im­plau­si­ble con­spir­acy the­o­ries, that idea was never more than a thinly veiled ap­peal to racism, in­tended to dele­git­imise Obama’s right to hold the high­est of­fice.

And yet, re­porters turned out in droves, live cam­eras at the ready.

Dan Gill­mor, a me­dia scholar at Ari­zona State Uni­ver­sity, on Twit­ter called this episode “univer­sal sewer dwelling” for ca­ble news. By phone after­ward, he said that “no jour­nal­ist with a shred of integrity would have cov­ered it”.

Say­ing the press got played, he said, is an un­der­state­ment.

“This is a cam­paign and a can­di­date that com­pletely un­der­stands how the press works – or doesn’t work – and ex­ploits the bla­tant weak­nesses of political jour­nal­ism.”

Print jour­nal­ists were in at­ten­dance, too, but it was live TV that played into Trump’s hands.

“CNN and others were pulled into the whole three-ring circus – I’ve never seen any­thing as crass and disin­gen­u­ous,” said Frank Sesno, a for­mer CNN Wash­ing­ton bureau chief who is now the direc­tor of the Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity School of Me­dia and Public Af­fairs.

Sesno called it “breath­tak­ing” – and that was no com­pli­ment. Even af­ter ac­knowl­edg­ing that, as he put it, “Pres­i­dent Obama was born in the United States. Pe­riod,” Trump got in his shots at his ri­val, falsely al­leg­ing that she had started the birther con­tro­versy. Fact check­ers, in­clud­ing The Post’s, have re­peat­edly dis­proved this claim.

Sesno told me that he sees a pos­si­ble bright spot within the mess: Not only John King, but also CNN’s Jake Tap­per and Glo­ria Borger de­nounced the way Trump had played the me­dia.

“I’d like to think this could be a turn­ing point,” Sesno said. “Of course, we’ve been here be­fore, and that hasn’t hap­pened.”

Mean­while, as if to il­lus­trate in car­i­ca­ture the dif­fer­ences in the can­di­dates’ styles – and rel­a­tive suc­cess with the me­dia – the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee was do­ing some­thing un­ex­cit­ing, sub­stan­tial and work­man­like: ad­dress­ing the Black Women’s Agenda Sym­po­sium, talk­ing about the eco­nomic chal­lenges faced by women of colour.

It got, of course, only a frac­tion of the me­dia’s at­ten­tion.

With public trust in the me­dia at an abysmal low, it’s time – long past time – for TV news out­lets to stop play­ing the stooge for Trump. The para­dox, of course, is that Trump ex­presses noth­ing but con­tempt for the very peo­ple in the me­dia who have made his can­di­dacy vi­able.

Even if the turn­ing point comes far too late, when bil­lions of dol­lars of free me­dia have pro­moted a can­di­dacy like never be­fore, it must come now.

Indig­na­tion in the im­me­di­ate mo­ment should turn to soulsearch­ing in the board­room and the newsroom. This can’t hap­pen again.

– The Wash­ing­ton Post

Photo: AFP

This man is mak­ing a mock­ery of Amer­i­can me­dia, es­pe­cially on ca­ble tele­vi­sion.

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