Saturday, February 18, 2017

Revenge of the Teabaggers

The February 16th, 2017 impromptu press conference hosted by President Donald Trump was an epic for the history books recitation of populist politicians.

The immediate howls of outrage from the corporate press was entertaining to the many who had long grown tired of themselves being bashed by the press.

Let's have a brief recap on whether or not the corporate media does in fact peddle "fakes news", or even "very fake news" and whether or not the corporate media deserves the self-appointed honorific of "prestigious" media.

Most observers could concur that the father of modern journalism as it is currently practiced is Joseph Pulitzer. Pulitzer was the progenitor of "yellow journalism" and his tactics are still taught at that shrine to yellow journalism, the School for Journalism he funded at Columbia University. Pulitzer's race to the bottom and establishment of questionable "standards" for journalism going forward is well captured in the National Geographic Channel series, Hearst Vs. Pulitzer. Pulitzer is also known for endowing the eponymous "Pulitzer Prize" which was dismissed as a (rightfully so, in my opinion) "mutual admiration society" by Col McCormick who ran the Chicago Tribune in the first half of the last century.  I assure you, nothing in the field of "journalism" has improved since then, especially adherence to "ethics" and "truthiness".

Some of the biggest scandals in journalism can be traced back to winners of the yellow journalism Achievement Trophy, the Pulitzer Prize.  From the New York Times supporting Walter Duranty's yeoman work proselytizing the virtues of communism in Stalinist Russia, the wilful destruction of the reputation of an American corporate icon, or an avowed political enemy of the progressive agenda the march to publish fiction in support of narrative to uphold a progressive ideological belief system presses on. The modern corporate press are so adept at publishing fiction that their proclaimed "fact checking" systems are nakedly exposed for what they are - deception designed to lull the unwary into a sense of comfort that the information they are consuming is, indeed, "truth".  In reality, the long history of "journalism" is the opposite of "truthiness".

Into this arena steps President Donald J. Trump. Long an avid and artful exploiter of mass media, he is well steeped in its peculiarities and preferences. It is this insatiable need to meet the demand for escalating outrageous product that he cunningly leveraged to propel his long shot candidacy to eventual occupation of the Oval Office.

One of the many Tea Party rallies in 2009

President Trump's base is drawn from the working and middle classes in the heartland of America.  Many of his most ardent supporters hail from states that have long been strongholds of the Democratic party.  Many of these voters were first energized by the TARP bailouts which manifested itself as the "Tea Party".  The Tea Party activism was seen as threatening to the established power base in Washington, and more directly, the Democratic party.  The first shot across the bow in the struggle of the Tea Party against the deliberate delegitimization of their cause by the corporate media was the now infamous Susan Roesgen interview:

The smearing and mocking of the Tea Party and the voters who would become Trump's base continued with Anderson Cooper's use of the sexual slur, "Tea Baggers".

Trump recognizes that the media needs him but he does not need them.  As occupant of the Oval Office, should the American corporate media choose to blacklist him and spokespersons from his Administration, as they have threatened to do, there are thousands of independent outlets and international media who would be thrilled to scoop them.  Such is the paradox the Columbia contingent find themselves in.

CNN has seen their ratings crash (in large part, because of their lack of "truthiness") to a mere 960,000 views per month - at the height of a deeply contested Presidential election cycle and viewership continues to decline.  Revenues for traditional print media continue to decline, in spite of precipitous price-slashing for digital subscriptions and other vigorous marketing efforts.  Income has gotten so thin that several established brands are reduced to begging for donations from readers.  Compare these statistics to the traffic generated by Conservative online content, such as Conservative Tribune (26,244,911 unique visitors per month) or those who have learned to skillfully navigate the social media landscape.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en">
="en" dir="ltr">Press bashing may feel good to folks but when it's done by people in power, it's corrosive. Take off your partisan hats for a second&mdash; Chuck Todd (@chucktodd) href="">February 16, 2017</blockquote>

What is interesting in the downstream from the press conference is the rush to the defenses of CNN by their competitors, who are all part of the Establishment Trump seeks to dismantle, and who all self-identified as #NeverTrumpers.  Also not gone unnoticed by the American public that there was no similar outcry by the media or support given by the progressive-aligned contingent when Obama called out Fox News as "Faux News" and talk radio as dishonest or when the 44th President dismissed the views and values of those in the heartland as "bitter clingers".  President Trump began the Press Conference with a definitive shot across the bow:

"'s all about unification .... I am here today to update the American people on the incredible progress that has been made since my inauguration .... our approval rate is at 55% and going up .... I am making this presentation directly to the American people, with the media present... because many of our nation's reporters and folks will not tell you the truth and will not treat the wonderful people of our country with the respect they deserve.... the press is out of control, the level of dishonesty is out of control...."

Impromptu Presser held Feb 16th, 2017

The howls of outrage from the corporate media is less to do with their perceived impugning of their reputations, but more from the genuine threat that their business model and income stream is evaporating before their eyes.  The media world has been run as guild; the one thing that stood between the corporate media and bankruptcy was their closed shop and their status as gatekeepers and crafters of the "Narrative". Trump, the ultimate disrupter, has upended this establishment protocol as well.  

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