It appears that America is going full "Here, hold my beer. I'm gonna try somethin'…" with this election. After Tuesday it will be very, very hard for the non-Trump Republicans (and Bernie Sanders for that matter) to claim that they are in position to win the nomination. A chance remains on the GOP side if the entire party apparatus and its money men throw their heft behind one candidate. Unfortunately it appears like they cannot decide whether that candidate is Cruz or Rubio (hint: It's Rubio, but they're stupid).

The only thing that I find legitimately interesting about Trump as a candidate – not "Hey check out that flaming dumpster" interesting, not "How bad can Batman & Robin really be" interesting – is the way that he has paralyzed the media that just can't stop paying attention to him. They're ratings- and click-driven, so it's hardly a surprise that they do so. But our media have self-censored their coverage of politics in general and Republicans in particular to the point that they have literally no idea how to handle someone that lies as baldly and as often as Trump.

Our media has become a slick, well-organized Both Sides Are Valid machine. They have gotten into the habit of stenography to the point that they no longer appear to have a procedure in place for telling viewers when something is false. Twenty solid years of "We'll let the viewers decide" has culminated in a candidate who lies so outrageously that even he bursts into giggles half the time at his own bullshit and yet the media are paralyzed about how to challenge him or correct him. It isn't fair to say that one candidate is lying without also saying the same about the other, creating a vortex of False Equivalency and nonsense from which there is no escape.

By understanding their job as writing down what the candidates say or letting the candidates talk into the camera unchallenged and then passing that along to consumers, the media collectively – even Fox, if you can believe it – look like a deer in headlights as Trump maximizes his strategy of simply making shit up so quickly and in such quantity that the fact-checking couldn't keep pace even if it tried. And there is no real evidence that it's trying.

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22 thoughts on “I AM A CRACKED MACHINE”

  • When I was around 8th grade age there was a hokey radio gimmick where the 3rd caller would get to be on the air and dedicate a song. I nailed the call in the age of dial phones, kids.
    Which has shit to do with Ed's post.
    Just saying, this is the second time I got first post.
    Not aiming for the trifecta.

  • 'hold my beer' nails it. Folks are pissed and feeling it.

    He has not paralyzed the media, however. He is good for their business as I think the CBS dude said earlier. More crazy more eyeballs, and he delivers crazy. You are right on the money about non questioning 'journalists'. Been going on way too long.

    Thanks for not doing 'OMG the world might end' as I have seen elsewhere today.

  • Years ago (early 1990s?) I lived in London and watched some UK TV. They have a totally different style of questioning politicians.

    Some US Big Cheese visiting Britain, I don't remember why or who, on what was obviously supposed to be a publicity trip for him in a safe country. First lie, the interviewer calls him on it and asks him to explain what he's talking about. Politician smoothly starts talking about something else, as they do. After five words, he gets interrupted, told he didn't answer the question, and gets asked again. Deer in headlights look. Tries to talk about something else. Called on it. Totally deer look. Finally mumbles something about having to check with his people or something.

    I was laughing so hard I nearly fell off my chair. "It can be done!" I thought. I didn't know that.

  • Well, as an old hand in the journalism biz — I started in 1964 — I've seen the long, painful decline of real journalism. And it's continuing.

    In a nutshell, the culprit was corporatism. The business was corporatized just like so many others — healthcare and education come to mind — and that was the beginning of all its problems.

    What I mean is not that news outlets are formed as corporations, but rather that ownership and management have become divorced, as in most other businesses. The news outlet is now just a "profit center" for investors who have no other stake in the business. They demand a return on their money and don't give a rat's ass about the readers, viewers, etc., except whether or not it increases the bottom line.

    Hedge funds and foreign investors really don't care about the quality of the product media outlets put out — just whether they're going to get the return they want ontheir investment.

    When I was a youngster, our newspaper was a corporation, but the principal owner was also the publisher, and he was a longtime "newsman," who valued a good story. He had to keep advertisers happy, but he also had the ability to run a story that would piss them off, as long as it was a good story.

    Publishers don't have that luxury today. They aren't owners, merely hired hands, and are more likely to have an MBA rather than any type of news experience. Their sole concern on a day-to-day basis is whatever number they can report to the mother ship.

    My first publisher cared about the product we put out every day and while he was friends with a lot of people we covered, he loved nothing more than jabbing them when the situation called for it. Publishers today have to coddle advertisers and even "news sources." There will be no jabbing.

    The people in the ranks pick up on that. Like anywhere else, they know what makes the publisher smile and what makes him frown. They work as hard as they can to keep him smiling.

    At the national media level, a lot of it is about "access." Politicians have learned how to corrupt the media by granting or denying "access," and the media folk are quaking in their boots. No one wants to be excluded from a press conference — and no one wants to not get their invitation to the White House Holiday Party. That is death in their business.

  • Skipper nails the overall problem with our economy and society. The economy no longer really exists to meet needs or produce products. It's only real purpose is to make wealthy people even wealthier. And the people who are rewarded the most are not engineers or inventors or service providers but Spreadsheet Diddlers.

  • You nailed the the problem with our media and journalism in particular. It's quite telling and extremely sad that John Oliver's evisceration of Donald Trump brought more spotlight to Mr. Drumph's failings and lies more than any of the news networks have. I can't believe a comedian with a weekly show was able to bring all things truths to bear. Why doesn't Face the Nation or Meet the Press have the balls to dig this stuff up and shove it in Drumph's face??

  • Trump isn't the only one lying and spreading half-truths in this race, his are just more numerous and obvious. It's not as if the media is calling out Cruz for lying, Clinton for evasion, or Sanders for living in a fantasy world. Trump is doing it better, though.

    Oh, and the candidate for the "establishment" folks to rally behind isn't Rubio, it's Kasich. Here's what could happen: On March 8th Kasich finishes a surprisingly strong 2nd place to Trump. On March 15th Kasich wins Ohio and Rubio loses Florida to Trump. At that point Rubio drops out, Kasich starts rolling, and comes very close to matching Trump in delegates. Cruz and Rubio win enough to ensure nobody has a majority. The Republican convention goes with Kasich on the second ballot.

    A Trump nomination is still the most likely outcome here. But a Kasich nomination is the next most likely.

  • News networks compete with MTV and video games and Netflix, and they've been losing for decades. Network nationwide news broadcasts? I honestly don't think I've watched one in decades. They need eyeballs, but they aren't getting any.

    News is about personalities and guests. It's Jay Leno boring and predictable, only I think he'd do a better job than Hannity and Matthews because he hasn't been trained to pretend to be impartial and will just shake his head when told crap.

    Yeah, it's so bad that I'm complimenting Leno as a better interviewer. It's that bad.

  • quixote and Major Kong, do you remember this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fze2J2Ve9is

    I forgot how W made a happy face, like a baby who just pooped, whenever he got to make one of his talking points. And then the interviewer would just go on asking squirmy questions. Nothing like this has ever happened in the US.

  • My favorite is the current rage for calling the Republicans' insistence that President Obama has no right to appoint a justice to replace Scalia "a debate." No, it is not a debate. The Republicans are wrong. Basta.

  • Hopefully the above post will disappear. Wanted to share a nostalgic, Americana song about the newspaper biz by a not so (unfortunatly) recognizable artist.
    Brad Colerick
    Paperboy from the CD, Lines in the Dirt

  • Corporate assholes and shareholders are not only destroying journalism. The same is happening in engineering. I have a front row seat. Our form of capitalism destroys everything it touches when given sufficient time.

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