“Well, the deputy walks on hard nails and the preacher rides a mount
But nothing really matters much, it’s doom alone that counts
And the one-eyed undertaker, he blows a futile horn
Come in, she said
I’ll give ya shelter from the storm”
— Bob Dylan, Shelter from the Storm
“The newspaper that obstructs the law on a trivial pretext, for money’s sake, is a dangerous enemy to the public weal. That awful power, the public opinion of a nation, is created in America by a horde of ignorant, self-complacent simpletons who failed at ditching and shoemaking and fetched up in journalism on their way to the poorhouse.”
— Mark Twain
In the aftermath of the recent White Nationalist, fascist acts of terrorism, aided and abetted by Trump and the rest of the political establishment, another raw nerve was touched, exposing a long simmering and festering wound.
The New York Times, The Grey Lady, The Paper of Record, ran a disingenuous, Pravda-esque headline about Trump’s response to the terrorism attacks:
“Trump Urges Unity VS. Racism.”
Though dangerously obtuse, the headline was technically accurate in the same sense that the Nazis were technically accurate when they announced the Reichstag had burned down and they were going to do something about it.
Nate Silver, the spirit animal guide for statisticians, responded with a subtle and on point criticism of the Times:
“Not sure that’s how I would have framed the story” he said with, we suspect, emphasis on the word, framed.
Political animals, roused from their other commitments, turned and directed fire at the Times.
Kristen Gillibrand, retweeting Silver’s shot across the bow, said, succinctly, that’s not what happened, meaning The Times had the story, disastrously wrong.
Corey Booker went further and zeroed in on how The Times, by being wrong was aiding and abetting violence and said that lives were dependent on their getting the facts and the story right.
Beto O’Rourke, his campaign at least temporarily resurrected, was both angrier and even more on point giving a one word response: Unbelievable.
Bill de Blasio, part time presidential campaigner and some time mayor of New York, added that, if “The Truth is worth it” is one of The Time’s slogans, then they might want to live up to it, and, that their headline was not the truth and not worth it.
And Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez added:
“Let this front page serve as a reminder of how white supremacy is aided by – and often relies upon – the cowardice of mainstream institutions.”
As this firing squad was lining The Times up for its just punishment, The Paper of Record was adjusting the record (because one assumes they believe in, all the news that’s fitted to print) and explaining that Trump was in fact, a malignant troll.
But needless to say what has gone missing in all of this is the equally uncomfortable issue:
The Democrats and AOC, are completely correct, The Times fucked up, the media and other institutions are guilty of curating, inciting, and excusing domestic terrorism.
They have blood on their hands, they are guilty of spreading a kind of fog and social miasma that hinders if not cripples rational and constructive public discourse and debate.
In other words, FAKE NEWS.
Trump, as a professional demagogue and amateur fascist devoid of a committed political ideology but devoted to his rancid bigotry and the bottomless pit of his narcissism, even if its at the cost of lives, is right about the media, even if it’s for all the wrong reasons.
The Not Trump opposition, ranging from the centrists to the Democratic Socialists, are also correct.
Yellow Journalism has a long and storied history.
From ginning up the mob over the non existent threat posed by Asians and opium dens, to ginning up the mob over the non existent threats posed by Unions, Hippies, weed, Jazz, Black people, feminists, leftists, intellectuals, Jews, and Muslims, among others, the press in both its old aspic heavy forms in print, and in its contemporary forms of visual heroin, has been a consistent source of toxic social discourse.
Your provide the pictures and I’ll provide the war may or may not be apocryphal but even if Hearst never said it to Remington, it should be attached to the banner of every newspaper in the country.
There were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The war was a crime.
The media is as much to blame for the crime as the people who orchestrated it.
It has cost millions of lives, helped set the economy on fire, and is still drawing blood from the nation’s soul.
The media behaves as if, Citizen Kane, Network, Broadcast News, Absence of Malice and Night Crawler never happened and have no relevance to the toxic state of American journalism.
Following from that, the fight over the Times’ headline illustrates a ticking time bomb inside the country.
The opposition is morally compromised.
They are systemically hypocritical about the media, their symbiosis with it and a host of other crucial issues.
That Trump is a direct threat to the nation’s security is obvious.
That he is a bigot is clear to anyone who is not an idiot, or a coward or both.
That he must be removed is also obvious.
But when the opposition says, correctly, that the media has a systemic flaw, and that it has not only failed in this episode of national trauma, but that it has consistently aided tyranny and ginned up the mob, then they are in line behind Trump as he screams about Fake News.
If for any reason, you find yourself standing next to a demagogue neo fascist bigot, repeating any of his rhetoric, then it is well past time for you to look in the mirror, and ask, what the fuck is wrong –
And what the fuck is wrong with our country.