Thursday, August 25, 2016


Political Mayhem Thursday: Is the Media Failing Us?

On Sunday, I had a piece in the Waco paper, and part of what I had to say related to modern media:

The examples we set before our children, unfortunately, are often debates between politicians who start with character assassination and go downhill from there. This kind of virulent discourse is propelled by the media. CNN and other news outlets seem to specialize in shouting matches between paid consultants for different political clients.

A story in yesterday's Washington Post confirmed my fears. Titled Pundits-- or Propaganda Pass-Throughs?,  it laid bare some of the real dynamic going on in the media:

The cable networks (and increasingly the broadcast networks as well) have long employed paid analysts to offer insight and perspective on a presidential campaign. They have traditionally drawn from the ranks of former politicians, campaign operatives and seasoned political journalists. Although these analysts often have loyalties and biases, they usually weren’t employed to tout a specific candidate.

[Trump Surrogate Jeffrey] Lord is part of a new breed that has emerged on CNN during this campaign: the in-house advocate. He is one of four commentators employed by CNN to speak for, or in defense of, Trump.

So, what do you think of this trend? Is it a good or a bad thing? And, more broadly, is the American public being well-served by the media in this election season?

Old saying: "He who pays the piper calls the tune."

In this instance, it is not the immediate payoff that matters, it is the prospect of a future role in an administration. Such "commentators" should be required to post a bond that they will not accept a position in the next administration if their touted candidate wins. Otherwise, they should be identified as the shills they are.
Having paid supporters of particular candidates gets away from analysis by the political professionals. Having a surrogate gets old, and to me doesn't add anything after hearing that surrogate a few times. Jeffrey Lord at least has had other political experience and sometimes draws upon it. The other paid Trump supporters, such as Kayleigh McEnany, get to be ridiculous because they are paid to respond as much as possible, even when it's impossible for any reasonable person to defend Trump. (And if you look at Kayleigh McEnany's Facebook page, she's all about getting on TV). And CNN has time to fill, so they can afford to keep adding surrogates who, once you've heard them a couple of times, add nothing new.
Some educated voters understand the use of surrogates and can run them through a filter but I would guess most people don't have a clue about these talking heads and the roles that they are playing. So yes, the media in many instances is failing us. Fortunately I choose to watch very little CNN, FoxNews, MSNBC but when I do these surrogates make me laugh. As Amy said trying to respond for Trump is not something a reasonable person can easily do. Instead I favor a variety of print sources and way too many NPR programs allowing me to avoid this nonsense.

That said I was bored last night and decided to watch The Rachel Maddow Show. Enlightening for a Friday evening given her three main topics: Mr. Brannon (going all the way back to his days with the BioSphere project); the gentleman just hired by the Trump campaign with his hands still stinking from the NJ "Bridgegate" scandal and then a third story on the illegals used by contractors to build Trump Tower back in the 80's. I think they were Polish and from the sounds of it they didn't get paid. It was a lot to absorb in my brain at 9pm but thankfully there were no surrogates involved in the stories.
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