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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/17/18

What's Wrong With The News These Days? A Fake President Throwing A Lot Of Vitriol Around, Targeting The Media

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Donald Trump's unrelenting attack on the media is scary and very much against everything America stands for -- this dim-witted wannabe autocrat's vitriol against the media will only leave Trump with blood on his hands if something horrific occurs in a newsroom somewhere in America while he's in office.

While most American Presidents study and try to emulate great American leaders like Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, JFK, Martin Luther King or Barack Obama, Donald Trump's heroes are dictators. He's obviously studied, or has had the minions he's relied on (from time to time, for informational purposes), do homework on the lives of tyrants. The leaders he's cozied up to are all dictators -- the worst on the planet. And one thing that the dictators of both old and the modern day despise more than anything is a free press.

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The American leader he admits liking the most, Andrew Jackson, led by fear, divisiveness and hatred. Jackson is responsible for The Trail of Tears, the American Indian genocide which saw tens of thousands of Five Tribes natives murdered by the White Man.

Of course, if he gets rid of the news media, Trump will be able to shift his deception machine into overdrive. He'll be able to go from caging infants, babies and teenagers to setting up concentration camps and death ovens for the "inferiors" he sees -- namely, anyone who is not White, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant. Do you think this is farfetched? I don't. If he doesn't do it, members of the dynasty he seems to want to establish -- namely, his children - will be able to finish the job he'll obviously love to start.

It's obvious that Trump cares nothing about the Constitution. Some a lot wiser and more knowledgeable than me even claim he's never read the Constitution. But the reporters and editors I've had the blessing of working with, and working for, care deeply about the Constitution. The Constitution is a sacred document to most Americans, and it should be. . . .

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Yes, Trump would like to get rid of the Constitution, so he can run this country any way he damned well pleases. The free press, he knows, won't let him get away with this. No, far from it, the media holds Donald Trump accountable and "The Donald" hates all forms of accountability. He'd like to bankrupt this country, like he did many times to his own businesses. And he'd like to run the show like he has run his own life since he was a kid -- like Uncle Bob out on a Saturday night whiskey and beer tear downtown, on the street where all the gin mills and saloons are -- stuck together like domino bones.

Donald Trump's attacks on the media are becoming more frequent and more acerbic and horrid. Calling the media "the enemy of the people" is unprecedented in American history. No other President has ever done such a horrible thing.

Trump's speech in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., was way over the top. It's a wonder that one of the members of this emotionally charged crowd didn't attack a member of the media. But the media is tough. Tough as nails. Like a brave adolescent who volunteers to watch drunk and obnoxious Uncle Bob after his whiskey and beer drunk, they watched and reported on everything this hideous creep uttered from his profane and perverse mouth that night. It seems like an eon away now, but really, it was a mere few days ago. . . .

To tell you the truth, I've really had to close off my friendship circle and downsize it a bit, too. Although I can hardly be considered anything more than a bush leaguer in the world of the national news media, I am still very much a member of the national news media. I write for national, progressive-liberal, online magazines that headline daily and I am a regular contributor to a few of these. People in the city where I live know me as such. And yes, although I've never really felt this way before, even when I worked for more than 20 years for dailies and business journals, I fear for my safety these days. Who or what's to say that some crackpot might appear from out of nowhere one day and try to accost and even possibly attack me?

I am not going to stop writing editorials. I plan to write more, in fact. And just as Trump has upped his game on attacking the media, I'm going to up my game at attacking Trump. I'm going to be "Trumpier than Trump," as per the words of a ridiculous Appalachian knucklehead.

For the sake of getting my own feelings about Trump's media bashing under control, and possibly, to inform and let our readers know what the media signifies and stands for, I've included, in bulleted format, some of the main advantages and purposes of the media. I've also included some of the low lights and disadvantages of being part of the media. The media is having a very hard time these days, and Trump's only part of the problem. Believe me, you want a free press in a free America. Don't believe one word this old real-estate bust-out from NYC tells you about the media. He's a snake charmer.

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So here goes --

  • THERE IS NO BETTER WAY TO STAY INFORMED THAN TO READ AND WATCH THE NEWS: Whether you're watching Rachel Maddow talking about some salient piece on the Russian collusion mess or the meteorologist on your morning local news, there's a lot of "News You Can Use" to either. The media digs deep into issues and the New York Times and the Washington Post don't have a monopoly on investigative reporting. There's a lot of very good, in-depth reporting being done in our nation's city and community newspapers, coast to coast. And don't just read or watch one newspaper or TV news outlet. Watch several. Stay abreast on what's happening on both the left and right. Stay open-minded and come up with your own conclusions and decisions. And even though I'm a liberal and I hate them, I honestly hope that you watch Fox News. Although I disagree with their platform and their swagger, sometimes they even have something important and salient to say about certain issues. And like watch dogs, America's TV news viewers must watch Fox News to witness their brand of news, which is mostly propaganda.
  • THE PRESS KEEPS US FREE AND SAFE: A few days ago, I was talking to a friend of mine. He's a black guy who's a career Army enlisted officer and he's retired now. He takes great pride in this fact: That he served his country in the Army and fought in the desert wars. He told me that the military keeps us free. I agreed with him but also said the media keeps us free. And just as my friend, I am both proud and humbled of my chosen path in life - that I've devoted most of my adult life to journalism. I worked for several medium-sized dailies and even a state business publication. It was our job to keep people informed of the dangers in the community, the backslide of economic and business trends, of crime patterns and danger trends. I covered politics, crime, sports and was even a photographer and a darkroom technician. It was exciting work and no day was the same. For your sake, the reader, if a tenement house is proving to be a fire trap, chances are, The Washington Post won't visit your little city to write a story on it, but the kid down the street who just graduated from State with a minor in journalism who's been writing for the little sheet in your community most likely will, and you need to be informed of this fact.

  • JOURNALISTS HAVE A LOWER PAYING SKILLED TRADE AND HIGHER STRESS THAN MOST OCCUPATIONS: Imagine the stress that small group of reporters faced in Wilkes-Barre, while Donald Trump was lambasting the media to no end. Imagine the five-foot-three, 120-pound newscaster whose job it was to cover this event with her cameraman. Not only was she probably in fear of being attacked by some rabid goliath in that heated audience, she had to return to the station, work with the video stream that she and her cameraman shot during this horrid event, then put it into some semblance of good order for the nightly broadcast encroaching in mere minutes. And she had to get together an even more in-depth piece for tomorrow morning's broadcast. For those on the top of the media food chain, the hoops are higher and smaller. Imagine Rachel Maddow, night after night, getting together news nobody else on the planet has, to fill up an hour's worth of national news blotter. That's stress. And pay? I could build a comedy routine around the paychecks I've received as a print journalist. Suffice it to say that the news girl on your nightly news station probably makes less money than the teachers and police officers in your community. And it's common community chitter-chatter that cops and school teachers are underpaid. Yes, news reporting is at the lower level of professional services pay scale these days. In the big leagues, I'm sure Rachel Maddow is compensated well for her hard work and diligence, but as compared to others in the world of the media, like movie stars, rock stars, or even late-night comics, Rachel's not paid nearly her worth. And we need her. We desperately, desperately need Maddow. Yes, we do. Journalists need to be paid more money. Even the publishers of online magazines don't make a boodle of cash. Most work on a shoe-string budget and oftentimes hold drives to get their readership to kick in some donation money to keep the lights on and the "presses humming". But there's always Oprah, you may say. Well, for one thing, she's Oprah and she's really in her own league. And she made a million bucks by making the news organizations she worked for a billion bucks. Oprah's a good person and a devotee to her trade. She probably would have been a career journalist if she was still thrashing away in the bush leagues of journalism, like many of us still are. . . .
  • THE MEDIA IS THE FOURTH ESTATE: No matter how much this Trump buffoon disparages the media, even the majority of the other three branches of the government agree that the media is the "unofficial" fourth branch of the government. More and more, though, the media is almost becoming an official fourth branch of the government. And even Trump relies on the media -- if, for no other reason than to report on how much he hates the media. Nobody summed this up better than Thomas Jefferson, in his famous quote, which reads: "The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs thro' the channel of the public papers, and to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people. The basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right; and were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them."
  • THE MEDIA GIVES US EYES AND EARS TO SITUATIONS WE WOULDN'T NORMALLY SEE: "Hey Uncle Bob, after you sober up from your wine drunk why don't we fly to Hawaii and see all that destruction caused by that volcano?" Well, young whippersnapper, you need not take your drunken old Uncle to Hawaii because the media was right there when that horrid volcano popped off. The media takes us to floods, hurricanes, volcanic eruptions and even to tsunamis. The media gives us a bird's eye view of events we'd normally never visit, like race riots and White Supremist marches. These brave reporters and cameramen risk their lives to report the news. It's not fake news or "photoshopped" when Molotov cocktails are popping in the street and a line of cops in riot gear are having bottles and rocks thrown their way. They're on the story. It takes guts -- true guts -- to report this kind of news. And the media also takes us right into the action where wars are taking place. We covered the desert wars, the War in Vietnam, and even World War Two. Been there, done that, received many a tee-shirt but no medals. The press never sleeps and never takes a day off. Large newsrooms employ third-shift editorial workers. I interviewed for a job as a night-shift news editor at a newspaper in New England during the early 1990's.
  • THE MEDIA SERVES AS AN EXCELLENT TEACHER: People who follow the news learn about history, geography, politics, economics, business, sports, music, fashion, and even things like Political Science, Astronomy and foreign languages. If you follow the national news, you most likely have a pretty good idea where obscure countries in Europe are situated. Granted, you might not be able to pick the exact spot or be able to spell the name of the country, but you know about it -- that it's a minor country in Europe and is part of NATO. You know who key cabinet members are, or, in the case of Trump, you know his cabinet is lacking in numbers and brain trust. Even folks who follow the news in their own hometowns know a lot about the history and politics of their home turf. They know who the major "movers and shakers" are and are quite in tune with the current events happening at all times to their little slice of the world.
  • YES, VIRGINIA, EVEN THE EDITORS OF "THE ONION" KNOW ABOUT ALL THEY WRITE IS FAKE NEWS: "The Onion", a satire 'zine, is all about satire, not fake news. But they use the fake news platform to proliferate their form of biting comedy and caustic satire. Where the "fake news" comes in is when hard copy is written to purposely deceive readers. Statistics and facts are distorted, perverted even, to misinform readers. There is so much hyperbole and ridiculousness to satire that any reader with a sound mind would be able to realize that the news vehicle used to deliver the ultimate joke is not to be believed. Hard-copy news written by reporters of large newspapers goes through reads by several editors before it is published. For timely, important, and controversial stories, high-echelon editors spend time reading and analyzing this work. Although reporters and editors fact-check the things Donald Trump says, what they fact-check the most is the copy that is published in their own newspaper columns. Even if a story is brilliant, if there are facts and statistics that are wrong, and if a major source in the newspaper is badly misquoted, it's still a horrible story. Even at small- and medium-sized daily newspapers, several editors normally read each story published that day. They're not just checking grammar and syntax. No. What they care about the most is getting the story right. No publisher wants a newspaper filled with corrections.

It's easy to get paranoid in the day and age of divisiveness and fear. But this time will pass. Trump's days are limited. By the time most Presidents are enjoying a second term, he will most likely be an impeached President. If he's not in jail by then, he'll be ensnared in civil and criminal proceedings galore. He should have stayed in New York City, where he was the king of his own real estate empire. As for he and his, I have no sympathy for rogues and criminals of this caliber. This country will recover from Trump, but it will take a long time to do so. And for what he's done to the profession I've had the blessing of working within for almost a lifetime now, I only feel a deep-seated hatred for this man. If you want to actually call him a man.

In the words of another of the founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, I'll close with this: "There are seasons in every country when noise and impudence pass current for worth; and in popular commotions especially, the clamors of interested and factious men are often mistaken for patriotism."

An earlier draft of this opinion was published by The Smirking Chimp recently.

 

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Samuel Vargo worked as a full-time reporter and editor for more than 20 years at a number of daily newspapers and business journals. He was also an adjunct English professor at colleges and universities in Ohio, West Virginia, Mississippi (more...)
 

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