mykeystrokes.com

"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Truth And Trumpism”: The News Media Should Do All It Can To Resist False Equivalence And Centrification

How will the news media handle the battle between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? I suspect I know the answer — and it’s going to be deeply frustrating. But maybe, just maybe, flagging some common journalistic sins in advance can limit the damage. So let’s talk about what can and probably will go wrong in coverage — but doesn’t have to.

First, and least harmful, will be the urge to make the election seem closer than it is, if only because a close race makes a better story. You can already see this tendency in suggestions that the startling outcome of the fight for the Republican nomination somehow means that polls and other conventional indicators of electoral strength are meaningless.

The truth, however, is that polls have been pretty good indicators all along. Pundits who dismissed the chances of a Trump nomination did so despite, not because of, the polls, which have been showing a large Trump lead for more than eight months.

Oh, and let’s not make too much of any one poll. When many polls are taken, there are bound to be a few outliers, both because of random sampling error and the biases that can creep into survey design. If the average of recent polls shows a strong lead for one candidate — as it does right now for Mrs. Clinton — any individual poll that disagrees with that average should be taken with large helpings of salt.

A more important vice in political coverage, which we’ve seen all too often in previous elections — but will be far more damaging if it happens this time — is false equivalence.

You might think that this would be impossible on substantive policy issues, where the asymmetry between the candidates is almost ridiculously obvious. To take the most striking comparison, Mr. Trump has proposed huge tax cuts with no plausible offsetting spending cuts, yet has also promised to pay down U.S. debt; meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton has proposed modest spending increases paid for by specific tax hikes.

That is, one candidate is engaged in wildly irresponsible fantasy while the other is being quite careful with her numbers. But beware of news analyses that, in the name of “balance,” downplay this contrast.

This isn’t a new phenomenon: Many years ago, when George W. Bush was obviously lying about his budget arithmetic but nobody would report it, I suggested that if a candidate declared that the earth was flat, headlines would read, “Shape of the Planet: Both Sides Have a Point.” But this year it could be much, much worse.

And what about less quantifiable questions about behavior? I’ve already seen pundits suggest that both presumptive nominees fight dirty, that both have taken the “low road” in their campaigns. For the record, Mr. Trump has impugned his rivals’ manhood, called them liars and suggested that Ted Cruz’s father was associated with J.F.K.’s killer. On her side, Mrs. Clinton has suggested that Bernie Sanders hasn’t done his homework on some policy issues. These things are not the same.

Finally, I can almost guarantee that we’ll see attempts to sanitize the positions and motives of Trump supporters, to downplay the racism that is at the heart of the movement and pretend that what voters really care about are the priorities of D.C. insiders — a process I think of as “centrification.”

That is, after all, what happened after the rise of the Tea Party. I’ve seen claims that Tea Partiers were motivated by Wall Street bailouts, or even that the movement was largely about fiscal responsibility, driven by voters upset about budget deficits.

In fact, there was never a hint that any of these things mattered; if you followed the actual progress of the movement, it was always about white voters angry at the thought that their taxes might be used to help Those People, whether via mortgage relief for distressed minority homeowners or health care for low-income families.

Now I’m seeing suggestions that Trumpism is driven by concerns about political gridlock. No, it isn’t. It isn’t even mainly about “economic anxiety.”

Trump support in the primaries was strongly correlated with racial resentment: We’re looking at a movement of white men angry that they no longer dominate American society the way they used to. And to pretend otherwise is to give both the movement and the man who leads it a free pass.

In the end, bad reporting probably won’t change the election’s outcome, because the truth is that those angry white men are right about their declining role. America is increasingly becoming a racially diverse, socially tolerant society, not at all like the Republican base, let alone the plurality of that base that chose Donald Trump.

Still, the public has a right to be properly informed. The news media should do all it can to resist false equivalence and centrification, and report what’s really going on.

 

By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, May 6, 2016

May 8, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Journalists, Media | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

“Same Misogyny, Different Season”: Liberal, Privileged, Predominantly White Male Adolescent Hate

Hillary Clinton’s ascendancy in the race for president has provided an opportunity for the rest of us women to step back and assess our standing in America.

This reflection is worth our time, particularly for those of us who are old enough to remember what it felt like to watch Clinton come so close to the nomination in 2008. This is a memory with many folds, some of them deep and dark and hard to shake out.

I’m not referring to her ’08 defeat. We got over that. Most of us got caught up in the inevitable — in retrospect, the impossible — optimism swirling around the young man who would become our first black president. I will never forget the sight of Barack and Michelle Obama and their beautiful daughters walking out on that Chicago stage on election night. I was standing in front of a television in a hotel room in Columbus, Ohio, holding my sleeping grandchild, Clayton, in my arms. I was so full of emotion I could not speak.

My infant grandson’s first president would be an African-American. How could he not grow up to know a different world?

Most of the bad memories that linger from that campaign season involve the media coverage and all that punditry — particularly from the left — that preceded it.

Rebecca Traister, in her 2010 book “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” took on the “frat boys” at MSNBC, and the misogyny and sexism heaped on Clinton by too many young, white males on social media and in the Obama campaign. I reviewed her book for The Washington Post, and her description of their behavior has stayed with me:

“A pattern was emerging in the liberal, privileged, predominantly white climes in which I worked and lived: young men were starry-eyed about Obama and puffed with outsized antipathy toward Clinton. … I was made uncomfortable by the persistent note of aggression that marked their reactions to Clinton, and puzzled by the increasingly cult-like devotion to Obama, a man whose policy positions were not so different, after all, from those of his opponent. Hating Hillary had for decades been the provenance of Republican blowhards, but now men on the left were spewing vitriol about her voice, her looks, her presumption — and without realizing it were radicalizing me in my support for Clinton more than the candidate herself ever could have.”

Sound familiar? This year, I mean.

Only now, as I daily behold the latest round of anti-Clinton misogyny from — ta da! — mostly young white male lefties, do I realize how much that 2008 campaign season changed me. Like many of my female friends, I no longer gasp or wonder how these boys could be so mean. This time around, I mentally flick them away like gnats. Age has few glory-be benefits, but this immunity to such adolescent hate is definitely one of them. What grown man — what real man — thinks like this? We haven’t the time, my friends.

I am reminded of an exchange I had 14 years ago with my editor, Stuart Warner, soon after I first became a newspaper columnist. I was dumbstruck by the sudden, relentless flood of hate mail from a certain percentage of white, male readers.

“What am I doing to incite this?” I asked.

“Nothing you can change,” he said.

His words emboldened me, and for that I will always be grateful. If they hate you only because you’re a woman, you’ve already won.

Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person running in this election, and she will be the first female president of the United States. I am certain of this, as I am certain that we will never stop hearing from that small percentage on the left who want to cast her as something less than human. It is impossible for a woman to reach her level of success and be anyone’s saint. So be it.

Last weekend, I was standing in our backyard when our 2-year-old granddaughter, Jackie, walked out the door and across the porch to join me. I lifted my camera and captured a memory that will stay with me for all of my cognizant days.

In the photo, she is a little girl with eyes forward, arms swinging, stride unstoppable.

In my heart, she is a little girl who, like so many girls, deserves to see a version of herself in the White House.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s School of Journalism; The National Memo, April 21, 2016

April 22, 2016 Posted by | Hillary Clinton, Misogyny, White Men | , , , , | Leave a comment

“Like Pandas At The Zoo”: Such a Curiosity, Those White Working-Class Voters

The headline: “Millions of ordinary Americans support Donald Trump.” Immediately, I bristled.

Here we go again.

“Ordinary” Americans. We know what that’s supposed to mean. Plain people. Malleable people. Nothing-exceptional-about-them people. Every four years, these white working-class voters become objects of curiosity like pandas at the zoo.

These are the people I come from. Many of their children grew up to do the same kind of work their parents did — but for less money and benefits and with fewer job protections. Make that no job protection — unless they’re in a union, which is increasingly unlikely. As NPR reported last year, nearly a third of American workers belonged to a union 50 years ago. Today 1 in 10 are union members.

I wonder how many of my fellow liberals in the pundit class have ever stepped foot in a union hall. We all talk about the importance of organized labor, but how many of us union kids are left? It matters, I think, in telling this story. If you don’t know any working-class voters, then it’s much easier to portray them as angry, racist and xenophobic — lemmings slogging their way toward the cliff’s edge, dragging their expired lives behind them.

Earlier this week, I shared on Facebook a photo of an abandoned union hall tweeted by MSNBC reporter Tony Dokoupil. “It’s like touring the Titanic,” he wrote.

The room was dark and still, but folding chairs still circled a dozen or so round tabletops, as if the union’s annual Christmas party were just around the corner. My father was a utility worker, and the union hall was the one place where I could always count on seeing my parents relaxed and happy. They danced and laughed and let us kids eat as much dessert as we wanted. We were a boisterous collection of families celebrating our bigger family. Even as children, we understood why we were sticking with the union.

This Trump phenomenon has made me testy, I fear. “Why start off angry?” my mother would say if she were alive. “There’s already enough of that in the world.” She was your typical working-class mom, believing each of us had the power to change the world with kindness.

That headline I hated topped a Guardian story I appreciated by Thomas Frank, the author of “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” In the story, which is gaining traction on social media, Frank takes to task the many liberals who cast white working-class Trump voters as mere reflections of his darkest inclinations.

The problem, Frank writes, is that too few of us are actually asking these voters what is on their minds.

“When people talk to white, working-class Trump supporters, instead of simply imagining what they might say, they find that what most concerns these people is the economy and their place in it,” Frank writes. “I am referring to a study just published by Working America, a political-action auxiliary of the AFL-CIO, which interviewed some 1,600 white working-class voters in the suburbs of Cleveland and Pittsburgh in December and January.

“Support for Donald Trump, the group found, ran strong among these people, even among self-identified Democrats, but not because they are all pining for a racist in the White House. Their favorite aspect of Trump was his ‘attitude’, the blunt and forthright way he talks. As far as issues are concerned, ‘immigration’ placed third among the matters such voters care about, far behind their number one concern: ‘good jobs/the economy’.”

This is not to say that many of them are not also racist, sexist and xenophobic. Just as with any other demographic group, there is the worst among them, and we have seen too many of them at their ugliest.

But most of them know that their current appeal to presidential candidates and the gawking media is as fleeting as it is intense. They know what’s coming.

Win or lose, Trump will continue to enjoy a privileged, high-profile life, leaving behind the ordinary Americans who thought he meant it when he said, “I love you people.”

They will return to the same stack of bills and low-paying jobs and the stress that is unraveling their lives. They will keep their prayers simple: May the car last another season; may the baby’s cough not turn into a prescription for antibiotics; may love prevail.

Forgotten again by the media, the ordinary Americans will say goodbye to loved ones and bury their dead. They will bow their heads, maybe recite the prayers of their childhood. They will close their eyes tight and try not to think about how broken dreams have a way of sucking the life out of you long before you die.

 

By: Connie Schultz, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Columnist and Professional in Residence at Kent State University’s School of Journalism; The National Memo, March 10, 2016

March 12, 2016 Posted by | Donald Trump, Unions, White Working Class | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Winning Theme”: Clinton’s America Never Stopped Being Great

Sometimes, you take your laughs where you find them. For me, the funniest moment in an otherwise dreary and intermittently scary election year came when Candidate Trump visited the old state fairgrounds in Little Rock. A character seemingly straight out of a Charles Portis novel provided the most incisive commentary.

The author of “True Grit” is the state’s best novelist, a master of deadpan comedy in a tone-perfect Arkansas twang.

According to the newspaper, a Trump supporter carrying a “Make America Great Again” sign encountered a young man on his way into the arena to bask in the Great Braggart’s eerie orange glow.

“America’s already great, you dumb-butt!” the kid said.

He could have been Portis’s Norwood Pratt, the would-be country singer traveling the country with Joann the Wonder Hen, the College Educated Chicken. An ex-Marine, Norwood wasn’t one to mince words.

So there was Hillary Clinton on the night of her thunderous win over Sen. Bernie Sanders in the South Carolina primary.

“We don’t need to make America great again,” she said. “America never stopped being great. But we do need to make America whole again. Instead of building walls, we need to be tearing down barriers. We need to show by everything we are in this together.”

Ain’t that the truth? Maybe not in Trump World, where voters who never tire of proclaiming their holiness are voting for an aging playboy who brags about the married women he’s seduced. (In his book The Art of the Deal.) But he’s going to put Them back in their place, isn’t he?

Yeah, well, good luck with that.

Anyway, I suspect Hillary has found a winning theme.

Meanwhile, pundits seem oddly reluctant to say so, but Bernie’s candidacy imploded due to a classic political blunder when he accused his opponent of pandering to African-American voters by supporting President Obama.

“Hillary Clinton now is trying to embrace the president as closely as she possibly can. Everything the president does is wonderful. She loves the president, he loves her and all that stuff,” Sanders said sarcastically. “And we know what that’s about. That’s trying to win support from the African-American community, where the president is enormously popular.”

Never mind that she was Obama’s Secretary of State. Bernie delivered these remarks in an interview with BET’s Marc Lamont Hill on February 18. His poll numbers have plummeted like a stone ever since.

In early February, Gallup reported that Sanders’ net favorable rating stood at 57 percent to Clinton’s 44. By the March 1 “Super Tuesday” primaries, those numbers were reversed. Bernie dropped thirteen points as Clinton rose.

I wouldn’t presume to speak for black voters, but they tend to be very acute about being patronized. Indeed, 81 percent of Democrats generally have a favorable opinion of President Obama, along with a reported 97 percent of black voters in South Carolina.

Sanders’ remarks weren’t merely insulting, but tone deaf and objectively dumb. As South Carolina’s Rep. Jim Clyburn put it, “I don’t know how you can look at Mrs. Clinton’s history—she was not running for president in the 1970s when she came to South Carolina to work with those African-American juvenile detainees or juvenile inmates trying to better their conditions, when she went to work with Marian Wright Edelman, a native of Bennettsville, South Carolina, to come down here working with her trying to better the lives of children…So, what was she doing? Who was she pandering to back then?”

Not Barack Obama, Clyburn noted, who was in junior high school.

But then the Sanders campaign’s idea of a South Carolina surrogate was Princeton professor and controversialist Cornell West, author of this immortal trope:

“I think my dear brother Barack Obama has a certain fear of free black men. It’s understandable,” West said. “As a young brother who grows up in a white context, brilliant African father, he’s always had to fear being a white man with black skin. All he has known culturally is white…When he meets an independent black brother, it is frightening.”

Nothing scarier than a Princeton revolutionary.

West recently suggested that civil rights icons Clyburn and Rep. John Lewis had sold out to Wall Street.

“Tell you what,” President Obama might have responded if he were a character in a Portis novel, “don’t pee on my shoes and tell me it’s raining.”

As the results of this foolishness became manifest, some Sanders supporters began suggesting it was wrong for “red state” voters to have so much to say about the Democratic nomination.

Only Yankees need apply.

“Given the reality of a Republican presidential primary where the candidates are racing to outdo each other in their contempt for people of color…” Nancy LeTourneau writes in Washington Monthly, “is it any surprise that African Americans would assume that this country is facing the threat of a confederate insurgency?”

No surprise at all.

 

By: Gene Lyons, The National Memo, March 2, 2016

March 3, 2016 Posted by | Bernie Sanders, Black Voters, Hillary Clinton, Mainstream Media | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

“Unsettling Paranoia”: Despite Media’s ‘Crush,’ Rubio Sees Bizarre Conspiracy

In media and political circles, it’s known as the “Full Ginsburg.” It’s when one notable public figure appears on all five major Sunday morning shows on the same day, and it’s usually reserved for policymakers at the center of major breakthroughs.

It came as something of a surprise, then, when Marco Rubio celebrated his fifth-place finish in the New Hampshire primary by pulling off the Full Ginsburg. Then seven days later, following his double-digit loss in the South Carolina primary, Rubio pulled off the Full Ginsburg again, receiving and accepting five more Sunday-show invitations.

When was the last time someone had back-to-back Full Ginsburgs? Never. Rubio, once hailed as “the Republican savior” on the cover of Time magazine, received a media reward that no American has ever received.

Had the Florida senator actually won those primaries, the media’s adulation might have been easier to understand, but remember, Rubio made 10 appearances over two Sundays after embarrassing defeats.

The reason for this special treatment is one of those things the political world tends not to talk about, though Slate’s Jamelle Bouie recently acknowledged what usually goes unsaid: “[T]he media has a huge crush” on Marco Rubio.

With this in mind, it came as something of a surprise to see Rubio on CBS this morning, complaining about an elaborate media conspiracy – to help Donald Trump. The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent flagged this bizarre quote:

“The media’s pumping [Trump] up as some sort of unstoppable force…. Unfortunately he’s being pumped up because many in the media with a bias know that he’ll be easy to beat in a general election.”

In a separate ABC interview this morning – the conspiracy is so vast, news organizations keep putting Rubio on television so he can share his conspiracy theory – the senator said the media is “holding back” its Trump criticism in order to hurt Republicans in the fall.

“It’s important for Republicans and conservatives to be aware of what is happening,” he added.

So, from Rubio’s perspective, the same news organizations that have shown him levels of affection that border on creepy are actually conspiring in secret against him. It’s all part of an elaborate media ruse to help Trump defeat Rubio in order to help Democrats.

Remember, thanks to media hype, we’re supposed to think Rubio’s the smart one in the 2016 field.

The senator’s conspiracy theory is so crazy, it’s unsettling that he repeated it out loud on national television. Keep in mind that last night, as part of the network’s debate coverage, CNN told viewers that Rubio has “new momentum.” The network made the claim before the debate, on the heels of Rubio losing the Nevada caucuses – which he expected to win – by 22 points.

This, a week after Politico published a lengthy report on Rubio’s campaign in South Carolina – the headline read, “Rubio surges back to electrify South Carolina” – that read as if his campaign aides had written it themselves.

This, nearly a month after pundits and reporters eagerly pretended Rubio’s third-place finish in the Iowa caucuses was actually a triumphant victory.

Greg Sargent recently noted that media figures are “making it absurdly obvious that they want to be able to say Rubio is rising,” prompting MSNBC’s Chris Hayes to respond, “It’s like watching parents attempt to will their toddler into doing a difficult task.”

To be sure, this isn’t unprecedented. We can probably all think of election cycles in which the media obviously adores a candidate (John McCain in 2000, for example) and obviously scorns another (Al Gore in 2000, for example). It certainly seems as if the “crush” on Rubio is real, but he’s not the first to enjoy such affections.

Rubio is, however, the first candidate in recent memory who benefits from the media’s overt fondness, but who nevertheless believes the media is engaged in a conspiracy to help one of his rivals, in order to help one of his other rivals.

Such paranoia says something unsettling about the presidential hopeful’s perspective.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, February 26, 2016

February 27, 2016 Posted by | Conspiracy Theories, Donald Trump, Marco Rubio, Media | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

%d bloggers like this: