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Worst False Equivalencies of 2016


Worst False Equivalencies of 2016

Adam Johnson

For all the dangers the rise of Donald Trump poses—to vulnerable communities, to world peace, to the planet’s ecosystem—the one silver lining of Trump’s candidacy is that it has completely exposed the limits and ideological impotence of established media’s “objectivity” myth. Faced with a unique and unprecedented threat in Trump, attempts to find “balance” between Trumpism and wholly unrelated phenomena to its left were tone deaf, and at times bordered on apologies for fascism. Here are some of the worst examples:


“People who don’t read newspapers are uninformed, while people who read newspapers are misinformed.” - Mark Twain

Had Twain lived to see the advent of radio, TV and other 20th century media, he would have had similar observations.


The media was faced with a situation they had never encountered before. That was a presidential candidate who managed to maintain support or even increase support no matter what crazy thing he said or what type of scandal about him was revealed. This election took place with new rules that neither the media nor the politicians understood. The problem has to be traced to the voters. The knee jerk response of blaming the media, while appropriate doesn’t quite explain what went on. And voters almost defy explanation. Some voters even seemed to vote for Trump knowing the result would be a disaster because they had simply given up on all other options. The media had to come out looking bad because no matter how much they criticized Trump and predicted that finally his candidacy would fail nothing ever changed.


You apologize for corporate dominance of MSM which of course is consistent with apologizing for both Clinton and Trump.


Editors and reports are supposed to seek out the truth regardless of who owns the particular type of media, corporate or nonprofit. To me the basic problem is cable news. Corporate ownership is not the issue but the problem is on most days there is not a big enough news story for news to be on all day. An hour of news is usually plenty. What results is endless repetition of the same story which exaggerates its importance. To me cable news has no reason to exist other than to make money. The American culture that doesn’t care about whether something is true of not is a more important factor than the media. It is sort of a know nothing culture. A Donald Trump politician could not exist without this culture. They go together. Any culture that does not care about the the truth more than lies is not compatible with democracy which is truth based. It is more compatible with authoritarian rule.


I disagree about identity politics. It is not just about anti-racism. It is about judging people solely on the biological factors and disregarding the individual. Left wing identity politics isn’t as dangerous as right wing identity politics but it is still wrong.


I’ve been around long enough to have seen the effects of corporate consolidation of MSM, thanks to the Telecommunications Act of 1996 pushed for and signed by Bill Clinton.

A great example of how corporate power has changed reporting, is what happened with CPB, and the resulting seeking of corporate sponsorship for Public Broadcasting. NPR has become just a bit to the left of FOX News.

Your assertion that the masses don’t actually want truthful reporting is bogus, and amounts to apologetics for corporate dominance in media that you feign ignorance of.

Certainly there has been a dumbing down of culture thanks in large part to that corporate dominance of media, however if it were true that generally people don’t want to know truth, why all the efforts by a corporate interests dominated government to conceal actions that favor such corporate power over the interests of the masses?

One thing you can be counted on in these forums is to not call out the reality of corporate dominance of media, government, or anything else.


I can’t explain how one grows up being told that is wrong to lie and then as an adult wildly cheering lies, for example, at Trump rallies. This doesn’t happen to everyone. Perhaps the majority feel strongly it is wrong to lie and are taken back when they hear people like Trump spout obvious lies. Given we are all exposed to the same influences by corporations why are there two clearly distinct sets of people? I know that I would never vote for someone who fact checkers found lies about perhaps 70-80% of the time. Why would anyone enthusiastically support such a liar? I think there are many other factors than corporate influence. Parents, peers, religions, schools, etc. Overemphasizing the power of corporations leads to wrong conclusions. It is important to recognize the power of corporations but exaggerating that importance is problematic.


What about the possibility of using that endless repetition in a focused effort to sell fear to get expanded war and surveillance powers, or to simply rewrite history as it is happening? No reason to exist other than to make money? C’mon man, sometimes you must be joking…


It is possible, without technically lying, to mislead others to believe a lie. Not to be overly religious about it, but catholic tradition uses the King James translation of the Commandment “Thou shalt not bear false witness” instead of the more popular “Thou shalt not lie” to stress the wrongfulness of deceit. Lying isn’t wrong when the lie is meant to protect from harm or avoid a worse evil. Christians should be taught how to blatantly lie when so necessary. This broader translation of the common moral imperative however doesn’t work well with religious authorities who feel obligated to represent themselves and their missives as unquestionable.


Good to know. Being opposed to racism is as dangerous as racism


What I did enjoy during the Clinton years was his unfailing ability to drive Gingrich and Co. crazy. Seemed a cheap entertainment but proved very costly. Again and again one disastrous policy or law after another is traceable to the Clinton years.

As for corruption of tv news media it goes back more than four decades and was not at the time clearly ideological. Eliminating the prior division between news and marketing was all about big money. But big money has its politics, and that will out. It is all marketing now. Trump was and is a money making product.