UPDATE: After posting this below there was another development today (5-17-17), the Justice Department announced the appointment of former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel in the Russian investigation.
Well there is no doubt the press is a little over-excited in its coverage of the possibly impeachable offenses of President Trump. But President Trump went out of his way to go after the press both in his campaign and into his presidency.
And too, I should note that the important thing in all of this is not the battle between the press and Trump but the survival of democracy in the United States.
But back to the press. I don’t think it is just my perception, I think the rules of journalism or the practice of it has changed. For instance, CNN and the New York Times (just using them as examples) seemed to have moved beyond the rule that straight news reporting depends solely on verifiable facts and of being able to attribute statements and points of view to actual persons — with a balance when practical or appropriate, and that opinion belongs preferably on the opinion pages or clearly-marked articles. This is more so for CNN, which had been or is a target for Trump. It is fighting back.
(There is no point in even mentioning or including FOX News in this for me because (a) I avoid it and (b) it was meant to be a partisan shill for the Rush Limbaugh-style hard right-wing nut crowd from the git go. It plays to a certain demographic for ratings and thus is subservient to it. I do think it has had its effect, though, on other outlets — they are starting to play the same game.)
Now way back, it is true, newspapers (that is basically all we had then) were often partisan with little attempt at balance. I don’t think we’ve gone back to that yet in the mainstream.
And thanks to the internet we have the phenomenon of just outright fake news. Ironically, Trump, the man who claims he coined the term (pretty sure he did not) seems to go by it nonetheless. He has a habit of citing things out of the fake news (his minions call it “alternative facts”, as if truth is never clearly identifiable). So if he were to charge that he is being brought down by fake news (and it was true), wouldn’t that be poetic justice?
Right now, though, as far as I can see, the mainstream news outlets still have integrity. I just think that they may have loosened the rules a bit. And there is a school of thought I think that believes that the old rules (dating back to maybe mid 20th Century) sometimes forced journalists to write absurd things because they had to give equal treatment to statements that were obviously bogus in the name of fairness.
Back in the early 1950s the infamous Sen. Joe McCarthy claimed that he had a list of hundreds or 50 or 80, the number kept changing, of communists in our State Department. Strangely, he never produced the list. And I was but a baby or toddler at the time, but as far as I can tell the mainstream of journalism at the time did not push him for the evidence. In the meantime he made life rough and ruined the careers of many people.
Now there was at least one communist agent (evidence suggests) in a high level in the State Department, just in advance of the McCarthy episode, Alger Hiss. Richard Nixon catapulted from freshmen senator to vice president and eventually president, thanks to his pursuit if Hiss. As we know, Hiss served some prison time and proclaimed his innocence but evidence brought out through the years tends to incriminate him.
You can’t or should not ignore something just because there is no solid evidence but eventually you need to find some (they got Hiss not on proof of espionage or sabotage but on lying to congress about his connection to the Communist Party — and I think he disputed that too).
Okay, and back to the present, one Trump-defending senator lashed out at whoever tattled on Trump for reportedly sharing classified information with the Russians. He claimed that act, I guess because the nature of the information (even though no details were made public), was “treasonous” on the part of the source or sources. The Wall Street Journal in an opinion piece heavily criticized Trump but also took the line that reporting on what Trump did was treasonous, at least that is how I read it.
I’m reaching far afield perhaps, but between 1964 and 1973 the U.S. conducted a secret war in Laos. It seemed to go under the radar of the mainstream news gatherers for the most part. Would journalists have been guilty of divulging classified information and treason had they reported on that? And don’t the American people have a right to know what is going on in their name? And all those innocent civilians killed and villages destroyed by our bombs and bullets (and if you are not aware of it you can look it up). Yes, it was ancillary or an extension to the Vietnam War, but our government denied involvement to its own people plus the world. It was denied because of treaty obligations that would have precluded it. We dropped enormous amounts of explosive ordnance on the country, a third of which failed to explode so remains as a constant danger today that has maimed and killed children and adults and continues to do so.
Right now we have a president under suspicion of colluding with the Russians, of firing the FBI director who was investigating him because he would not close investigations against his administration and who reportedly tried to demand “loyalty” from the FBI director (look the other way, do what I say) and who seems to have had a bout of loose lips with the Russians and who has appointed people to dismantle environmental regulations and who had promised a major improvement to health care for the American people but who obviously never had a plan in the first place with the result being that hard-core right-wing Republicans want to make it even harder for those of modest means to get health care and who has displayed that he has no real knowledge of national and world affairs and no interest to learn. That is my honest opinion. This is a blog. I can say what I want. I have left a lot out.
With all the drama our government has been paralyzed.
Bottom line, Donald Trump was ill-prepared to be president, and he is steadily losing support because, for one thing, he constantly changes stories on his actions and contradicts his staff and then even himself. He has 0 credibility nation and world wide. His only allies are the Russians, and they are only pretending to be.
There will continue to be some or a lot of overblown or inaccurate reporting no doubt but really where there is smoke there is usually fire. I think if one sticks to mainstream media (I don’t usually use the term “media” because in some circles it is pejorative) and uses objective thinking one can sort through it all.
But how long do we all have before it results in disaster? This guy — who has the power to take action at an instant that would destroy the world in a nuclear holocaust — is holding the whole world hostage.
There is talk of using a provision in the 25th Amendment by which his cabinet in conjunction with the congress could remove him from office. In some ways that seems more plausible (and even quicker) than impeachment. I think the more likely outcome is that if things continue to snowball as they have, particularly in the past week, Trump will become disinterested in it all and figure out a way to bow out and claim victory even so (all this to score a conservative on the high court, he might say).
My record of correct political predictions is something like 0 for however many I have made but that is my story and I’m sticking to it.