Of tweets and press freedom

I continue to be amazed that so many people I would normally have considered normal (if opinionated) continue to support President Trump, even when he says things like this.

Network news has become so partisan, distorted and fake that licenses must be challenged and, if appropriate, revoked. Not fair to public!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 12, 2017

I have seen some people I know fairly well come to his defence, saying he didn't actually threaten those media outlets. That the whole threat thing was made up by the media itself, because it doesn't like the president.

This from people who are not stupid, have jobs, families, houses - you know, respectable folks.

And they don't see the threat in the, er, threatening words.

Boy, have we fallen far.

Listen. I get that the president and his supporters can't stand traditional media outlets. I understand why they have trust issues. I have worked long enough in the media to know that it is very far from perfect. I mean, it's composed essentially of human beings, and we know what happens with those sometimes...

Yes, there's a certain bias, but no, it's not what you think. The bias is that most journalists I know think everyone in a position of power (and/or who aspires to being in one) is lying to them. They think everyone is trying to spin them. And they see their job as getting behind (or around, above, over, underneath) that spin to figure out where the truth lies.

I have seen this in liberal-leaning media outlets and in conservative-leaning media outlets. Sure, people have blind spots. But mostly they're pretty cynical because being naive in this business means being taken for a ride, and that in turn means losing the respect of colleagues and editors and bye-bye career. 

I've never been a politician, but I've worked with a few back in my days as a political reporter. You know what they all wanted? To spin me. Some were better at it than others. But they all did it. Why? Because politicians need journalists more than journalists need politicians. And they know it. They may hate it. But oh, they know it.

Donald Trump is not a very subtle kind of person (shocker, I know), and he doesn't want to play nice with anyone. Playing nice with the media - by which I mean, reasonable conduct with them along certain mutually agreed-upon rules about access - whatever its virtues, is of no interest to him. Instead he spits and threatens.

Conservatives in Canada under Stephen Harper behaved in ways similar to the 45th president. Everything was the fault of the liberal media. They bitched and complained about unfair media treatment all the time, to the delight of their supporters. And where are they now? Still bitching about unfair treatment. But they got kicked out. Not because the media is so powerful - far from it. But because this kind of idiotic behaviour, of attacking people who say things you don't like instead of engaging what needs engaging and ignoring the rest, speaks volumes about politicians' fitness to hold office. And outside the base, that's not a good thing.

November beach to themselves

Living history, Virginia