For many years now there has been a war raging between all sides of the political spectrum, that has made the reporting of facts and real news less and less relevant. As said, there is nothing new in this other than the degree and speed in which the reports are reaching the public. The right blames much of what is happening today on Saul Alinsky’s 1971 book “Rules for Radicals.” Much of what we see happening today can be cast as a direct link to some of what is in the book however the manipulation of public opinion goes father back. I will not go into the political campaigns of the past, suffice it to say Thomas Jefferson and John Adams may not always spoken the truth about each other.
The concept of diverting attention away from facts using a direct attack on something else is long standing. However, it does appear to have become more of an art form with some. The most talk about recently is the Kelly Anne Conway flub of alternative facts. But to be fair let’s just say the audience on the mall for President Obama’s inauguration was larger than for Trumps. Over all viewing including worldwide television audience was larger for Trump. The larger fact is no one really cares except the comics, including TV pundits, who will not let it go.
Most recently the driving force of innuendo as fact has become Russia and the narrative that Russia manipulated the election, and both side have jumped on that bandwagon. What are the facts that we know: the DNC was hacked and the most likely culprit was Russia, ok. Unflattering emails were released from the hack, correct. Russia was behind the release of the emails, likely. Russia released the emails to manipulate the election in favor of Trump, Maybe, but unlikely. On this last I say maybe because it would be difficult to make that determination without a deep cover operative and I doubt the Intelligence Community would expose that operative for political gain. I say unlikely because should the Russian have tried to pick a candidate it would probably have been Clinton. Russia knew they could beat her and that she was predictable. More likely the purpose of the Russian actions was to destabilize the political system and wreak havoc on America, if so, mission accomplished.
Since Trump took office the Russian bogyman has been trotted out on every occasion possible. The use of this bogyman has diverted our attention from actual news stories and analysis. LTG Michael Flynn was forced to resign as director of the National Security Council. The news would have us believe it was because he spoke to the Russian ambassador about sanction relief after Trump took office. In fact, he was forced to resign because he lied to the Vice-President and lost the trust of the President. Because a Russian was involved this then took a turn toward the Trump is under the influence of Russia and past claims about Trump operatives in cahoots with Russian intelligence before the election. The New York Times had a recent article about all the interactions between Trump people and Russian intelligence. The problem with the story is that there were almost no facts and mostly innuendo. Today however innuendo becomes fact for a lot of people.
A story that started as truth and ten took a left turn was the recent pictures of President Trump and Japans PM Abe receiving news about the North Koran missile launch into the Sea of Japan. Instead of the story being about the launch and the dangerous implications it became about the possibility that classified information was being discussed in a public place. This has overshadowed the production and deployment of medium range cruise missile in violation of a treaty and the movement of a Russian spy ship up the east coast of the US. While both are reported, they have become secondary and are quickly forgotten in favor of more sensational new/innuendo.
I could go on but would rather concentrate on what we can do to return the news organizations back to news. The most obvious is to call them out when they stray from facts. I am not sure what the House of Representatives are doing about the Russian provocations but the Republicans have called for an investigation on the unlikely intelligence breach with PM Abe. The News must keep opinions to the editorial pages and the front page should be for known facts.
Let’s ask the news media to Please Think about facts.