Dereliction of duty: mainstream media and the presidential campaign



Far too much media coverage of the presidential campaign has been more clickbait than content.

So what did you think of the white pantsuit Hillary Clinton wore when she accepted the Democratic presidential nomination at the Democratic National Convention?

Reporters in the mainstream media devoted hundreds of articles and thousands of words to this topic. Yahoo opined that Hillary obviously was sending a message of support for “the suffragettes who fought so tirelessly for women to gain the right to vote 100 years ago”.

One reporter from Philadelphia Inquirer even managed to praise Hillary’s outfit as reflecting a “soft and strong” woman “telling us she has arrived (while asserting a week earlier that the white dress worn by Melania Trump during her Republican National Convention speech as “another reminder that in the G.O.P. white is always right.”

Boy, this is important stuff.

And all of this faux news has been squeezing out coverage of serious issues of great import to Americans.

In this vein, the media have taken to highlighting distracting errors committed by Trump to such a degree that they have almost taken over the newshole.

The media assert that they’re just reporting on what the public cares about or that they’re responding to controversies that surface on social media.

But that’s not an explanation. It’s an excuse.

Let’s get real here. It’s the media that determines what to cover and how, not the candidates. And so far much of the media has decided to invent or write about trivial matters and manufactured controversies, while also writing with heavy-handed bias that favors Hillary Clinton.

When Trump jokingly approved of, and then disparaged, a screaming baby at a Virginia campaign event, it was the media that determined this was newsworthy, decided to treat the incident as a breach of political protocol by Trump and extended the life of the story with repeated critical coverage.

In July, Trump tweeted a photo of Clinton next to a 6-pointed star-shaped badge saying “Most Corrupt Candidate Ever!” with a background of $100 bills. It was the mainstream media that decided to treat as legitimate and serious online complaints that the star (a generic shape in Microsoft Paint) was evidence of Trump’s anti-semitism.

Then there was the time Trump said he hoped the Russians — who had been accused of hacking the Democratic National Committee’s computers — would release 30,000 of Clinton’s missing emails. Trump said he was speaking in jest, but the Democratic National Committee feigned outrage, accusing Trump of encouraging Russian “espionage” and the media enthusiastically jumped on board.

Then there’s the clear, almost awkward, bias.

Take when the Republican convention featured Patricia Smith, mother of Sean Smith, one of the Americans slain in Benghazi. “For all of this loss, for all of this grief, for all of the cynicism the tragedy in Benghazi has wrought upon America, I blame Hillary Clinton,” Smith said. “I blame Hillary Clinton personally for the death of my son.”

The media largely ignored Smith’s speech. When reporters did comment it was most often in a derogatory tone.

Jim Geraghty, a National Review contributor, has noted how the liberal publication, The Nation, called the grieving mother’s speech a “cynical exploitation of grief”. NBC News’ Richard Engel said the Republican convention offered “a manipulation of someone’s grief,” which meant “going to a very dark place.”

A GQ writer even sent out an amazingly crude tweet, “I don’t care how many children Pat Smith lost I would like to beat her to death.”

Contrast this with how the media decided to cover remarks at the Democratic National Convention by Khizr Khan, the father of a soldier killed in Iraq. Khan, at the invitation of Democratic Party officials, gave a blistering denunciation of Trump, right before Chelsea Clinton introduced her mother as the Democratic nominee.

After he memorialized his son and blasted Trump (“You have sacrificed nothing,” he said), nobody in the mainstream media lashed out at Khan for going to a very dark place or for using his son’s death for partisan gain.

Trump foolishly let Khan’s remarks bait him into responding with ill-advised comments. But they were exaggerated by mainstream media, which also chose to ignore that Hillary has certainly made few sacrifices, neither she or her husband served in the military (Bill dodged the draft), and Hillary’s entire family has been living for years in a lap of luxury funded by lavish payments from special interests.

“Any objective observer of the news media’s treatment of Trump can certainly conclude that reporters are taking a side in this election — and they don’t have to be wearing a button that says “I’m with her” for this to be readily apparent,” said an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times.

So true.


Addendum, Aug. 9, 2016:

There they go again.

“If she (Hillary Clinton) gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” Mr. Trump said at a rally in North Carolina. “Although the Second Amendment people — maybe there is, I don’t know.”

His campaign maintained that he was referring to political activism

But Mrs. Clinton’s campaign manager responded in high dudgeon: “What Trump is saying is dangerous.”

Elizabeth Warren followed up, saying Trump had made a “death threat.”

The New York Times reported that  Donald Trump seemed to suggest that gun rights backers could take matters into their own hands if Hillary Clinton nominated judges who favor gun control.

I heard the same kind of hand-wringing language on Public Radio this afternoon.

Similarly, The Hill reported: “Yet another Donald Trump reset has gone by the wayside as the GOP nominee appeared to joke that someone could shoot his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. His comment came just one day after a highly-touted economic speech meant to put Trump back on message.  After the comment gained steam on social media, the Trump campaign raced to clarify that Trump only meant political resource, not violence. But it’s the kind of diversion that drives on-the-fence Republicans crazy.”

And of course a nincompoop Democratic Congressman, Eric Swalwell, CA, followed up by calling on the Secret Service to investigate Donald Trump’s comments directed at Hillary Clinton, according to The Hill.

“Donald Trump suggested someone kill Sec. Clinton. We must take people at their word. @SecretService must investigate #TrumpThreat,” Swalwell Tweeted.

The fact that his tweet got him some media attention probably pleased him no end.

Come on folks. There are enough legitimate Trump issues to focus on without stooping to this kind of stuff. The media is completely losing credibility in its apparent effort to weaken Trump.

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