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Memo To Journalists: Stop Sucking At Journalism

Take a hard look at yourselves and figure out what you can do to actually do your jobs!

At the Washington Post, Todd Gitlin has a long list of specific suggestion about how to interview Donald Trump more effectively, which I would unfairly summarize as follows:

Stop being a bunch of lazy, incompetent, power-fcking groupies and do your god damn job!

But, Mr. Driftglass, being a bunch of lazy, incompetent, power-fucking groupies is our job.

Sigh,

From the WaPo:

Donald Trump’s secret for avoiding hard questions

Too many interviewers aren't asking the follow-up.

Early in this campaign season, Sunday morning network news hosts granted Trump the special prerogative of phoning in for interviews...

In those debates, and in interviews, Trump regularly runs circles around interviewers because they pare their follow-up questions down to a minimum, or none at all...

He takes advantage of the slipshod, shallow techniques journalism has made routine, particularly on TV — techniques that, in the past, were sufficient to trip up less-media-savvy candidates — but that Trump knows how to sidestep...

MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski regularly host Trump, but almost never interrogate him...

Whatever Scarborough’s recent criticism of Trump, in The Post and via Twitter, on his own TV show he’s been a softie...
Then there’s CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. In a Jan. 7 interview breathlessly touted as an exclusive one-on-one, Blitzer let Trump get away with a hysterical warning about the national debt jumping, imminently, to $21 trillion, without questioning it. (Many sober analysts, including Fortune’s Stephen Gandel, have deplored the “long-running hysteria around the national debt.”) But Blitzer immediately turned to the subject of Saudi Arabia. Rambling in response, Trump said of Iran: “They want to take over Saudi Arabia.” Again, no follow-up from Blitzer after Trump paused his soliloquy...

During the Oct. 28 Republican debate, CNBC’s John Harwood substituted snark for serious inquiry...

Right after that same debate, Trump boasted to CNBC’s Joe Kernen, “My relationship with Hispanics is incredible.” Though polls consistently show the opposite, Kernen failed to broach any evidence to the contrary...

To be “fair and balanced,” if you will, consider also Fox News...


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Reporters at major news outlets need to inquire more deeply into Trump’s alleged business relationships with mafia-controlled construction companies...

Giggly, incestuous relationships with their subjects?

Check.

Unwillingness to perform the most basic kind of follow-up?

Check.

Only too willing to let the most ridiculous and outrageous lies just slide on by?

Check.

All true. All accurate. All correct.

And all too familiar to any Liberal who remembers how this same cabal of spineless grovelers and pissy children let the Bush Administration get away with murder.

From a review of James Wolcott's 2004 book on the media, "Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants: The Looting of the News in a Time of Terror":

They are coddled and well-groomed. They chase after the latest scandal and then run around in crazy circles, using the TV studio as their show ring and wee-wee pad. There is no controversy they can't trivialize, no issue they can't vulgarize. They obey their political masters and betray the trust of the audience with every bark. They're the attack poodles-a new breed of celebrity pundit. Wisecracking and impassioned, Attack Poodles and Other Media Mutants laces into an all-star cast of blowhard egotists who pound our eardrums and insult our intelligence: Bill O'Reilly, Joe Scarborough, Peggy Noonan, Dennis Miller, Laura Ingraham, Tucker Carlson. But it also delves below the surface squall of infotainment to show how attack poodles function as pets of the Republican party, guard dogs for George Bush, and tail-waggers for war...

This is not a new problem. This the problem of a critical democratic institution -- a free and fair press -- which has been allowed to grow so sclerotic, so inbred, so distant from the lives of those it is supposed to serve and so corrupt for so long that a fascist clown like Donald Trump could seduce and flummox them all so completely that he is now within striking distance of the most powerful office on Earth.

It is also yet another longstanding, toxic threat to our democracy about which Liberals have been shouting for years.

If you have been an embarrassing public failure at doing your job for this long and yet you continue to be paid unholy sums of money for being an embarrassing public failure at doing your job, then it is long past time to stop hoping that simply pointing out the suckery and how damaging that suckery is will change anything.

It is time for guerrilla journalists to take up the task of hauling the corporate orchestrators of this ongoing fiasco out into the light of day.

(Crossposted from driftglass' blog)

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