(From Nov 22, 2016, CNN interview of Maggie Haberman on meeting with President-elect Donald Trump with other NY Times reporters and editors post-election)
Back in 2004, the editorial staff of The New York Times published a mea culpa on how they fell down on the job in covering the run up and implementation of the Iraq invasion and occupation:
"...[W]e have found a number of instances of coverage that was not as rigorous as it should have been. In some cases, information that was controversial then, and seems questionable now, was insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand unchallenged. Looking back, we wish we had been more aggressive in re-examining the claims as new evidence emerged -- or failed to emerge."
One would hope that a chastised and chastened New York Times would make doubly-- triply -- sure to not get snowed by a barrage of right wing propaganda and lies and strive to do actual journalism.
Sadly, not so much.
Maggie Haberman, who has spent much of the election season normalizing Trump on behalf of "The Gray Lady", filed this article this week on Trump's presidential appointments:
*Trump appoints six of his biggest donors to high-ranking cabinet positions*
New York Times: pic.twitter.com/6nDnnrBh85
— sean. (@SeanMcElwee) December 11, 2016
Wait, what? Maybe Rudy Giuliani and Chris Christie found themselves shafted from the official Trump cabinet, but come on now, no one with an ounce of intellectual honesty could actually make that claim. Contrast, if you will, with The Washington Post:
Six donors that Trump appointed gave almost $12 million with their families to back his campaign and the party
Hmmm....that sounds like rewarding "loyalists," doesn't it?
Together with their families, Trump's nominees gave $11.6 million to support his presidential bid, his allied super PACs and the Republican National Committee, according to a Washington Post analysis of federal campaign filings.
One single appointee — WWE co-founder Linda McMahon — contributed $7.5 million to back his White House run before Trump selected her to run the Small Business Administration this week. She and her husband Vince were also the top outside donors to Trump's private foundation.
It’s not unusual for top presidential donors and bundlers to land plum assignments after an election. Ambassadorships to sought-after locales, such as London and Paris, are usually reserved for big money players. In recent administrations, senior campaign fundraisers have been chosen for Commerce secretary: Penny Pritzker under President Obama, Don Evans under President George W. Bush, Ronald Brown under President Bill Clinton, and Robert Mosbacher under President George H.W. Bush.
But longtime watchers of money in politics cannot recall any president in recent history who has filled a Cabinet with so many major donors.
So clearly, the NY Times still hasn't learned any lessons over their failures in reportage. Maybe it would be easier to delineate between real and fake news if reporters like Haberman actually tried to be reality-based.
Ironically, far more honest in their reporting than Donald Trump's hometown paper is ... wait for it... Teen Vogue. No, seriously. Compare this to Haberman's hackery:
Trump won the Presidency by gas light. His rise to power has awakened a force of bigotry by condoning and encouraging hatred, but also by normalizing deception. Civil rights are now on trial, though before we can fight to reassert the march toward equality, we must regain control of the truth. If that seems melodramatic, I would encourage you to dump a bucket of ice over your head while listening to “Duel of the Fates." Donald Trump is our President now; it’s time to wake up.
"Gas lighting" is a buzzy name for a terrifying strategy currently being used to weaken and blind the American electorate. We are collectively being treated like Bella Manningham in the 1938 Victorian thriller from which the term "gas light" takes its name. In the play, Jack terrorizes his wife Bella into questioning her reality by blaming her for mischievously misplacing household items which he systematically hides. Doubting whether her perspective can be trusted, Bella clings to a single shred of evidence: the dimming of the gas lights that accompanies the late night execution of Jack’s trickery. The wavering flame is the one thing that holds her conviction in place as she wriggles free of her captor’s control.
To gas light is to psychologically manipulate a person to the point where they question their own sanity, and that’s precisely what Trump is doing to this country. He gained traction in the election by swearing off the lies of politicians, while constantly contradicting himself, often without bothering to conceal the conflicts within his own sound bites. He lied to us over and over again, then took all accusations of his falsehoods and spun them into evidence of bias.
At the hands of Trump, facts have become interchangeable with opinions, blinding us into arguing amongst ourselves, as our very reality is called into question.
I would argue that in their ineptitude/laziness/status quo thinking, the mainstream media is just as guilty of gas-lighting Americans as Trump is. He would be nowhere without their enabling.