October 21, 2018

(It's a long podcast, over an hour, but well worth your time. Maybe bookmark it for later.)

One of the reasons that I've focused on the Sunday morning news shows for almost 15 years now at C&L is because the media's framing of the events entirely colors the conventional understanding of what's happening. It came to a head this week as I listened to Jay Rosen talking to Ezra Klein about how the media has failed us in recent years and got an email from an old childhood friend of my husband's. This friend is a professor in Montana, and generally falls on the conservative side of things, though he's fairly apolitical and usually doesn't vote (a fact I'm grateful for, given his conservative leanings). He decided to take his girlfriend (a Norwegian national, here doing research at the university) to experience a Trump rally. It was as much as you'd expect-very white, very paranoid and cheering for anything that brought liberal tears, including encouraging violence against journalists as we learned more about the horrendously brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi. And yet, for my friend, that violent rhetoric seemed normal, given the audience reaction.

I think that moral relativism is being fueled by media coverage. Author AR Moxon, known on Twitter as "Julius Goat," addressed this failure in a brilliant thread, unrolled in full here:

The reason there’s so much pushback against this flood of “folks in Trump country” profiles, and it isn’t because such profiles are useless. It’s that the preponderance reveals an outsized gap in our empathy priorities. Taken together, they create the flipside to the message of the rallies, which is “you rally-goers are the people who matter, and these other people don’t matter.”

The tone in the framing of these pieces almost always reveals this empathy gap as well, because they are far more curious about the normalcy of the people who do such an atrocious thing, rather than contemplating what it is about that normalcy that can serve such atrocity. Taken together, they don’t ask the question “what is going wrong here and how do we stop it?” but rather, “how can the rest of us better make peace with this?”
The empathy gap is profound and clearly observable. It results in our national division being exclusively framed as between people committed to the idea that other people deserve only threat and manners, and unthreatened people who think that that is atrocious.

Journalists are afraid they’re going to be murdered
Women that they’ll be assaulted without redress
Muslims and immigrants that they’ll be attacked & driven from the country
People of color that they’ll be harassed & killed by police

These people exist. Their fears are valid.

The crowds cheer all these fearful results. They fear mainly that they will be criticized for cheering them, and prevented from bringing them about.

The difference matters a lot.

Even as a matter of observing as a sociological experiment, I can't help but be frustrated by my friend's attendance at a Trump rally. We KNOW what these people are like, they've been covered endlessly. They've shown us. What needs to happen is that we need to stop framing this as trying to understand why they're so upset and instead, focus on what we can do to not give them such an outsized voice to terrorize the rest of us.

ABC's "This Week" — Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Reps. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.; FiveThirtyEight Editor-in-Chief Nate Silver; Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif.; Tom Bossert, former Trump homeland security adviser. Panel: ABC’s Mary Bruce, Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel and Fox News’ Juan Williams.

NBC's "Meet the Press" — Sens. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and Dick Durbin, D-Ill; Anthony Scaramucci, former White House communications. Panel: David Brody of CBN News; Peggy Noonan, columnist at The Wall Street Journal; Eugene Robinson, columnist at The Washington Post; and Katy Tur of NBC News.

CBS' "Face the Nation" — Pre-empted by NFL coverage.

CNN's "State of the Union" — Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.; Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. Panel: Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi; Rep. Ted Deutch, (D-FL); and Rep. Matt Gaetz, (R-FL); Democratic operative Symone Sanders.

CNN's "Fareed Zakaria GPS" — Fawaz Gerges, professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government; Martin Indyk of the Council on Foreign Relations and former U.S. special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations; Wendy Sherman of the Albright Stonebridge Group and former lead negotiator, Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on the nuclear deal with Iran; Fred Hiatt, editorial page editor of The Washington Post; Jonathan Weiler, co-author of “Prius or Pickup: How the Answers to Four Simple Questions Explain America’s Great Divide.”

CNN's "Reliable Sources" — Charlotte Alter of Time magazine; Philip Bump of The Washington Post; Dara Lind of Vox; Max Boot, columnist at The Washington Post; Carl Bernstein, CNN political analyst; Tim Dixon, co-founder of More in Common.

"Fox News Sunday" — Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky.; Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. Panel: Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House; Marc Short, former Trump White House director of legislative affairs; Jane Harman, former Democratic congresswoman from California; and Charles Lane, editorial writer for The Washington Post.

So what's catching your eye this morning?

Can you help us out?

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