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Good Night and Good Luck

November 11, 2016

 

There’s plenty of blame to go around.

 

We can be angry at the Democratic party for treating the Clinton nomination like a foregone conclusion and shortchanging Sanders who may or may not have had a shot. (I’m pretty confident “socialist” would have become “communist” and that would have been the end of it).

 

We can be angry at Clinton’s team for not running a better communications campaign. They did a terrible job of combating the narrative that she was elitist, above the law, and entitled. She’s not warm. She’s not inherently likable. She’s exceptionally qualified to do the job, without question, but anyone’s whose ever lost a job to someone with less experience but better rapport with someone in power (or someone sleeping with someone in power) knows preparation guarantees nothing.

 

We can be angry at the 46% of eligible voters who sat this one out. I personally have a lot of anger towards those people. 25% of this country elected Donald Trump as the President of the United States. 25%. I wouldn’t let 25% of this country select anything, let alone the leader of the free world. But it’s hard to be mad at stupid. I am furious at the 46% of you who thought, “Meh. I don’t know. I guess I can’t be bothered.” This wasn’t a choice between two people of equal intelligence and sanity with simple differences of opinion on policy. This was a choice between a sane, even-keeled person who actually has engaged in public service over the years and a man who brags about grabbing women by the p*ssy, shows no self-restraint or intellectual curiosity, stiffs the working class, outsources his own manufacturing, demonizes Muslims and war refugees, thinks all blacks and hispanics live in ghettos, claims he has no relationship with Russia while his daughter vacations with Putin’s girlfriend, and refuses to show the American people his tax returns. And by the way, there is no audit. There never was.

 

Where was I? Oh, that’s right. Anger.

 

I think right now I’m angriest at the media. The news media to be exact. Here’s why. Ever since high school, I wanted to be a journalist. I loved the idea of witnessing history and being tasked with telling the story. I studied Diplomatic History in college but went to grad school for Broadcast Journalism because I needed to learn how to do it all (shoot, write, edit) in order to get that first job in a small market in the middle of nowhere. Pay my dues. Over the years, the news industry has changed, and it’s become less about stating fact and more about sharing opinion. You don’t have to have a background in much in order to get a spot on cable news. Are you outspoken? Are you willing to be contrarian? Do you make for “good TV?” Welcome to the set.

 

There are some reporters who have stood out over the course of this campaign season. Brianna, Katy, Kurt, and David come to mind offhand. I’ve followed a lot of smart people on Twitter too. But on the whole, the media treated this campaign season – especially the first year or so of it – like a big game of he said/she said. They didn’t tell the story the way journalists are trained – or used to be trained – to do. There is such a thing as fact. Not everyone’s opinion deserves equal consideration. Sorry. It just doesn’t. Some people are smarter than others. Some people know more about certain things.

 

For instance, I know a lot about health care policy because I care about it. A lot. And when I tell you that the Republican platform is a complete non-starter, I’m not being partisan. I’m being informed. My insight on this matters more than someone who hasn’t studied the issue or been on the front lines of the fight to fix our system. That’s just the way it is. Not everyone who likes baseball gets to play in the Majors.

 

So when cable news networks give people a megaphone simply because they exist, they are doing an enormous public disservice. Corey Lewandowski had no business being on CNN. The man got fired, joined CNN, and then continued to travel with Trump. He floated regularly between the campaign and the “news” desk. How is that journalism and not propaganda? What fact-based information does he offer? Whose best interest does he have in mind? Definitely not the voting public’s. Most likely Trump’s. Or his own.

 

Then there’s the insufferable habit of laughing it all off like the President of the United States isn’t the most important job in the entire world and choosing the person to do that job isn’t of the highest importance. I watch a lot of news, and more often than not, guests would debate each other in a heated back and forth, and then when the anchor called time on the segment, all would smile and laugh it off like nothing they said mattered much anyway. It would happen incessantly throughout the campaign. Like this was all a big joke. I didn’t find the thought of Trump becoming President funny. I found it frightening. And I thought those spinning his racism, sexism, bigotry, narcissism, and anger on TV for face time were despicable for it. How many times did we hear, “Oh, that’s not what he meant. What he meant was…” None of that was true, and I’d bet many of the people peddling it knew that too.

 

The stakes were too high in this election to play that game, and it’s disgusting the news media didn’t do more when it could to stop the train in its tracks. Instead, it loaded up the cars with manure and then drove around the country wondering why it was starting to smell more and more with each passing month.  Every talking head that couldn’t defend Trump without defaulting to attacking Clinton should have been disqualified from the start. Tell me why he’s suited to be President, not why you dislike her.

 

But no one could. Because he isn’t. And the media should have been all over that story from the very beginning.

 

Donald Trump is not qualified to be President of the United States. Period. I refuse to concede that truth. There’s wanting change and then there’s handing brain surgery over to someone who not only didn’t go to medical school but who also doesn’t have any interest in locating the brain.

 

Congratulations, media. You just helped hand that man free rein and a very sharp scalpel. I’m not being melodramatic when I say I truly hope somehow we manage to survive.

 

 

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