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Culpability

How US Media Enabled the #MAGAbomber … by publishing the so-called President’s fake news.

I play tennis with a successful movie producer. We have a regular doubles match, and like everyone else on the court, he is not a Trump fan. But he does like to say this: “You’ve gotta give Trump credit, he’s produced a hell of a show.”

My friend is absolutely right. And Trump has done it by leveraging the constant, free, irresponsible media exposure he’s been given ever since the day he rode down that elevator and proclaimed Mexicans “rapists.”

I’m a digital media strategist. I worked on both the Obama and Hillary Clinton campaigns. I eat, sleep, drink and eat media. And I remember the frustration I felt when Hillary would issue a policy pronouncement, make a statement, do something good, and the media response would be … crickets.

The stats have been reported, again and again. Here they are, just to refresh your memory:

Source: MediaQuant

I’m going to restate the obvious: To the media, governmental policy is boring. Repeated, hysterical verbal attacks and falsehoods? Well, not so boring. (Note: I’m sure “but her emails” was actually a key driver of Clinton coverage, so the percentage devoted to Clinton regarding actual election issues is probably even lower).

Here’s another stat. This is the number of times Trump has lied while in office, as of Oct. 22nd:

Source: Toronto Star

If you’d like to see the full list, visit the Toronto Star, the non-US publication that is tracking Trump’s lies.

Trump has been in office 684 long days; that number works out to nearly 5 lies per day. Notably, even the Toronto Star is reluctant to call what he says “lying,” even though, by every human measure, Trump is doing just that.

And there’s the rub: the media, in the interest of “balance,” usually reports Trump’s statements at face value, when the actual balanced thing to do would be to pair the falsehoods and grandiose declarations with actual facts.

Case in point: Trump often repeats the mantra “Lock her up!” in reference to Hillary Clinton at his rallies. News outlets like to include it in their headlines or in their reporting, without noting that Clinton is neither accused nor convicted of any crimes — a fact that should be repeated EVERY SINGLE TIME HE SAYS IT. These chants have been so normalized that now even the loathsome Ted Cruz is drafting on them, suggesting that his political opponent Beto O’Rourke should share Clinton’s jail cell. Not only is this mudslinging of the lowest order, it is factually wildly off-base — but the media refuses to consistently call it out. Hello, MSNBC, CNN, The New York Times, Washington Post?

The second culprit: Trump’s repercussion-free use of Twitter. Trump has repeatedly violated practically every single clause of Twitter’s TOS (not to mention actual laws like the Hatch Act), but Twitter simply refuses to ban him. Although Twitter does not claim it practices journalism, it does claim to be against “fake news” — yet the company allows the mightiest generator of such news to roam freely on its platform. What’s up with that, Jack Dorsey?

And I’m not even going to talk about Facebook. Not enough words.

The result is that everything Trump says becomes nominally true. And, because he is unchallenged and welcomed by the echo chamber, he just keeps saying it. If you are a consumer of headlines, or God forbid, Fox News, Trump’s lies would lead you to believe that massive caravans of foreigners are crashing the border; women regularly target men and lie about sexual abuse; neither Russia nor Saudi Arabia are bad actors; cheap insurance will take care of all your needs; and tariffs on Chinese imports won’t make your life suck. And Democrats are violent mobsters, responsible for most of the problems above, but most notably for allowing folks to invade your cities and take your jobs. With all the “American carnage” surrounding us, why wouldn’t you mail a bomb or two to take out the culprits?

I try to spend an hour or two each day debunking the lies.(I actually have Twitter programmed with IFTTT to tweet “f***ing moron” at Trump every morning when he first opens his yap.) I turn off the TV when Trump or one of his minions is interviewed and not challenged on every statement. I canvass and try to explain that Trump’s bullshit is shredding the American Dream, not building it. Many of my friends do the same. But we’re way past the time when the Third Estate should rise to the occasion and recognize that they, like Leader McConnell, Paul Ryan and the GOP, have sold their souls for eyeballs. Before someone dies for their sins.