A roundabout maybe endorsement

It is not unusual for people, when attacked, to immediately defend themselves in a manner proportionate to the initial assault. When you are punched, you are likely to punch back.

Of course, when Trump lashes the media as being the “Enemy of the People”, it would be expected that the media return fire in kind.

Semantics would detail that Trump’s widespread blunderbuss of flotsam and debris targets the “Fake News” as such an enemy of the people, and not the media at large. However, that is incidental to that I am about to write.

Let’s never forget that the term “Fake News” was also initially mentioned by Clinton and the “impartial” media as one of the reason’s for Trump’s rise to power. For all the mockery of his constant “Fake News” refrain, I’ll never forget that Trump’s use of the term was a reversal of the media’s own weapon.

But, for all the talk of fake news, and the denouncement of the media news complex, there are now sounds being made that Trump’s lambasting is giving rise to the kind of clamp-downs on dissenting voices in North Korea, Phillipines and more recently the case of Jamal Khashoggi at the hands of Saudi Arabia.

But while Trump openly and explicitly bashes the media, oftentimes for good reason (and othertimes for not), I am always reminded by the covert methods in which the Obama administration pursued whistleblowers and journalists. I feel that if you want to talk of other nations emboldened by rhetoric to silence dissenting voices (assuming that these other countries take their lead from the US and not, say, their own hubris and corruption), that the Obama administration would have been just as guilty.

For all the bluster about Trump’s fiery and loud relationship with CNN, Obama actively froze out Fox News, to quote:

“We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent. As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”

  • Obama White House Communications Communications Director, Anita Dunn

Of course, many would scoff and cough at the Fox News being partisan outlets, however this would be turn a willing blind eye to the raging bias exhibited by CNN, MSNBC or other so-called “impartial” platforms.

The difference between Trump and Obama, in this case, is that the media hasn’t been running defense for all the scandals for the former, while they were happy to look away for the latter.

So, I disagree with the idea that it is Trump, and only Trump’s, attacks on the media that are a problem. The media can bleat all they like about being a major supportive beam of a functioning democracy, but until I see better quality reporting from everyone, I’m going to reserve my panic over the matter of a threatened media.

 

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Just do a better job

As the media seem intent to call themselves a “vital part of democracy”, all the while failing to do even the most basic of reporting, I think it worthwhile to point out why the public rally behind Trump’s call of “fake news”

If the media is in any way confused about this, the solution to their problem of people distrusting the media is actually quite simple:

Do better.

This isn’t to say that the media needs to be Trump’s lapdog. Quite the opposite. But the media seem hell bent on taking any report about Trump, and blowing it well out of proportion. It’s doing nothing to endear the people to the media, and it’s further worsened when the media sees fit to compare themselves literally to soldiers on the front line.

So when every single discussion in the news focuses on the stupid shit that Trump says, while ignoring how policy actually manifests, it tells the public that the media have an ulterior motive. A motive to portray the President in the worst possible light.

… as though the President has trouble doing so without their help.

But it also confirms in peoples’ minds that the media are so far in the tank for one side of the political divide, that they cannot trust what is being reported. The place from where the reporting is coming from is dishonest, and tainted with partisanship.

Take, for example, the recent Antifa skirmishes with Police and journalists. CNN’s talking head will blindly whistle and hand-wave away Antifa’s behaviour on the grounds of it being a moral right. I sincerely doubt that this is a luxury they would afford had it been a conservative group attacking journalists – especially since CNN’s Jim Acosta apparently feared for his safety when he was taunted with jibes of “CNN sucks” at a recent Trump rally.

If the media really wants to earn the trust back from the people, they simply need to do one thing.

Do better.

Stop appearing like the propaganda wing of the Democrat party. Stop treating conservative views like they’re evil. Give opposing views respectful treatment. And be honest about your leanings.

Fox News has been rightly labelled as a right-wing outlet, and they appear to make no apologies for it. CNN, however, purports to be impartial and fair – when the proof provides little to back up the allusion. In fact, I would even think a good start for CNN would be to admit that they’re not impartial, and that they are partisan.

It would be a good start in having people trust them a little more.

Further to CNN Blackmailing

The last post I wrote expressed my disbelief that CNN would threaten a user for daring to create a wrestling gif that mocked them. Since publishing that post, more information has come to light about the character of the individual who created the gif, namely that because they had posted racist things in the past that they were somehow deserving of the threats levelled at them.

Despite vehemently condemning racism, I cannot help but disagree, for reasons I’ll outline below.

1)  Today it’s the racists. Tomorrow it’s you.

Sure, you might think you’re the pillar of benevolence, and that nothing in your past could stand to ruin you. Firstly, I would say that’s bullshit. Name me one person who has professed to have said not one ignorant thing in their entire span on this planet, and I will show a liar. Secondly, in the below video from Razorfist, you can see how a media organisation will report on your history.

Namely, they will simply report that you “deleted your racist history”, knowing full well that Johnny and Jane Mainstream will lap it up and move on. Don’t think for a moment (and to nab a popular phrase) that the media will let the facts get in the way of a good story.

I’m not disputing whether the victim of CNN’s threat is a racist or not. I’m saying that allowing it for them allows it for you, which leads me to my next point.

2) Shaming doesn’t change the extremists

“We must extinguish racism in all its forms!” goes the call as they cheer on the punishment for the scumbag who got their dues, “We must expose it and punish it!”

That’s all well and good, except what this will do is take your online racists and make them silent while still harbouring resentment, which they then pass down to their children. You might think that this is a solution, but what happens when you discover the unapologetic racist? The racist who proudly wears it on their sleeve? The shame tactic will not work there, and if anything their public humiliation will draw more eyes to them, and they then become a beacon for like-minded people.

In fact, humiliating the self-loathing racist only emboldens the unapologetic one. They’re the ones you might find gathering in groups that want to inflict actual bodily harm, or abusing people in the street the deem as inferior.

You might be thinking here that I am protecting or defending a racist, when I am not. Put broadly, I am protecting their right, and in effect your right, to express yourself. CNN is not the arbiter of whom should be able to express themselves, and CNN is not the executioner of those they deem as not fully compliant with their right-think.

By protecting a racist for their speech, I am protecting your for your speech. Many may like to deride the call for free speech as the braying defence of those who wish to spread ignorance, except I am not. As I outlined in an earlier post on Kathy Griffin’s photo, she has every right to express her thoughts without worry of their livelihood being jeopardised.

CNN can eat the biggest bag of dicks for trying to justify their horrendous behaviour, and to those who would agree with them, I pray to whatever deity occupies their soul that they never trip the path of an enormous and powerful party with a line to toe.

CNN can go die in a hole

It’s all I hear people talking about today, but rather than recap things wholesale, the below video captures the sentiment I currently feel – courtesy of Mister Metokur

Note that this particular Youtuber is not one I endorse, but I am only posting their video because they seem to share how fucking angry I am about this.

So, Trump posts a gif on Twitter that someone from reddit created. CNN flip out about how it encourages violence, even though;

  1. It’s a gif
  2. It’s a gif of wrestling
  3. It’s a gif of wrestling which has been amended, or features some poor sod born with a CNN logo for a face.
  4. It’s a gif of fucking wrestling

Not content with constructing that particular mountain out of an anthill, CNN decides to further shit through the cracks by actively tracking down the individual who made the gif of wrestling, and extract an apology from them under threat that they will reveal his identity – even though he fears that he will be victim to real violence should he be found out.

How can a company as large and far-reaching as CNN openly display hypocrisy on this level, and in such quick turnaround? People sometimes takes ages to have their double-standards exposed as they are gradually found to exhibit behaviours to which they had previously doth protested too much.

But CNN has expressed their hypocrisy in one sentence. “This thing that is harmful, I am totally doing to you now.”

This is not fucking okay, CNN. In no universe is this acceptable. Do not try to minimise this action or in any way try to explain it away. Go on and tell me about the individual that CNN threatened and say that this is justified. I don’t care. If you support CNN doing this, then as I’ve said before, then you support the same treatment for yourself – no matter how benevolent you think you are.

This is unreserved and naked blackmail. CNN are happy to dig up your details and expose you publicly if you dare poke fun at them. Yes, even with a fucking gif of wrestling.

With the President announcing to all and sundry how “Fake” CNN is (and it still astounds me that people seem to think that he’s the creator of the phrase), I was willing to discount his words as the sounds of a spoiled brat who got shitty because the cool kids didn’t like him. However, given this event today, I care not for the demise of CNN. I could not give fewer shits if their organisation implodes under the weight of their bullshit.

They are not the exposers of truth and reason. They are peddlers of sensationalism, drama and bullshit in search of a target to stick to. They encompass everything that is wrong with establishment media, and they (and anyone who emulates them) need to shut down and fuck off.

Or maybe just grow a thicker skin.

A gif as violence.

Really.

ffs.

The Griffin Head joke

I hate that I need to reiterate a point I’ve already made, but the week’s story that everyone seems to be talking about – for reasons I do not fathom – is the one where comedian Kathy Griffin holds aloft the severed head of the President of the United States.

TJ Kirk’s video effectively sums up my thoughts on the scenario.

I loathe getting into left-right labelling, because it immediately paints people into categories of “them and us”. People will squeal, “Oh the lefties do this” or “those right-wing nutjobs are at it again” trying to convince whoever is within earshot that there is a good “us” side and a nasty “them” side.

When the truth is we’re all the same kind of dumb animals.

Kathy Griffin’s photo in this instance is grotesque and not to my taste. Like TJ Kirk, I think it boring, pedestrian, and unchallenging. Ooooh, you hate Trump? Great. Join the millions of others on the pile. Fucking yawn.

However, I do not feel it a good idea that I be some kind of arbiter as to what kind of speech is palatable for the masses. God knows I hate a great number of comedians, artists, musicians, and would love to have them never perform a single piece ever again, but I am not that kind of person. Not because I am of high moral fibre, or because I am smart.

But because I possess an “off” button on my technology. I can choose to not listen or watch or taste.

Griffin has since lamented the apparent loss of her career, and many have bayed for her dismissal from any kind of public role. As I said in my previous post, I do not think that instances like these warrant attacks on peoples’ livelihoods. If not because that effectively stifles free speech, then because it reduces all discussion into milquetoast inoffensive words that dare not push any boundaries – even if (and especially if) boundaries need to be pushed. Sometimes we need to be confronted with views.

I don’t mean to say that Griffin’s photo was a necessity, either. As I said, it was boring. There are far more interesting and important debates to be had than “I hate Trump”. But if our reaction to an actual debate is to attack the livelihood of those who engage in it, then this is a path to destruction.

“But the other side does it” is a fucking lazy excuse, too. Do better than your supposed “other side”, and maybe then some moderates might come around to actually listening to you.

As I’ve said: the behaviour you exhibit is the behaviour you endorse – even with your opposition. Especially with your opposition.

Remember Fake News?

This is an old issue, but when I look at the term “Fake News” I am remembered when it was gleefully rolled out by the media when they were trying to come to terms with the Trump election victory in November 2016. So quick they were to discredit non-mainstream media, they deployed “Fake News” whenever they could in order to make sure their readers never strayed from their official, polished line.

There’s an adage in martial arts in that you never bring a weapon to a battle if you don’t have an effective defence should it be taken away and used against you.

And this is what I saw after CNN stupidly reported on a story involving Trump’s alleged behaviour in a Moscow hotel room. Having reported a false story, CNN had the term “Fake News” volleyed back at them.

Suddenly the media was caught with their pants down. Their weapon had been turned against them, and it was all on display for the public to see. There was no sweeping it under the rug. They had misreported and were quickly lumped into the basket with those they had initially sought to discredit.

Scrabbling for a defence, media decided to “retire” the term, and Seth Meyers admitted that “Fake News” as a thing was busted.

The media has since distanced itself from the term, although I do see it regularly deployed in conservative circles now, usually to mock the very media who had created the term.

I personally will never forget how “Fake News” seemed to be the cherished cry from traditional media – no matter how much is it now a baby of far-right dens. The media dropped the ball there, failing to make sure their house was in order before the decided to smear everyone else.

I hope they see the lesson.

Casey Neistat Network

Some could read Casey Neistat’s recent announcement of establishing his own news feed with cynicism. The more amused among people could consider that the Casey News Network shares the same initials as that other bastion of “fake news” CNN, which is only further entrenched when we consider that CNN has a fairly hefty stake in the venture (I understand).

The aim of the venture, Neistat claims, is to provide:

“raw, unfiltered, unedited newsfeeds. Delivering that without context strips away the noise. It leaves you with exactly what’s taking place.”

As others have pointed out, there is also this extra word which adds a question mark or two (bolding mine).

Neistat and his team are now developing a journalist-curated app

This naturally has people wondering about the honesty of Neistat’s aims, but until we see the end product, many should probably reserve judgement. Well, except me, of course. Because I’m going to render judgement right now.

I’m not an avid watcher of Youtube, and I don’t profess to being knowledgeable on the personalities who flood the platform. When I frequent forums, I see people talking about these personalities of whom I have never seen before with the fervour of fans and analysts. But, there is something about Neistat’s meteoric rise to prominence that gives me reason for pause.

The first thought is, “The dude comes from money” which is a fairly cynical conclusion to make, I know. However whenever I read about him, the articles just scream of a copywriter using emotive language to sprinkle bullshit over somebody’s body of work. I mean take the opening line of this article:

For Casey Neistat, life is all about motion.

The line just screams of someone trying to make something more than what it truly is. I think to myself, “Who is backing this guy?” but then I see that he’s basically a selfie-ing billboard, and it kinda makes sense.

However, I simply cannot go past his hyper-partisan video about voting for Hillary Clinton.

 

To me this is the greatest red flag over any concerns about his claims to be making contextless, unedited news feeds. Regardless of the results of the election, when you consider this video, and the body of work he has of being some kind of commercial to anyone with a chequebook, I do not have any faith in Neistat’s supposed impartiality.

Not to play the two personalities against each other (as I understand they know each other and get along alright), but I would have far greater faith in Phillip DeFranco’s news venture, which is launching. DeFranco has been an internet personality for over a decade now, and has built up his channel over a greater period of time, which I would think means that he is more genuine.

Considering his most recent videos have been critical and supportive of both sides of politics, this too lends him far more credibility than Neistat. He is also far more reserved in his judgements of situations, pausing briefly before flying off the handle, which would suggest that he’s not wed to any particular cause and willing to jump at any opportunity to smear the opposition.

Many may disagree with my beliefs – and fair enough – but I have far greater faith with someone who has done the hard yards over a longer period of time, suffering through the low points where they might have questioned whether their work was worth it, and coming out on top. Neistat – to me – doesn’t appear to have ever had such experiences with developing his audience.

I feel that his lot is one of money, whereas DeFranco’s is one of work.

I’ll be watching with interest. My money is on DeFranco’s venture. I think Neistat undid himself when he locked hips with Clinton and CNN. He is compromised, and I am wary of any claims to impartiality that Neistat might make.