Lies, damned lies and a useless media
Donald Trump is a liar. Sorry, Trumpeters, that's not my opinion; it's fact. Hillary Clinton is a liar. Sorry, Clintonistas, that's not my opinion; it's fact. Bernie Sanders is not a liar; he's just so economically clueless that he's already proposed so much new government spending that confiscating every single dollar owned by the 1% wouldn't cover the bill.
And the mainstream media is useless.
I was reminded of this Thursday night watching Trump bluster through another slew of meaningless bravado, while yet another set of hapless cable news anchors sat doe eyed in their pretty clothes.
Near the end of November, the New York Times published an editorial entitled, "Mr. Trump's Applause Lies," which began, "America has just lived through another presidential campaign week dominated by Donald Trump's racist lies." Which was true. The editorial then went on to argue that the media must step up and call out Trump, concluding: "History teaches that failing to hold a demagogue to account is a dangerous act. It's no easy task for journalists to interrupt Mr. Trump with the facts, but it's an important one." Of course, they could just have easily written the same piece about Hillary Clinton, swapping Donald Trump's proto-nationalism (which is certainly could be damaging to the country), with Clinton's foreign policy disaster/Pinocchio routine (which most certainly has damaged the country, and resulted in a rather stupendous amount of bloodshed around the world). Of course, they didn't do that, and that's one symptom of a larger problem.
The biggest loser in this electoral cycle, no matter how damaging you consider Trump's xenophobia or Clinton's fabrications, is the media. Journalism is dead, and the Times – among others – led their own crucifixion.
Sorry, journos: the public simply doesn't believe you anymore, either.
It's not just that almost everything "news" is delivered with a slant by almost everyone. Or that some things that are news are essentially not even covered at all (or at best lightly and quickly glossed over) when doing so would hurt the preferred political narrative - or, worse journalistically, of the preferred candidate - of the media institute doing the potential covering. It goes well beyond those things: it goes to what it means, at heart, to be a journalist.
Modern journalists are often content to accept an official narrative, without question, without verification: and the supposed bastions of journalistic integrity – the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune and LA Times, are often the worst offenders, and the source material for everyone else who then piles on the official narrative. Don't believe me? Ask Laquan McDonald.
Occasionally, a mainstream journalist rebels and actually does their homework, as Glenn Greenwald did in exposing the vast, unconstitutional government spying programs put in place after 9/11. But when they do, more often than not – and as was the case for Greenwald – the asleep-at-the-wheel Guardians of Truth don't jump in and deploy their considerable resources to further, confirm, or contradict the story; they use those resources to attack the person who took the time to do something they no longer bother with: actual journalism.
Sorry, NYT, people notice this stuff; even us overfed, overlooked, flyover people notice it.
Now – let's be honest – by any reasonable human standard, neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton is qualified to lead a country. Defend her all you want, Democrat friends, but Hillary Clinton was a terrible Secretary of State. She pushed, and led, our involvement in Libya, Syria and Egypt, fomented multiple civil wars, and ushered in the Age of ISIS. Thanks, Hill. Kudos! Before that she was a completely undistinguished senator. Before that she was the personal attack dog tearing down the so-called "bimbos" her husband abused. Oh, and she can't tell the truth about anything. Ever. Those are not the qualifications of someone fit to lead the United States.
And then there is the train wreck that is Donald Trump. Trumpeters, ya done gone plumb crazy. There are better ways to control our borders than by electing a man who in every other way has spent a lifetime opposing your values. And, yes, a lot of what he says is plain racist, and sexist, and more or less just generally piggish. He's also, despite his claims, not one of the most successful businesspeople in the country. Admittedly, he is one of the best self-marketers in not just this country, but also the world. However, those are not the qualifications of someone fit to lead the United States, either.
The New York Times and the rest of the mainstream media can't do anything about it, though, because they've lost the public trust necessary to do their jobs effectively.
Sure, Trump and Hillary are liars. But when vast numbers of people no longer think the media has any credibility, either, who cares?
If the New York Times and other traditional media outlets want to become relevant again, if they want to be the arbiters of truth, they need to remember what got them to the top of the media circus in the first place: real, unbiased, fact-based journalism that doesn't rely on the narrative of anyone's spokesperson.
So here's to hoping the NYT and a few other key outlets go back to the future and remember what it actually takes to be able to call yourself a journalist, because the country could sure as heck use a few good ones right about now.
Sam Stone is a Republican political consultant in Southern Arizona.