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What the Devil won't tell you

Trump voting commission's valid public records request reveals rise of fake realities

The truth hurts, just ask the press in the age of Trump

Michele Reagan doesn't get to decide whom the public records apply to and the Left doesn't get to demand unequal application under the law. Period. To assume such a power would require her conjuring a reality from whole cloth.

OK, so maybe refusal is perfect for the times.

The Arizona secretary of state caved to political pressure from the Left (mark the date and time that happened in Arizona) to deny President Donald Trump's commission on (supposed) voter fraud the ability to obtain information that belongs to the public.

Putting Kobach in charge of finding out if illegal immigrants tilted the election to Hillary Clinton is like putting Cookie Monster in charge of finding out which blue muppet gets to eat the snickerdoodle. Kobach's life's work has been to accuse the Left of voter fraud, thereby justifying “common sense” voter suppression laws to ensure the right continues to win elections.

Kobach's commission isn't just ill-conceived. It's an abomination. It serves one purpose and that purpose is to parse statistics and provide "objective" proof of Trump's tweets. Those have aroused suspicions among his supporters and that suspicion now just needs find purchase on an official finding to justify the notion that when Democrats win, it's only because of voter fraud. Therefor no election result is legitimate if a Republican loses. Democratic presidents then become anti-popes in Avignon. Their terms in office are illegitimate.

Rather than adapt to the new reality of changing demographics and take a conservative case to Latinos and African Americans, the GOP finds it easier today to find safe spaces by declaring war on reality.

When election results become fake news, democracy is screwed but that doesn't mean Kobach doesn't have every right to expect his request to be met. In that space of reality between two lies is where journalists ply their trade today. The job has become a bitch.

Reporters live and die by access to sources and sources don't mind being challenged, so long as they aren't called out for B.S. in public. That's why the press hates to call someone a liar. So the media will code the word “lie” in terms of “false assertions,” “statements that are demonstrably untrue;” or a journalist will point out such and such said this and that “despite the fact that....”

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Lies, though, are being leapfrogged by the political fringes creating fake realities, and any news story that calls them out on it is deemed "fake news."

They're not paying us enough for this

Imagine, if you will, a rezoning up in Oro Valley that would allow for 800 homes on 400 acres as opposed to 130 homes on the same plot of land. Neighbors oppose all that development in their back yard and assemble to complain at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. No big deal – but newsworthy.

Except the opponents don't complain about 670 more homes, 7,000 more daily vehicle trips down their local street and a general loss of quality of life. They instead rail against the proposed 30-story casino and amphitheater. How is a journalist supposed to cover the opposition, while accurately explaining the issues involved?

And when you point out that the development plan in no way calls for a casino or an amphitheater, the opponents to the rezoning call your story “fake news.” See, no one can 100 percent guarantee that a casino won't be built there some day in the future and the elitist press won't report that.

Then when the developer declares that to oppose the plan “is to hate the Jews,” the journalist's job just got harder.

No, the reporter explains, they're not anti-Semitic. They're just delusional.

“Are you suggesting that hating the Jews is rational?”

Imagine ... nothing is real

It's no longer Red versus Blue, Left versus Right or even people picking and choosing their own facts. Today, the press has to deal with a wholesale construction of entirely separate realities. If the Civil War was fought between free and slave states, the next one may be fought between altered states but the good news is that new civil war wouldn't be fought in the real world. Each side would just imagine it.

Reagan has shaky ground on which to deny the request by commission vice chairman and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach for Arizona's voter rolls. She says it would not be in the "best interest in the state," which is an exemption so narrowly tailored it is meant to protect the ability of the government to keep functioning.

But liberal groups don't want Kobach and Trump to have the information because they don't know how the information would be used – or more likely, they know exactly how it would be used. No public employee can even ask for why someone wants public information. That's beside the point. It doesn't matter why they want it, the public owns it. The public gets it. The Left either doesn't seem to understand or doesn't care because they are fighting a bigger battle against injustice. Therefor, Arizona's Public Records Law only applies to the Just.

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And in a world where being racially conflicted or registering as a Republican is the same thing as Klan membership, that's a tricky slope. It's an easy slide into the Unjust in a party where one reveals themselves a traitor to the cause for failing to support the presidential ambitions of a 74-year-old senator who never secured a single legislative victory and who espouses European socialism.

I'm not going to pretend both sides are equally along on this journey. The Left is still toiling away in 100-level freshman lectures. The Right is working on their Ph.Ds.

Philosophy and euphemisms

Covering conservatism used to mean having to mind-meld with the zeal of revolutionaries ready to devolve federal power to the states, eliminate the welfare state and establish a new punitive wisdom with a moral clarity rather than mess with situational ethics that excused too much deviant behavior.

That zeal was rooted in assumptions that poverty reveals a poor work ethic, the market is infallible and the only thing the immoral understand is a good punch in the nose. The press, in their job of cross-examining, didn't buy those assumptions prima facia but reporters could at least present that context as a worldview.

There were once ideas involved: Welfare reform tied to work training with lifetime caps; market-based pollution controls that allowed for cap; and trade and health care reform that carried an individual mandate and the expansion of already existing “exchanges.”

When the American Left began working on welfare reform, cap and trade and health reform, the Right's former ideas became anathemas among themselves. When old-school conservatives weren't conservative enough, moderates became wimps and the Left, unbearable. The press, cynical by nature, didn't buy into this worldview and stopped being an adversary and started becoming an enemy in and of itself.

Still, you could deal with them and let the Right state its case under a byline because conservatism represented a worldview. It didn't matter if you agreed or not because a reporter was just as likely to disagree personally with the liberal line. You print their arguments side-by-side and let the readers decide, even if you personally believed both sides were capable of similar bullshit.

But at some point, when a journalist is expected to print completely dubious assertions, the cockpit warning system begin to blare. Ebola infected Honduran kids fleeing to America. Obamacare was nothing more than a liberal effort to murder senior citizens. President Obama was born in Kenya and an illegal president.Voter fraud was widespread enough to warrant voter suppression, even in the absent of proof that voter fraud exists. How do you call a source a liar and get them to call you back the next time you are on deadline?

Climate change twisted the press into a particular pretzel. How do you avoid the term “lie” when conservatives utterly dismissed the threat of greenhouse gasses? Maybe climatologists are overstating the certainty of the threat or underestimating the speed of innovation that may be able to beat it, but it's not a hoax. How do you cover that debate and be fair to both sides without selling out the reader or the viewer?

Fake right, fake left

Now Kobach is out to prove is that there is no truth other than the conservative truth. If we are to live in a democracy, we need to be able to trust that official vote tallies are real. President Trump lost the popular vote but insists he won it. Kobach is on the case. So now the press must add the tagline to every election night story conceding “it is not known how many illegal immigrants voted.”

I'm assuming when conservatives win, we are not supposed to bring it up.

Let's not let the Left completely off the hook here. Remember how a whole bunch of liberals claimed John Kerry won Ohio in 2004 but for the Diebold voting machines? Some liberals were convinced the Diebold Corp., pre-programmed their touchscreen machines to re-elect George W. Bush. Two years later the Election Integrity crowd argued Pima County fixed their machines to ensure the outcome of the Regional Transportation Plan election.

On the other hand, a Democrat can win a nomination without having to kowtow to this fringe. I'm not sure a Republican can stave off a primary challenge without concluding illegal immigrants swung the popular vote.

One whiney tough guy

The Age of Trump has taken the game to whole new levels. We now have a president who tweets out his id and then blasts the press for covering his raunchiness. The GOP, which publicly rolls its eyes at Trump, are finding common ground by blaming the media for covering a federal investigation – and un-named sources have always been a part of Beltway reporting – into just how much a foreign government tilted the scales of an American election.

How dare we even cover it? Even if it's true, it's no big deal because the right side won.

The press isn't supposed to cover possible collusion between a hostile government and a major political party to help secure the White House.. RUFKM? That's like telling the sports desk to cover a Final Four that included Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Towson State but ignore the underdog angle. That's like asking the gossip press to ignore a nasty divorce between Jay-Z and Beyonce. It's like asking the weather desk to ignore a 30-foot blizzard. And it's like asking Cookie Monster to ignore Girl Scouts during Thin Mint season.

When the president kicks that story like a Brazilian on a breakaway, the media is not going to report it even at the risk of wearing the label “enemy of the American people.”

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I hate to break it to the Right but that's just reality. Trump is getting the coverage he's demanding but the Right is getting mileage out of striking back against reality. The Left is learning this lesson and wants them some mileage too.

Both sides, in unequal measure, are trying to create safe spaces from a reality the press is charged with fitting into newsholes and broadcast blocks. It makes the media's job a lot harder and a lot more vital. I don't think we get anywhere by catering to hallucinations.

The truth hurts but it's a hill the press should die on, even if it's in defense of the generals who put us there.

Blake Morlock covered Arizona government and politics for 15 years, including 11 in the Tucson Citizen. He also worked on Democratic Party campaigns in the field of political communications. Now he’s telling you things that the Devil won’t.

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Trump in Poland, July 6, 2017


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