Jeff Gerth’s exhaustive look at the systemic press failure in covering allegations of pro-Trump Russian interference in the 2016 election has been followed by an ominous silence.
By Chris Hedges
Reporters make mistakes. It is the nature of the trade. There are always a few stories we wish were reported more carefully. Writing on deadline with often only a few hours before publication is an imperfect art.
But when mistakes occur, they must be acknowledged and publicized. To cover them up, to pretend they did not happen, destroys our credibility. Once this credibility is gone, the press becomes nothing more than an echo chamber for a selected demographic. This, unfortunately, is the model that now defines the commercial media.
The failure to report accurately on the Trump-Russia saga for the four years of the Trump presidency is bad enough. What is worse, major media organizations, which produced thousands of stories and reports that were false, refuse to engage in a serious postmortem.
The systematic failure was so egregious and widespread that it casts a very troubling shadow over the press. How do CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, The Washington Post, The New York Times and Mother Jones admit that for four years they reported salacious, unverified gossip as fact?
How do they level with viewers and readers that the most basic rules of journalism were ignored to participate in a witch hunt, a virulent New McCarthyism? How do they explain to the public that their hatred for Trump led them to accuse him, for years, of activities and crimes he did not commit? How do they justify their current lack of transparency and dishonesty?
It is not a pretty confession, which is why it won’t happen. The U.S. media has the lowest credibility — 26 percent — among 46 nations, according to a 2022 report from the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. And with good reason.
Commercial Model Changed
The commercial model of journalism has changed from when I began working as a reporter, covering conflicts in Central America in the early 1980s. In those days, there were a few large media outlets that sought to reach a broad public.
I do not want to romanticize the old press. Those who reported stories that challenged the dominant narrative were targets, not only of the U.S. government but also of the hierarchies within news organizations such as The New York Times.
Ray Bonner, for example, was reprimanded by the editors at The New York Times when he exposed egregious human rights violations committed by the El Salvadoran government, which the Reagan administration funded and armed. He quit shortly after being transferred to a dead-end job at the financial desk.
Sydney Schanberg won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting in Cambodia on the Khmer Rouge, which was the basis for the film “The Killing Fields.” He was subsequently appointed metropolitan editor at The New York Times where he assigned reporters to cover the homeless, the poor and those being driven from their homes and apartments by Manhattan real estate developers.
The paper’s executive editor, Abe Rosenthal, Schanberg told me, derisively referred to him as his “resident commie.” He terminated Schanberg’s twice-weekly column and forced him out. I saw my career at the paper end when I publicly criticized the invasion of Iraq.
The career-killing campaigns against those who reported controversial stories or expressed controversial opinions was not lost on other reporters and editors who, to protect themselves, practiced self-censorship.
But the old media, because it sought to reach a broad public, reported on events and issues that did not please all of its readers. It left a lot out, to be sure. It gave too much credibility to officialdom, but, as Schanberg told me, the old model of news arguably kept “the swamp from getting any deeper, from rising higher.”
The advent of digital media and the compartmentalizing of the public into antagonistic demographics has destroyed the traditional model of commercial journalism. Devastated by a loss of advertising revenue and a steep decline in viewers and readers, the commercial media has a vested interest in catering to those who remain.
The approximately three and a half million digital news subscribers The New York Times gained during the Trump presidency were, internal surveys found, overwhelmingly anti-Trump. A feedback loop began where the paper fed its digital subscribers what they wanted to hear. Digital subscribers, it turns out, are also very thin-skinned.
“If the paper reported something that could be interpreted as supportive of Trump or not sufficiently critical of Trump,” Jeff Gerth, an investigative journalist who spent many years at The New York Times recently told me, they would sometimes “drop their subscription or go on social media and complain about it.”
Giving subscribers what they want makes commercial sense. However, it is not journalism.
News organizations, whose future is digital, have at the same time filled newsrooms with those who are tech-savvy and able to attract followers on social media, even if they lack reportorial skills.
Margaret Coker, the bureau chief for The New York Times in Baghdad, was fired by the newspaper’s editors in 2018, after management claimed she was responsible for its star terrorism reporter, Rukmini Callimachi, being barred from re-entering Iraq, a charge Coker consistently denied.
It was well known, however, by many at the paper, that Coker filed a number of complaints about Callimachi’s work and considered Callimachi to be untrustworthy. The paper would later have to retract a highly acclaimed 12-part podcast, “Caliphate,” hosted by Callimachi in 2018, because it was based on the testimony of an imposter.
“‘Caliphate’ represents the modern New York Times,” Sam Dolnick, an assistant managing editor, said in announcing the launch of the podcast. The statement proved true, although in a way Dolnick probably did not anticipate.
Jeff Gerth’s Investigation
Gerth, a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter who worked at The New York Times from 1976 until 2005, spent the last two years writing an exhaustive look at the systemic failure of the press during the Trump-Russia story, authoring a four-part series of 24,000 words that has been published by The Columbia Journalism Review.
It is an important, if depressing, read. News organizations repeatedly seized on any story, he documents, no matter how unverified, to discredit Trump and routinely ignored reports that cast doubt on the rumors they presented as fact. You can see my interview with Gerth here.
The New York Times, for example, in January 2018, ignored a publicly available document showing that the F.B.I.’s lead investigator, after a 10-month inquiry, did not find evidence of collusion between Trump and Moscow. The lie of omission was combined with reliance on sources that peddled fictions designed to cater to Trump-haters, as well as a failure to interview those being accused of collaborating with Russia.
The Washington Post and NPR reported, incorrectly, that Trump had weakened the GOP’s stance on Ukraine in the party platform because he opposed language calling for arming Ukraine with “lethal defensive weapons” — a position identical to that of his predecessor President Barack Obama.
These outlets ignored the platform’s support for sanctions against Russia as well its call for “appropriate assistance to the armed forces of Ukraine and greater coordination with NATO defense planning.”
News organizations amplified this charge. In a New York Times column that called Trump the “Siberian candidate,” Paul Krugman wrote that the platform was “watered down to blandness” by the Republican president. Jeffrey Goldberg, editor of The Atlantic, described Trump as a “de facto agent” of Vladimir Putin.
Those who tried to call out this shoddy reporting, including Russian-American journalist and Putin critic Masha Gessen were ignored.
After Trump’s first meeting as president with Putin, he was attacked as if the meeting itself proved he was a Russian stooge. Then New York Times columnist Roger Cohen wrote of the “disgusting spectacle of the American president kowtowing in Helsinki to Vladimir Putin.”
Rachel Maddow, MSNBC’s most popular host, said that the meeting between Trump and Putin validated her covering the Trump-Russia allegations “more than anyone else in the national press” and strongly implied — and her show’s Twitter account and YouTube page explicitly stated — that Americans were now “coming to grips with a worst-case scenario that the U.S. president is compromised by a hostile foreign power.”
The anti-Trump reporting, Gerth notes, hid behind the wall of anonymous sources, frequently identified as “people (or person) familiar with” — The New York Times used it over a thousand times in stories involving Trump and Russia, between October 2016 and the end of his presidency, Gerth found.
Any rumor or smear was picked up in the news cycle with the sources often unidentified and the information unverified.
A routine soon took shape in the Trump-Russia saga. “First, a federal agency like the CIA or FBI secretly briefs Congress,” Gerth writes. “Then Democrats or Republicans selectively leak snippets. Finally, the story comes out, using vague attribution.” These cherry-picked pieces of information largely distorted the conclusions of the briefings.
The reports that Trump was a Russian asset began with the so-called Steele dossier, financed at first by Republican opponents of Trump and later by Hillary Clinton’s campaign. The charges in the dossier — which included reports of Trump receiving a “golden shower” from prostituted women in a Moscow hotel room and claims that Trump and the Kremlin had ties going back five years — were discredited by the F.B.I.
“Bob Woodward, appearing on Fox News, called the dossier a ‘garbage document’ that ‘never should have’ been part of an intelligence briefing,” Gerth writes in his report.
“He later told me that the Post wasn’t interested in his harsh criticism of the dossier. After his remarks on Fox, Woodward said he ‘reached out to people who covered this’ at the paper, identifying them only generically as ‘reporters,’ to explain why he was so critical.
Asked how they reacted, Woodward said: ‘To be honest, there was a lack of curiosity on the part of the people at the Post about what I had said, why I said this, and I accepted that and I didn’t force it on anyone.’”
Other reporters who exposed the fabrications — Glenn Greenwald at The Intercept, Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone and Aaron Mate at The Nation — ran afoul of their news organizations and now work as independent journalists.
The New York Times and The Washington Post shared Pulitzer Prizes in 2019 for their reporting on “Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and its connection to the Trump campaign, the President-elect’s transition team and his eventual administration.”
The silence by news organizations that for years perpetuated this fraud is ominous. It cements into place a new media model, one without credibility or accountability.
The handful of reporters who have responded to Gerth’s investigative piece, such as David Corn at Mother Jones, have doubled down on the old lies, as if the mountain of evidence discrediting their reporting, most of it coming from the FBI and the Mueller Report, does not exist.
Once fact becomes interchangeable with opinion, once truth is irrelevant, once people are told only what they wish to hear, journalism ceases to be journalism and becomes propaganda.
Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist who was a foreign correspondent for 15 years for The New York Times, where he served as the Middle East bureau chief and Balkan bureau chief for the paper. He previously worked overseas for The Dallas Morning News, The Christian Science Monitor and NPR. He is the host of show “The Chris Hedges Report.”
Author’s Note to Readers: There is now no way left for me to continue to write a weekly column for ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show without your help. The walls are closing in, with startling rapidity, on independent journalism, with the elites, including the Democratic Party elites, clamoring for more and more censorship. Bob Scheer, who runs ScheerPost on a shoestring budget, and I will not waiver in our commitment to independent and honest journalism, and we will never put ScheerPost behind a paywall, charge a subscription for it, sell your data or accept advertising. Please, if you can, sign up at chrishedges.substack.com so I can continue to post my Monday column on ScheerPost and produce my weekly television show, “The Chris Hedges Report.”
This column is from Scheerpost, for which Chris Hedges writes a regular column. Click here to sign up for email alerts.
The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.
And you need to take a look at this dissection by Eric Boehlert at Media Matters in 2007 of Gerth’s Whitewater reporting 15 yeas earlier for the New York Times. Boehlert accuses Gerth of crimes against journalism and they’re, ironically, the same kinds of crimes of those who parroted the “Russiagate” nonsense that Gerth defends in his series for The Columbia Journalism Review. He’s now defending the same kind of journalism he pioneered:
“Whitewater’s cost to the Clinton presidency was enormous. But that’s politics, and there are mechanisms in place for public players to try to combat attacks like that. In terms of journalism, though, the much greater significance was the damage Gerth’s reporting did to the profession and the way his dishonest work helped shepherd in a new era of Beltway reporting in the 1990s. During those years, iconic press institutions such as The New York Times adopted with disturbing ease loose new standards under which innuendo was enough to sustain reports of serious ethical wrongdoing and the omission of exculpatory facts was deemed to be acceptable, if not preferable.”
Now that the whole Western media has taken as given that the president of Russia is the worst of all possible evils and the known corrupt, CIA-led, entity called Ukraine is the height of democracy, freedom and all things good, the populations of the USA, EU, UK, Australia … rely on sources from the Ukrainians for feeding their prejudices. Who listens to President Putin, who has explained in detail the plans for Russia’s eventual response to the 8 years or more of US/NATO interference in Russia’ neighbor Ukraine? All we get is “Russia annexed Crimea” “Putin authoritarian”, “NATO is defensive”, “unprovoked attack” and even when Western crimes are admitted eg NS destruction, they are then ignored as if forgotten.
And these “journalists” are the definition of the banality of evil. I have listened to people debate Arendt’s phrase for years, seemingly not comprehending that the banality of evil does not refer to the Kagans and Bidens and Kissingers of this world. It refers to apparatchiks who are “just doing their job,” which was what Eichmann was, a little grey man doing his job. Watch these liars on TV, listen to them on the radio, read them in trash such as the NYT, they are just little grey men and women doing their jobs, caring nothing for truth or decency.
Can there be any doubt that the MSM has been captured by an unseen monopoly? For people who have the interest, and take the time and trouble to go outside TV and radio for news, the disparity between internet news and TV & radio news has become enormous. It has gotten SO big, and SO many people are seeing. The obvious fraud of the establishment voices, from PBS to the White House.
And can there be any doubt that the mainstream politicians have now been thoroughly captured by an unseen empire? The book Unseen Empire made the following points about the top European banks in 1912.
“It must not be imagined that these several groups of capitalists are either rivals or competitors. For what would be the use? They have divided the world among them, America alone excepted. As a matter of fact, they are all not only friendly, but are allied to one another by so many close ties of blood, marriage and business that it requires but a stretch of the imagination to describe them as a
single great group, syndicate, dynasty, empire — The Unseen Empire of Finance.”
“The European peoples are no longer under the Governments of their respective nations. They have passed under another scepter. They have
become the subjects of another Power — a Power unseen but felt in palace as in cottage, in Russia as in Spain, by every parent and child, by every potentate and every laborer. No nation on the European continent has any longer an independence that is more than nominal. The political autonomy of every one of them has been surrendered to the will of a despotism before which every kingdom and empire and republic fawns in the most abject subserviency.”
“There will be no war until the real rulers of Europe from their strong-
holds in Lombard Street and the Rue Quatre Septembre, in the Burgstrasse and the Schottenring themselves tell the fighters to fight.”
Many of the comments here seem to be written by people taken in by the Russiagate BS.
Beginning with the obligatory disclaimer that I’m no particular fan of Mr. Trump, not having voted for him (nor, thank God, for H. Clinton or Biden), I must say that I don’t agree that he engaged in “non-stop lying”.
If anything, Trump was one of the most refreshingly honest persons ever to reside in the White House, who had no problem saying what was on his mind even if it went against normal conventions. His prevarications were merely those of a salesman puffing up the value of his products, but not that of a professional purveyor of propaganda. Like that of his Democratic opponents.
In my view, the slow death of truth and journalism reached critical mass under the Obama/Biden administration, which moved from overt wars like Iraq to cover operations like Syria, fought not only through proxies but through information warfare. Russiagate was a continuation of this warfare.
Trump got his start in politics by proclaiming Obama’s US citizenship a fraud. He ended by proclaiming the 2020 election a fraud. Puffery?
US troops entered Syria and remain there to this day. Proxy?
Trump is many thing, but “refreshingly honest” is not one of them. He was insincere and inept. Plenty to criticize, bitterly even. However, many of those critiques would go against the beliefs of Democratic elite.
Examples: breaking the deal with Iran and murdering Soleimani together with Iraqi hosts. Critique of that would go against the beliefs of Democratic elite.
USA has divergent interests with many countries, but it is better to resolve them without hateful rhetoric. For example, the economic calculus for creating jobs in China vs US should be altered, but this is not because Chinese communists are enemies, but because it could benefit communities that lost decent paying jobs. Instead, Trump engaged in hateful rhetoric and impose tarifs that, in the absence of industrial policies, moved some jobs from China to Vietnam (and other countries too). Democrats could not do any better, they like hateful rhetoric and lack industrial policies either.
Trump promised to replace Obamacare with “something marvelous” and did nothing of the sort. Democrats do not want to replace Obamacare either (although on that point Trump was lying and they did not, Sanders participates in Democratic party but not in its elite).
Trump had a decent idea of negotiating with North Korea and put Bolton in charge. Stupid, insincere or both. Democrats criticized him as worshiper of authoritarians.
In short, for Democratic elite, nothing better than Russia gate existed. Plus there was a revenge motivation, Trump became known as politically engaged by latching to Obama birth certificate issue, and was very inventive with insults.
To Patrick & Piotr, many of your points are well taken, given how incoherent Trump’s policy often was, but one needs to look at the big picture.
The argumentation is made very well by Christian Parenti in his recent article in Gray Zone: hXXps://thegrayzone.com/2023/02/15/trump-empire-they-hated-him/ “Trump against empire: is that why they hate him?”
Thanks, Altruist, for the link to the Parenti analysis, which is excellent in helping to understand WHY the hatred of Trump. His reference to Trump as toddler-like. smashing up crucial world-domination structure, seems at the essence of this hatred, in my view.
I don’t think Parenti favors the Establishment side of why it feels the need to destroy Trump, and for me one implication of his review is that a Trump type with his MAGA supporters (another reason he was also feared as well as hated I think) IS needed, but needs to go about reform more carefully, more intelligently, someone with the intelligence of a John or Robert Kennedy, not the buffoon Trump.
Trump appears to have two basic drives in mind: a) treating the globalist programs and plans of the US in terms of business considerations (i.e. expenses and financial returns to the US); and b) whatever makes him look good, powerful, and smarter than other people. He’s another type of psycho along with the ones already in place, but not to their liking, as with one of them not dealing properly with a very bad odor about his person.
Take, for instance, his dealings with Korea. He was on the right track here from a world-peace, Korean sympathy point of view. Kim Jong Un, who might be similar in personality to Trump but more intelligent, is NOT interested whatever in attacking other countries. All that is total BS. His view is similar to China’s and Russia’s–defense primary. However, with the several times a year provocations of US-South Korea combined forces circling North Korea with their exercises and threatening it brazenly he has to put up some kind of resistance.
Meanwhile, the people of South Korea and North Korea long for re-union. They still have ceremonial performances to this effect inside night clubs in the South. You have a population very interested in politics and peace candidates. But all this is prevented by the totally unnecessary set of US bases and in many cases the hostile and objectionable presence of US troops wandering the streets.
Was Trump aware of these sentiments? Probably not, but mostly thinking of saving money by withdrawing troops–or getting South Korea to pay full cost plus 50 percent. However, to the New American Century crowd removing the troops from South Korea would be tantamount to weakening the World Policeman’s controlling structure–unthinkable!
No, Trump’s an accident of the system (to whose emergence we might be gleefully satisfied with our schadenfreude) but proper American leader to lead us forward out of this f*cked up American domination program he ain’t.
Agree fully. Having a JFK or RFK in charge as opposed to an impulsive amateur like Trump is what’s really needed.
But an additional point:
One great advantage of Trump’s “transactional” approach is that he treated adversaries with respect as negotiating partners, being willing to enter into dialogue and discussions. Witness his negotiations with Kim Jung Un, which were eventually derailed through Trump’s rebarbative appointee, John Bolton. Such direct negotiations are essential to resolve differences and prevent wars.
Witness the current approach – the Biden team treats all “adversaries” with hostility and extreme arrogance. Note how our “chief diplomat” (and, as one commentator noted, “famously dim”) Secretary of State Blinken has treated China since the initial Anchorage meeting through the recent balloon fiasco, not to mention the lack of any dialogue whatsoever with Russia.
I didn’t think a couple of years back that I would miss Trump, but now I sure do.
Naive wishful thinking. The facts don’t add up. The Big Picture is that Trump is great for perpetuating the illusion of “democracy”. The media cartel give him free coverage daily, the D faction LOVE him. But hey, if you want to believe a fairy tale, knock yourself out. Just don’t expect us to believe – stick to the hard, inconvenient facts.
The “New York Times” published a year after Trump came to power, some 25,000 verifiable lies that Trump told in his first year as president. Get yourself a copy of this unprecedented publication for your files. Sarah Kendzior’s “Hiding in Plain Sight”, Bob Woodward and Robert Costa’s “Peril”, Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker’s “I Alone Can Fix It” along with Mary Trump’s “Too Much and Never Enough…” call Trump’s propensity for lying “prodigious”, and a “way of life.” Granted, “non-stop”, in the context of normal speech, remains hyperbole; however, for any individual to to utter 25,000 lies, it remains accurate and appropriate to observe that “the man lies every time his lips move.”
What a depressing article. Granted, mainstream journalism was always more or less like that, Pravda-like stenographers for the government line; but at least there were exceptions, and events like the Pentagon papers.
Now we’re left with Substack, Rumble, and CN or Scheerpost- which at least, to their credit, do not have a paywall. On the other hand, the subscriptions are what pay for the little real investigation being done; it’s an expensive operation, which is why we depended on the big newspapers for most of it. I wonder how Sy Hersh gets by. And the Columbia Journalism Review did come through, only a few years late; how many people read it?
I view the loss of a credible establishment press as another sign of the fatal decline of the Western imperial project. They see their job as propping up this criminal enterprise for as long as possible. That’s their bread and butter for as long as it lasts. It won’t achieve their objective. Russia, China and most of the world understands the major global power shift taking place. It’s a forgone conclusion.
The best we in the West can do is continue to support independent journalists who have not lost the ability to follow a story without prejudice and report their findings. We are going to need them more and more as things continue to unravel.
I guess the purported Western World is pretty much limited to zombie journalism, the writing dead:
I like that phrase very much, zombie journalism, especially given that they are the zombies and their owners are the vampires.
The situation is worse than Hedges has admitted. Carlos Castaneda, in “Tales of Power” wrote about “The man who would be King” (or mayor, or another governmental official.) Donald Trump has emerged as this Man on steroids. With his non-stop lying, the media noted a curious phenomena: that a lie repeatedly told eventually becomes the truth, and tried to counter this by telling their own lies. In “Tales of Power”, the terrifying response to the King’s lying rested with the people (country bumpkins), who despite being shown the ‘truth’ still believed the lies of their King. As Jacques Ellul and Ortega y Gasset noted decades ago, their minds had become ‘crystallized’ by the King’s oratory; and unfortunately there is no ‘truth’ that can awaken a crystallized mind. Unfortunately, the media cannot recover from its transgressions. However, my approach to the consumption of media is found in a statement by Gautama Buddha who once said, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”
It was not difficult to discern in real time that Russia-gate was a Dem Party campaign to 1)–deflect attention away from Clinton’s horribly run pres. campaign …2)—-attack Trump from the right, portraying him as an agent of Putin’s….3) — pre-condition the American mind for eventual war with Russia.
There are no longer any objective points of reference on issues/events upon which we could all accept as fact/truth. Opinion/conjecture/emotion has replaced fact/truth/objectivity in public discourse and MSM. …….There’s the “my truth” and “your truth” mode of mediating reality which has gained currency.
To this day, there is a significant part of the population that STILL believes Saddam Hussein had WMD. Years from now there’ll STILL be a significant number of people who’ll say “Russia interfered/hacked our election – all 17 intelligence agencies said so”.
…….. Such is the level of disorientation induced by a 24/7 corporate media bubble, along with ever more sophisticated modes of propaganda and psy-ops.
Seems to me the problem lies far beyond the complaint here in this article. Mainstream journalism was never good going back decades prior to the internet, apart from a few. Eric Severeid, Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Scheer, a few publications such as the LA Times, were pretty reliable–I mean by being critical of The Establishment. Yet The Vietnam War fiasco dragged on year after year despite a large anti-war contingent assisted by a powerful music revolution. Now we have a far superior alternative media, and surely anyone not entirely hopeless recognizes “mainstream news” is not critical news doing its job; it’s advertising.
The problem lies in the cultural environment honoring money, products, and spectacles–witness the suffocating power of TV advertising. It’s impossible to watch TV these days without the overwhelming, continuous bombardment of people stuffing their mouths with various food products, the glorification of athletes posturing, vehicles driven as though by maniacs, the encouragement of a narcissistic lifestyle, all product-related. Why should this feel-good society be anything but satiated, continually, under this onslaught?
And we expect a population of this sort to be critical of government policy?
Let’s move on from the continuous lament about how rotten the MSM is. How do we improve education in this country, or is it far too late? How do we encourage election of candidates based in policies suitable to the people instead of the corporations?
All you say it true, but i feel the real story of t.rump and collusion with russian oligarchs is being covered up by the false stories you speak of here. money laundering of real estate properties…where is the reporting on that? i feel t.rump has been working with russian oligarchs all along…Eric said as much…much longer than and more deeply and profitably than the 2015 trashing. i want the transcript of the Helsinki meeting with t.rump…that was a despicable performance by t.rump, as all of his meetings with other world leaders were examples of the ugliest American. i think the money laundering of just the t.rump tower…would be enough to put him in jail. he has to be made responsible for all the horrors and crimes he has created. i think you and the other journalists who i read and admire…need to dig deeper beyond the bone you seem to be adamant about saying is false…there’s a whole carcass just below
Surely the reference to Russian oligarchs, the bane of the life of Putin from the time of his election, shows your bias.These people, based in luxury in the West with their stolen funds from Russia, are the very people Putin went to great lengths to keep in check. The disgusting behavior of the US and other Western media has intensified since the Russiagate days, and Hedges’ reminder that the NYT kept the lies going to please the remaining subscribers shows the quality of “education” and acceptance of only what is commercially pleasing of the allegedly free and democratic US readers.
But why? Specifically in the case of trump, why did corporate media lose its damn mind?
Why did they lavish so much coverage on his candidacy? Was it just laziness? Or were they havin’ a laff?
To think that “russiagate” was started as oppo research by private corporations known as political parties which run this baroque (& broke) system. That it intensified a cycle of grudges that has spun out of control.
Could this madness possibly be traced, in this case, to an old expression that begins: Hell hath no fury…? Scorned not by loss of love but of power?
Could the edifice of American politics possibly more hackneyed or less serious?
Easy, this is business: Because as the CEO of CBS, Les Moonves said: Trump may not be good for america, but he’s good for profits at CBS. Almost every single day, even now, the Mass Media Cartel give Trump free publicity. They LOVE him. They would be ecstatic if Drumpf would be puppet emperor again.
While lucrative for the Mass Media Cartel, all of this nonsense is a distraction to make us believe that we live in a democracy and we have meaningful “choice”. Don’t pay attention to the deep-seated, institutionalized corruption and crimes.
Oh yes! Thanks, Jonny, for resurrecting that statement from Moonves. I looked it up. He said: “Sorry. This is a terrible thing to say. But, bring it on, Donald. Keep going.” This was May of 2016. (Say, where did we hear that phrase “bring it on” before?)
But the fabricated thingy about Russia supposedly tilting the election in t rumps favor to me smacks of Clinton looking to get her grudge on with MSM cooperating. (to expunge their guilt for helping to get trump elected?) With nobody to hold them to account, they (like Corn) still nibble on their own bullshit.
I wonder if MediaCorp even gave a thought to the people who bought trump’s act and were/still are ready to go all jabberwocky on them?
For me, “Iraq gate” in 2003 spelled the mainstream media’s death. It was always very iffy even before that, just look at the works by Michael Parenti, Ben Bagdikian, and Chomsky and Herman. But 2003 really sealed the deal for me.
It is far too late now.
The four years of Russiagate was when it mattered. “Writing on a deadline,” does not cover four years.
“We lied to you for partisan advantage for the last four years,” does not save credibility. It is gone. Confession won’t get it back.
The media industry must reform, in major ways. Re-organize ownership. Fire the Editorial leadership. Fire the prominent reporters who committed the false reporting.
There are plenty of proven reporters of quality available. They work today in the alternative media, or they work not much at all, but we do know who they are.
Not going to happen when you realize that we are living in a fascist state controlled by organized crime, the intelligence [sic] community, and big business. And if you doubt it is a fascist state, try standing up against it in a meaningful way. These are the people who debated putting Occupy in concentration camps! Oooh, big threat, Occupy.
Trump was the worst president in American history. He was also the first president to recognize and weaponize the power of post-modernist reasoning; he took the formerly left-wing postmodern disdain for objective reality and used it to create a right-wing world of “alternative facts”, in the memorable words of Kellyanne Conway, his personal Counselor. It was a brilliant stroke by the team of America’s first true Demagogue-in-Chief.
Mainstream journalism, being already under the influence of postmodernist ideas of relativism, had no tool to reply to this, except to rage and rant against Trump at every turn. Small wonder, then, that the press would seize upon Trump’s own claim to be an intimate pal of Vladimir Putin and try to use it against him. Never mind that Putin could only have considered Trump a hapless buffoon, but far less dangerous to Russia than neoconservative-leaning Hillary Clinton.
Yes, journalism is a shambles, but “Russiagate” was merely the coup-de-grace of a prolonged cultural suicide.
In one of the greatest ironies of our time, the universally hated Donald J. Trump (a.k.a. Godzilla), has managed to destroy whatever special faith, trust, or fidelity once held by the American people in their own government, the American MSM, Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Wall Street.
In their combined efforts to kill the dreaded Trump monster by any means necessary, they also revealed themselves as morally bankrupt animals who were willing to lie, cheat, and fabricate to achieve their desired ends.
So who trusts any of the above players more today than they did even seven years ago? There’s the rub. You manage to slay Godzilla, but you do so at the cost of your own reputation and your own good name. Worst still, the monster you sought to destroy might not even be dead quite yet. He might even be planning for his return to Washington, DC sequel show.
We can add Julian Assange to the list of ex journalists:
“Julian Assange wins Martha Gellhorn journalism prize”
This article is more than 11 years old
WikiLeaks founder praised as ‘brave, determined, independent’ by judges
Thu 2 Jun 2011 15.46 BST Guardian
“Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, has won the 2011 Martha Gellhorn prize for journalism.”
The annual prize is awarded to a journalist “whose work has penetrated the established version of events and told an unpalatable truth that exposes establishment propaganda, or ‘official drivel’, as Martha Gellhorn called it”.
“WikiLeaks has been portrayed as a phenomenon of the hi-tech age, which it is. But it’s much more. Its goal of justice through transparency is in the oldest and finest tradition of journalism,” Martha Gellhorn prize judges said in their citation.
“WikiLeaks has given the public more scoops than most journalists can imagine: a truth-telling that has empowered people all over the world. As publisher and editor, Julian Assange represents that which journalists once prided themselves in – he’s brave, determined, independent: a true agent of people not of power.
And look what happened.
FREE JULIAN ASSANGE
Totally true, not only of Trump coverage, but news in general. And it is getting worse, if that is possible. Journalism is on its death bed, something that has been happening for a half century, or more, at least since I first understood how lousy the business was when I entered it a half century ago, and was dismissed by others for noting what was and is taking place. It is a horrible business if you are looking for truth: totally horrible.
Herr Drumph… No friend of mine… Serial Egotist… Lying Professional Con Man… Could go on & on!
Which National Pol First Visitor to East Palestine?
US Transportation Sec Buttigieg?
US POTUS Biden?
Given… a favorable voting district…
But… (Not Again!)
Credit where due.
Coincidence that credit & Credibility… The Point of Chris & CN’s piece above (tnx as always)…
Russiagate heralded the collapse of critical thinking skills across the board, and does not auger well for at least the short term future (1-2 decades). This collapse is exemplified by the now pathological partisan divisions, stoked by juvenile memes promoting smug superiority.
In addition to the Freak Show and Russo-phobic hysteria created by the Mass Media Cartel, the absurdity of Trump (or any other puppet emperor) being “friendly” to Russia should be obvious as well. Trump ordered the murder of Gen. Suleimani, a blatantly illegal act of war, supported Israeli attacks on Iran, bombed Syria, imposed illegal sanctions on Iran, Venezuela, Cuba, Russia, China etc. Turmp and anti-imperialist? In our dreams maybe.
As usual the BS from a serial conman and consummate asshole (Donald Drumpf) does not match the facts. The Trump regime arguably had the same bunch of rabid, cowardly warmongers rehashed from previous regimes: Bolton, Pompeo, Barr, etc. etc.
Even some so-called anti-war folks buy into Trumps “America First” BS and he is “anti imperialist” WTF?. How naive can we be? It’s pretty desperate and pathetic to me that folks would look to scum like Trump to save the day and believe the blah blah at face value, while conveniently ignoring the facts. (That’s just as bad as the Mass Media Cartel hysteria)
His regime continued the support for the criminal regime in Kiev, terminated the INF treaty with Russia, imposed illegal sanctions on Russia and Russia’s allies. With friends like that, who needs…
Trump should be tried for high crimes and war crimes, just like the rest. His support of genocide in Palestine is reason enough to put him on the dock.
But, I must admit, all of this is was a great distraction and helped to perpetuate the illusion of choice.
Jonny: Other than style, it’s difficult to find significant differences between Trump and previous presidents. After all, respect for law and America’s institutions has never been a priority for those in power. Just something to work around while being maintained for show. And yet, we seldom hear the same cries to put them on trial for high crimes and war crimes (although that is exactly what should be done). In many ways, Trump is the unvarnished face of America as it is, although ironically it seems he may not be quite as blood thirsty.
Exactly, the only difference is the bullshit. Less bloodthirsty? Ask a Palestinian, Yemeni or Iranian about that. Besides, the Trump freaks want to nuke Iran and China, the Biden freaks want to nuke Russia. Now they provoke these nuclear powers at suicidal rates. I think Chris Hedges called the US political class “a suicidal death cult” years ago, if I recall.
The Law and Prison are for “the little people” and Democracy Inc. is just an expensive PR stunt that generates billions for RNC/DNC, advertising firms, Mass Media Cartel, consulting firms etc.
“The US is an oligarchy with unlimited political bribery” (Jimmy Carter, 2015)
Pleased to see an excellent quote from Carter, someone I was never fond of. Apparently the security state was actually thinking at one point of assassinating him! (One Nation Under Blackmail)
Apart from one area, Trump was no different to all the other war criminals that have occupied the role in over 250 yrs. He dispensed with the greasy faux manners of his predecessors and successor, stripping the mask from the awful pus filled reality of the most violent dangerous regime on Planet Earth A second term and it may not have been possible to restore the mask.
Andrew Nichols: I’ve tried for quite some time now to state so briefly and pointedly as you have, what has been the effect of Trump and Trumpism in the US. Well done. The closest I came was right after the election of ’16 when I put up a post that went something like this: “Indigenous Americans probably see it as perfectly natural and unremarkable that an ordinary real-estate speculator is now the captain of the US ship of state.”
Your remark seems so frighteningly accurate when I look into the dead eyes and face -the mask – of our current war-monger-in-chief.