If we ever needed a Howard Beal character to show up on the airwaves, now is that time. What we need is a solid eye-blearying jolt, a double won’t do it, nor a triple, we need a whole bottle, of plain, unvarnished 180 proof truth. We are at a point in American history when things have drastically changed politically and the way politics is reported has not changed. That is our dilemma. We are skewered on the horns of it.
Every single day we see two things: On the one hand, or horn, we have mainstream media following its standard race horse, nail biting, both siderism way of reporting on the midterm election. Every single day there is a new poll out that indicates races are “narrowing” because that is how political reporting goes in this country. Remarkable statistics are seldom, if ever, highlighted because that would upset the applecart. Can’t have an anomaly. You might have to think about it, so we just won’t bring it up. More about that in a moment.
On the other horn of our dilemma, the traditional way of reporting does not allow for the true horror of events as they really are occurring to get full coverage and be explored in context, because to do so is seen as “bias” and that is anathema. So the both sider madness continues, regardless of the facts that scream, “Look at me! Look at what’s happening here! Look at what it means!” And the problem with that, is that we are left with an overwhelming sense of futility, a sense that none of this matters somehow.
We look at candidates like Herschel Walker and Raphael Warnock and we are told they are in a dead heat, when the fact is that the two men are so different that they’re almost not recognizable as the same species. Yet we hear that Walker could take Warnock’s job, mentally ill and lacking in character as he is, with a track record of lying during his campaign a mile long. This is supposed to make sense to us. Is it any wonder that people want to give up on the political system altogether? Reading these stories every day? And in all fairness, we saw a terrific senator, Doug Jones, be replaced by that idiot coach Tommy Tuberville, who doesn’t even know about the three branches of government. And he’s a lawmaker in the upper chamber of congress.
I promised you a remarkable statistic that is not being widely reported. Here it is, from Michael Moore’s newsletter:
Early voting in Georgia has already set a new record. And here’s the “bad” news the patriarchy isn’t reporting — of those who have already voted, 55% are women and 45% are men. A whopping 10 point difference! Landslide numbers. And the men who’ve been telling us nonstop for the past couple weeks that the Republicans are going to win, causing so much despair amongst liberals — well, these men don’t even see the 100-foot female wave a-coming their way.
This is not new. Voter registration among women has surged since June when Roe was overturned.
Are these the facts that you are hearing? No. You are hearing that gas prices and inflation are the big order of the day and women have just rolled over and accepted their fate. You’re hearing that, against all common sense and reason, the polls are shifting Republican. Again, Michael Moore.
In order to accept the ruse that “the polls have shifted in the Republican’s favor” — in other words, that the majority of Americans suddenly yearn for a return to the days of the accused rapist Trump — then you’d have to truly believe the following horseshit that the pundits, pollsters and party hacks are pedaling to you:
The Pundits: “The female fury over the Supreme Court Roe decision in June has subsided. Women were initially angry and upset, but then they calmed down and collected themselves, realizing that the cost of a dozen eggs (chicken eggs) and the price of a gallon of gas was far more important than having their own absolute legal control over their reproductive organs — and that being ordered to carry a pregnancy to term against their will was really no biggie.”
The Truth: The men who own and run the media have NO clue just how outraged the vast, vast majority of women remain over having it shoved in their face once again that they are second class citizens who are never going to hold real power (74% of Congress is still held by men and 426 of the Fortune 500 companies are still run by men), that women will never be paid the same as men, and that 56% of those forced to live in poverty and 64% of those who work the lowest paid jobs are and will always be women as long as the patriarchy says so — or until the patriarchy is smashed.
And these men who’ve been telling you (lying to you) every day during this election that women don’t really worry their “pretty little heads” over this stuff — which is the literal man’s boot placed squarely on their necks, as RBG used to say — are also telling us that women have been able to put their “emotions” aside and now wake up every morning obsessed with the price of gas (as of today, a whopping 21 cents over a year ago!). Of course women would gladly give up their basic human rights for a gallon of gas! The men who think this way are either just stupid, or they know all too well that they must depress the Democratic vote next week by getting just enough of you to believe that women are now voting for Republicans.
There is a maxim from a Journalism 101 class which is applicable here.
“If someone says it’s raining & another person says it’s dry, it’s not your job to quote them both. Your job is to look out of the f**king window and find out which is true.”
Your job is to look out of the fucking window and find out which is true. It’s also a legend that old time newspaper editors would send a reporter out and say don’t come back until you’ve got the story. Not, go get a bunch of quotes, but don’t come back until you’ve got the story.
We’re not getting the story nowadays. The mechanism of journalism is broken in this country. In a recent podcast, journalist Margaret Sullivan said that the problem was that the news media aren’t thinking about “what’s good for the public, they think about what’s good for engagement.” Yes. Broadcast news in particular is terrified of driving away a portion of the viewing audience. This is why the new owner of CNN has told election deniers that they’re welcome to come on the CNN platform, just don’t talk about the “stolen election.”
Print media is better, but they still want to dance around with “falsehood” rather than just say “lie.” For reasons known only to their corporate overlords, it is better to use Marquis de Queensbury rules of engagement and dance around the truth rather than just tell it.
Lastly, if you look at what is happening on Twitter and Elon Musk tweeting out his homophobic conspiracy theory against Paul Pelosi last weekend, it is hard not to totally despair. Free speech is not about the freedom to spread conspiracy theories or, in Kanye West’s case, the freedom to dredge up the ancient hatred of the Jews (which it turns out stems in West’s case from a dispute with a Jewish physician over medication.)
Social media is a big part of journalism in this day and age. Twitter, in particular, is comprised of a lot of professional journalists. Most of the blue check mark people that Musk wants to charge money to be there are journalists. Yet we see Twitter turning into a bigger cesspool than ever since Musk took over and nobody knows how that is going to turn out. Odds are being laid that we’re in for a truly Orwellian experience of disinformation deluge, other odds makers say that Musk will tire of this game quickly and sell out at a loss. Both are possible, or some other alternative we haven’t thought of yet.
But for right now, look at this madness.
Both of these people are 1) mainstream conservatives on Twitter 2) batshit crazy and 3) utterly dishonest
The reason you people are underrepresented in mainstream organizations is because you're freaks. pic.twitter.com/DalC20JbWV
— MetaShoe 🇺🇦🇹🇼 (@the_shoe_yes) November 2, 2022
The irony here is that Bethany Mandel (who is a Fox contributor, by the way) is right that the story isn’t being reported properly but not for the reasons she says. The essence of the Paul Pelosi attack story is the utterly insane reaction to it by right-wing media, of which she is a part. A solid reporting of the story would stress that fact first and foremost. Instead, mainstream media is glossing that aspect over and the real story, of the insane right-wing reaction and the vulgar conspiracy theories that were spread at the speed of light, including by the owner of Twitter, is left to commentary and the blogosphere. That’s the story.
The landscape of this country may look very different a week from now. We don’t know how the midterm elections are going to shake down because we’re not getting the entire story. We’re getting facts filtered through a system that was invented to cover politics decades back and which simply doesn’t work any longer in this radically changed society which we find ourselves in since the Republican party gave up and died and MAGA emerged from its rotted corpse.
We live in turbulent times. I hope journalistic ethics can prevail over corporate interests. I am not holding my breath. But one thing is on the horizon: if we see the common sense solution which is expected at the polls next week, i.e., that the Roe decision buries the GOP, then we may see a sea change in reporting. And the sea change may already be here. It may have come this past week with the Pelosi story.
Anecdotal data point: Had lunch with an old friend, a fellow former-GOPer (but not in politics or media or anything) and he said that things feel different after the Pelosi attack. Not sure why. I feel the same thing; not sure that it'll matter, but have that same sense.
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) November 2, 2022
Maybe it’s here. Maybe the sea change is here. Maybe the truth will finally come limping after all the lies.
As the vilest writer has his readers, so the greatest liar has his believers: and it often happens, that if a lie be believed only for an hour, it has done its work, and there is no farther occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and truth comes limping after it….” Jonathan Swift
Maybe it’s time for truth. God knows it’s overdue.
The men and GOP pundits are saying the red wave is coming. Jim Jordan is already boasting his plans. As for me I like to think Michael Moore is right. On a more liberal, obnoxious forum I have said the Dems are taking the house all beit very close. We shall see next week.
I hope you’re right. One business I would not want to be in these days is the polling business. There isn’t enough money in the world to make me want to get into that business. The methods of polling are clearly antiquated. You recall 2016 when Trump had a 15% chance of winning.
Add to that institution not being up to the task, how the institution of the press is failing and we are in a world of hurt.
Want more accurate poll data, Ursula, check out TargetSmart. They’ve a proven track record for forecasting. But do more than hope too. Leave it all on the field in terms of GOTV from now to Election Day.
Interesting isn’t it that the overtly biased right-wing media (Fox “News,” “News”max, OANN, etc) NEVER bother to concern themselves with “bothsiderism” in their “reporting.” No. They simply present THEIR side of the issue and then tell their viewers why the other side is wrong without actually getting people from the other side to explain/defend their view (when there are folks from the “other side,” they’re closely vetted to make sure they’ll agree with the specific issue–or they’re simply one lone voice fighting for time against four or five other voices who are all spewing the same party line).
But with the “mainstream media”–that so-called “liberal media”–they MUST have two opposing views on an issue to avoid the dreaded claim of “bias” (usually from the right-wing media that has no problem rolling around in their own bias).
Saint Reagan is responsible for the mess we’re in. His abolishing the Fairness Doctrine led to Rush Limbaugh and that was the cobble stone path to Hell. And here we are, roasting marshmallows.
Excellent piece Ursula and right on target (as usual). Hoping Michael Moore has the electorate correctly analyzed.
Yes, excellent, Ursula. So much so that I had to read this one aloud to my hubby.
Damn, Ursula, one of your best ever, and that’s saying something. Good for you Daisy, I tried but he’s too into whatever crap’s on the TV grrr. Ursula, Michael may have something there; Tuesday at a local Early Voting poll here there were a record-breaking 700 voters. And the women outnumbered the men FIVE to ONE! Sounds like a clue to me… I’ve been poll greeting when I can, and I have seen a lot more women. Come to think of it.
The younger women in particular are registering. This inflation bullshit is not nearly as compelling a topic as to whether you have control of your own body. if that needs to be explained, then I throw up my hands in despair.
Let’s see what happens next week.
Thank you, Daisy. I’m honored that you read it to your husband. Thank you for sharing that with me.
Believe me, this piece is heartfelt. The media HAS to catch up with the changing times. We can’t be using reportage skills from half a century back. The world has changed, the media has to change with it.
That said, two CNN hosts lost their shows today, and I venture to say we are going to the land of both siderism soon.
Oh, he doesn’t. He just knows which way the winds are blowing and is adjusting his sails. After this many years of his doom-pandering, that in itself is interesting.
And to quote General Phil Sheridan to his troops, “God damn you, don’t cheer me, FIGHT!” Do EVERYTHING you can in these last few days to GOTV.
God I hope so, too. From your lips to God’s ears.
I always wonder how high up in a company that pretends to be fair, even running both-siderism’s, religiously, that the direction of reporting the truth becomes mired in some back-office waste basket …
Do the lords of the CEO’s handmade walnut desk office, have printed out references to the reality-squashing process that seems like a relic of times past — the high pressure ad campaign we all hate to see, with name calling using bad photos or videos of their opponents, all saying the tired words, “Too Liberal”, or other simple words, “Not Qualified”, …
We are seeing millions of dollars thrown at the media circus to repeat the stupid Republican ads, if the GOP just used their $92 million dollars, dark money, set aside for the election, to actually do good For The People, they could start the re-unification of these United States, to Hell with the Orange Fart in Mar-o-golf, Florida …
I hope, with my older body, I live to see Trump hauled to court, tried and sentenced for all the hell he has created for our country …
I’ve been saying for years that if the obscene amount of money spent on elections were spent on feeding, housing and health care for those who struggle to get by on a minimum wage that was obsolete 20 years ago, we’d have a right to brag about how America is the greatest country in the world.
TIME FOR A FUCKING REVOLUTION!!! REMEMBER REVOLUTION???? MAYBE ITS TIME ALL OF US TAKE AN OATH TO THE FUCKING CONSTITUTION! I DID WHEN I ENLISTED. Don’t bother giving me shit over the caps! Ask yourself…what are you prepared to do? Expecting the media, owned by the rich, to promote any interests but their own, is to believe Santa Claus is going to come down your chimney. I trust Michael Moore’s instincts, but if he’s wrong, this planet will be doomed by the rich wanting that trillion dollars of fossil fuel still in the ground. They won’t willingly walk away. Trump or some version of his cult will open the floodgates. Methane will be released from the bottom of the oceans as it is starting now due to warming. Plankton will be destroyed. The basic systems WE depend on will reach a tipping point of destruction. It’s a mass extinction by our own hand. Fact. Playing nice with fascists never stops them. Hasn’t ever in the history of the world. That’s why Arlington Cemetery is a sea of white headstones. A fucking sea. Go see for yourself what it has taken. America…the land of amnesia. If the election gets stolen again as in 2016…talking & typing won’t save our ass. Won’t save our children either. Ask the Ukrainians what the cost is to stop a fascist. Go ahead. Ask them if you want to really know. My five uncles were the nicest fellows until WW2 came along. They had no choice but to fight. We may not either. We’ll see. We’ll know before long. The revolution won’t be televised. Sounds crazy doesn’t it? It is…to forget our founding fathers. What kind of lunatics take on the most powerful military in the world without a standing army or a navy? Washington and his gang of nuts.
” When the going gets weird…the weird turn pro”. Hunter S. Thompson
Thanks for the reminder Hunter.
The Oath to the Constitution is meaningless if a person doesn’t have a pure heart and intends to live up to it.
I took it more than once. As a Marine, and years later as a Civilian. Those words seared my consciousness each time. I knew the words long before the time first came when I raised my right hand and took it. Our founding fathers had their share of flaws, but at the end of the Declaration when they pledged “Our lives, our fortune and our sacred honor” it wasn’t just words. They knew with their vote for Independence and later their signatures they were doing exactly that. Either we won Independence or they would all have hanged and their property, fortunes and families would be gone. Each time I swore to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and that I would “bear true faith and allegiance to the same” I thought of those who signed the Declaration. I took it that seriously, and in the Corps knew full well I was putting my very life on the line.
To conservatives, damned near everyone that Oath is just words. Some bullshit they have to say before getting on to their business NOT of making this country better, or upholding the Constitution but rather to grab all they can for themselves and their cronies. Including and especially power over the rest of us, the ability to DICTATE to us what we can do, and even learn and think.
So, swearing an Oath? Don’t bother with any of the MAGA asshats and their enablers because as I said the Oath on counts if you mean it. THEY DON’T!
Marine you are on point. When only 1% of our citizens have served, is it any wonder the general population is in such sorry shape? To have 75 million vote for a rich boy who tried to end NATO, pissed on the military at every turn, and attempted a violent overthrow of the government USING THE POWERS OF THE PRESIDENCY…well I have zero patience for these armchair apologists. NONE. There are too many families that paid the price that wounds forever. I pray we use the vote to stop fascism. Otherwise these comfortable experts are going to find out what it really takes to fight fascism…SACRIFICE!
The system gets this far off the rails in journalism, it’s collapsing regardless of what the bosses attempt. I don’t see that as so bad. A decaying system needs to fold or it gets trapped in a cycle of failure that benefits no one. If the ratings tank enough in the next couple of years, long overdue changes may well be in the offing.
But that’s THEIR business. Ours remains the same: proving the bastards wrong…dead wrong…by GOTV.
Sadly, they are NOT up to the task. If our Democracy is to be saved it will be by us regular folks who somehow manage to overcome the media narrative and of course the machinations of the conservatives turned open fascists.
Most journalists are fucking LAZY. It’s a LOT easier to report on “horse race” crap than to educate the public. And for the too few wanting to do the job properly they face editors, news directors, publishers/station owners etc. An entire layer of folks who are not the registered Democrats conservatives bleat about in those surveys of journalists personal political leanings. Nope, those who make the decisions about what we hear, see and read are in a much higher income bracket. And THEY are Republican. Conservatives. Gutting of regulation and the govt. not addressing monopolies which by law it could do if it wanted has made them rich and will make them richer still if conservatives are in charge. And of course they want their fucking tax cuts!
Make no mistake, even the “talent” you see on TV (both the hosts/reporters and the guest print writers they have on) are in the upper few percent in income. Most of them want the media consolidation (IOW lack of regulation) and tax cut gravy train to continue. The very few who do want to tell the real news/story are limited by the bosses in how hard hitting they can be and how often they can say what they want to say!
No, as a lifelong suffering Cubs fan who saw my team win an improbably game 7 victory for their first World Series Championship in over a century they won it IN SPITE of their celebrated Manger who went to fucking pieces during the Series. When all seemed lost, the players huddled together, shutting him OUT of the room and rallied themselves during that rain delay late in the game. Then came out and grabbed that win by the throat.
That’s what we as voters have to do. Win in spite of everything. And by everything I mean EVERYTHING including modern journalism.
Best discourse I have seen on this site. Thanks to all.