Friday, September 01, 2017

Is the media unfit to be objective and fair?

The Sunday 8/27/17 Detroit Free Press oped page carried a rant by former Free Press editor Paul Anger who asked "Can we all agree now that Trump is unfit to lead?"

Well, no, I don't agree.

There are a number of things Mr Anger said with which I disagree--like his notion that Trump is un-American. Though I reject that viewpoint, I will support his right to have it and express it publicly.

I want to focus on a more serious injustice, his claim that Trump legitimized the Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Va. I want Mr Anger to understand that the Nazi rally was legitimized by our Constitution which guarantees everyone the right of free speech regardless of how obnoxious or even evil their ideas may be like those of the Nazis.

This a good test of one's loyalty to a principle like that of free speech. Most people don't have a problem agreeing with each other. It's when we disagree that problems arise. But even if someone's ideas are wholly evil, a loyalty to free speech requires we defend their right to voice them. Defending someone's right to speak evil ideas is not the same as defending those ideas.

Mr Anger properly gives a list of the evils of slavery and Jim Crow laws for which the KKK and neo Nazis were demonstrating. His complaints about Trump are that he spoke "...so erratically about what happened in Virginia" and that Trump's response was 'belated and tepid' and "There were "many sides" to blame?" and there were "fine people" on both sides. This last was indeed wrong. There were no fine people on either side as far as I could see. He deserves criticism for it. But 'belated' and 'tepid' and 'erratic'? We should execute him immediately?

But Trump's claim that there were "many sides" to blame for the violence is spot on. You could see that on the media's videos where Antifa (anti fascist fascists) were wearing helmets and body armor vests. One does not wear these these things if one intends a peaceful protest. No, they intended to be violent.

Mr. Anger states: "And as someone who spent almost five decades in journalism, I am beyond fed up with Trump's attempts to demonize the media. Members of the media are not perfect. We're human. We're your neighbors, friends, family member. But the media's first responsibility is to be objective yet relentless in reporting and fair yet fearless in commentary."

Objective? Fair? Let's take a closer look at this.

 There was a rally designed by neo Nazis and some KKK members to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E Lee, a civil war general for the Confederacy which wanted to keep slavery and Jim Crow. The Nazis applied for a permit to peacefully protest. I say peacefully because when you sign such a permit you agree to the terms and conditions therein one of which is always that your rally remain peaceful. Did Mr Anger mention that? Nope.

Nor did he mention that the so-called counter protesters consisting of Antifa and Black Lives Matter did not get a permit. Obviously neither group planned on being peaceful especially since one group wore body armor. Clearly both groups think they are above the law. Did Mr Anger mention that? No.

Most of the time when there are protests and counter protests the local police keep both sides separate precisely to avoid violence. That did not happen in Charlottesville. Why not? There was a police presence yet they did nothing to maintain the peace. Did Mr Anger report this? No again.

 It certainly looked like the powers that be-the mayor and/or governor-wanted the violence to happen. Why that? I say in order to tie it to the Trump administration. Of course this is speculation but not without some warrant.

For example, the neoNazis hold a rally every year and the only media coverage they get if any, is local. The national media routinely ignores them and properly so. Routinely ignores that is , until Trump was elected. I fully expect more media to look the other way as BLM and Antifa hold more violent rallies somewhere and to search the land for more evil and try to tie it to Trump.

Can the media actually be 'objective' and 'fair'? Sure, when it comes to things like "local PTA holds bake sale" or "Dog bites man." But when it comes to politics? Forget it. A nonobjective and unfair media has been around for a long time. Back in 1971 Edith Efron published her book "The News Twisters" on the 1968 election between Richard Nixon and Hubert Humphrey. One of the things she shows is how the 3 major networks (ABC, NBC and CBS) gave much more air time to Humphrey than Nixon.

Here is a quote from page 50 on the media's general opinion.
"The opinion-selectivity of all three networks resulted in:
   !)A portrayal of Mr Humphrey as a quasi-saint.
   2) A portrayal of Mr Nixon as corruption incarnate"

As for Trump being un-American, well I find it a stretch to believe a man who was awarded the Ellis Island Award by the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations for immigration and ethnic philanthropy, with co-Award winners Mohammed Ali and Rosa Parks, could somehow support Nazis and KKK types. I don't buy it.

 I've always believed that one should look at the essence of opposing sides. To me the Democrat Party has been for a totally controlled society since FDR at least. Trump in his bumbling, stumbling way claims to be for America and more economic freedom. I'll take the latter any day.

Mr Anger says he's always been an independent voter until two years ago when he decided to become a Democrat. For a man who says he condemns the KKK, slavery and Jim Crow, it's sad to see him join the party that promoted all three.



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