Retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona speaks out about the many and varied flaws in Donald Trump’s personality. He makes some excellent, but rather obvious points. Maybe Trump’s core supporters are being wilfully blind when they defend the most blatant examples of Trump’s narcissistic weirdness, but Flake hasn’t mentioned the benefits that have accrued from Trump’s recklessness. Maybe it takes a madman to shake things up in a way that a politically correct, measured, apparently rational personality could never do.
The Today Programme featured Trump’s Fake News Awards.
Anyway, it amused me so much to listen to Jon Sopel (another beauty) demonstrating a staggeringly un-self-aware analysis of the fake news phenomenon, and for your enjoyment I give you this transcript:
Think of the Oscars, think of the Grammies, it wan’t anything like that! Donald tTump put up a Tweet, linked it to the Republican Party website and you couldn’t find anything out - you got an error message initially, so social media went into meltdown and this was instructive in itself of the whole fake news debate.
Because the trump detractors said ‘look what a shambles, what chaos and the Trump supporters were saying the site has crashed because there was such huge interest in it.
I’ve spent the last hour, two hours watching the TV - Fox News which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, very right-wing and supportive of Donald Trump has been covering the fake news wars extensively, CNN, MSNBC barely mentioned them and NY Times next to nothing and the Washington Post are reporting it as a total flop.
The specific incidences are journalists who have got things wrong, and let’s put our hands up, who hasn’t at times made a mistake. The number one on the list of things that Donald Trump found most egregious was from Paul Krugman, known well prizewinning economist who predicted that there would be a stock-market crash when Donald Trump became president. Now, that’s a prediction. Is that fake news? I mean, you know, again, if you are asked to look into a crystal ball there is a 50/50 chance you’re gonna get things right or you’re gonna get things wrong. But this to Donald Trump was the most egregious example because the US Stock-market has gone up 30% in the past year, and Donald Trump, over the past year, a phrase you hear again and again is fake news fake news, you’re all a bunch of liars, it’s untrue. Is that having an effect? Yes it is. if you look at polls a lot of people don’t trust journalists.
Republicans take the harshest view, they say 68% have a less favourable view of the media compared to 54% of Democrats. 4/10 Republicans say that reports painting politicians in a negative light should always be deemed as fake news. That’s alarming.
I think, in America there is always the post Watergate, post Nixon effect, where every journalist looks at himself/herself in the mirror and thinks I could be Woodward or Bernstein and bring down the president. I think that has changed slightly in the Trump era. To some journalists no longer seeing themselves as holding power to account, speaking truth to power, they see themselves as the opposition. I watched, to my astonishment, a rally that Donald Trump gave, and at the end of it the TV presenter, in the studio, it cuts back to him and goes “Man! That was unhinged! What an embarrassment to have him as our president!” This is mainstream media. Now, could you imagine, Sarah, you coming onto the Today Programme and saying ‘Theresa May, she’s unhinged! What an embarrassment to have her as our Prime Minister” By all means invite guests on who might make that point, but when the news organisation itself is saying that I think it is starting to see itself, not just as holding power to account but as the enemy and I think that plays into Donald Trump’s hands as well.
So is this all down to editorial decisions then? (said Sarah Montague)
No. There is commercial element to this too. There is money. Because actually in this present climate, CNN’s audiences, for example, and it was a CNN presenter who talked about the president being unhinged, their audiences are up! Their advertising revenue is up! They are trying to ‘marketise’ the unpopularity of Donald Trump among certain quarters. The NY Times! Their digital subscriptions are going through the roof! Because they are getting more and more people wanting to subscribe to the NY Times. Does that mean they are widening their readership in terms of are they reaching pockets of Republican supporting kind of mid-west America? No, they’re not. What it is, is that more and more liberals think this is the constitution under threat, we think we must subscribe. And so you have people living ever-more in an echo chamber, where the news that they read in the newspaper or they listen to on the radio or they watch on the television are just their own views coming back to them. And fewer and fewer Americans are hearing anything other than what they already believe.