Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Truth ... or bullshit?

It can't be easy these days to be a White House reporter. It's hard enough to do the job when you work in a small town. But at the top level the pressure must be so much more intense -- either you get The Story or you could lose your job.
It must be even harder when the people you're trying to get your story from are clearly nuts.
It's one thing when the new President refuses to let a reporter ask a question and calls the reporter's news agency "fake news." It's another when the President's press secretary admonishes the media for pointing out that the crowd at the new President's inauguration was noticeably smaller than the attendance at the previous President's inauguration.
Now the new administration is trying to place a gag order on federal agencies. Staffers for the Environmental Protection Agency have been told not to express their opinions on social media -- possibly because the EPA's facing a shake-out under the new administration. Today, researchers for the Department of Agriculture were told to stop issuing news releases about any studies they're working on. A senior official with the Secret Service may face some sort of punishment for allegedly saying on Facebook that she wouldn't be willing to take a bullet for Donald Trump.
Awww, did my OPINION hurt the President's feelings?
Couldn't have. I'm not convinced that he HAS any feelings.
Here's the thing that bugs me most about our new President:
He lies. Almost every day.
He overstates. He makes claims that he knows aren't true. Constantly.
And he seems to expect that we're so dumb, or so involved with our own lives, or have such limited attention spans, that we either won't REMEMBER the facts he's distorting or we won't be bothered enough to go track them down.
Like when he said he won the election by the biggest margin in history. Just for an example.
Like when he compared the CIA releasing information -- on a dossier of compromising behavior the Russians apparently compiled about him -- to something the Nazis might have done. And then a few days later he denied that he'd said it. Apparently there's never been a rift between Trump and the intelligence agencies. That was something the media cooked up.
That media. Man, those guys are a pain in the ass.
So here's what we'll do. Anytime we don't like a question the media asks, we'll call them out as fake news. We won't take their questions. We'll have them thrown out of the press conference.
The other reporters will get the message quick. Either they play nice ... or they lose access to the White House. They won't be able to do their jobs. THAT'll shut them up. Either they'll publish the news we want ... or they'll have no news at all.
THAT'll keep 'em in line.
Cut off the media, dumb down the public, and keep that rock rolling downhill. And pretty soon we'll be getting all our "news" from the Ministry of Information.
In Newspeak.
To keep us all from thinking Unthinkable Thoughts.
That would be Double-Plus-Ungood.
I didn't vote for Trump. I voted for Hillary. I wasn't thrilled about it. But that's water under the bridge. So's the election. Hillary lost in the wrong states. Apparently.
But we've got bigger fish to fry now.
I was -- maybe until tonight -- still leaning 60/40 toward giving Trump a chance, seeing what he was going to do, seeing if he could maybe grow into the job, giving him time to mess up on his own.
I didn't watch the inauguration, but I read Trump's speech later, and heard parts of it on the radio while I was working. I read the media's analysis of the speech the same day, and was kind of shocked. Actually, I thought some of the media kind of went apeshit crazy.
Chris Matthews of MSNBC compared the speech to something Hitler might have said. George F. Will -- who's been covering politics for places like TIME Magazine for more than 40 years -- called it the worst inauguration speech in American history.
The speech was pretty short. And Trump used some fairly dark imagery in it. But he used that imagery to illustrate where he thinks America is RIGHT NOW -- NOT where he wants to take it.
I thought.
I didn't think his speech was that bad. But it wasn't an obvious attempt to unite the American people, or even to encourage us to pull together for the good of the country.
He could have done better. He could have made an appeal to the people who voted against him. He could maybe have shown he's not as bad as some people think, that people have no reason to worry. But he didn't even try.
He blew another chance at the Women's March on Washington a couple days ago. He could have embraced that huge, concerned audience. He could have said "I see you, I hear you -- and I'm with you."
But he was mending fences with the CIA at the time.
Now I read that Trump may order that border wall -- you know, the one Mexico's going to pay for -- to start construction on Wednesday. And you know who's going to pay for it -- we are.
That wall will be built for NO REASON. It will be built as a symbol. To keep illegal immigrants out so they won't take our jobs? How many of you Out There have lost your job to someone from somewhere else? Most jobs being done by immigrants are jobs Americans are either educationally unqualified for ... or jobs Americans refuse to do for less than $15 an hour. ...And by the way, where are YOU from?
Faced again with an administration that clearly feels the media is The Enemy, just like Nixon did, I hope the media will get tough, stand up for each other, hold Trump's feet to the fire, hold him accountable for everything he says. So far they've done OK. We need them to keep doing it.
It shouldn't be hard to hold him accountable. He'll say something stupid again tomorrow. Or there will be some fresh new outrage that he'll try to twist and spin to suit his own purposes.
As for me, I'd still like to see him grow into the job. Don't we all hope for the best for our country? I'm still willing to give him a chance.
But if -- no, WHEN -- he REALLY messes up, then I'll be jumping on him, just like the reporter I used to be.

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