How to Avoid a Trump Repetition

Talk about counting your chickens before they are hatched, but I think now is the time to start thinking abut the institutional changes that we can make that will prevent a repetition.

Establishing the validity of truth versus lies.  When the US Supreme Court liberalized libel law to project the media, little did it, or anyone understand that it was legalizing massive and uncorrected falsity.  We have to create some kind of procedural mechanism for the establishment of falsity.  My own thought is that it should be possible to bring a court action against the lie itself, in such a way that it is not about money, but about establishing truth.  Just think if such a mechanism existed to conclusively rebut the peddlers of the birther poison.  At a minimum it would give the fact checkers a common direction, and  finding to which debate opponents could appeal.

Wee tend to get deeply discouraged that around 40% of voters say they approve of Trump.  But remember that only a third of those say that his policies are what matters most.  The rest like the “personality”, whatever that means.

Remember, they met that personality on TV, and much of his early success was simply name recognition.  Remember how Mike Dukakis parlayed a very different TV program, “The Advocates” to a national nomination.

At one level, therefore, the TV networks just have to be much more careful about who they build up.  (How do you think the person who at NBC who accepted Trump’s pitch feels these days?)

Which leaves Fox!

There are many ways to constrain this aberration, with libel law changes being one, but always lurking in the background is the old fairness doctrine.  A way should be found to resurrect this, such as by limiting the exception when the number of meaningfully different outlets falls below a certain level.  Alternatively, controlling Fox through advertisers might become a long term project.

 

 

 

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Rule for Today: Read Only Curated News

Here is a simple rule for maintanning sanity and undercutting attempts to destroy our democracy.

Read Only Curated News

It is that simple.  Read only news sources that take some form of responsibility for what they publish.  Eve Fox, hardly neutral, takes some responsibility and is concerned with reputation.  Not so Breitbart.

Unsubscribe to any and all automated gregators — they are too subject to being fooled by waves of false news.

As to news referrals on Facebook and the like – even if apparently from people you know, ignore unless they are pushing something from a curated source.  (Personally, I would like Facebook to allow one to list the sources that you want to hear about.)

These steps will not stop false news, but should significantly reduce the false news multiplier that the internet provides.

 

 

Future Needs For Federal Agency Outstations

Yesterday, we talked about the Secret Service’s lesser urgency for a close-in outpost in Trump Tower.

Today, much less humorously, it is beginning to look like the DOJ crackdown on the media will mean that Federal Bureau of Prisons will need outstations at the New York Times and the Washington Post.

If history is any guide, that need will decline quickly.  Rather there will soon be need for a huge Bureau of Prisons outstation at Trump Tower.  While the space vacated by the Secret Service will presumably be available, I doubt it will be large enough.

 

Climate Change Headline: “Trump to Planet: Drop Dead”

Let hope it does not come to that, but at 3 PM today, this may be the tragically perfect headline:

“Trump to Planet: Drop Dead”

That, basically, was the NY Daily News headline  (Ford to NYC: Drop Dead) in 1975 when then President Ford came out against loan guarantees for the bankrupt New York City.  Ford the narrowly lost New York, and so the 1976 election.

Today may be the planetary tipping point.

Update: Lets hope that this does Trump’s Presidency in.  Later on June 1, the Huffington used the same language to headline their coverage on their main page, apparently as of 3:36 PM that day (posting time of actual article.)

The Right Wing Press Loses Its Credibility if They Do Noting to Pressure Trump on Press Access

Fox, the Wall Street Journal and friends, now face a critical pass-fail test.  As the Times put it:

Reporters from The Times, BuzzFeed News, CNN, The Los Angeles Times, Politico, the BBC and The Huffington Post were among those shut out of the briefing. Aides to Mr. Spicer admitted only reporters from a group of news organizations that, the White House said, had been previously confirmed.

Those organizations included Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and Fox News also attended.

Reporters from The Associated Press and Time magazine, who were set to be allowed in, chose not to attend the briefing in protest of the White House’s actions. The Washington Post did not send a reporter to the session.

Is the response of the right wing press, to paraphrase Martin Miemoeller:

First they came for the mainstream press, and we did not speak out, because we are not mainstream press.   .    .   .

And here the immediate needed action, shown by AP and Time, is simple.  If you want to talk to us, you have to talk to everyone.

If those who attended the gaggle, fail this test again, they will have shown that political loyalty and short term economic interest trump freedom of the press.  So, they have lost all intellectual credibility, and so have any who continue to work for them.

This is a pivotal moment of choice.  History will hold them accountable, whatever else happens.

Trump’s “Finely Tuned Machine” Sounds More Like a Nixon Tape Transcript

I was reading through the transcript of Trump’s press conference, and started to feel in my gut that I had been here before.

Then I realized what it was.  It was just like reading an old Nixon tape transcript.  Look at this from today:

It’s very important to me and especially in this position. It’s very important. I don’t mind bad stories. I can handle a bad story better than anybody as long as it’s true and, you know, over a course of time, I’ll make mistakes and you’ll write badly and I’m OK with that. But I’m not OK when it is fake. I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred.

I don’t watch it any more because it’s very good — he’s saying no. It’s OK, Jim (ph). It’s OK, Jim (ph), you’ll have your chance. But I watch others too. You’re not the only one so don’t feel badly. But I think it should be straight. I think it should be — I think it would be frankly more interesting. I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now but I think that actually — I think that’d actually be better.

And

No, that’s how I won. I won with news conferences and probably speeches. I certainly didn’t win by people listening to you people. That’s for sure. But I’m having a good time.

Tomorrow, they will say, “Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.” I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people. But — but I’m not ranting and raving. I love this. I’m having a good time doing it.

But tomorrow, the headlines are going to be, “Donald Trump rants and raves.” I’m not ranting and raving.

For those of us who remember Nixon with a certain distorted nostalgia, it is all there.  The resentment, particularly at the press, the belief that he can handle thing that others can not.  His claim not to care about it.  His insults.  His repetition when a point has been made.  Above all it is the constant sense of being aggrieved and a victim, and that he is the only straight shooter in the room.

There is only one problem.  Nixon was speaking in private.  Trump is speaking in public.

I wonder what on earth is he like in private?  Oh, actually, we do know. He is focused on privates.

 

Resurrecting the Online Trump Team Lie Detector

The idea of a TV Trump lie detector system, proposed here, really did not get much initial traction.

Thus the TASS (Trump Assertion Scoring System).  I trust that those old enough to remember the Soviet news Agency and its endlessly repeated and utterly predictable falsehoods will appreciate the joy of thinking of this name .  .  .

TASS would be deployed on one or more news source networks, in the form of maybe a visual Pinocchio, or other graphic, maybe in the bottom left of the screen, showing the accuracy or not of the current assertion. One could also use an icon system to note the percentage of lies in the speech. Indeed, the Washington Post Fact Checker already uses a Four Pinocchio scoring system.  But it is not in real time. Polifact does some livechecking, but it seems to be text driven, and in any event not on the major network news feeds.

But now, with the media finally getting that they have to do something about the obviously intentional lying of the Trump administration, it is the time to get this going.

The great thing is that the Trump team has now degenerated so much that so much of what they say is immediately recognizable as a lie.  So it would not take much staff to do it.

It would be easy to pilot with the press briefings.