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Asking too much of journalism

OpEd
~Esote-RICK

 

“But it was the Trump campaign’s coziness with so many Russians that made it all possible.”  — AXIOS Online

During a recent live radio interview, the host challenged my assertion that recent scholastic and media industry studies (Harvard, Washington Times, Washington Post) concluded that Trump received 90% negative press prior to his election and just slightly less biased coverage since. I said a lot of the “negative” coverage is reporters allowing their bias to seep into their stories. Often it happens by simply using pejorative terms. She wanted me to cite an example. 

I am relatively new to live radio, so I wasn’t able to cite chapter and verse, but I did say that most mainstream media reports on the subject of “illegal” immigration never distinguish between legal and illegal immigration. Reports on Trump often say he, and Republicans in general, are “anti-immigration.”

That is absolutely untrue and the reporters know it is untrue and still they continue to frame the story as proof that Trump is xenophobic. It all starts with, and is perpetuated by a lie of omission, which is nothing less than slander and Fake News. 

For example, in a story on the millennial website Axios, they talk about how the Russians, prior to the 2016 election, manipulated social media to divide Americans. Not content to just spread the important non-partisan news that foreign countries are weaponizing social media platforms, Axios has to blame it all on Trump!

The last line in the story is: “But it was the Trump campaign’s coziness with so many Russians that made it all possible.” 

Trump, it seems, has magical powers!

“Coziness” can be a pejorative term, and it is just nebulous enough to avoid any claims of journalistic excess. “Cozy” is one thing in reference to a nice evening in front of a fireplace with someone you love and a glass of wine. Or, it can be very negative when placed in context of one of our own sharing too much information with a bitter enemy. But Axios claims it would not have been possible if not for Trump having relationships with “so many” Russians (who are unnamed.) 

Even if we were to accept, for the sake of argument, that Trump had meetings with Russian officials before the election (which I am sure he did at some point in history), how does that extrapolate to his making “it all possible” to exert immense political and cultural influence on social media users all over the United States of America? I would suggest that it is the nature of the social networking beast that makes it all possible, not the cleverness of Donald J. Trump. 

If Jeb Bush had won the nomination, does anyone think the Russians would have thrown up their hands in defeat and abandoned their media manipulation campaign? Does anyone think they have stopped now?

What the Russians have been doing takes an immense amount of coordination and money. If Trump had any part in it, Special Counsel Robert Mueller would have no problem documenting it.

In their article, Axios says, “These (Russian) campaigns are easier because of the U.S. government’s lack of unity in confronting the practice and the platforms. That’s a big win for Russia.” True, but their efforts to divide our country were being developed and used all during the Obama administration. 

Apparently, it is asking too much of journalism to focus on reporting the news without letting their personal bias leach into the content.

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Rick Elkin is a resident of Escondido, an author and media and cultural observer. You can follow him at www.RickElkin.com.

*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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