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Journalists Who Don’t Suck Would’ve Seen Donald Trump Coming

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Ted Rall
Written by Ted Rall

We need a new class of journalists, says Ted Rall. Men and women with empathy, who have a clue about what’s happening in their own country. They’d have seen Donald Trump coming …

aNewDomain commentaryted rall donald trump — If you suck at your job, you’ll get fired. If you suck because you’re lazy, you’ll definitely get fired.

But you won’t get fired at all if you’re a member of the political and economic establishment of a disintegrating superstate. If you’re incompetent and indolent but reliably loyal and unquestioning, your sinecure in the system that props up the powers that be is safe.

The New York Times, an institution so beholden to the establishment that it subjects a major presidential candidate to a media blackout and Orwellian post-publication memory-holing, is this week’s case study in establishmentarian unaccountability.

After effectively donating nearly half a billion dollars of free media coverage to the campaign of Donald Trump (Or is it $1.9 billion? Who can count?), corporate media is finally beginning to wonder whether teeing the country up for its first potential bona fide fascist dictatorship was a good idea.

In the Times, reliably mistaken op-ed columnist David Brooks allowed that, just maybe, opinion mongers like him ought to have noticed the building voter outrage over “free trade” deals like NAFTA and TPP — agreements he and the paper’s editorial board supported that gutted America’s industrial heartland and are driving the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump campaigns.

On March 18, Brooks wrote:

Trump voters are a coalition of the dispossessed. They have suffered lost jobs, lost wages, lost dreams. The American system is not working for them, so naturally they are looking for something else.”

“Moreover,” continued the man, the same man who thought invading Iraq would be a cakewalk, “many in the media, especially me, did not understand how they would express their alienation. We expected Trump to fizzle because we were not socially intermingled with his supporters and did not listen carefully enough.”

“For me,”  Brooks continued, “it’s a lesson that I have to change the way I do my job if I’m going to report accurately on this country.”

This is a stunning admission.

Let’s set aside the question of how likely it is that Brooks really will make the effort to get out more. (My guess: not very.)

The real question is: Why should the Times ­— and, more to the point, the readers whose paid subscriptions pay Brooks’ salary — keep a man on staff who admits that he sucks at his job because he’s too lazy to interact with the American people?

Brooks deserves to have plenty of company as he walks the unemployment version of the Green Mile.

On March 28th fellow Timesman Nicholas Kristof, famous for taking young men and women to Third World nations devastated by U.S. foreign policy (though I doubt he tells them why those dumps look so dumpy), went even further, in a piece titled “My Shared Shame: The Media Helped Make Trump.”

“We were largely oblivious to the pain among working-class Americans and thus didn’t appreciate how much his message resonated,” Kristof wrote.

Please. Most Americans are working-class. In other words, Kristof and his colleagues admit they don’t cover the problems that affect most Americans. Again: Why does he still have a job?

Believe it or not, there are scores — maybe hundreds — of opinion writers who do know what’s going on in their own country. Who write well. Who get stories right. Pundits who saw the Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders populist phenomena coming.

But you won’t find any of them in the print pages of major newspapers like the Times, or even in the low-pay ghettos of their web-only content.

Why?

Because you can’t be a good journalist and a shill for a corporate media obsessed with access to the powers that be.

As usual in these moments of mass media navel-gazing, they almost get it right.

Kristof continues:

Media elites rightly talk about our insufficient racial, ethnic and gender diversity, but we also lack economic diversity. We inhabit a middle-class world and don’t adequately cover the part of America that is struggling and seething. We spend too much time talking to senators, not enough to the jobless.”

Class diversity is a real thing. Newsrooms at stodgy institutions like the Times do have their token women and people of color, but most are women and POC from well-off families. They attend expensive journalism schools that don’t offer scholarships, and thus don’t produce graduates from poor families and towns.

But, as Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton prove, coming from a traditionally disadvantaged minority group is no guarantee that someone understands or cares about the troubles of the economically oppressed.

More to the point, we need a new class of intuitive journalists. Men and women with empathy. People who have a clue about what’s happening in their own country.

For aNewDomain and the new SkewedNews, I’m Ted Rall.

Cover image: InTheseTimes.com, All Rights Reserved 

 

About the author

Ted Rall

Ted Rall

Based in New York, Ted Rall is aNewDomain's chief commentator and a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist. A Pulitzer nominee, Rall's latest book is the NYT bestselling book, Trump: A Graphic Biography.
Support his work and see his toons first at his site on Petreon.

  • Mac McCarthy

    Two points:

    One: The main problem with how the press covers elections is that they are suckers for “news” — someone who is making noise. Trump is rich enough that his candidacy could not be ignored initially, and he drew huge crowds, which is irresistible to the media. They are covering the circus. Which is fine, but they assume their readers realize it’s a circus, so they don’t have to take a stand – just report on the ‘facts.’

    But the public *lovers* Trump’s *facts* and behaviors. And the Left likes Bernie’s *facts* too, for the same reason–kick out the Masters of they Universe who “run everything.”

    It’s almost amusing — if not appalling — to watch the media deploy their opinionmakers to attack Trump, or Sanders — only to find the voters aren’t listening to them. These voters don’t take their cues from the mainstream media! So they can’t ride in and save the day! The all-powerful media is shocked ot be ignored!

    Two: The media are by and large registered Democrats, or left-leaning voters who may not register with a party in order to pretend they aren’t partisan. Research shows they are. So they see the world the way the Democratic Party sees the world. And it shows in their coverage. They can’t even see it because they are in the inside.

    Neither of these has much to do with their knowledge of Average Joe. They are above all that….

  • Anne Sumers M.D.

    It amazes me. Bernie Sanders is the biggest political story in the last 50 years and no one is covering it! Thank you Ted Rall!