Trump brings the crisis in journalism to a flashpoint

Summary: Campaign 2016 and the advent of Trump have brought the crisis in journalism to the front pages. Fake news, conflicts with the president, calls for advocacy journalism, loss of the public’s trust — together these are forcing journalists to reconsider the craft and their business. Failure to find solutions will mean a new information regime for America.

Lois Lane

 

Contents

  1. Watch journalists burn the news media.
  2. Do we trust journalists or Trump?
  3. Do we trust journalists?
  4. Jay Rosen explains the news.
  5. For More Information.

See journalist in Lois Lane in 1972…

(1) Watch journalists burn the news media to the ground

Their business relies on the public’s trust. I feel sad watching them burn their business to the ground. Their long decay has accelerated since the election of Trump.

16 Fake News Stories Reporters Have Run Since Trump Won” by Daniel Payne at The Federalist “Journalists, media types, reporters, you have two choices: you can fix these problems, or you can watch your profession go down in flames.” Payne provides detailed documentation of sixteen fake new stories. None were well-researched. All received lavish attention from mainstream journalist. All proved false, with the retractions lightly reported.

A WaPo op-ed: “The media botched this Trump story last week — and that’s bad for everyone” by Jackson Diehl (Deputy Editor).

“The Trump administration has launched a raft of ill-considered, reckless and wrongheaded foreign policy initiatives in its first two weeks… One thing Trump has decidedly not done, however, is downgrade the participation of the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the deliberations of the National Security Council. Opening…

“You may have heard and read otherwise, repeatedly. Therein lies an illustration of how communication between the executive and mainstream media, and with it coverage of the Trump administration, has already come unhinged. …Media organizations look less credible on the real Trump transgressions when they, inadvertently or otherwise, report the routine as scandalous. “

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Before we panic about Trump, see the Left’s past warnings

Summary: The Republic stands on the verge of destruction, again, as a new age of Leftist doomsterism begins. Before again credulously believing and panicking, let’s look at the Left’s past warnings. That should guide our response.

Trump as Hitler
Photoshopped, but is it truthi?

 

The Left screams warnings, louder and shriller every day, about the dire fate awaiting us. Trump plans to overthrow the US government. He is an authoritarian, a fascist, a Nazi, another Hitler. Before we panic — mailing large checks to Leftist advocacy groups, joining street mobs, and looking for Nazis to punch — let’s look at the Left’s record of prognostication.

We have 5 decades of alarms, for most of which the due date has passed. How often have their warnings proven correct? Let’s not react like the people on South Park, with wild panic to every rumor of doom.

The Population Bomb
Available at Amazon.

 

The Population Bomb.

The 1968 preface of Ehrlich’s book clearly summarizes his analysis (also see Wikipedia).

“The battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now. At this late date nothing can prevent a substantial increase in the world death rate.”

Never embarrassed by the failure of his predictions, in 2009 he wrote “The Population Bomb Revisited“. It said, quite delusionally, that “perhaps the most serious flaw in The Bomb was that it was much too optimistic about the future”. Even weirder, he took credit for the innovations of the green revolution: “it alerted people to the importance of environmental issues and brought human numbers into the debate on the human future.”

Ehrlich is considered an authority by the Left, despite his long series of failures. He gave one of his trademark doomster predictions in when speaking in London at the Institute of Biology in Autumn 1969. It is quite unlike the serious analysis in Limits to Growth. The New Scientist of 16 September 1971 quotes Ehrlich.

“If current trends continue by the year 2000 the United Kingdom will simply be a small group of impoverished islands, inhabited by some 70 million hungry people, of little or no concern to the other 5-7 billion inhabitants of a sick world. … If I were a gambler, I would take even money that England will not exist in the year 2000.”

Bernard Dixon’s “In Praise of Prophets” says Ehrlich also predicted worldwide plague, thermonuclear war, death of all sea-food, “rocketing” death rates, and ecological catastrophe. “The audience loved it and gasped for more”.

Famine 1975!
Available at Amazon.

Famine 1975!

Bruce Trumbo’s review, “A Matter of Fertility“, summaries its terrifying forecast. It was a best-seller in 1967. See Wikipedia for details.

“The underdeveloped nations have exploding populations and static agricultures. The ‘Time of Famines’ will be seriously in evidence by 1975, when food crises will have been reached in several of these nations. The ‘stricken peoples will not be able to pay for all their needed food imports. Therefore the hunger in these regions can be alleviated only through the charity of other nations.’

“The only important food in famine relief will be wheat, and only the US, Canada, Australia, and Argentina grow significant amounts of wheat. The United States, the only one of these four countries that has historically given wheat to hungry nations, is the ‘sole hope of the hungry nations’ in the future. ‘Yet the US, even if it fully cultivates all its land, even if it opens every spigot of charity, will not have enough wheat and other foodstuffs to keep alive all the starving. Therefore, the US must decide to which countries it will send food, to which countries it will not.'”

"Los Angeles: AD 2017" by Philip Wylie
Available from Amazon.

Los Angeles, A.D. 2017.

Hollywood, whose leaders’ lean to the Left, produces a steady stream of disaster films portraying the approved disaster of the moment, such as “L.A. 2017”. Directed by the 24-year old Steven Spielberg (his third pro job), it aired on 15 January 1971 as an episode of The Name of the Game. The audience saw the horrific world of 2017 (46 years in the future), after pollution had destroyed the Earth’s ecology and forced the remnants of humanity to live underground. Los Angeles has one cow; its milk is a delicacy for the rich. For more about the plot see this, or the Wikipedia entry.

It was written by Philip Wylie, a science fiction writer with a successful specialty in leftist doomster tracts about nuclear war and ecological doom. He novelized it as Los Angeles: A.D. 2017. See a review here.

Global Warming

Five decades of warnings.

The Left bombarded us with countless more warnings of doom during the next five decades. With an impressive record of total failure. My favorite was the years of warnings that peak oil was upon us, with causing the end of civilization. More entertaining were the lurid (but largely bogus) reports of the imminent bee-pocalypse.

Since James Hansen’s 1988 testimony to the US Senate about global warming, the Left has focused on announcements of the imminent climate catastrophe (going beyond anything in the IPCC’s reports): the end of snow, the parade of superstorms predicted to following Katrina, and other grim tidings that have not arrived. It’s an almost endless list of failed predictions.

Plus we have saturation bombing by their predictions of future doom, climate nightmares often based on misrepresentations of the IPCC’s RCP8.5 scenario. But after 30 years with only tiny changes in US public policy about climate, the Left has changed their tune. Now Trump has become the great danger. Dictator Trump. Fascist Trump. Nazi Trump. Hitler Trump.

Perhaps this time their warnings will prove to be prophetic. But, as with their previous warnings, the analytical basis for their forecasts about Trump are weak — often delusional. He is a clownish conservative, with a cabinet of bog standard far right Republicans. There is near-zero evidence that he, his officials, or senior elements of the US military and law enforcement agencies, want to or can overthrow the government.

No Fear

Conclusions

Since WWII both Left and Right have relied on fear to influence Americans. Generations have passed since FDR said “we have nothing to fear but fear itself.” Perhaps we have grown up, matured beyond the ability of nightmares influence us. The next few years will reveal much about Trump, the Left, and America.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See more information about doomsters, about information and misinformation, about Donald Trump, and especially these posts…

  1. Journalists suffer from the crisis crisis, warping America’s vision.
  2. Requiem for fear. Let’s learn from failed predictions to have confidence in ourselves & our future.
  3. Threats come & go, leaving us in perpetual fear & forgetful of the past.
  4. Good news about the fear epidemic: we’re learning!
  5. Today’s conservative doomster warning (ludicrous but fun) — Paul Craig Roberts sees the End, published in the Leftist “Counterpunch”.
  6. Dreams of apocalypses show the brotherhood of America’s Left & Right.

Two books about the United States of Fear

The United States Of Fear
Available at Amazon.
Fear for America
Available at Amazon.

 

Deciphering the scandalous rumors about Trump in Russia

Summary: Stories about the Trump-Russia scandal continue to roil the media. It might dominate the vital start of the Trump administration. Even if it does not, these events are rich with lessons about hidden aspects of America’s politics. Here is an expert’s analysis, a follow-up to Here are the facts so far about the Trump-Russia file.

Poster of Trump and Putin in Vilnius
Ints Kalnins/Reuters.

The story of the Trump-Russia file is among the most significant news of 2017. Not because it is yet another disreputable story about Trump (credulously believed by the Left). Not because of its salacious details (which so excite the Left). The involvement of US intelligence agencies makes it important. We can only guess at their motives for publicizing this unverified information. They move like the sandworms in Dune, giant beasts visible only by their wake on the surface.

As usual with scandals (real or imagined), the British press have covered this more closely than their US cousins. Mostly by speculation, but the better elements have presented intriguing analysis. Such as this in yesterday’s London Review of Books: “How to Read the Trump Dossier” by Arthur Snell — a veteran of the UK Foreign Office, now a managing director of corporate intelligence firm PGI Intelligence. This provides the strongest case I have seen for taking the Trump-Russia file seriously. It goes off the rails at the beginning.

“None of the claims made in the dossier has yet been verified, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take it seriously. Intelligence is information, from a privileged source, that supports decision-making. It is seldom verifiable because that information is rarely in the public domain.”

Why should we take this file seriously if it has no verification? Here is the closest Snell gets to an answer. It’s quite daft.

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Resolve to begin the reform of America in 2017!

Summary: Make 2017 a big year in American history, the year its engines of reform roared into action. Here are some suggestions about ways you can help.

“Nietzsche said the newspaper had replaced the prayer in the life of the modern bourgeois, meaning that the busy, the cheap, the ephemeral, had usurped all that remained of the eternal in his daily life.”
— Allan Bloom in Closing of the American Mind (1988).

During the past decade I’ve written over 300 articles describing the tide of propaganda rising over America, now called “fake news” (links to some of the best appear at the end of the post). But the attention to the issue is misdirection in both senses.

Whining about our elites’ lies misrepresents the guilty parties. We consume information as entertainment (watching rather than acting), and have become gullible (more interested in entertaining stories that flatter our beliefs than their accuracy). The combination makes us weak. Of course our elites exploit this. It’s the Great Circle of Life at work. We will be prey so long as we are weak. Our leaders treat us like dogs because we are like dogs. We are the weak link in America.

When we again become skeptical of what we’re told, when again we organize, when we again become strong — then our leaders again will respect us. Here are some easy first steps you can do in 2017.

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A new year’s gift: two tools to help discover truth in the news

Summary: To give you a powerful start to the New Year, here are two brief passages I strongly recommend. They can be transformational for you. Both are excerpts from longer essays well worth reading, but even these excerpts will help you in the years to come.

Clear vision

Rapid change in every aspect of our complex ever-larger world — confusion and disorientation are natural results. Every day brings a bombardment of new information and insights, often mind-bending. Often revolutionary.  How do we decide which ones are accurate? How do we even decide which ones deserve attention?

I have asked this question hundreds of times on this website. Readers frequently give the “He-man solution”, saying they determine the truth about what they read by first principles — looking at raw data and reasoning from humanity’s core knowledge (e.g., basic principles of science and logic). Of course, they have mad hubris. Nobody has the time to research the major public policy issues of our time, or the knowledge to reason from first principles to answers about them.

Here Maciej Cegłowski gives us a better solution: rely on common sense to sort out ideas that don’t deserve your attention, supplemented by the advice of relevant experts. It’s not a perfect solution, but then perfection is rare in this world.

Superintelligence: The Idea That Eats Smart People

By Maciej Cegłowski (see Wikipedia). At his website, 29 October 2016.

…When you’re evaluating persuasive arguments about something strange, there are two perspectives you can choose, the inside one or the outside one.

“Say that some people show up at your front door one day wearing funny robes, asking you if you will join their movement. They believe that a UFO is going to visit Earth two years from now, and it is our task to prepare humanity for the Great Upbeaming.

“The inside view requires you to engage with these arguments on their merits. You ask your visitors how they learned about the UFO, why they think it’s coming to get us — all the normal questions a skeptic would ask in this situation.

“Imagine you talk to them for an hour, and come away utterly persuaded. They make an ironclad case that the UFO is coming, that humanity needs to be prepared, and you have never believed something as hard in your life as you now believe in the importance of preparing humanity for this great event.

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The secret source of fake news. Its discovery will change America.

Summary: Our leaders have made a discovery of the sort that changes the destiny of nations. It is a secret that explains much of modern American history. We have become gullible, seeing the false beliefs of others but credulously believing what our tribal leaders tell us. The avalanche of “fake news” is the logical response by our ruling elites.

“in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
— A saying for our time, although not by Orwell.
Logical contradiction

We caused the rising tide of fake news

After WWII our ruling elites have grown increasingly bold in their lies (see the Big List of lies by our government). They have seen how we credulously believe even the most implausible stories, and that we inflict little or no penalty when their lies are discover (even Bill Clinton’s conviction of contempt of court and disbarment for lying under oath didn’t dent his popularity among Democrats).

The rising tide of fake news naturally results as awareness of our gullibility spread among our ruling elites. We see the lies of our foes but remain delusionally ignorant about the lies of our tribe. This is comically obvious on comment threads, where attacks on tribal truths are brutally repulsed, but politically pleasing and outrageous lies go without contradiction or protest.

The Right muttered about Obama’s missing birth certificate while describing Obama as a radical leftist anarchist commie Muslim Nazi. They believe that cutting income taxes usually increases tax revenue, that torture produces reliable answers (it doesn’t), and that foreign armies usually defeat local insurgents (they don’t). Their websites overflow with lies about gun rights, about economics, about history, and scores other subjects.

The Left is no better. The IPCC was the “gold standard” description of climate science research — the most reliable statement of climate scientists’ consensus. By 2011 activists were saying it was “too conservative”, which became a widespread response to the release of AR5 in 2013 (e.g., see Inside Climate News, The Daily Climate, and Yale’s Environment 360). Propagandists like Phil Plait misrepresent or even hide the science.

For fifty years Leftists doomsters arouse the faithful with fake stories, and still the Left eagerly believes the next one. For years their articles and comments casually mentioned destruction of humanity or even the biosphere. They believed that 30,000 species go extinct every years. Now they casually discuss the imminent collapse of the Republic, with gulags and no election in 2020. They look at Team Trump’s collection of right-wing politicians, CEOs, and billionaires but seeing fascist revolutionaries.

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See the Left’s mad response to Team Trump (they’re plutocrats, not fascists)

Summary:  How much Trump accomplishes will depend in part by how effectively the Left opposes him. A few on the Left have seen the essential element for success, but overall their early responses suggest that the Left will remain dysfunctional. Perhaps a few years in the political wilderness will bring new insights to them. But they are some hopeful signs out there…

The Left’s response to Trump is fantasy, making effective resistance impossible.

Trump as Hitler

To see the Left’s (broadly speaking) response to Trump, look at the social scientists writing at Lawyers, Guns, and Money. It suggests that the Left will be incapable of mounting an effective defense. For a start, there is refusal to accept the election result (as they predicted Trump would if he lost).

“In other words, by taking full advantage of various combinations of judicial skullduggery, journalistic malpractice, and foreign intrigue the GOP has pretty much flat-out stolen two of the last five presidential elections …”
— “The fraud against America” by Paul Campos (Prof of Law, U Co – Boulder).

How will they follow-up? By doubling-down on the tactics that failed in the election. Such as accusing Trump of being another Hitler (as was Bush Jr. and Obama). See “Do Something” by Erik Loomis (asst prof of history, U RI).

“We have two choices in the Trump era. You can fight back. Or you can live your everyday life and acquiesce. People have long wondered how the German people let Hitler take over their nation. We are living how it happened. Too many people just decided to put their heads down and go on with their daily lives. You must not do that.”

I respect Professor Loomis and his work, but this comparison of Trump with Hitler is absurd for two reasons. First, Hitler did not just walk into Berlin. He took power in 1932 after 12 years of development. The Nazi party was founded in 1920. Hitler staged the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 and published Mein Kampf in 1925. This is unlike anything in Trump’s history.

Second, there is little basis for these claims. Experts have debunked claims that Trump is like Hitler and that he is a fascist. Trump’s appointees are neither revolutionaries nor fascists. They have standard conventional backgrounds and typical conservative (often right-wing) views; most are either rich, CEOs, generals, or elected or appointed officials of the Federal government. They look nothing like the experienced revolutionaries that Hitler brought with him into the Chancellor’s office.

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