The Wrong family is at its annual temporary winter headquarters in Florida, enjoying this view. Blogging will be intermittent until March 12th, when we will be back in residence at the Mansion of Wrong. 2015 photo by Wrongo.
A few cartoons. When will the GOP start complaining, saying “Armed union thugs are patrolling our schools”:
Trump refines his role:
US Cyber Command chief Adm. Mike Rogers said Trump hasn’t granted him the authority to disrupt increased cyber threats. Trump, no longer jumping to the rescue. He’s just the security monitor:
A primary reason that we have more guns is how the meaning of the term “Well Regulated Militia” was mis-appropriated by Second Amendment (SA) absolutists. The Propaganda Professor is writing a series on the SA. His work is always worth a read. Previously, he wrote about the Right to Bear Arms. His second column is about the Well Regulated Militia. The Professor asks:
The purpose of the Second Amendment was actually to guarantee a “well-regulated militia”. But what exactly does that mean? Just what is/was a militia, anyway?
SA absolutists say that “militia” means all citizens, because they think that’s what was meant when the SA was written. There are flaws in this claim. They quote George Mason, a Virginia delegate to the Constitutional Convention:
I ask, sir, what is the militia? It is the whole people, except for a few public officials.
Sadly for them, that wording isn’t included in the actual Amendment. And at the time, it’s unlikely that Mason meant all of the people. The Professor:
Consider that the Second Militia Act of 1792 (passed only a few months after the Second Amendment was written) designated the composition of the militia as being: every free able-bodied white male citizen of the respective States, resident therein, who is or shall be of age of eighteen years, and under the age of forty-five years…
So, if you are an original intent person, today’s “militia” would consist only of white males between 18 and 45. The Act says they should be outfitted with:
…a good musket or firelock, a sufficient bayonet and belt, two spare flints, and a knapsack, a pouch, with a box therein, to contain not less than twenty four cartridges, suited to the bore of his musket or firelock, each cartridge to contain a proper quantity of powder and ball…
The definition of militia has changed over the years. In 1862, a new Militia Act finally eliminated the race restriction; but it still pertained only to men of a certain age.
In 1903, the Dick Act established the National Guard as the official “organized militia” of the US. It said those who were not Guard members were to be called the “unorganized militia“.
The SA absolutists have twisted this, saying that “unorganized militia” means anyone who wants to carry a gun for any purpose. Thus, all civilians are a part of the “unorganized” militia and therefore covered by the SA. That is debatable, but the most important thing about the militia was not who qualified as a member, but its purpose for existing. The Professor points out that the Acts of 1792 make that clear:
That whenever the United States shall be invaded, or be in imminent danger of invasion from any foreign nation or Indian tribe, it shall be lawful for the President of the United States, to call forth such number of the militia of the state or states most convenient to the place of danger or scene of action, as he may judge necessary to repel such invasion…
The Acts of 1792 make it clear that the militia was designed to be an organized armed force supplied by the states to execute the laws of the nation. Nothing in the Militia Acts say citizens can be armed for “defending” themselves against the government.
The purpose of the militia is further defined by the term, “well-regulated”. The gun rights people say it derives from a 1698 treatise, “A Discourse of Government with Relation to Militias” by Andrew Fletcher, in which the term “well regulated” was equated with “disciplined”.
But “well-regulated” in the dictionary has other meanings, and they all apply to a military unit, such as a militia.
Since militia members in Revolutionary days were conscripted for service, it implies that the militia membership was a civic obligation. It isn’t a few guys running around in camo gear on Saturday.
Finally, the Professor points out that militia, like military, is derived from the Latin word for soldier.
The soldier is part of an organized body, and is well-regulated in virtually every possible sense of the term.
A few words about the Nunes memo: We had already heard all that it contains, so there’s nothing new to chew on except today’s Super Bowl nachos. Its main argument is that somehow, super-crafty Democrats, in league with the FBI, tricked four separate FISA judges into extending surveillance on suspected foreign agent, and Trump campaign staffer Carter Page. How? By omitting that the “primary source” of the information on Page was the “paid-for-by-Democrats” Steele dossier, which is “compromised by partisanship“.
Except that the Nunes Memo doesn’t prove any of this. The initial FISA warrant against Carter Page was based on the fact that the guy was a known counterintelligence risk who was in the habit of traveling to Moscow and Budapest and mixing with Kremlin officials and spies. The Steele Dossier took independent note of this, (which speaks to Steele’s ability to uncover at least some real information), but Page’s activities were already suspect, regardless of who paid Steele.
So, no matter what the Nunes memo claims, Steele’s information wasn’t crucial to their interest in Page, who had been under FISA surveillance since 2013 for his contacts with Russian spies in NYC.
The idea that the FBI only pursued Page because certain members of its management had Democratic sympathies is ridiculous. Would Trump have traded how he was treated by the FBI in October 2016 for the way Clinton was treated?
The FBI actually told the NYT that they gave Trump a clean bill of health. They incorrectly assured the public that Trump’s campaign was not being investigated for its ties to the Russians when that was exactly what they were doing. Were they in cahoots with Democrats when they did that?
Democrats must learn to pick their battles. Why scream about releasing a memo that most people (excluding Trumpsters) can now see is a nothingburger? What exactly were they trying to keep secret? Ordinary people don’t appreciate Chicken Little behavior. And most of the time they will give equal weight to Chicken Little A and Chicken Little B, because that’s how they have learned to deal with squabbling children.
Americans SO want politics to be honorable. It’s not. It’s just war by other means, on other battlefields.
Shots were fired from the Peanut Gallery:
Nunes actually said what he meant:
State of the Union speech was damaging to Democrats:
Wrongo isn’t sure how many of you are Spotify users, and it isn’t clear whether Spotify is a true barometer of America’s opinions. But, if you look at Spotify’s “Charts” page for Christmas Day, 2017, this is what you see: Nine of the top ten songs streamed were Christmas songs, with the exception being #10, Post Malone’s “rockstar”.
And the next ten were all Christmas songs. And from #21-30, nine were Christmas songs. From #31-40, six were Christmas songs.
Mariah Carey dominated with her “All I Want For Christmas Is You” at number one, with daily plays of 2,075,827 and cumulative plays of 311,319,704. Brenda Lee was #2. Even Burl Ives makes the top ten at #7 with “A Holly Jolly Christmas”, among Wrongo’s least favorite Christmas tunes.
But Trump says that we have a War on Christmas; that it has been stolen by godless, PC elites. The fear that Christmas is “under attack” has been a recurring phenomenon in the US for the better part of the last century.
But we should see that the real war is elsewhere. Trump should take a minute and understand that legally, Christmas isn’t a Christian holiday in America. Congress passed a bill in 1870 making Christmas a national holiday. The NYT wrote about this in 2013: (emphasis by Wrongo)
If you read the language of the bill, it’s clear that Congress chose dates commonly celebrated as holidays by the American people, not for religious reasons but because of a history of recognition and celebration on those dates…they did not deny religious association with two of the dates, Dec. 25 and Thanksgiving. But the religious association with these days was not the reason behind proposing them as holidays.
Congress got it right in 1870. We get a holiday on Dec 25, and it’s “commonly called Christmas“. You could call it anything you want, or nothing. That’s simply the name commonly used. The government doesn’t presume or direct the manner in which you will spend the day, you can choose to worship the baby Jesus, or you can go bowling, or head out to the gun range to practice your precious Second Amendment rights. The government doesn’t care.
Why, almost 150 years later, Trump and his henchmen in the media are bringing up yet again what individual Americans call the day or the season, or what they do not call it, or whether they celebrate, or do not celebrate it, is not worth anyone’s time.
We live in a time of cultural transition, but one thing is sure: December seems to be about Christmas music.
The WSJ’s Weekend Edition had an article about the cultural and economic split between small towns and big towns in America. In “One Nation, Divisible”, Michael Phillips follows a young woman, Caity Cronkhite, who left rural Indiana for San Francisco. Caity recalls:
All growing up, if we were too smart or too successful or too anything, there was always someone ready to say, ‘Don’t be so proud of yourself’…
Caity was smart. She bucked the system to graduate from high school a year early, but the school would not let her be named valedictorian, because she had skipped a grade. She left town, got a scholarship to Carnegie-Mellon, graduated and became a technical writer for SalesForce.com.
Still, she remained attached to her home town. She wrote an online 5000+ word essay about Kingman IN. It brought thousands of hateful responses from Kingman, including:
So keep your elitists’ rear ends in your little office cubicles while we handle the tough, physical things that keep you and your perfect friends alive…
That anger about town vs. city brought to mind Merle Haggard’s 1969 tune, “Okie from Muskogee”. Haggard and the band were on a bus outside of Muskogee when a band member joked that the citizens in Muskogee probably didn’t smoke marijuana. In about 20 minutes, Haggard had the song. The band played it the next night at the Fort Bragg, NC officers club. And after the verse:
We don’t burn our draft cards down on Main Street,
We like living right and being free.
The officers stood and gave huge applause. They had to play the song four times to get offstage. The song later went to number one on the Billboard country music charts. At the time, Reuters reported: (emphasis by Wrongo)
Haggard has tapped, perhaps for the first time in popular music, into a vast reservoir of resentment against the long-haired young and their underground society.
So in 2017, a young woman worries about being accepted in her small home town after finding success while living in San Francisco. While 48 years earlier, “Okie” was telling small town America to have pride, and that it was ok to be for the Vietnam War, and against student protesters.
These two events made Wrongo think about the roots of today’s fractious sociopolitical divide in America.
People in small towns have to fit in, the place is too small to look different, or subscribe to ideas that are outside the main stream in their town’s culture. If they do, the local hierarchy has ways of enforcing conformance with the dominant ethos. People insist that you should fit in. They think that everybody should fit in, and they don’t understand why there are places in America that don’t operate that way.
Haggard’s hit brought small-town America self-identification and pride. And it galvanized the “us” vs. “them” attitudes in small-town USA that were opposed to the growing counter-culture of the 1960’s, and the student opposition to the Vietnam War.
Americans always gather into relatively small groups. People in cities have misconceptions about small town life, just like rural Americans have them about cities.
The nature of today’s politics, and the nature of group identity in America pushes us into sparring camps. You can call it your “tribe”, your “people”, or your “team”, but groups in small-town America have a well-defined sense of identity. It is different from the identity politics in big-city America, where there are hundreds of examples of people of many different groups. Large metropolitan areas are much more diverse, but they are also knitted together by a transcendent identity with place.
Ms. Cronkhite’s parents planned on selling the farm and retiring, but Caity wasn’t ready to let it all go:
If I ever have kids, they’re never going to understand this huge part of me…I want there to be a reminder of where I come from and who I am.
Her parents sold her about 10 acres for the per-acre price her father had paid in 1972. Caity plans to build a small house. She said:
I’m still a rural American.
But she doesn’t plan on moving back just now. Fewer and fewer of us are rural Americans, and while those societies shrink, no dominant identity is replacing it.
But the sometimes-toxic sociology of small groups, or Merle Haggard’s sentiments, can’t be allowed to destroy what America has in common. In fact, appropriation of culture and patriotism by one tribe is a threat to our common good. Thus when Haggard says:
We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse,
He’s misappropriating, since every town has always flown Old Glory at the courthouse, and wouldn’t dream of taking it down.
Time to wake up America! Fight the appropriation of our symbols and ideals. To help you wake up, here is Merle Haggard with “Okie from Muskogee”:
Wrongo isn’t sure how many of you know who Greg Schiano is. He’s currently the defensive coordinator for the Ohio State football team. He was head coach at Rutgers, and a head coach in the NFL at Tampa Bay. Early in his career, Schiano was an assistant coach at Penn State.
We are talking about Schiano because he applied for the head coach position at the University of Tennessee. The two parties decided they liked each other, and reached a written memorandum of understanding, followed by a contract which apparently, Schiano signed.
Shortly after the intended hiring became public, anyone with a stake in Tennessee football was slinging poo at Schiano. Why? A group raised the issue that Schiano’s time at Penn State overlapped with a Penn State coach, the convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky. The sum of the Schiano character assassination was this: Greg Schiano worked at Penn State. Someone told someone else that Schiano may, or did know what was going on with Sandusky.
It’s true that Schiano coached at Penn State. He has not been named in any lawsuit. No charges have been filed against him. No witnesses have come forward with any evidence direct or circumstantial, that he knew anything about Sandusky’s acts. The “evidence” of Schiano’s wrongdoing is a third-hand, ten-year old hearsay (one sentence) in a deposition. That’s what triggered the outrage by Tennessee fans.
There were protests on campus. There were statements criticizing Schiano’s hiring from a boatload of Tennessee politicians, including four of the five candidates for governor. It appears that the University and its Athletic Director, John Currie, capitulated to public demand by implying his new hire enabled child rape.
Guess who’s the new head football coach at the University of Tennessee. Yup. The guy who covered for Jerry Sandusky. #GregSchiano
The Trump administration takes a position on a football coaching job based on unsubstantiated hearsay, while it openly supports Roy Moore for the US Senate despite reams of potentially credible allegations. Roy Moore says he didn’t do it, and that’s plenty for Trump. But Schiano is guilty as charged based on uninvestigated third hand hallway comments.
Let’s remember that Greg Schiano is not guilty of anything. Rumors are not facts unless proven. If somebody has something that proves that Schiano knew about Sandusky, let’s see it, and then let’s run him out of town.
Wrongo doesn’t believe that the people of Tennessee are outraged about what Schiano might have witnessed a quarter-century ago as a young assistant coach. They were furious because they didn’t think he was “worthy” of a Tennessee football job that used to be prestigious a decade ago. With Schiano’s middling 68-67 record as a head coach at Rutgers, and his failed two-year tenure as head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, they wanted someone better. And they found a way to torpedo Schiano’s deal.
If Schiano had been a hot-shot coach headed into the upcoming college football playoffs, would the Tennessee fans be up in arms? Highly doubtful.
The real story here is the power of the internet. Baseless charges make their way around the world, the White House has a hot take, fans protest, and outraged state pols demand answers. And then the guy falls like a sack of rocks.
What school is going to hire Schiano after seeing the reaction in Knoxville?
Whoever Tennessee hires next won’t be significantly more or less talented at coaching than Schiano. It’s important that the country sees how loud and ugly it can be when the fan base runs with a false narrative.
This is a teachable moment for our politics as well as for our universities. We need to do a much better job teaching critical thinking, or the mob will always find an audience for guilt by association.
Let’s hope this is something the next school, the next coach, and the next fan base (or voter base) remembers.
Wrongo’s internet was down for a few days, and a lottta things happened before he could get back on the air. We will take up trucks killing tourists on NYC bike paths, and Mueller’s indictments at some point, but today, Wrongo again finds that he just can’t quit John Kelly.
You know the headline, Kelly, in an interview with Laura Ingraham, expressed his view that the Civil War was the tragic result of “the lack of an ability to compromise,” fought between “men and women of good faith on both sides,” including the “honorable” Robert E. Lee.
All of our leaders have flaws…Washington, Jefferson, JFK, Roosevelt, Kennedy– that doesn’t diminish their contributions to our country, and it certainly can’t erase them from our history. And General Kelly was simply making the point that just because history isn’t perfect, doesn’t mean that it’s not our history.
Did you notice that she mentions JFK and Kennedy with one name in between? Or maybe she means John F. Kelly.
Was the leader she referred to Robert E. Lee? We can only hope that some reporter asked Sanders what Lee’s actual contributions to the country were.
Of course, he owned the land that is now Arlington National Cemetery, but that wasn’t a voluntary contribution, it was seized. Or perhaps she means the battle at Gettysburg, where he provided generations of military officers with lessons on the importance of managing your subordinates, and not charging fortified positions across a mile of open ground.
Or maybe it is that he lent his name to the 1969 Dodge Charger used in the TV show, “The Dukes of Hazzard”.
The next day, Sanders said that Kelly’s comment that the Civil War was caused by a failure to compromise came from Ken Burn’s “The Civil War” documentary. But let’s not go down the rat hole of whether Burns’ documentary is an accurate telling of Civil War history.
Kelly’s claim that the War was caused by a failure of both sides to compromise is totally undercut by the fact that most of the Confederate states seceded before Lincoln was even inaugurated. The election of Lincoln triggered the conflict; notwithstanding that he had not yet put the question of ending slavery on the table.
John Kelly was 40 years old when the Burns film came out. You would expect that he would have known more about the Civil War than you get from a video, even a multi-episode show. After all, he has a BA from the University of Massachusetts, and an MA from Georgetown. Most educated people do know better.
Maybe the White House will prove Kelly’s view of the Civil War with facts, you know, Hannity-style facts, not fake news out of some liberal text book that’s not approved in Texas.
Denis McDonough was Obama’s Chief of Staff for four years, the entire second term. Does anyone know what his opinion is about civil war monuments? About Robert E. Lee? About how a certain female Congresscritter from Florida is an empty barrel?
Kelly has become the empty barrel he complained about two weeks ago.
Let’s close with “Autumn in New York” by Billie Holiday. After the truck terror attack, we learned that six of the eight victims were foreign tourists. And despite the attack, it is still a wonderful time to be in NYC:
The CIA is expanding its covert operations in Afghanistan, sending small teams of highly experienced officers and contractors alongside Afghan forces to hunt and kill Taliban militants across the country, according to two senior American officials, the latest sign of the agency’s increasingly integral role in President Trump’s counterterrorism strategy.
This new effort will be led by small units known as counterterrorism pursuit teams. They are managed by CIA officers from the agency’s Special Activities Division and operatives from the National Directorate of Security, Afghanistan’s intelligence arm. It will include elite American troops from the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC). But most of the troops will be current members of the Afghan militia.
The NYT quotes Ken Stiles, a former CIA counterterrorism officer:
The American people don’t mind if there are CIA teams waging a covert war there…They mind if there’s 50,000 U.S. troops there.
Well, Mr. Stiles, Wrongo minds quite a bit. And if Americans really don’t mind a covert war over there, then we shouldn’t wonder “why they hate us.”
But as with most Trump administration initiatives, it gets worse: The NYT article says that contractors will have a significant role. In August, the former head of Blackwater, Eric Prince, lobbied the Trump administration for a contractor-led effort to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan. This might be his payday for that marketing effort. Let’s assume until we learn otherwise, that Prince and his contractors will be involved in the CIA’s new campaign.
It is possible that this campaign will be a boon for the Taliban. It will certainly kill a few of them, but it will also alienate quite a few Afghans. Think about it: Most Taliban fighters are locals. Killing them creates new local recruits for the insurgency.
The worst part of this is that we’ve been here before. During the Vietnam War, we stood up something called Operation Phoenix:
[Phoenix] was designed to identify and “neutralize” (via infiltration, capture, counter-terrorism, interrogation, and assassination) the infrastructure of the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam (NLF or Viet Cong). The CIA described it as “a set of programs that sought to attack and destroy the political infrastructure of the Viet Cong”.
There were two components of the program. Provincial Reconnaissance Units (PRUs) and regional interrogation centers. PRUs would kill or capture suspected NLF members, as well as civilians who were thought to have information on NLF activities. Many of those captured were then taken to interrogation centers where some were allegedly tortured in an attempt to gain intelligence on VC activities in the area.
Phoenix operated from 1965 to 1972. By 1972, Phoenix had neutralized 81,740 suspected NLF operatives, informants and supporters, of whom between 26,000 and 41,000 were killed. We had the body count,but the passive support for the Viet Cong in South Vietnam increased because of Phoenix.
And of course, we went on to win lose the war.
So, we are starting down a road that we shouldn’t, because we haven’t learned from our past experience. Perhaps CIA Director Mike Pompeo could open a book, and learn something about the CIA’s history before he jumps at the latest shiny idea.
For years, the primary job of the CIA in Afghanistan has been training the local Afghan militias. It also used members of the militias to develop informant networks and collect intelligence. This means the CIA has few independent sources of intelligence in the country. It will have to depend on the people it has trained in the militias, each of which are local, and have their own agendas. Success in this campaign depends on reliable intelligence. Who in this or that hamlet is a member of the Taliban? Without trusted local sources, the militia, whether under CIA or contractor command, will likely use torture to get answers they need.
It is predictable that this campaign will end up with big body counts just like Operation Phoenix, and without having made Afghanistan secure for its people.
Fish Drying in Shenzhen, China earlier in September. Shenzhen is home to Foxconn, Apple’s iPhone manufacturer. It is about 30 min. from Hong Kong.
Our national nightmare; The Apprentice: POTUS Edition, has the Donald regularly turning up the outrageousness. It is frightening how easily many of us are manipulated by his antics, because we are intellectually lazy. Wrongo was happy to see Nicolle Wallace coin a new term for what Trump is pedaling:
Weaponized Patriotism. Isn’t Trump’s effort to equate standing for the National Anthem to “patriotism”, weaponizing patriotism? If you follow Trump’s ideas, all that really matters are the symbols. This was Trump on Saturday:
Wouldn’t you like to see one of these [NFL] owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he’s fired. He’s fired!
He then went on to state that any player so exercising free speech should be “fired” and unemployable at their career job. Trump added that he believes fans should walk out if players don’t stand for the anthem:
If you see it, even if it’s one player…Leave the stadium.
Phony patriotism is a strong argument to use against a population that is ignorant of civics.
The refusal to stand for the playing of the National Anthem causes Trump and his fellow travelers, (who all profess to understand, and believe in the Constitution and Bill of Rights), to claim that the NFL players’ expression is disrespectful and intolerable.
What are we saying when we say that someone “disrespected the flag,” or “disrespected the country,” when they choose to not stand for the National Anthem? The flag is a piece of cloth that represents many complex things, including the Constitution.
If we let Trump deny this expression of resistance, we are creating a situation where all of our rights are just privileges that can be denied on a whim. Trump can’t be allowed to say, “I believe in the 1st Amendment, but not for people who kneel during the National Anthem”.
If Trump’s reaction to Colin Kaepernick is unchallenged, Trump gains the position of defining which actions are “respectful” for Americans. But, it is a very American thing to resist, or rebel against what we perceive to be the symbols of the government’s abuses of power.
It may be disrespectful, but it must be tolerated.
This is today’s America: People allow their perceptions to control them. And who controls perceptions controls the people. Many Americans equate the flag and the National Anthem with patriotism. And according to Trump, patriotism means you support the government, and you support our foreign wars. Anything less is “un-American”.
But one can love his country while hating his government, or some of its actions. This phony form of Trumpist patriotism is a weapon against independent thinking. It’s a weapon that keeps people ignorant of the underlying problems that make our government ineffective.
Time to wake up America! We are a free people, and most of us want to stay that way. We need to look for the story behind the story when someone equates not standing for the Anthem with “unpatriotic”. Perhaps it is just Trump’s politics. Perhaps he is trying to deflect people from thinking about his latest struggling effort to repeal and replace Obamacare, or how Trump is bungling the effort to blunt North Korea’s aggression.
To help us wake up, here is the late Liam Clancy with “The Patriot Game”. The song is about the death of a young man during a campaign by the Irish Republican Army during the 1950s. He bought the story:
The words were written by Dominic Behan, brother of Brendan Behan. Dominic was angry that the Clancy Brothers cleaned up the lyrics by removing this verse that referred to head of government, Eamon de Valera:
This Ireland of mine has for long been half free,
Six counties are under John Bull’s tyranny.
And still de Valera is greatly to blame
For shirking his part in the patriot game.
Bob Dylan stole the song, turning it into “With God on Our Side”, and Dominic Behan wanted to fight Dylan physically for the theft.
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.
Just over a third of Americans (37%) in 2017 say news organizations generally get the facts straight, unchanged from the last time Gallup asked this question in 2003. But…major partisan shifts in beliefs on this topic have emerged over the past 14 years. Republicans’ trust in the media’s accuracy has fallen considerably, while Democrats’ opinions on the matter have swung in the opposite direction.
49% of college graduates say the news media generally get the facts right, compared with 36% of Americans who attended college, but didn’t graduate. 28% of those with no more than a high school education agree that the media get it right.
But education makes little difference in Republicans’ beliefs about the news media’s credibility. Among Republicans with at least a college degree, only 18% say the media gets the facts straight, similar to the 12% of Republicans without a college degree who say the same.
Republican’s trust in the American news media has fallen steadily from 2003 to today. The numbers are striking: Republicans’ trust plunged from 35% in 2003 to 14%, while Democrats’ trust in America’s news media increased from 42% in 2003, to 62% today.
Gallup first polled on media trust in 1998. Back then, more than half of both Republicans (52%) and Democrats (53%) believed news organizations generally got the facts straight. Here is a Gallup graph:
Both groups’ belief in the accuracy of the media fell dramatically in 2000, possibly due to bad election-night projections of the 2000 presidential election. Some networks first declared Al Gore, and later, George W. Bush the winner, before ending the night with no official winner. When surveyed a month later In December 2000, just 23% of Republicans said news organizations generally get the facts straight, a 29-percentage-point decline in the two years after the 1998 survey.
The next big Republican shift downward began in 2003. What happened in 2003? The reporting about WMD (weapons of mass destruction) in Iraq on GW Bush’s watch. The media either lied, or suppressed the findings by IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) that there were no WMD in Iraq. That lie helped move us into an unjustified war that had catastrophic results for both the Middle East and for America.
The paradox is that the Republicans’ distrust grew after that, while Democrats’ views improved. Perhaps the Republicans were angry that the press eventually reported the truth. Perhaps Democrats forgave the press after they finally reported the truth, turning their anger to George W. Bush for lying us into war.
That willingness empowers distortion of the truth as a “go-to” strategy in the GOP’s politics of persuasion.
Given the Gallup findings, Trump’s frequent attacks on the media may have been as much his taking advantage of GOP attitudes, as his creating a poor Republican view of the press by his use of the “fake news” meme.
On the Democratic side, their increased confidence in newspapers may be a counter-reaction to Trump’s criticisms. Gallup found in June that the percentage of Democrats who have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in newspapers nearly doubled from 2016, rising from 28% to 46%.
The overall finding that a solid majority of the country believes major news organizations routinely produce false information may have disastrous consequences for our democracy. It is at least related to Americans’ diminished trust in US institutions, and our rising cynicism about the American political system, and our elected officials.
Democracy is impossible unless both our politicians and the press are honest.
Here is “Immigrants (We Get the Job Done)” originally from the musical, “Hamilton”. This isn’t the version you hear in the musical. This version is from the “Hamilton Mixtec”, performed by K’naan, featuring Residente, Riz MC & Snow Tha Product:
It’s really astonishing that in a country founded by immigrants,
“Immigrant” has somehow become a bad word.
Those who read the Wrongologist in email can view the video here.