The Mass Media and the Threat to Democracy

‘Free press.”

Once upon a time it was a common belief among Americans that a free press had a sacred responsibility; to hold the powerful accountable and to provide the public with enough information to make informed political decisions.

Unfortunately, a large segment of the “free press” appears to have abandoned that role under continuous attacks that all they publish is “fake news”.

During the last Presidential election, instead of informing Americans of the obvious – that Trump was an authoritarian waiting to happen – it gave him a pass and free publicity.   It remains verboten in the main stream media to call Trump and many Republicans Fascists, even though they exhibit repeatedly and enthusiastically all the necessary traits.

A professional liar of the grandest kind, it took the MSM a year before realizing he would not and was indeed incapable of “pivoting” and “growing into the job.”     To this day, many in media will not call him a liar – he spoke “inaccuracies,” “untruths” or was simply “mistaken.”

He can boldly lie to  our faces and we will not call him a liar.  He has shown himself to be a misogynist,  a racist and a nativist but we will not call him that for the media lacks the courage to call a spade a spade.

What is that old saying?  “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, quacks like a duck…..”

Finally, some in the Fourth Estate realized that Trump, his party and his supporters are an existential threat to American democracy.  It may be too little, too late.

Still the submission by the press in the face of the bullying tactics used against it goes on in the name of “fairness.”  Last week USA Today newspaper published an op-ed purported to be written by the President which probably set a new world’s record for the most lies by a sitting American President ever published in a American newspaper.

Joseph Goebbels would have been rightly proud of such a piece of propaganda.

Entitled “Democrats Medicare for All Plan Will Demolish Promises to Seniors” is filled with so many lies as to be absurd.   He stated that during the campaign he promised he would protect patients with pre-existing conditions and create new options which would lover the cost of insurance.  He did promise that.  It was the only truthful line in the article.

He then goes on – “And I have delivered on that promise.”   He threatens “The so-called Democrat Medicare for all plan would be Medicare for none.”  BTW, the Dems have not endorsed the “socialist” Medicare for all as a plank in the campaign.

“Under the Democrats’ plan, today’s Medicare would be forced to die. … Democrats will seek to slash budgets for seniors’ Medicare, Social Security and defense.

Republicans believe that a Medicare program that was created for seniors and paid for by seniors their entire lives should always be protected and preserved.”

Of course they do.  Do they think I fell of off the turnip truck yesterday?

Trump and the Republicans want to take away protections for pre-existing conditions and will gut social security and Medicare and other safety net programs  to pay for those tax cuts they gave to the 1% – after all they don’t need social security or Medicare.  His new insurance proposals don’t offer adequate protection for anyone and are simply a sop for insurance companies.

The “inaccuracies” in the op-ed made no difference to the Editors of USA Today.  The paper made the  irresponsible decision to publish such an egregiously false op-ed.  Yes, of course he is the President but USA Today should be held responsible by its readers and advertisers.  Small local papers are expected to limit the space they give to local crack pots and political hacks; a national paper read by millions should be held to a higher standard.

Here is the op-ed with the lies marked in yellow by Politifact -winners of the Pulitzer Prize.

Still, we hear the cry from the right about the”liberal media” and “liberal bias” while the major media is owned lock, stock and barrel by major corporations all of whom are extremely risk averse.  American news media has become overly responsive to the demands of big business and conservatives in general.

Right wing perspectives are over represented on the Sunday national news shows and Fox might as well be a state media outlet.  The assault on the press has bullied and intimidated the news media into a slavish devotion to “balance” and “fairness” even when it means publishing lies and not telling the public the truth.

“We are all entitled to our own opinions but not to our own facts.”

Within the media the GOP war on language goes far beyond “liberal news bias” and “fake news.”  Reagan spoke of “welfare queens” and “strapping young bucks.”  In 1996 Newt Gingrich wrote a memo on the use of language and code words to shape public opinion.

You can read it here:

Routinely now you will hear “makers and takers,” “job producers,” “hard working Americans,” “cultural Marxism.” “social justice warriors” all quoted verbatim in the media.  Words as noble and ideal as “liberal” and “progressive” have  been tainted and slurred.

“Today’s Democratic Party is for open-borders socialism. This radical agenda would destroy American prosperity. Under its vision, costs will spiral out of control. Taxes will skyrocket. And Democrats will seek to slash budgets for seniors’ Medicare, Social Security and defense.”.”

See that one?  “Open borders socialism.” – the new Republican battle cry.

A powerful phrase precisely because it has no meaning and can be filled in with bias and prejudices of right wing low information voters.  Locked into the echo chamber they are susceptible to such language in a way that Trump understands  – he knows his supporters  will comprehend  exactly what that meaningless phrase actually means for they will fill in a meaning.

Trump was at a campaign rally last week:

“If you allow the wrong people to get into office, things could change. They could change and they could change fast. You don’t hand matches to an arsonist and you don’t give power to an angry left-wing mob ― and that’s what they’ve become. The Democrats have become too extreme and too dangerous to govern.”

As with other right wing talking points and lies there is an element of menace and violence to the use of phrases like “left wing mob” and “open borders socialism.”  When there is an increase in hate crimes the right claims ignorance and whines that it is being smeared by liberal bias.

Our democracy is in serious danger from Trump, Republicans, his supporters – and it is being enabled by an overly compliant corporate news media who refuse to call a spade a spade.


About toritto

I was born during year four of the reign of Emperor Tiberius Claudius on the outskirts of the empire in Brooklyn. I married my high school sweetheart, the girl I took to the prom and we were together for forty years until her passing in 2004. We had four kids together and buried two together. I had a successful career in Corporate America (never got rich but made a living) and traveled the world. I am currently retired in the Tampa Bay metro area and live alone. One of my daughters is close by and one within a morning’s drive. They call their pops everyday. I try to write poetry (not very well), and about family. Occasionally I will try a historical piece relating to politics. :-)
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8 Responses to The Mass Media and the Threat to Democracy

  1. So true. Its s dark time.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is really serious! As much trouble as U.S. citizens are in, it is about to get worse. And Trump is spearheading fear mongering at his rallies, through op-eds and even on 60 Minutes. This lunatic should have long since been locked away. Any other mental patient would have been.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. beetleypete says:

    I know things are close to the edge over there, but if so many Americans are stupid enough to equate Socialism or Left-Wing politics with anything remotely to do with the Democratic Party, then they almost certainly deserve to endure another four years of Trump. Political awareness and education must be sadly lacking in the USA, that’s my conclusion. You have to be prepared to learn, or to educate yourself, if you ever want to make change happen.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

    • toritto says:

      Indeed Pete. Many are totally ignorant or don’t give a rat’s ass. We have lost our sense of community in this country and along with it our identity. Many have found their identity in right wing groups and now define themselves by what they oppose. It is very cult like.

      Our newest right wing group call themselves “Proud Boys” and they got into a street battle with Antifas in New York City this past weekend, wearing their MAGA hats.

      I’m glad I’m old. Best from Florida.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. My husband has the TV tuned to MSNBC all day long. They do call Trump a liar and a racist and a nativist and misogynist, and many of the commentators who say these things are Republicans who have served in Republican administrations. I’ve even heard some of the commentators call him a Fascist.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. toritto says:

    Hi UCH – Unfortunately not too many people watch MSNBC. It is not as popular as it used to be – and in some ways, like Fox, it is preaching to the choir – those who already believe. The print media and the main news outlets are no where near as brave. But, yes you are right. MSNBC does call a spade a spade. Best regards.


  6. jfwknifton says:

    If anybody thinks that the Democrats are left wing or socialist, they should take a look at our Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and his shadow chancellor John McDonnell.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. pattimoed says:

    The End Justifies the Means–this is unfortunately the opinion of some of Trump supporters. This sadly justifies voting for him and supporting him. He is delivering on his campaign promises which keeps his base happy. I shudder to think of the lasting impact of his presidency.

    Liked by 1 person

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