Friday, September 9, 2016
WHERE IS THE MEDIA?
Last Wednesday, in a preview of the upcoming debates, Presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump gave back to back interviews with NBC morning news host Matt Lauer. Lauer's performance during the interviews has been widely criticized, and with good reason. While talking to Clinton, Lauer asked her time and time again about her emails, and then rushed her answers on other matters, basically stepping on her talking points. But while talking to Trump, Lauer allowed Trump's assertion that he opposed the 2004 Iraq war from the start to go unchallenged, even though there is documented video proof that he did support the war, from a Howard Stern interview Trump did before the war started (Clinton even mentioned the interview in her part of the show). Sadly, Lauer let Trump's lie float into the ether, letting him get away with it. He also allowed Trump to lie about a similar opposition he claimed to have about America's military intervention in Libya.
Lauer's weak kneed response to Trump's falsehoods shows the media's problem with dealing with a candidate like Trump. Trump lies so often, at such an alarming rate, that taking time to debunk one lie becomes difficult when he's already moving onto another. And he lies with with such confidence, with so much righteous anger and certitude, that it becomes hard to challenge him. Indeed, it's possible that he himself has no idea that he's lying; his short attention span and lack of focus has been well documented.
There's another problem that the media faces; it has been a talking point for decades that the mainstream media has a liberal bias. Ironically, this statement usually comes from right wing media, where a completely biased opinion is expected! While media bias is a debatable point (there certainly wasn't any media bias during the 2004 build up to the Iraq war, when serious questions went unasked), many members of the media take the criticism to heart and overcompensate by going after Democrats more than Republicans. So we now have spent far too much media time and attention on Clinton's "scandals", while so little time has been spent on Trump's ethical problems over the years. Why hasn't there been as much attention given to the fact that Trump and his father Fred were sued by the Federal Government in the 1970's for refusing to rent their properties to black people? (They settled out of court). What about the $25,000 campaign donation that a Trump PAC made to Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi just before she decided not to join a class action lawsuit against his bogus Trump University? What about the fact that a man who boasts about his business acumen has declared bankruptcy at least four times? Or that he also brags about his monetary worth without releasing his tax returns, calling into question just how wealthy he is? And this all is just a partial list, off the top of my head. None of these things have been investigated as much as Clinton's emails, even though FBI Director James Comey has clearly said that no crime was committed by her.
It really seems that there are two kinds of coverage of the candidates, one in which Clinton is portrayed as being deceitful and untrustworthy and Trump is praised when he can properly read a speech off a teleprompter without spewing lies and childish insults. The effect is like clapping for a toddler who successfully takes his first step while complaining about a track star for not racing fast enough! Sadly, the cumulative effect of this coverage is starting to take it's toll, with Trump clearly gaining on Clinton's lead in the polls. While the odds are still in her favor, this election should be a land slide, not a squeaker. Is it asking too much for the media to do it's job properly and give Trump's various scandals the same weight as Clinton's? Sadly, given Lauer's ridiculously biased performance on Wednesday, the answer is yes.