For the existence of this blog in its role in studying and analyzing US Politics and media, we recognise that too much has changed in the past 30 years to ever consider relying exclusively on the legacy media as some form of reliable Gatekeeper of worthwhile political news and analysis. If anyone still thought that the “traditional” media comprised all the possible information sources deemed necessary to know what was happening in politics and the flow-on effects, think again.
If any proof of this was wanted in the study of US politics, just wait for a little while until the report of the US Department of Justice Inspector General’s Report into the Dept of Justice and FBI is published. Originally requested by Democrats, the various releases of information during the compilation of the report has been the material which has opened up the top echelon of the FBI to immense scrutiny. It has been the catalyst for the move or reassignment of most of the top people involved in the actions to investigate Hillary Clinton emails and also investigate candidate Trump. This included obtaining the FISA warrant and dealing with the opposition research company FusionGPS. It has culminated with the dismissal of the FBI No2 being based on discoveries of the IG investigation and the recommendation of the FBI’s own Office of Professional Responsibility. If the US media is still deserving of any shred of balance, then we will see voluminous and fair reporting based on the findings of this independent report.
Don’t hold your breath though. Unless I am mistaken, there will be a media response along the same lines which have been followed from the time Trump first got elected: publishing The Narrative and censoring out the opposite view, trashing informants and not following old-fashioned investigative journalism techniques of actual research, credibility of informants and corroboration of information.
Since at least the beginning of the Bush dynasty in 1988, through the advent of the Clinton political machine to the Obama era (and now Trump), any rose-colored glasses view of the media as honest brokers for political integrity in reporting should be treated with caution now.
Competition from the newer cable news channels, the internet and mass circulation syndicated political radio broadcasters, vastly extended the reach and broadened the variety of sources for political news. Conservative Talk radio host Rush Limbaugh went national with his talk show from New York in 1988. Cable news channel CNN had been in operation since 1980 as the only 24-hour news channel but it took the advent of Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel, created by Roger Ailes as a conservative 24-hour news channel in 1996 for the political media landscape to take a radically different turn.
By targeting a conservative audience demographic, it discovered what Charles Krauthammer once said was “a niche market in American broadcasting — half the American people”.
From the political polarisation of the Bill and Hillary Clinton presidential era to the huge political fight-to- the-death over the 2000 election and the “hanging chads”, what was left of the old decorum in political discourse was dead. Every step of the way the political media came along and fully participated. Come 911, the War on Terror and the invasion of Iraq a Rubicon seemed to have been crossed and the old media would never be the same again.
The Obama area started badly, with an email list of journalists getting together to try and control the Narrative during the 2008 campaign as it related to Barrack Obama (the JournOlist ), interfering with bad news and boosting Obama, diminishing Hillary Clinton etc. The Obama era did not exactly see anything like robust criticism of his mistakes. In fact the media were able to be treated with contempt, Obama aide Ben Rhodes made quite clear his views about the American political media.
Later, with the whole 2016 campaign and abuse of the institutions of state, where a candidate was spied upon in controversial circumstances, when a series of anti-terrorist measures were used to unmask and note the conversations of virtually a whole campaign team, only the claimed “Russia Collusion” itself could ever excuse it. If collusion died there was nothing left.
If not, a political scandal of even greater scale than Watergate was possibly uncovered. If so, it can be argued that unless the IG Report gains fair coverage, the traditional hope that in a crisis of US institutions, politicians and media would all come together to reset the institutions back on an even keel, will have been dashed.
Why new media?
Old-fashioned principles of caution, research, checking and credibility of sources used must be attached to anything seen purporting to “report” on these political actions and actors. With the increasing polarisation of the people and legacy media itself, the growth of the internet was the catalyst for new media, blogs etc offering alternate sources of information. Over the years they have had either missed it or had, but declined to recognise (or even to suppress it) as in Lewinsky, Dan Rather forgery etc. However, innate caution must be used as there are now so many social media investigative claims, some purporting to be “citizen journalists” that, luckily, we can see by the often-conflicting declarations of “fact” that this caution is never misplaced – ever. To see groups and sites getting many things right (and often main stream reports follow these revelations completely) but then going on to claim that Susan Rice is/isn’t cooperating with Trump, that Mueller is the “creature of the Deep State” or a “white hat” busily preparing to bury the anti-Trump “conspirators and so on.
Media of particular value.
Post the Trump election and the collapse of certain media into part of the #Resist movement, other media which have kept some balance have come to the fore. Outside of the usual lists of mass media which can be said to be firmly in one camp or another and about which their facts seem to include some points of view and ignore others completely, a phrase such as “liberal-leaning” or “conservative-leaning” shouldn’t exclude any such media from consideration. By using rational powers of observation, and looking for corroboration and verification of some seemingly extreme view of Trump or the FBI leadership means that we can build up a picture of the credibility of the reporters and even the channel itself.
This blog reads widely from sources and mentions some not-so-well-known media which deserve further views. Value has been found in using some quality investigative blogs and web sites, and two in particular have been prominent in investigating and breaking news of importance. In each of the Conservative Tree House and True Pundit web sites, when mainstream media outlets pick up on their research breakthroughs, their work has been given a boost for being of merit. As always, those “checks and balances” should be uppermost in minds before reliance on their work.
Web sites with quality investigative blogs
TheLastRefuge (“Sundance”) @TheLastRefuge2
web site: theconservativetreehouse.com
True Pundit @true_pundit )
Thomas Paine @Thomas1774Paine )
web site: truepundit.com )