It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it

© 2018 Jim Spence - Donald Trump’s coarse bluntness is indisputable. Like no other elected official, he has called out the mainstream news media and suggested that press biases against him make the press, "An enemy of the people.” No doubt this is strong stuff even for the Donald. Trump’s followers on cue will often chant “CNN sucks,” during live broadcasts. Of course, CNN does suck, but I digress.
It seems that A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher of The New York Times, has been hoping to get President Donald Trump to back off. Earlier this month, when the two met, Sulzberger reports, “I told the president directly that I thought that his language was not just divisive but increasingly dangerous.” Sulzberger explained that he had accepted Trump’s invitation for the meeting to raise his concerns about the president’s “deeply troubling anti-press rhetoric.”
It seems that it was Trump who tried to convince Sulzberger to back off instead. Apparently, neither man got what he wished for. In recent days the Times publisher has disputed Trump’s version of their discussion, particularly regarding what Sulzberger perceives as threats to journalism. And Trump had this to say about Sulzberger and the Times, “I will not allow our great country to be sold out by anti-Trump haters in the dying newspaper industry,” he wrote. “The failing New York Times and the Amazon Washington Post do nothing but write bad stories even on very positive achievements — and they will never change!” Trump was speaking to a group of veterans in Missouri, last week, when he had this to say: “Stick with us. Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news.” The crowd immediately booed the press corps. Trump added this: “What you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”
Is the news media the enemy of the people? Fox News and talk radio, which are pro-Trump outlets, were incubated in reaction to a long history of press biases in favor of Democrats. Pro-Democrat press bias had been around for decades before Fox came in and absorbed the market share that was left for the taking.  It would seem battling with Trump does not make you the member of some sort of exclusive club because interestingly, Trump has also had his battles with Fox, though they never truly escalated.

To be sure, Americans want a free press. What is a "free press?" What most people call for from a "free press," is that members of the press stick to proven facts, and keep their opinions clearly marked as such, and strictly on the editorial pages. Higher education used to teach respect for the difference between opinion and fact. These days higher education foists its pro-Democrat opinions on students and claims it is offering facts.
At one time, keeping all opinions on the editorial page was a sacred value that was respected by 98% of the mainstream press. What happened to change that? Major news outlets became crony capitalists. Press barons became fans of FDR and enemies of most businesses decades ago, and have been providing pro-Democrat opinion pieces disguised as "news" reports ever since. Fox News is simply a reaction to that process and tilting the opposite direction.
Trump's calling out of the press should have come long ago from non-partisan camps. That never happened. And timid GOP politicians all seemed to recall the instructions provided to them by historians regarding the press. "Never get into a fight with people who buy their ink by the barrel," was the warning. Trump must have missed that warning.
A couple of observations on those who still buy ink by the barrel. A glance around the industries where the participants buy plenty of ink, suggests ink is a dying medium. Print news is pretty much on life support, and the displacement and disruption of real journalists is widespread. Consider the career of a true professional journalist, Sharyl Attkisson. So alarmed at what has happened in her profession did Attkisson become, she has written two best-sellers documenting the collapse of journalistic ethics. Read this story if you are wondering how atrocious the profession of journalism has become.
Maybe Mr. Sulzberger should take a long look in the mirror and meet with Attkisson instead of Trump. Amazingly, the press turned on Attkisson too.
Writing yet another column explaining why the ever-abrasive Trump is actually doing a much more accurate job of describing what is really happening in America, than those who get paid to allegedly do so, is a full time job these days. It's a tough job, but somebody has to do it.

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