State of The Onion, or Journalism Dies in Dumbness

journalism as it’s being practiced today. There are some who excel at their profession, but there are far more who stink up the profession. (I’m looking right at you, Jim Acosta.)

Since we’re getting close to the State of the Union Address, I figured I’d give my own twist on it focusing on the state of journalism today.

Hey, media knuckleheads. I’ll bet you weren’t expecting someone to insult you right out of the gate like that because you’re important, but let me tell you something. You’re not as important as you think you are. If anything, you’re becoming more and more irrelevant by the day.

And it’s not a new phenomenon, either. For eight years, you rolled over like faithful lapdogs at everything President Barack Obama said or did and held him about as accountable as Massachusetts held Ted Kennedy. Now that there is a Republican in the Oval Office, and one that you find particularly nasty, you act like the watchdogs and guard dogs you claim you’ve always been. That notion may fly with your fellow talking airheads, but not with me. You have let your personal opinions poison your profession. Well, that, and you’re pretty much dunderheads.

By this time, you’re probably ready to write scathing responses to my statements. Good. It will give me much to laugh at while you fume. As brave as you think you are, it takes no courage to stand up against someone you hate. It takes courage to stand up against someone you love. And, yes, I know you’re fond of saying you don’t take sides, but you do.

Just take at look at how you’ve covered the border crisis. If your reporting were more ham-fisted, it wouldn’t be kosher or halal. And before you get indignant, let me point out you were caught trying to pass off photos from 2014 as photos from last year. And who was President in 2014? Why, it was Barack Obama! You know, the President you fawned over like women at an Ed Sherran concert while he was implicated in crimes and general incompetence that you should have reported? Please, go on about how you’re the real deal when you spent time covering Obama’s NCAA Final Four picks.

That’s one of the reasons people don’t trust you to report the facts: you’re dishonest. If you tell lies enough times and get caught, people stop listening to you. And, news flash kids, fewer and fewer people are listening to you for that very reason. Granted, some might stop listening because you’re not telling them the truth they want to hear, but most people stopped listening when they realized you lied about something meaningful to them. When the people charged with telling the truth get caught in lie after lie over trivial matters, they tend not to listen when the real news hits.

I know why you lie, and it’s not hard to figure out. You let your desire for fame, ideological purity, and egos get in the way of your job. You’re basically like Congress, only you have to pay your own bar tabs. You think you’re one story away from being the next Woodward and Bernstein, but you’re closer to Joanne and Leonard than you are to Bob and Carl. A huge part of that is you went into journalism for the wrong reasons. Journalists are not supposed to be the centers of attention on a story, or ever for that matter, because they are supposed to work behind the scenes to keep those in power in check. When you trade in the role of watchmen for that of media darling, it gets harder to keep the powerful on their toes because you think you become one of them. They will let you into their circles and talk you up, but only so long as they think you’re useful to them in some capacity. And no matter what kind of crap they do to you, you will go along with it because you like being noticed. But know this. They won’t lift a finger to help you if you can no longer help them. To them, you are just the hired help.

So, why keep doing it? Do you like to be treated worse than Louis Farrakhan at a bar mitzvah? Are you still struggling with self-image issues from high school because you weren’t one of the “cool kids”? Or are you so delusional as to think you can be the one to become one of the elite? Whatever it is, it’s not working. You are writing checks your egos can’t cash, and justifiably so. Whatever worth you once had is waning, and you’re stuck looking for answers.

Here’s a helpful hint from your ole pal Thomas. Instead of chasing celebrity, chase leads. And, no, whatever Beyonce and Jay Z are doing/wearing/hawking. Do some real reporting for a change. If you think there’s something to the Trump Russia story, do some digging and figure out where the bodies are buried, regardless of whether you agree with the outcome. There are some things more important than being allowed into exclusive parties, and one of those things is the truth. The reason Donald Trump keeps outmaneuvering your best efforts to bring him down is because he’s spent enough time around you to know your habits. Break those habits and hit the beat for a change, and you’ll find out more information about him and his political fans than you ever could by attending elegant dinner parties with celebrities and collectively looking your nose down at the rest of the country, as you are wont to do.

And as far as your haughty attitudes, dump those, too. You’re not better than us because of where you work or who you cover. You’re basically history’s steno pool, and you’re not even doing that right (which is ironic given how concerned you are about being on the “right side of history.”) Try being on the right side of the factual divide for a change. Write stories with actual facts and actual sources, not the scuttlebutt you might hear around the office water cooler, and people might start trusting you again.

Something else that will go a long way with people is to honestly apologize for your screw-ups and show them you’re working to fix them. And, yes, that means being willing to show multiple sides of an issue. Even if you think that side is bat-crap crazy, you owe it to your audience to show us that side and let us make up our own minds. We may not have gone to Columbia Journalism School, but we’re not dullards. Okay, some of us may be dullards, but that doesn’t remove your responsibility to deal straight with us as people, not as mindless sheep.

In closing, the state of journalism today is sorrier than a televangelist getting caught using church funds to get hookers and blow. The only way to fix that is to get better at what you do, and that starts with you. You tell us you’re only reporting on what we want, but that’s not exactly true. You’re reporting what you want us to think we want. That power corrupts absolutely, and you’ve abused that power like Ike abused Tina. Don’t shape our opinions for us; let us shape them.

And put a muzzle on Acosta, would ya?

Leftist Lexicon Word of the Week

When I was growing up, there were very few journalists and reporters who became well-known, and most of the ones I knew tended to be local. With the advent of cable news, the Internet, and social media, that has changed. People may not be able to name the three branches of government, but they might be able to name at least one journalist, and that one would probably be Jim Acosta.

Jim Acosta is CNN’s White House correspondent, and he has made a name for himself by being the proverbial thorn in President Donald Trump’s side. Lately, he has been embroiled in a controversy following a press conference where it appears he touched a female staffer doing possibly the most dangerous job in America: getting a microphone from Jim Acosta. Because of this, Acosta’s press pass was revoked, leading to CNN suing the President and others on the basis the White House violated the First Amendment right to a free press.

Why has so much attention been brought on one man? Glad you asked, or else this week’s Leftist Lexicon was going to be a few words short.

Jim Acosta

What the Left thinks it means – a hard-nosed reporter holding the Trump White House to task and risking life and limb to get us the truth

What it really means – a loudmouth with a Napoleon complex to rival the original Napoleon

When I went to journalism school, one of the first lessons that got pounded into me was a reporter was never to become the story because it distracts people from the actual news. I can’t say if Jim Acosta learned that lesson, but judging from his actions I guess he must have been sick that day…each time it was brought up in a class.

Acosta’s contempt for the Trump Administration has seen itself play out in numerous conflicts, which has made him a Leftist superstar. To hear Leftists talk, Acosta is the only one who asks really tough questions and hounds the Administration for answers. Of course, to hear Leftists talk, socialism hasn’t ever really been tried, so we don’t know whether it will suck out loud. (Spoiler Alert: it will suck out loud.)

As a recovering Leftist and former journalism student (which, these days is pretty much one in the same), I don’t see what Acosta is doing as journalism so much as it is agitprop. Agitprop is language crafted with the intent of enflaming the public to advocate for a certain idea or position, and it can be very effective. Remember the alar scare of the 1980s? That was agitprop in its purest form. And it turned out to be complete bunk after cooler heads did their homework and figured out what alar was.

That brings us back to Mr. Acosta. I know the press is supposed to be like attack dogs when it comes to reporting on the government, but there is still a fine line between being an attack dog and being an overbearing dick. And Acosta flamenco dances on that line consistently. His behavior is, at best, childlike, which oddly enough corresponds to his Lollypop Kid stature.

Sorry, Jim. That was a low blow. (Sorry. Couldn’t resist!)

And that’s part of the problem I have with Acosta. He just doesn’t look like one. He looks like a little brother who wants to hang out with his older brothers to be one of the guys, but he winds up being more annoying than cool. I know this because I am the youngest of three boys and I did exactly what Acosta seems to be doing while pretending to be a journalist. And he’s just as annoying as I was, or still am depending on who you ask.

The larger part of the problem I have with Acosta, though, is his disrespect for his profession and, more specifically, his colleagues. Yes, I know he works for CNN, which gives him as much gravitas as, well, anyone else who works at CNN. But Acosta seems to think it gives him the moral authority to run the White House Press Corps from the floor. That, in turn, gives him the moral authority to hog the spotlight, at least in his mind. The problem is…there are plenty of other reporters in the room when Acosta goes all Journo-Spartacus on the President, and I’m sure they would like to get their questions answered. But for the grace of the man who thinks he’s the God of Journalism go they, unfortunately, and he rarely if ever gives them a chance to go.

As far as CNN’s lawsuit against President Trump and members of his Administration is concerned, for me it’s a non-starter. The First Amendment will not be in jeopardy if Jim Acosta doesn’t get this press pass back because CNN can always find someone else to take his place. Yes, Jimmy, you are expendable.  If you are too much of a headache to deal with (and from accounts I’ve seen from other journalists, he is), you can and will be replaced by someone else. Just ask Keith Olbermann about that. The First Amendment doesn’t protect you from getting the hook because you’re an asshole, nor is it threatened if you are not allowed to be one during press conferences.

Yes, I know Fox News filed an amicus brief defending CNN and Acosta, but they are looking out for their business interests going forward. From 2009 to 2016, they were on the business end of a lot of Presidential harassment, so it makes sense for them to take up for their peer. But, really? Is Jim Acosta’s behavior the hill you want to die on? His presence in the room makes a mockery of the profession I learned and still respect on some level. And, news flash Fox News Kiddies, the next Democrat President will be as much, if not more, of a ballbuster than President Barack Obama was because Leftists don’t believe in the two-way street unless it benefits them directly.

And Jimbo, if you’re reading this, understand your bravado and behavior doesn’t make you the next Edward R. Murrow or Sam Donaldson. Yes, they asked tough questions and were adversarial when needed, but they understood where the line between adversarial and assholishness was. You clearly don’t, and it’s hurting your credibility, CNN’s credibility (or what’s left of it), and the credibility of the other reporters in that room. You are not a diva, but a divot.

To the Leftists out there who worship at the altar of Acosta, you need a better role model for journalists. Start with Murrow and see how a real newsman did it. Jim Acosta falls short every time.

Sorry, Jimbo. Had to throw in one last short joke, buddy.

Leftist Lexicon Word of the Week

It’s been a bad stretch for CNN over the past couple of years. Once they were the beacon of news reporting, able to get the hottest stories before anyone else and bring it to their audience with solid facts and analysis. Today they are getting beaten in the ratings by The Food Network. How did CNN go from the #1 news source in the world to making The Weekly Reader look like they have gravitas by comparison?

Do what Leftists do: blame Donald Trump.

Although Trump’s use of “fake news” to describe CNN has a lot to do with it, there are several other factors that play just as important a role. I hope you brought your hazmat suits because this one’s gonna be toxic!

CNN

What the Left thinks it means – a news network targeted by conservatives and Trump supporters for telling the truth about Donald Trump

What it really means – a news network that has lost its way in the pursuit of being liked by Leftists

Although CNN has been around for a couple of decades, people really took notice of it during the first Gulf War in the early 1990s. They had reporters on the ground (including one Wolf Blitzer whom we’ll be talking about here in a bit) giving up-to-date reports on the fighting in Kuwait and how our military forces fared against Iraq’s military. That impressed a lot of viewers, myself included, and it made me proud to be learning the journalism trade at the time.

Shortly after the Gulf War ended, CNN went back to reporting the news, and giving airtime to a certain Democrat President who wowed audiences, ate Big Macs while being seen jogging almost every day, and seemed to echo what the media wanted to hear. Yes, CNN had a serious man-crush on Bill Clinton, and that crush grew into another arm of the White House Press Office. Slick Willie could do no wrong in their eyes.

After Clinton left office, CNN remembered “Hey, aren’t we supposed to be watchdogs against the government?” and went back to reporting hard news. When Barack Obama was elected, those watchdogs went back to being lapdogs and had a new man-crush to impress. Now, we’re back to CNN being watchdogs, albeit deaf, dumb, and blind ones. Although I do hear they sure play a mean pinball.

Today’s CNN bears little resemblance to the CNN of the early 1990s. Here are a few of the current “stars” on CNN.

Wolf Blitzer – a reporter who cut his teeth in Iraq, but got stomped like a new kid in a rough school during an episode of Celebrity Jeopardy where the questions were dumbed down

Jim Acosta – a Sam Donaldson clone washed in hot water, always shouts questions at the President even when told not to, gets threatened by people chanting “CNN sucks” and flipping him the bird

Brian Stelter – host of a program “Reliable Sources” but gets so many facts wrong people are thinking his show is ironically named

April Ryan – a White House correspondent whose questions rival those of Jim Acosta at asking ideological “gotcha” questions based more on fee-fees than facts

Chris Cillizza – a political editor who is concerned about the incivility against the media in this country while unwittingly contributing to it

And there are many, many more. Right now the only passible journalist at CNN is Jake Tapper, and he’s 50-50 at best. Still he has a higher batting average than the bulk of CNN reporters and newsreaders.

Put simply, if CNN were a theatrical production, it would definitely be a Greek tragedy because they keep harming themselves unintentionally while in the pursuit of looking like they’re on top of their reporting game. And they have their enablers…I mean fans who will defend them against any insults slung their way by Trump supporters and other people who don’t think CNN’s doing a good job.

Guess which group I’m in.

And before the Left goes to their default excuse, my disdain for CNN has nothing to do with Trump. It does, however, have everything to do with what I consider to be professional malpractice. I studied journalism in college, so I know how the way reporters are supposed to do their jobs. What we’re seeing out of CNN in 2018 is The Resistance with press passes. Oh, they’ll claim to be doing their jobs and wrap themselves in the First Amendment, but they don’t realize when people tell them CNN sucks or flips them the bird, those people are exercising their First Amendment rights. The same Amendment that gives CNN the right to report on the news of the day gives people the right to react to that reporting, or in many cases the lack thereof.

Just look at how Jim Acosta and his cohorts have reacted to a recent Trump rally in Florida where people were very expressive with their disdain for CNN. They and many others painted those Trump supporters as a hate mob fueled by the President saying CNN was the enemy of the people. Well, here’s a thought: maybe you’ve earned that designation by playing favorites instead of playing fair. There are limits to this, though. The minute you physically attack a CNN reporter, you have taken this disdain too far. Flipping the bird to Jim Acosta isn’t nice, but it’s not violence, nor does it provoke violence (except possibly for the target).

Let me give CNN a piece of free advice. Get back into the reporting business. It’s Journalism 101: the reporter should never be the story. Remember Dan Rather? Although he’s a darling of the Left now, he let himself become the story when he tried to make George W. Bush look like a draft dodger who went AWOL. The problem? The facts didn’t match up with the reporting and Rather had to resign and be forever tainted as a liar. Apparently, lying about a Republican is a resume enhancer to the Left.

Instead of learning from Rather’s mistake, CNN is doubling down and making themselves look foolish in the process. (Which I’m perfectly fine with, by the way.) But if CNN wants to be taken seriously as a news network in the future, it needs to dump the Rather reporting method and go back to what got them to being a respected news organization in the first place.

If not, expect reruns of infomercials to beat CNN in the ratings.

Leftist Lexicon Word of the Week

We are living in a new golden age of journalism!

At least, that’s what the media want you to think. With Donald Trump’s Presidency in full swing, the media who fawned over Obama more than young girls fawned over One Direction are now back in full watchdog mode, tracking down every detail of any story that might put the President in a bad light. With the New York Times and Washington Post playing a game of Liar’s Poker over the number of anonymous sources they can put into a story, it might be time for us to take a closer look at journalism.

journalism

What the Left believes it means – the reporting of indisputable facts

What it really means – the reporting of thoughts, feelings, and agendas where the facts may be sketchy

As you might have guessed, my opinion of today’s journalists is lower than a snake’s belt buckle. That’s not without cause, however. In my younger days, I studied journalism in college. Everything was going along great (especially when it comes to racking up student loan debt) until I took a class where the final project was to analyze the media coverage of an event and write a report on it. Since it was still fresh in my mind, I chose the Rodney King beating. That one project changed my mind about the journalism profession because I saw how the media manipulated the footage and how they reported the incident to create a narrative. I completed my degree and swore never to go into the journalism profession.

As disheartening as that was, watching the profession I once loved go into being the steno pool of the DNC was worse, but it made me aware of the little things they do to nudge news consumers in a certain direction, as well as the overt things they do to shape opinion. Since my college days, this trend has only gotten worse.

Today’s journalists are all gunning to be the next Woodward and Bernstein (if they even know who they were in the first place), and with news cycles shrinking to a period that is somewhere between a New York minute and the blink of an eye, the drive to be first with a story is greater than ever. And with attention spans shrinking in line with the news cycle, the drive to grab attention with a story is greater than ever. Put those two elements together and you have the current state of journalism: fast and sloppy.

But to hear the Left tell the story, today’s journalists are real heroes worthy of praise. Some have gone so far as to say they’re superheroes on par with firefighters. Yeah, but I wouldn’t want to see a reporter from the New York Times try to put out a tire fire. In fact, given the current ownership, they might try to buy it and put it on the editorial staff (or endorse it for President…oh, wait, they already endorsed Hillary Clinton. Nevermind!)

The image of the heroic reporter is a nice fantasy, but the reality is most reporters in the mainstream media are merely PR agents for a person, ideology, or cause, and actual reporting is rarer than the way Dracula likes his steaks. Anymore, bloggers and vloggers are doing the work reporters used to do, which has the mainstream journalists up in arms. I mean, how dare they actually dig into stories instead of letting the trained professionals determine what stories are important? After all, they went to school to learn how to ignore important stories that don’t follow their ideological mindset!

The thing is we’re seeing people like you and me looking into stories the big guys won’t touch or poking holes in the stories they do touch. In that way, journalism is experiencing a new golden age because it’s no longer being done by a select few, and it’s being done better than the professionals are doing it. Maybe that’s why the professionals feel they can dismiss bloggers and vloggers; they’re threatened by the new kids on the block.

Of course, it doesn’t help matters when the professionals play more favorites than a wedding DJ while simultaneously pretending they don’t. The mainstream media have become more lapdogs than attack dogs, and they don’t see a problem with that as long as their ox doesn’t get gored in the process. The funny thing is bloggers and vloggers wouldn’t have so much sway over people if the mainstream media actually practiced their trade the way it should be: with balance for all and malice towards none.

Until the media start going old school with journalism, any claims of a new golden age are only going to find pyrite.

The Death of Journalism

There has been a lot of talk in media circles lately about President Donald Trump’s comments about the mainstream media. To put it mildly, he ripped them a new asshole. As a result, the media have responded by saying journalism is being threatened.

Yeah. As someone who has studied journalism for decades, I call bullshit. Donald Trump isn’t a threat to journalism; so-called journalists have been.

At one time, journalists could be counted on to report the facts without personal biases. Now, the journalism profession is filled with political hacks advocating for a cause or an ideology with little regard for facts. They may not know or want to admit it, but there is a reason Trump called out “fake news” so many times during the campaign. And I’ll give you media types a hint.

It’s because you’ve engaged in pushing false narratives, knowingly or unknowingly.

For the past 8 years, you were more concerned about kissing up to Barack Obama than you were pursuing a litany of stories that could have and should have been reported. And I’m not just talking about high profile ones like Benghazi or Fast and Furious, either. I’m talking about the little deeds that deserved attention, like the illegal firing of an Inspector General without Congressional consultation, let alone approval. Don’t remember that? Let me tell you who does: former Inspector General Gerald Walpin, the guy Obama fired.

The IRS targeting conservative groups? Another story that you guys missed and/or misreported.

The targeting of James Rosen and Sharyl Attiksson, two people in your profession? Ignored.

The sexual assault of Lara Logan, another colleague of yours, by radical Muslim males? Little to no reporting done.

But you’ll devote column inches and airtime to investigating Sarah Palin’s daughter’s ex-fiance’s cousin’s uncle’s college roommate’s pet groomer’s neighbor’s lawn care guy just to dig up a little dirt?

With journalistic standards based solely on ideological grounds, the heart and soul of the profession have been ripped out, stomped on, pissed on, burnt, pissed on again, and used for compost. And that’s if the profession is into organic farming.

Journalists have the power to shape opinion with how stories are presented. A turn of a phrase, the use of a particular descriptor, how people are presented, all of these and other tricks of the trade can turn a renowned professor of history into a woman-hating monster who would rape a woman at the drop of a hat. And believe me, it’s happened.

But to blame Donald Trump for the well-deserved assault on journalists is disingenuous at best, delusional at worst. The journalism profession is dying the death of a thousand paper cuts, and the journalists worrying about the way Trump is treating them still aren’t getting how they are responsible. Trump may be an easy target for their ire, but a little self-reflection is long overdue for them to see why they’re less trusted than a used car salesman working straight commission.