Tag Archive: Elite Media


“In seeking truth you have to get both sides of a story.” – Walter Cronkite, CBS anchor from 1962-1981

When asked what sports historians would take away from his record (e.g., five home runs) performance in the 1977 World Series, Baseball Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson paused and humbly proclaimed: “The magnitude of me.”

What about the “magnitude” of former CBS anchor Dan Rather?

The question is particularly relevant today as former CBS anchor Dan Rather is attempting a relevancy comeback at 86-years-old.

With his new book, “What Unites Us, Reflections on Patriotism,” Rather appears to be trying to escape the embarrassing details of his bitter 2005 termination … err resignation.

More to Almost DailyBrett’s point: Should Rather be seen as The Father of Affirmational Journalism?

Affirmational Journalism? Do these two words constitute an oxymoron?

Affirmational Journalism (e.g., Rather) is the mirror opposite of Informational Journalism (e.g., Cronkite).

Under the tenets of Informational Journalism, a news outlet will sift through the relevant facts and information – including both sides of every story — and deduce a logical conclusion for readers or viewers to decide.

Is there any wonder that Walter Cronkite was the most trusted man in America in 1972?

The esteem for American Journalism peaked in 1976 at 72 percent (e.g., Gallup survey), shortly after Woodward and Bernstein’s Pulitzer Prize reporting and the demise of the Nixon administration. The same poll revealed that public trust for the media plummeted for four decades to 32 percent in 2016.

What happened to the days when the vital First Amendment mission of the media was to inform and enlighten?

Enter Rather as the successor to Cronkite in the CBS anchor chair in 1981. Shortly thereafter, the seeds of today’s Affirmational Journalism were planted.

Certainly, there were outlets in 1972 and beyond that editorially represented the left (e.g., New York Times) and the right (e.g., Wall Street Journal), but the news pages of these publications were essentially straight.

Rather: Keynoting the GOP National Convention?

“(Rather) stepped on his own dick.” – Ronald Reagan, 1988

Two celebrated incidents involving Republican presidents (not Democratic) clearly demonstrated how Rather’s aim was to “affirm” preset narratives, not to totally “inform:”

  1. His rudeness against then Vice President George H.W. Bush in a cataclysmic 1988 live interview, which included Bush reminding the world that Rather stormed off his set one year before, when a U.S. Open tennis match ran too long.
  2. Rather’s ill-fated 2004 60 Minutes piece (e.g., Rathergate), confusing the fonts of an IBM Selectric with those offered by Microsoft. The forged 1972 document reportedly proved that President George W. Bush received special treatment as a member of the National Guard. Alas for Rather, the letter was written with a Microsoft font.

Microsoft was not founded until 1975 – three years later. Oops.

Dan Rather was exposed for his eagerness and glee to accept any “fact” that fit a preordained narrative about George W. Bush and his National Guard service. More importantly, he and his producer, Mary Mapes, were terminated at CBS for practicing Affirmational Journalism, which sought out tidbits (e.g., the forged letter) that affirmed and fit the story and excluding those (e.g., Microsoft font) that did not.

Rather’s mission was to “affirm” through selective reporting the predisposed reigning political philosophy of elites residing east of the Hudson and within the confines of the Beltway:

Democrat John Kerry was good; Republican George W. Bush needed to be excused from office.

Today, the list of affirmational elite media on the left is long: New York Times, Washington Post, NBC, CBS, CNN, and MSNBC. The list of affirmational media on the right is shorter: Fox News.

Whether these major media outlets reside on the left or the right, their mission is to affirm, sustain and enhance entrenched narratives that advance a chosen political philosophy.

Is Dan Rather solely responsible for this movement toward affirming, whether through interpretation or presenting, preordained narratives? No. There are others.

Is he the poster child for affirmational journalism and with it a record 32 percent low in national esteem for the media? Almost DailyBrett is making that assertion.

Affirmational Journalism Schools?

As a college assistant professor in a school of communication, the author of Almost DailyBrett worries that future journalists will be trained to seek facts and figures that fit a preconceived narrative, and ignore those inconvenient points that potentially contradict the “story.”

Are the ends of supporting an adopted political philosophy more important than the means of not presenting both sides of a story? If that is indeed the case and we are no longer informing the public about the positions of both sides, can we call this behavior Journalism?

There are some of us who yearn for the better days of a free-and-fair media.  The Fourth Estate can potentially come back; just the same way Rather is trying to revive his tarnished reputation.

Can the media return to the days of Informational Journalism? Or is Affirmational Journalism here to stay, contributing to and hardening our divided society for years to come?

Maybe if the media moves to adopt the model of Walter Cronkite — not Dan Rather — we will all be better off as an American society.

We can only hope.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2017/12/12/this-has-to-be-unacceptable-dan-rather-on-media-attacks-and-politics-in-america-under-trump/?utm_term=.6cdffc95176a&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=82268&page=3

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/21/has-the-media-reached-the-point-that-it-can-never-cover-trump-fairly/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/07/22/from-affirming-back-to-informing/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Walter-Cronkite

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Mapes

“Donald Trump is like a vampire; he never sleeps.” – Bill O’Reilly

To be accurate he does sleep a tad, and nocturnally he tweets a ton to 40.6 million-plus recipients.

During a late-1980s visit of Almost DailyBrett to Sardine City (a.k.a. The White House Press Briefing Room), there were wire-service reporters, who drew the short straws, and were assigned to Presidential “Death Watch.”

Translated these graveyard-shift members of the Fourth Estate were expected to be poised and ready to report, if the president passed away in his sleep. Fortunately, the media was never required to write/broadcast about a president expiring in the White House living quarters.

It was quite simply one of the most boring jobs on the planet … until 10 months ago.

The “Death Watch” reporter now has to be glued to her/his mobile device/laptop for the next 280-character-or-less epistle(s) from the Tweeter-in Chief @realDonaldTrump. In the last two years, his Twitter handle has generated 36,100 tweets, ranking the president at #22 worldwide, ironically one place in front of … The New York Times.

As it turns out the political class now needs to be aware of what Trump is tweeting at 3:20 am EDT, and there appears to be little if any advance warning for even his allies (e.g., Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders) or objective/non-objective adversaries.

Trump has introduced widespread insomnia to the denizens of the Potomac, and also media/pundit types east of the Hudson. At the same time he has usurped the elite media’s role in setting the agenda for America’s national conversation.

It’s time to state the obvious:

Instead of the elite-media (i.e. NYT, WSJ, WaPo, Big Three nets) framing national issue discussions under Agenda Setting Theory, Trump has stolen this mantle through his frantic and many times undisciplined tweeting.

For better or worse, Trump is setting or preempting the agenda and the elite media doesn’t like it one little bit.

The First Social Media President?

“Think of Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats or Ronald Reagan’s television addresses. More recently, presidents have used the internet to directly reach the public, making journalists increasingly irrelevant … “– Northeastern Associate Communication Studies Professor Greg Goodale

“Increasingly irrelevant”? Those are fightin’ words.

Considering that Twitter was founded only 11 years ago, it stands to reason that President Barack Obama was the first chief executive to dabble with tweeting. Having said that, did Obama’s tweets ever rise to the level of newsworthy stories, much less threatening elite-media Agenda Setting?

There is a new sheriff in town and part of the reason he is occupying the White House is directly linked to his provocative and disruptive tweets. Not only does Trump set the agenda, he can also shift, preempt and deflect the 24/7 news cycles with subjects of his choosing.

Some contended the elite-media’s cherished role in Agenda Setting would be eroded by widespread public participation in social media (e.g., 10.3 million tweeted during the first Obama vs. Romney debate in 2012).

Instead, research has demonstrated that reporters/correspondents/pundits use Twitter to silently collude with each during a 21st Century presidential debate. Instead of weakening Agenda Setting Theory, the media role in setting the agenda was actually enhanced through second-screen group think.

Whether the elite media should be charged with deciding what issues should be the subject of national conversation is debatable. What is not the subject of dispute is the fact that Twitter has become Trump’s most reliable bully pulpit.

Is Trump provocative in his tweets? Absolutely.

Has he interrupted the elite media setting of the national discussion? With relish.

Has Trump stepped on his own legislative/political agenda with his tweets? No question.

Has Trump in far too many cases to count been undisciplined in his use of Twitter, attacking both friends and foes? The case is closed.

Does the elite media absolutely grind their collective teeth and literally hate Trump’s Twitter use most of all? Is the Pope Catholic?

Will the 46th President of the United States use social media? Did FDR hold radio “Fireside Chats”? Did Kennedy and Reagan excel on television?

Social media tools are here to stay. As Harvard Business Professor Clayton Christensen coined, they are game-changing “destructive technologies.”

And similar to nuclear devices, Twitter is at the fingertips of one Donald John Trump.

http://news.northeastern.edu/2016/12/how-donald-trump-is-changing-presidential-communication/

https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/curtis-houck/2017/08/07/

https://techofcomm.wordpress.com/tag/donald-trump/

https://twittercounter.com/realDonaldTrump

http://politics.oxfordre.com/view/10.1093/acrefore/9780190228637.001.0001/acrefore-9780190228637-e-46

“One hundred and forty characters are suitable to expressing an impulse, but not an argument. It is the rhetorical equivalent of a groan, a shriek, a sneer or a burp. If reason and persuasion are what our politics lacks and needs, Twitter is not the answer.” — Nationally Syndicated Columnist Michael Gerson

At 71-years young, Donald John Trump is the oldest to take the presidential oath of office.

One would suspect a man of his age would be next-to-clueless about social media/digital technology — (remember out-of-touch George H.W. Bush and his amazement about the supermarket scanner?) — but one would be wrong.trump-twitter

Just as FDR used the radio-and-its-widespread-network for his fireside chats; Ronald Reagan five decades later repeatedly went before the cameras to go directly to the people and bypass Congress. Why should we be surprised that Trump is using Twitter to go around the media?

Agenda Setting Theory means that elite media (i.e., NYT, WAPO, ABC, CBS, NBC) pose the topics for the grateful masses to think about. Trump’s Twitter posts are usurping this cherished interpretive media role, and the ladies and gents of the Fourth Estate are not amused.

Have the Nixon days of the “nattering nabobs of negativism” returned with a daily war being waged between the elite media and the White House? Is the media appalled or secretly thrilled to have such an adversary to bring crashing to the earth?spicer

Sean Spicer is the present press secretary for the 45th chief executive. How long will he hold this job? Obama had three press secretaries (i.e., Robert Gibbs, Jay Carney, Josh Earnest) during the span of eight years. Almost DailyBrett will take the over on the question of whether this president will have three-or-more press secretaries.

One of the daily problems facing Spicer is pleasing his insatiable boss, while at the same time not getting eaten alive by the piranha covering the White House. Serving as press secretary may ultimately be rewarding in the form of a best-selling, tell-all book, but for now it is most likely the supreme thankless job on the planet.

Digital Is Eternal

“Are you insinuating that I am a purveyor of terminological inexactitudes?” – Winston Churchill

As California Governor George Deukmejian’s press secretary (1987-1989), the author of Almost DailyBrett never worried about whereabouts his my boss (e.g., the governor went home to Gloria, the kids and the beagles). Your author was never concerned about what he was going to say in response to media questions (e.g., The Duke’s political judgment was superb/his message consistency was outstanding), and what he did at night … presumably he slept soundly.

Spicer and the Trump communication team always need to worry about political judgment/discipline, and particularly what the energizer-bunny president is doing at 3 am … namely his love affair with Twitter’s 140-characters.trumptwitterhillary

Are the Trump communicators tempted to program their smart phones to send S-O-S signals every time the boss fires off another tweet? Heck, sleep is way overrated anyway. Think of it this way, when a POTUS tweet is sent from God’s time zone (EST), it is already 8 am in London, 9 am in Berlin and 11 am in Moscow.

For the media on presidential “death watch” (those who must stay up in the White House briefing room as the president ostensibly sleeps), they now have something to do: Monitor the POTUS Twitter account.

Is there any way to mitigate and moderate what The Donald decides to tweet, save being in the president’s living quarters at 3 am (EST)? Would he listen to his communication pros anyway? The hardest part of the job for Trump’s  press secretary may be responding to wire service calls at all hours of the morning to add color to a tweet that he saw at the same time as the reporters.

Some of the 140-missives may make perfect sense and will be consistent with the policies and the programs of the administration. Others … well, they could be about almost anything including inaugural crowd sizes or “alternative facts.”

Considering the government’s record of telling the truth has been less than stellar over the decades (e.g., LBJ’s “Credibility Gap” during Vietnam, Nixon’s “I am not a crook,” and Jody Powell’s “Right to Lie” during the Iran hostage crisis), are we surprised an administration is resorting to terminological inexactitudes?

What is breathtaking is the number in the first week alone, but more noticeable is the speed, namely through 140-characters or less Twitter.

How many tweets will POTUS fire off its cyberspace in four years or maybe eight years? Will there be any political-and-editorial discipline imposed?

Don’t count on it.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-a-tweeting-president-is-so-bad-for-our-politics/2017/01/26/9a6892a8-e3f0-11e6-a453-19ec4b3d09ba_story.html?utm_term=.06b7a51ec1ce&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://uspolitics.about.com/od/presidenc1/tp/List-Of-Obama-Press-Secretaries.htm

http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/33875.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/the-right-to-lie/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/the-other-side-of-the-story/

 

 

 

 

Who do reporters, editors, correspondents and pundits respect the most?

The answer: Fellow reporters, editors, correspondents and pundits.

And seemingly all of them are thinking alike.

pattonthinking2

Especially during my tenure as a gubernatorial press secretary, the author of Almost DailyBrett was often flabbergasted by the theories developed out of thin air by the media about why A. occurred or why B. happened.

Keep in mind we are talking about the late 1980s, long before ubiquitous mobile devices and 140-character Twitter president-elect proclamations.

In Sacramento, many of these postulations and theories were developed at Frank Fat’s or some other watering hole. Seemingly, the more drinks consumed the closer the media bonded, and a consensus was eventually reached about a budding theory.

The reason this dubious habit is important, is that press secretaries need to be aware of what the media are saying to themselves, and what conclusions they are collectively making. There is better than a 50/50 chance these theories will be brought to your governor’s attention for a response in a news conference or media briefing.

Fast forward to the present day and the insular habit has not changed, but the way these theories and postulations are transmitted among the media has shifted radically … namely Twitter.

Yes, Donald Trump is not the only one using/misusing social media Twitter for 140-character-or-less pontifications and bloviations.

“If Everyone is Thinking Alike, Then Someone Isn’t Thinking.” – General George S. Patton

Gotta love General George.

The conventional thinking to date was that President Harry Truman’s come-from-behind victory over New York Governor Thomas Dewey in 1948 was the greatest upset in presidential campaign history.

Scratch that thought. Last month’s victory by Donald Trump over prohibitive favorite Hillary Clinton shocked the nation, and particularly confounded the-everyone-is-thinking-alike elite media/punditocracy.

Considering that most of them habitat a skinny island east of the Hudson River or are confined within the Beltway, it is easy to understand how prevailing sentiment and conventional wisdom becomes exactly that: prevailing sentiment and conventional wisdom.

As Otto von Bismarck was famously quoted, those who appreciate sausage and the law should see neither of them made. Maybe the same is true for how the elite media/punditocracy reaches consensus of their version of reality.

First: the political class virtually ignores digital democratization. For example, the second (town hall) debate between The Donald and Hillary drew a record 17 million tweets and 92.4 million Facebook likes, posts, comments and shares.

during the town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. This is the second of three presidential debates scheduled prior to the November 8th election.

Town hall debate at Washington University on October 9, 2016 in St Louis, Missouri. This is the second of three presidential debates scheduled prior to the November 8th election.

Conceivably, the elite media had access to a treasure trove of digital input from the public. True not all of it is accurate and relevant, but turning it all aside is a manifestation of arrogance. In their defense, the elite media may ask: ‘Where do you start?’ Almost DailyBrett opines the media should not ignore the anxiety of John and Mary Q. Citizen from Wisconsin, Michigan or Pennsylvania. Angst Matters.

Second: The elite media/punditocracy engages in restricted collusion. Instead of using digital media to access outside sources, they instead employ Twitter and networked laptops and mobile devices to talk exclusively to each other. The most egregious case is when news aggregator Buzz Feed announced the winner of the first 2012 Obama vs. Romney debate, 45 minutes before the closing statements.

And once the debate was over, the media pile-on session ensued to the detriment of President Barack Obama.

Third: The digital democratization crowd contends that more public input via social, mobile and cloud will result in a continuous weakening of Agenda Setting Theory or the notion that elite media (i.e., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC …) not only frame the national agenda, but they actually provide intellectual guidance to a grateful nation.

As it turns out, the opposite was true. Media collusion via digital media actually strengthened, not weakened Agenda Setting Theory.

Fourth: And probably the most important point of all, the Real Clear Politics Right Track/Wrong Track barometer has been consistently below the Mendoza Line. You do not run a “Morning in America” stay-the-course campaign when 32.1 percent believe the country is on the right track and conversely 55.7 percent contend the country is on the wrong track.

Did the elite media really pay attention to the Right Track/Wrong Track barometer? Did they ask the real folks across the fruited plain why they are so disappointed, frustrated and downright angry? Did they question why Hillary Clinton ran a status-quo campaign in a change year?

msnbcelection1

This is not the first time the author of Almost DailyBrett picked a fight with those who buy ink-by-the-barrel. Let’s face it, the elite media/punditocracy needed to open up their collective ears and listen to the chorus from the hinterland. Instead they mounted their ivory towers and proclaimed that Hillary was the candidate with all of the experience, all of the endorsements, most of the money, and the GOTV operation to win the presidency in a cakewalk.

Upon quiet reflection in the aftermath, these elite reporters and prominent pundits may want to drop the arrogance for a nanosecond or two, and consider the reason why each of them was given two ears and only one mouth.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2016/11/27/drinking-their-own-bath-water/

http://www.thewrap.com/donald-trump-hillary-clinton-presidential-debate-twitter-facebook/

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-trending-on-twitter-groupthink/2012/10/23/130f6208-1d54-11e2-9cd5-b55c38388962_story.html

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/

http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/oped/

“I did not defend Roger Ailes nor did I condemn him. I just stated what I knew or did not know. Period.” – Fox News host Greta Van Susteren

“Van Susteren was behaving just as the Roger Ailes Fox News would have her behave, as a loyal knee-jerker who gets out in front of the evidence.” – Erik Wemple, Washington Post media bloggergreta

What happens when you don’t do the bidding of elite media?

What happens when you don’t follow a bully’s pre-ordained script?

What happens when you stick to your guns?

The same thing when a small child doesn’t get his or her way.

Speaking about bullies, everyone knows that former Fox News boss Roger Ailes was tough, boorish and the evidence overwhelmingly points to, a big league sexual harasser as well.

He is now advising Donald Trump’s sinking campaign as it heads to the bottom of the political ocean.

Will Hillary score more than 300 or more than 400 electoral votes? Almost DailyBrett will take the over, thus completing as Charles Krauthammer calls it, “The Clinton Restoration.”

Back to Fox News:

Ailes became a juicy, meaty target for the media elites because of his biggest sin, breaking up the media cartel aligned with not a specific party, but a uniform left-of-center ideology. The masthead of the New York Times and the personas of Dan Rather and Brian Williams all serve as poster children for what the Washington Community wants the nation’s media to be.

Damn Fox News and its No. 1 cable news ratings.

One More Time …

“1/ I never heard of the sexual harassment allegations – no one ever came to me and said anything to me about it – not once;

“2/ I never saw it

“3/ It never happened to me

“and

“4/ I said that Gretchen Carlson was unhappy when she was at Fox News (she told me that a few years back when we both happened to be in London covering the same story but never said it was sexual harassment.)

“What I said above was true when I said it …and it is true now.

“In the meantime, all sorts of motives and intentions have been assigned to me.

“I did not defend Roger Ailes nor did I condemn him. I just stated what I knew or did not know.  Period.”ailesgretchen

Lightning-rod personalities, such as Ailes, need to keep their noses clean and their zippers fastened. The alternative is akin to spreading blood in the water for the thrashing, gnashing carnivorous Schadenfreude-seeking media sharks.

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson lost her show at the cable network. She later filed a sexual harassment suit against Ailes, and other women followed with their own legal actions. It was time for Ailes to go and Fox News is better for it.

Did the story end there? Of course not.

What did the major personalities at Fox News, particularly those of the feminine persuasion think of Ailes? Wemple said that Greta repeated her consistent assertion in her “fabulous” (Wemple sarcastic adjective) blog.

He then ripped her for repeating what she saw and experienced and what she did not see and experience, nothing more and nothing less.

But what happens when your recollections and statements do not jive with the pre-conceived elite media narrative?

As a former gubernatorial press secretary, trade association and corporate spokesman, who has probably been quoted in print and broadcast hundreds and hundreds of times, the author of Almost DailyBrett has been urged and coaxed by media types to agree and support a certain narrative, which makes for a better story. Sometimes they even ask questions with super-charged words, enticing you to repeat these words on-the-record.

The only problem with this approach is you don’t work for the media. You are obliged to tell the truth as you know it, not to make some reporter, editor, correspondent happy. And if you do not know the answer, you say exactly that.

Some reporters even threatened to ensure my boss, the governor of California, would not be re-elected … even after he was … re-elected in a landslide.

Greta’s consistent comments go against the media grain about Ailes, and quite frankly it pisses them off and some are throwing a fit.

Sorry the notion that everything left-of-center is good and all right-of-center is bad is too simplistic, and reality bites sometimes.

The media monopoly is permanently broken, and Ailes and by extension, Rupert Murdoch, will be forever vilified for that. Deep down inside that may be a bigger sin with the majority of the media than sexual harassment.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/erik-wemple/wp/2016/08/26/the-crisis-of-morality-at-fox-news/?utm_term=.127d75f67629&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://gretawire.foxnewsinsider.com/2016/07/28/lets-get-something-straight-3/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-bribery-standard/2016/08/25/958e4eb6-6ae8-11e6-ba32-5a4bf5aad4fa_story.html?utm_term=.82cf521da487&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1

http://www.foxnews.com/person/v/greta-van-susteren.html

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2016/07/six-more-women-allege-ailes-sexual-harassment.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/former-fox-host-gretchen-carlson-settles-sexual-harassment-lawsuit-against-roger-ailes-for-20-million/2016/09/06/f1718310-7434-11e6-be4f-3f42f2e5a49e_story.html?wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1

 

 

 

 

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