Meet the Impotent Press

You have to be really careful with the press -- not all of them, because I know some great reporters. But I’m going to start naming names because it really is incredible how dishonest the press is.”

-Donald Trump

In a poll released last year, 16% of Americans said that there was no “solid evidence that the average temperature on earth has been getting warmer over the past four decades”. It is very important to note that they were not passing judgement on the cause of this warming, they were denying the fact “that Earth has warmed since 1880...with the 20 warmest years having occurred since 1981 and with all 10 of the warmest years occurring in the past 12 years.” A large amount of blame for this ignorance falls on our media which covers this subject by pretending that it is debatable, sitting two people side-by-side, creating the appearance that they have equal weight. If, instead of this false equivalence, they held “a statistically representative climate change debate” that had 97 scientists debating three climate change deniers, the American public might have a greater understanding of how science works.

It has yet to be proven how much the hot air coming from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign will increase the rate of global warming. His increasingly outrageous statements have continuously kept him in the spotlight allowing him to brag that he has “spent nothing” on his campaign and that he “can’t advertise because [he’s] getting so much coverage.” He keeps the reporters who cover him in line with a mixture of public ridicule at his rallies and threats to cut off access. The press reacts by allowing him to confuse biased reporting with doing the job of asking hard questions of the person who seeks be the leader of the free world. Nowhere was this more obvious than on Trump’s appearance on Meet the Press:

DONALD TRUMP:Going all the way. If I don't win, I don't win. But, you know, maybe that can happen. But I'm leading every poll, big--

CHUCK TODD:Will you accept the idea that you might lose Iowa? You could lose it.

On Sunday, Todd’s own network released its own poll showing that Ted Cruz is up by 4% in Iowa. This is likely within the margin of error and, therefore, represents a tie. It is certainly not a “big” lead by Trump. Todd ignores Trump’s misstatement of the facts and sets the tone for the interview.

In answer to Todd’s question “how do you know someone is a Muslim?”, there was this exchange:

DONALD TRUMP:Hey, look, this has become a very big factor over the last week-and-a-half, two weeks, since I made my announcement that we have to see what the hell is going on. In the meantime, the other night, you have a cop shot in Philadelphia with a gun put to his head. And you know the chants and the rantings and the ravings.

Now, you're looking at Cologne, Germany. You take a look at Cologne, Germany -- having riots --

CHUCK TODD:How do you do it, though? I get it. Or do you just say, "You know what? You do it geographically. You don't even do it a religious test--"

Trump was correct in asserting that there were riots in Germany. However, Todd failed to point out that the people rioting were not Muslims but “far-right [and] anti-Islam”, “some of whom bore tattoos with far-right symbols such as a skull in a German soldier’s helmet”. If Trump was implying that we are facing similar rioting and that we should, therefore, banish these types from our shores, he should consider the fact that this group calls itself the Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West.

DONALD TRUMP:Certain people come in. If they're business people, if they're proven. But we have to find out what the problem is. Now, we can be politically correct and never discuss it. But we can't let that happen to our country.

CHUCK TODD:Let me get some news of the week. China. Clearly, its economy-- they're having a problem. They're having a crisis there. You have railed that China is beating America. And yet--

The proper followup to this statement should have been that Trump’s first television advertisement calls “for a temporary shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”. The word “certain” is not included before the word “Muslims” in this statement. It is also left unclear why Trump considers business people less dangerous that orphans or members of our military. If he asked people who lost their homes during the housing crisis or homeowners who have been chased from their homes by the Porter Ranch gas leak, they might tell him that business people have had a more negative effect on their lives than ISIS. On a side note, “businessmen” would have been a less politically correct term.

CHUCK TODD:Okay. We're on our best two-year, job creation streak in 20 years. China is cratering our stock market for the problems they have at home. How is that the definition of China winning and America losing--

DONALD TRUMP:Okay, first of all, take a look at our G.D.P. And if you look at that, if you look at our productivity, if you look at the fact that people, in ten years, essentially, haven't had a raise, or people going down instead of up. The jobs, a lot of temporary jobs; people are working temporary jobs and jobs that they don't want instead of jobs-- our economy's doing horribly. And you take a look at that jobs report. The jobs report is fiction because all of the people that gave up--

CHUCK TODD:It's total fiction? You don't think--

DONALD TRUMP:I would say, honestly--

CHUCK TODD:--there's been improvement from the crash--

Todd could have questioned multiple parts of this statement. While “the economy has performed worse than average for GDP growth [and] job creation” during Obama’s presidency, “the United States’ GDP growth has beat the GDP growth of the other original NATO member countries by the widest margin of any president since World War II.” As of October 2015, 8,394,000 jobs have been created during Obama’s presidency. The last year we had GDP contraction was 2008Productivity has also grown, again at a slower than usual pace.

Trump is correct in stating that wages have slid under Obama, but this tells only half the story as “corporate profits are at record levels.” As of 2014, “medium household income was down 3 percent”, while “corporate profits [were] at their highest level in at least 85 years.” It would have been interesting to hear Trump answer whether a billionaire or a Democratic Socialist would be in a better position to fix this problem.

Finally, Todd did not follow up when Trump avoided his question about the allegation that the  jobs report is fiction. It was a case of journalistic malpractice that he allowed the candidate to accuse the President of fraud without demanding an explanation of the charge.

DONALD TRUMP:But listen, Chuck, you have 60, 70, 80 million people out there that want to work that aren't getting jobs.

CHUCK TODD:You have said you think President Obama's a terrible negotiator.

Despite Trumps previous allegation that the “jobs report is fiction,” the statistics that Trump uses in this statement are also derived from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As a person running as a businessman, Trump should understand what these numbers mean, but the fact that he says that these people “want to work” shows that he is either ignorant or lying. Yet Todd neglects to ask him why he believes that jobs should be found for people who are not looking for work, including retirees, “students or [those] who left the job market for family reasons, illness or some other factor.”

DONALD TRUMP:But you look at the Iran deal. You look at these deals. I always bring up Bergdahl. We get a traitor, they get five people that they've wanted for nine years, and they're back on the battlefield, trying to kill everybody, including us. And we get a dirty, rotten traitor. So let me just tell you, that's the kind of deals we make. The Iran deal? We give them $150 billion. We get nothing--

CHUCK TODD:By the way, though--

DONALD TRUMP:We don't even get our prisoners back--

CHUCK TODD:They just shipped the uranium out, though. I mean, they're living up to the deal.

For this exchange, Todd gets partial credit as he stated after playing the tape of the interview for the viewers that PolitiFact found Trump’s assertion that the men released in exchange for Bergdahl were “back on the battlefield” was false. Unfortunately, he did not point this out to Trump. He also neglected to point out that we did not give the Iranians $150 billion. Instead, their own funds were released back to them.

DONALD TRUMP:Obamacare, as you know, is going to fail very soon, and probably in '17, our health care. We don't have borders. We don't have anything. I think, if I'm there in two years and I'm making a speech, I say we're getting better, fast.

CHUCK TODD:And in that first speech to Congress, you're going to lay out your first 100 days' agenda, what are those four issues that are going to be on there--

Once again, Todd allows Trump to state an opinion as if it is a fact. At the very least, Todd should have responded that he does not know that Obamacare is going to fail very soon. Even better, he should have asked for facts to back up this assertion.

When Americans go to the polls in November, we are not selecting the winner of a reality show. We are electing the leader of the free world. It is time for the press to start doing their job so that we make that a choice armed with facts. Trump cannot cut off everyone for asking tough questions - his campaign will not last if cut off from the free publicity.

 


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