Before we get to the topic (because I am not a corporate news click-baiter), let’s begin with what journalism is.
Google defines journalism as:
noun: journalismthe activity or profession of writing for newspapers, magazines, or news websites or preparing news to be broadcast.
According to Wikipedia:
Journalism is the production and distribution of reports on the interaction of events, facts, ideas, and people that are the “news of the day” and that informs society to at least some degree.
Both of these definitions describe news as the focal point of the activity of journalism, but the latter goes into more detail on the subject in this piece: Rachel Maddow and, by extension, the liberal media or mainstream media (MSM).
Tuesday, many of you tuned in to watch another Maddow Trump-tastic nothing-burger of conspiracy theory and innuendo about the President and the Russian government, but this one was special. Although the post-election electoral math contortionist act was just darling. Maddow took to Twitter to announce a scoop of epic proportions, Trump’s tax returns, that came to her via reporter David Cay Johnston (and quite possibly the White House). This massive scoop came complete with countdown imagery on MSNBC and Geraldo Rivera-level promise of a bombshell. That bombshell did indeed come after a 30-minute, self-serving monologue and a commercial break. And then Capone’s Vault opened and Maddow, in her shameless zeal for ratings, released an incredibly damning piece of news in service to the Donald. Donald Trump paid a 25% tax rate in full. Though it may have been from 2005, it lends his supporters more reason to ignore hoopla about the President from the press.
In addition to this unintentionally positive coverage of Trump, Maddow also managed to weave in the ever-present and still unproven Russia narrative to push her comically ineffective segment into propaganda worthy of ridicule and parody, which both social media and Stephen Colbert provided. Maddow has inserted an unjustifiable amount of reasonable skepticism to defend against any actual news of corruption or wrongdoing. In service of a ratings grab based on the well-worked client copy of Trump’s 2005 taxes, Maddow produced a boon for the White House, Trump, and even Melania Trump, whose immigration and naturalization status hinged upon an immaculate record that year. It was later lauded by the Trump Administration, so there’s that.
This was an abysmal failure on Maddow’s and MSNBC’s part, but indicative of the larger problem with our media: Abandoning journalism and its principles in exchange for corporate money, click-bait tactics for ratings, and partisan mercenary work. Mainstream media is a dying format and every money grab is being taken. The election is over and the horse race is done. The propaganda for the Clinton Campaign and the strawman building for an easy President Hillary election failed horribly and the Monster under the Bed is now leading the country. The Russian-controlled-White House/ Presidency narrative is the newest form of the previous “Russian hacking” hysteria, whipped up to be both life support in ratings, and an opiate for neoliberals and ultra partisans. It serves as an escape to the harsh realities of the Democratic Party’s failures and a Trump presidency that should not be.
Maddow has been a faithful supplier of this product for almost a year and its chaser, Clinton sycophancy, and she has not been alone. Joy-Ann Reid, Chuck Todd, Wolf Blitzer, Don Lemon, Andrea Mitchell, Anderson Cooper, Kurt Eichenwald, Peter Daou, and Chris Hayes. Even Jake Tapper, while not the worst, is not saved by being the best of a bad bunch. All of the above are guilty of molding innuendo into certainties, pushing propaganda as fact for partisan/state means in an effort to alter and control the populous, instead of informing them regardless of whose agenda it may undermine.
The “BREAKING NEWS” banner has been run into the ground. Real news reporting has been bequeathed to the new independent media. Falsehoods go unchallenged on mainstream networks and the resulting merry-go-round is labeled “fair and balanced” or, my new hate word, “neutral.” The journalistic ethics of speaking truth have been left by the wayside. Fact-checking has been dropped by the men and women chosen to speak to us each night in favor of either complicit or empty heads with degrees reading from prompters. Verifying sources before reporting is a dying art in the face of the dollar.
Maddow’s sensationalist disaster is just the greatest recent example of mainstream media’s fight to remain relevant. Vault Seven of WikiLeaks received little coverage (lest we invite millennial scolding ex-DNI directors or ex-CIA employees that have been caught lying under oath in Congress calling for less transparency). The actual issues behind the results of the 2016 election, lost in the ether of Russia fever. The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), East Chicago, and Flint’s water and health issues, the growing instances of racist and xenophobic violence, police brutality, the feckless nature of Democratic resistance to Trump and his policies, and climate change. All swept away for partisan gains. But, as Maddow is the focal point of this writing and a shining example of her peers, I say this:
Maddow has long since proven herself a partisan hack, but last night was the blue check. There are plenty of real things to report on, plenty to attack Trump on, and you pick McCarthyism. You can spin electoral math and taxes into wild-eyed conspiracies and propaganda with innuendo and alternative facts, but not see the Clinton Foundation’s corruption or the blatant rigging and back-dealing of the Democratic Party with overwhelming evidence (including names). You do not deserve to be called a journalist anymore. You just don’t. Hold your L’s up high, Rach, and please distribute them to your cohorts at MSNBC, CNN, NBC, and CBS. FOX News should be a diametrically opposing force, not a foil.