Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Why We Have Trump

We have Trump for the same reason we had the war in Iraq:  journalism failed.

With Iraq, there was no imminent threat.   The "if we knew then what we know now" excuse is totally hollow.   We knew then there was no threat.   But the Bush Administration couldn't make the argument to Congress or to the American people that it wanted to use American military power to redraw the political map of the Middle East.   The Bush Administration knew that wouldn't work.   So it had to come up with a story to sell the war.  

As Bill Moyers points out in definitive detail in "Buying the War:  How Big Media Failed Us," the only thing that allowed the Bush Administration to sell the war was a compliant press.   By definition, a compliant press is a press failing to do its job.

The only thing that allowed Donald Trump to sell his candidacy was a press that failed to do its job.  
Instead of asking specific questions about specific issues, it played human microphone stand for Donald.   Day after day we listened to "did you hear what Donald Trump said?"   And day after day, reporters asked other candidates not about issues but instead asked, "what do you think of what Donald Trump said?"

The American viewer heard more comments about climate change by watching the Academy Awards than from watching a reporter moderated Republican presidential debate.
My apology for using the word reporter in that sentence.   An actual reporter, a journalist, would ask specific questions.   An actual journalist would hold a candidate accountable.  
A compliant press doesn't do that. 

Now we have the result.   

When journalism fails, bad things happen.