Donald Trump’s vendetta against those in the media who dare to speak out against him grows stronger by the day.
Morning Joe, a standard sunrise gathering of left-leaning talking heads on MSNBC, has long been a target of Trump’s ire. Last week, Trump made the attacks personal and sexist, insulting host Mika Brzezinski’s intelligence and appearance.
While the actions of Trump, an alleged serial sexual harasser, are disturbing (though sadly unsurprising), something far more sinister emerged from this mess. The namesake of the show, Joe Scarborough a former three-term Republican Congressman from Florida, alleged that Trump aides threatened the pair with a hit piece in the National Enquirer. Though the threat may be laughable seeing as Mika and Joe came clean about their biggest secret (their engagement and relationship), as well as the low journalistic standards of the National Enquirer, the fact remains that this appears to be extortion, a significant criminal offense. For the record, the owner of the National Enquirer, David Pecker, is a long time friend of Trump.
Pecker’s looking to expand his media reach to Time Magazine, a publication that Trump has taken great care to fabricate its content to suit him. It’s not the only pro-Trump outlet seeking to expand. Sinclair Broadcast Group, a propaganda outlet run by the ultra-conservative Smith family, is vastly expanding its reach into American households with a proposed $4 billion purchase of the Tribune Media Group’s portfolio of local news networks.
The group functions like Russia Today, with mandatory segments that are so divorced from reality it would be laughable were it not for the fact that Americans have an extremely limited capacity to discern fact from fiction.
How people consume information is a big concern. 99.999999 percent of the time, the reporting of outlets like the New York Times, Washington Post and Economist are on point, verifiable and trustworthy. Nevertheless, I still have a problem with the principle purpose of outlets that are for-profit. The purpose of reporting should not be to make money or drive up ratings by promoting conflict, but to inform and tactics like those employed by CNN are disgraceful and damaging to democracy.
I get that niche journalism like what Nate Silver and his awesome team over at FiveThirtyEight do with statistics is wonderful and useful. I get they should make money to provide that unique service. People shouldn’t be restricted from making money through the media, but I wish that we would place the same objective values financially on journalism that we do for objectivity within its content.