Years from now, when my half human/half Martian grandchildren (colonization of Mars to begin in October, 2049, while at the same time the six remaining land dwellers of the barren apocalyptic wasteland once known as North Carolina are still focusing all their efforts on banning transgendered bathrooms) ask me, "Grandpa, how could a bully con artist who knew absolutely nothing about government get elected President"? I'll say, "Well, there were a lot of reasons: voter ignorance, an illogical Electoral College system, the BernieOrBust douchebags, systematic misogyny, society's obsession with celebrity over substance. Oh, and Florida cheated. Wait- no, that was sixteen years earlier. When you're my age, everything starts to jumble together. Kirk Cameron was in Game of Thrones, right? But, mostly, it was because the news media gave Donald Trump a free pass."
Last week, our most legitimate news sources reported (and analyzed) a major news story; Donald Trump released a list of potential Supreme Court nominees. Meanwhile, these same news organizations are completely ignoring the fact that the actual President of the United States has already nominated a judge for the Supreme Court. And Congress refuses to even meet with the very well qualified Judge Merrick Garland, creating a disastrous Constitutional crisis..
Google "Trumps's Supreme Court Picks." What's on the first page of results? Oh, there's CNN. Oh, here's Reuters. I also see ABC News and Politico and... why did I just get a pop up ad for weight loss pills?
So click on one of the sites. How about- oh, let's say the CNN article, written by CNN reporter Jeremy Diamond. It's a lengthy article. Here's how it begins...
Donald Trump on Wednesday unveiled a list of 11 judges he would consider nominating to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, an unusual move for a presidential candidate that underscores his efforts to appeal to conservatives.
Yes, this is indeed an unusual movie, considering that the actual President of the United States has already nominated a judge to fill Scalia's seat. Because that's how the process works- the actual President nominates a- not a theoretical, but an actual- person to the Supreme Court. But I'm sure Diamond- who may or may not be the brother of Dustin Diamond, best known for his role as Screech on Saved by the Bell, mentions this later in the article. Let me just check on that... still looking... still looking. Okay, here it is- last sentence of the eleventh paragraph. In journalism class, we learned that's called "burying a story." Most readers lose interest before getting to the last sentence of the eleventh paragraph of an article.
Now let's look for the important Merrick Garland information in the ABC news story, written by reporters John Kruzel and Jennifer Hansler- who may or may not be dating. Okay. Looking for the Merrick Garland stuff. Here we go. Okay. Still looking. And... still looking. And... nope. Not there.
The news isn't about reporting news anymore. It's about talking heads analyzing polling data. And I'm not just talking about cable news channels, like CNN and FOX News and Bravo. Just kidding. We all know FOX News isn't a real news channel. No, I'm talking about the once-reliable, one-time-respectable network news divisions. Watch any of the Sunday morning network news shows: Meet the Press, Face the Nation, Face the Press, Hug the Nation, whatever. It's pundits talking about polls.
Rarely does a day go by without the media telling us the latest poll numbers and what they mean. And if the election was held today, do you know who would win? Certainly not the Constitution, which specifies that the Congress- and not the media- determines the election date. It's the Tuesday following the first Monday in November. And between now and then, as is the case every four years, debates and conventions and unforeseen circumstances will render these current numbers unrecognizable. So what do the current poll numbers mean? Jack shit. (Though I bet it would send less crass coming from CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley.)
Poll numbers are not news. This has nothing to do with news. Summer Presidential poll numbers are a wildly inaccurate prediction of what might possibly happen in the future. "Our top story tonight- celebrities who might die six months from now."
Oh, and the media is also big on "favorability" polls, as in the political pundits' smug, self-righteous analysis of the general election candidates' favorability numbers. Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have low "favorability" ratings. How do we analyze this? (Oh, and congratulations. You made it to the final sentence of the eleventh paragraph.)
Here's my analysis. The two candidates who received the most votes in their primary elections have low favorability poll numbers. Therefore, logically, one of reasonable intelligence would surmise that favorability poll numbers are not important. So then why the hell is the news covering something that isn't important? Some of us want to hear about actual news stories that... OMG Kylie and Tyga broke up again?!
side note: Do you know who had really, really low favorability numbers, so much so that they didn't even bother putting him on the ballot in some states? Abraham Lincoln. And Lincoln became the greatest President in our nation's history... until someone shot him. His favorability numbers must've stayed pretty low. (Too soon?)
See, the news media doesn't analyze Donald Trump's ignorant statements and actions. Rather, the pundits explain how these ignorant statements and actions will affect his poll numbers. This is the news now. Of course, Trump's statements and actions are not affecting his poll numbers. But perhaps that's because the news media- whose job it is to explain Trump's ignorance of facts and complete cluelessness of government process- is not doing its job.
My fav? During one of the Republican primary debates, Trump asserted that Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito "signed a bill." Yes, the Republican Presidential (soon to be) nominee thinks that Supreme Court judges "sign bills."
There are three branches of government. Trump doesn't know how one of those branches works. But, hey, two out of three is over 66 percent. And that's still a passing grade. Trump passes! But the media does not. Shouldn't these political talking head roundtables be focusing on Trump's ignorance of judicial powers rather than how it affects his poll numbers. (analysis: It doesn't.)
Well, two out of three is 66.6%. I learned that at Trump University, a fake college that conned people out of money. This Trump University thing was kind of a big deal. Trump was asked about it, gave a BS answer, and then the media sort of moved on. Oh, but the media is boldly, fiercely analyzing how this issue has affected his poll numbers. Meanwhile, zero out of three is nothing. In actuality, Trump knows nothing.
The other day, Donald Trump said that Hillary Clinton "wants to abolish the 2nd Amendment." Is Clinton running for Congress? Presidents have no authority to amend the Constitution. Here's a simple question any reporter could ask Donald Trump. "Can you explain the separation of powers, as explained in the Constitution?" That the President of the United States wouldn't know what the President actually does is disturbing. No? Follow-up question: "How do you think this will affect your poll numbers?"
Reporters ask Donald Trump about Hillary Clinton. He responds with mean-spirited personal attacks. Reporters egg on Hillary Clinton, in hopes she'll deliver mean-spirited personal attacks on Donald Trump. She doesn't. Then the news media pundits tell us it's going to be a really ugly campaign. Yes, because the media is doing its best to make it an ugly campaign. It's like walking into an assisted living home in December, taking away all the food and supplies, and predicting that it's going to be a hard winter for old people.
The news media wants things to get ugly. The pundits like when things get ugly. This boosts ratings. But it really doesn't. Heck, the TV audience for five political hacks sitting around a table offering worthless psycho-babble is less than the number of people watching re-runs of Suddenly Susan. So you might as well deliver real news about real things. What have you got to lose? And vigilant, unbiased analysis of Donald Trump's virulent nonsense might actually wake us up from the intellectually numb stupor caused by listening to robotic television nobodies evaluating poll numbers. And this could make a real difference come election time, which according to poll numbers doesn't happen for another six months.
Donald Trump is still a reality show star. Only now it's a different reality show. But it doesn't have to be.
"Grandpa, did a bully con artist who knew nothing about government really run for President?" "Yes. But thanks to the media's solid reporting, he got trounced in the general election. Now go to sleep. We have a big day tomorrow; we're taking the family starship to see the giant wall we built around Jupiter. Mexico paid for it."