In the aftermath of the Laker championship victory, the “Cap,” Kareem Abdul Jabbar, has scored again. Like his ever faithful “skyhook,” his Nov. 8 L.A. Times op-ed, “We may be a divided nation, but we’re united in not trusting the news media,” hits nothing but net. The point he makes about the news media’s “complete blurring of news and opinion” hits the mark.
The question is, are they reporting the news or telling us what they think about the news they just reported? A perfect example of this was when a local cable news outlet aired the actual remarks by candidate Joe Biden. He was urging calm and the need to count every vote. Then the reporter proceeded to tell us viewers what vice president Biden just said and what he meant.
This, along with the “just trust us” approach to journalism, where “unnamed but reliable sources” are the sources, goes beyond the pale. This constant chasing of every sordid comment or action, and there were plenty, by President Trump was like watching a kitten chasing after a laser light. It gets tiresome after a while.
The problem is these forays down every dark rabbit hole with no substantial payoff is like watching Geraldo Rivera opening the empty vault where Al Capone supposedly stored some of his wealth, over and over again (the 1986 media hyped “Al Capone’s Vault,” but nothing was in it).
And enough of the hypocrisy. With the election so close there were constant appeals for calm and the need to count every vote. But as commentators said this out of one side of their mouths they were jamming any government official involved in the actual counting for any timely tidbit or numbers they could use to determine a voting trend. Then they could race the other outlets to call the election.
Also, enough already of the one-sided reporting. If the Biden campaign was on the losing end of these razor-thin vote margins, do you think they would quietly accept the results? Do you think they didn’t learn from the 2000 presidential election, where George W went to Florida to defend his victory whereas Vice President Gore went there to see who won? As one commentator described it, Gore brought a knife to a gunfight. This time around it would have been guns out, go down blazing!
And how about the last four years of trying to re-adjudicate the 2016 election? From day one the media has unabashedly tried everything they could to discredit the unexpected election of Donald Trump. Then the other side blindly propped up an obviously narcissistic, lying madman.
At a minimum it’s laughable and at best naive for some media outlets to request patience and the president-elect to be given a chance. Unfortunately, it’s just a matter of flipping the script and it’s the other team’s turn in the political barrel (“shooting fish in a barrel”).
And unfortunately, it’s not over. The carping about the bad showing down-ticket for the Democrats has already started. Some commentators are making their list of who on the losing side the winners need to go after. Also, the Senate run-offs in Georgia are already under way and are the main reason the Republicans are regurgitating the president’s claims of voter fraud and conspiracy.
They’re trying to keep their base engaged, frothing at the mouth and sending in money. Not because they expect the legal maneuvering and recounts to change the results. Their real focus is the still undecided Georgia Senate campaigns.
And lest anyone forget, the “orange one” won’t quietly stay on the golf course nor go quietly into the night. The legal fights are not that worrisome. A Trump presidential campaign in 2024 is. Especially, if he sees taking the helm of the anti-vaxxers movement, once a vaccine is available, as a continuation of the anti-maskers sentiment he built upon during the run-up to the election (not my original thoughts).
Let’s face it, although everyone will tout how President-elect Biden got the most votes of any presidential candidate in history, let’s not forget that President Trump got the second most in history. Also, the final electoral numbers will show a decent margin of victory for the Biden/Harris ticket but had it not been for the pandemic and the Republicans pooh-poohing vote by mail, Donald Trump would have been re-elected.
The Republicans are already counting on the traditional bad showing the incumbent presidential party has in any mid-term elections to deliver the Congress to them in 2022. Even a split in the Georgia senatorial run-offs in January — like I said, it’s not over — won’t maintain their majority but they can still muck up the works with the 2022 mid-terms just around the corner.
More to the point, once the 24-hour news cycle recycles like a circular firing squad, there’s very little follow-through about the veracity of any of the comments or transgressions reported by said reliable sources. Let alone mea culpas.
It’s like the last-minute pre-election polls. They were so far off but fool me once, 2016, shame on you, fool me twice, 2020, shame on me/we. No one is held accountable in the world of news reporting, media or political polling. Don’t even think about someone getting taken off the air for reporting malpractice. All the newscasters are a part of the untouchable media elite if their numbers hold up.
So enough ranting and raving. Monku-ing about it gets you nowhere and as an amateur opinion columnist I should take a good look in the mirror myself. But for now, I watch CNN, occasionally MSNBC, sometimes Fox just for the hell of it, and then lean to the left and split the difference.
Finally, the Cap in the aforementioned op-ed makes the point about Thomas Jefferson expecting readers, and now listeners and viewers, to engage as critical thinkers. My point is news outlets can share their opinions and points of view but let us, the public, do our own thinking.
Warren Furutani has served on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, and in the California State Assembly. Opinions expressed are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.