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As we near the inauguration of Trump, I have been getting some flack through social media that I spend too much time complaining about the election and not enough time drawing funny cartoons. I thought now, before Trump acquires real power, would be a good time to address some of the things people have been writing me…
I had one Facebook friend suggest I was proliferating fake news by sharing an article from The Washington Post. The Washington Post? The Pulitzer Prize winning Washington Post? I have had similar responses to things I have shared from NBC, ABC, CBS, The New York Times and CNN.
I will concede that all these news organizations have made mistakes in the past. I will also admit that they have shows that offer slanted political opinions. But when it comes to actual reporting and investigating, I think most rational people would agree that for the majority of what they do, their news gathering is actually pretty accurate. The main stream news organizations I listed above have all done award winning reporting. What might be even more important, they have all punished journalists who have reported falsehoods in a story. They value the truth. They honor it.
So I admit the news is sometimes a messy business. Mistakes can be made. But overall the intent of the so-called main stream news media is to pursue the truth. If we lose our faith in that, America has lost one of the most important pillars of our democracy. We HAVE to have faith that our news gatherers. We have to believe they are intent on uncovering the truth.
The danger in Trump’s approach to news gathering agencies is that he interprets those who dish up friendly softball questions as friends and anyone who asks hard questions as foes. Trump is remarkably thin skinned. Anyone who has ever seen a recent White House press conference (Democrat or Republican) knows that the press are like hungry dogs barking for a chance at a bone. And the questions are always hard. This is not the press being a bunch of meanies. This is the press doing their job. Its a vital part of our way of government to have a free press who work on our behalf to speak truth to power. The chance for you or I to have an audience with the president to ask our own tough questions is a virtual impossibility. The free press works as our agents to do this very important task for us. We NEED them.
There is a reason in-coming dictators historically destroy citizens access to a free press as their first move when they come to power. No, I am not saying Trump is an incoming dictator. But I AM saying he is trying really really hard to discredit the established press. He prefers to Tweet rather than to have his words challenged by reporters. I cannot express how dangerous this is to the health of our democracy.
Lets talk a minute about Trump’s Tweeting. While Trump supporters claim this is a way the President Elect connects with the people via “new media”. Its also an incredibly inflammatory way for a leader with a short fuse to voice his in-the-moment opinions without any serious contemplation of the consequences. We have seen this time and time again. Trump picks a fight with a celebrity, a TV skit show, or some other silly thing. These are benign things now, but later this week he will be Tweeting as POTUS. The weight of his words have real impact. His stupid off the cuff Twittering suddenly becomes the sort of things that spark conflicts between state and world leaders.
I had another person write me when I posted something about Trump’s mocking of the handicapped reporter. They said in all caps; “DON’T YOU READ? This is a non-issue. Trump explained this months ago!” Um. I DO read. Thank you. But again this shows how Trump has undermined real news to replace it with his fibs and excuses. Trump claimed he was just being very animated to express his frustration at the reporters story. Ok, lets take him at face value. Has he ever contorted himself or changed his voice in that way ever before or since that moment? No? So the fact that there is a video (Anyone can see it on YouTube) that has Trump calling out the reporter by the name of his newspaper. Because of that we all know exactly which reporter Trump was talking about. Then he contorted and wiggled in just the way a person with that particular reporter’s handicap would. He talked in a mocking fashion imitating the man’s labored speech.
There is no excusing his way around this. Trump mocked a handicapped person. Period.
I get a lot of notes that I am a hypocrite for giving former President Clinton a pass for his marred sexual past while crying foul loudly about Trump’s alleged deviate behavior. Well, that’s not true. I never gave Clinton a pass. What he did was an embarrassment to the country. But while a secret sexual encounter between two consenting adults is questionable behavior for a president, it is not illegal. But if you are on the side that wanted Bill Clinton facing some sort of charges for his behavior, how do YOU justify all the despicable sexual things Trump has been rumored, accused and proven to have done? Trump’s line up of accusers is longer than a ride queue at Disneyland. It includes prostitutes, porn stars, former employees, reporters, and underage girls. If I should not be so forgiving of Bill Clinton’s behavior, how on earth can any of you (many of you who claim to be good moral church-going citizens) justify supporting Donald Trump?
Its this perpetuated false equivalency that led to Hillary Clinton’s downfall. Before the election many voters said they thought Hillary was “just as bad as Trump.” When the facts showed there was literally no real comparison that an informed person could make between the two. Hillary had all the experience in world politics. Trump had none. Hillary was an intellect who had a long history of bettering the life of women and children. Trump had a questionable business past who has done nothing but prop up his own name for his entire life. Hillary had some leaked emails that turned out to be absolutely nothing. Trump had been caught several times in charity scams, he was being sued over a fake university, he was accused by multiple women of assault to which he later stated in a recording as his normal way of approaching women, and he continues to withhold his tax records which either would reveal he’s not the successful business man he claims to be or would show dealings that would pose a conflict of interest to a President. Again, there was no equivalence between the two candidates. Never was. Never will be.
But that lie perpetuated itself in the press while they struggled with the challenge of appearing objective while everything Trump said or did was controversial and Hillary remained almost boring. To try to come across as fair and balanced many news outlets opted to try to give each candidate equal time. If Trump was in the news for skipping out on his promises to veterans charities, they would give equal time to Hillary and her email investigation. If Trump was in the news for sexually harassing women, they gave equal time to the same story about emails. It happened again and again until the emails had become some sort of an offense worthy of crowds chanting Hillary should be locked up, versus all the various Trump controversies blurred together into something no normal person could follow.
I bet to this day many Trump supporters don’t know that Trump was found to be reneging on his promises to veterans charities, the allegations of sexual harassment continue, and his business practices remain in serious question. Yet the investigations into Hillary’s emails resulted in nothing.
I had one person write me to suggest that the smear campaign by the Russians was equally distributed between Trump and Clinton. That they clearly tried to smear Trump through the Access Hollywood audio scandal and that showed that the Russians were messing with both sides of the election. Not just Hillary. The thing is, the Access Hollywood scandal story was broke by an American reporter with contacts within the studio that produced the show. Trump basically verbally hung himself while knowingly wearing a microphone in advance of an interview. Again, Trump, this supposed big thinker, incriminated himself while knowingly wearing a microphone. So if this rocket genius could be so careless while knowing he might be recorded, do you really think he was acting like a saint the entire time he was in Russia being wined and dined over business investments? Knowing what we know from countless uncomfortable interviews where Trump bragged of his sexual prowess besides the infamous Access Hollywood recordings (just look back at all his interviews with Howard Stern), its all too easy to imagine Trump willingly putting himself in the embarrassing situations some reports claim he participated in while in Russia for the Miss Universe Pageant years back. Its well known to anyone who has ever done business with the Russians that they commonly practice in capturing incriminating information (documents, audio recordings and video recordings) on influential government or business leaders when they visit the country. Its well known that Russian hotels are bugged. Its a common leverage practice for Russians to hold something over a high profile person so that they can influence them later.
So forgive me when I continue to demand we should get to see Trump’s tax returns. Cut me a little slack when I say we need to take some time to see if our election was tampered with. Allow me to be curious how the Russians succeeded in swaying the election.
Not because I am mad at Trump’s victory, but because a free and fair election is the centerpiece to our democracy. And maybe more importantly, we need an investigation to make sure our up coming President is not in some way under the thumb of a foreign power.
Listen, lets remove politics and parties out of the equation for one minute. Remove how much you hated Hillary from your mind. This is not about her, or party loyalty or any of those political things. For a moment lets all just see ourselves as Americans. Everyone of us just wanting what we feel is best for the country we love.
Do we want the recent and a future election tampered or influenced by a foreign power? No?
If our intelligence agencies, all of them, reported that there might be reason to believe that a foreign power had information (documents, audio or video) that could compromise or influence the behavior of a new president, would you want that to go without an investigation? No?
Congratulations. We see things the same way.