Journalists grappling with Trump
by Dave Winer Sunday, August 14, 2016

I'm friends with Walt Mossberg and Larry Magid on Facebook. Both are accomplished journalists who I have known through their work for decades and have enormous respect for. This isn't about them, rather it's about how journalists try to maintain neutrality when faced with a candidate who lies openly and admittedly in bold and dangerous ways.

Here's a link to the Facebook thread where these comments originated. 

There's truth and journalism truth. When Trump calls for the assassination of his opponent journalism runs out of words to say what he just did. I was thinking of collecting the various descriptions, just to show you guys how ridiculous it has become. It's a mishmash of attribution and qualification. 

Why can't journalism make a direct and true statement: The candidate called for the assassination of his opponent after he loses the election. That's what actually happened. Or, at least put someone on a panel who can say that. All the sources are as conflicted by the rules of their own trade that prevent them from saying what's obvious to every adult watching or reading.

Supposed ethics give the atrocious candidate a fig leaf to hide his sins.

The reporting, to users, and I'm a serious user of news, has little or no value. If you were relying on a journalist's description of Trump and didn't hear his actual words, you wouldn't be able to make sense of it. 

I wonder if journalist ethics aren't obsolete at this point, and if they haven't been obsolete for a long time, and if that is what got us into this mess. All the false equivalence and he-said-she-said reporting has gotten us to a place where an objective reporter still maintains that "they both do it." You see that everywhere, if somehow the scale of Hillary's dishonesty is in any way comparable to Trump's. Adult to adult, it's not. And the journalist's view from nowhere has always been dysfunctional, but now it's so far from reality that it's like the emperor with no clothes. 

And the danger, also, is totally obvious.

The reporting no longer serves any purpose other than to demonstrate how tortured journalist ethics are by a candidate who pushes it to its limits. 

One more thing -- I noticed the other day that Chuck Todd on MTP Daily was taking objectivity a little less seriously as the crowds at Trump rallies started chanting "Lock Them Up" where "them" refers to journalists.

The thread continued...

I am voting for Hillary and contribute to her campaign. But my complaint about the press is very similar to Trump's. I never have felt you guys gave me a chance Walt. I stopped worrying about it in 1994 when I found that I could communicate directly with users, without going through the press. I was very effective that way, far more effective than I had been by hiring PR people and going through the tech press, which always thought I was somehow incompetent or insignificant. My competitors, the biggest tech companies, used the press. We still were able to gain traction with blogging, RSS and podcasting, without the press support. I still read your stuff, always have, Walt, but I think your view of the world has been proven incomplete, and that proof has been out there for a decade or more now. You're still not accepting it, when it's risen to the point of a presidential candidate circumventing all the gatekeepers.