MSNBC Chucks the Founding Fathers

In a feat of intellectual vapidity that was stunning even by mainstream media standards, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd demonstrated that he had about as much knowledge of American history as Chuck E. Cheese when he took to the airwaves to sound the alarm about Roy Moore, who just bumped off GOP establishment incumbent Luther Strange in the Alabama Senate primary last Monday.

Specifically, Todd expressed concern that Moore—who has made no secret of his religious beliefs—is such a Christian fundamentalist that he doesn’t even believe in the Constitution as written.  His basis for that opinion?  Moore thinks that rights come from God, not government.

You don’t say!

“Those are just a taste of what are very fundamentalist views that have gotten him removed from office twice as Alabama’s chief justice,” Todd intones.  What he seems to forget, however, is that the Founding Fathers pretty much held the exact same views.  Or, as they put it in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Just in case Todd missed it, that’s Creator with a capital “C,” which rhymes with “G” and that stands for “God.”  And lest anyone miss out on just how profound a concept this is, keep in mind that it provides  the entire basis for the Bill of Rights, which assumes that since rights are derived from God, they cannot be revoked by any government.

As an elite commentator on the passing political scene, Chuck Todd should know this.  And given the way he delivers his missive, with the clipped tones and smug superiority of a college professor lecturing first year students on critical gender studies, he tries really hard to give his audience the impression that he’s an expert on the subject.  In reality, though, it’s all a con job—because if Todd actually knew the first thing about the Constitution, he would have understood that Moore’s views on rights aren’t so radical.

In other words, Chuck Tood isn’t nearly as smart as he’d like you to believe.

That there was nobody on his staff to stop him from saying something so obviously wrong doesn’t bode too well for the network, either.  After all, these are the same folks who see it as their solemn duty to tell everyone what to think, how to act, who to vote for.  Shoudn’t they hire at least a few people who know what the hell they’re talking about?

In the meanwhile, Chuck, you might want to actually read our founding documents before pontificating on them—or at least get one of your producers to do it.  You’re getting way too old to make rookie mistakes.

When Chuck Met Katy

There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth from the news media after President Trump’s press conference on Thursday–pretty much par for the course whenever the Donald deigns to take questions from the White House press corps (or “corpse,” as Barack Obama might say).  It follows a familiar pattern:  reporter asks a question that is primarily fabricated to cause the most embarrassment, Trump roasts said reporter with a mischievous gleam in his eye, reporter later whines about how horribly the president treats the press.  Repeat as needed, your individual results may vary.

Occasionally, however, one reporter rises above the rest to produce a complaint so dense, so lacking in self-awareness, that one has to wonder how a person so utterly unable to see what’s going on around him ever became a reporter in the first place.

Exhibit A, one Chuck Todd of NBC News:

How should I dissect this morsel of journalistic foppery?

  • “This isn’t a laughing matter.”  Well, Chuck, it kind of is–if the guffaws heard ’round the country are any indication.  Trump is plainly having a ball provoking you.  What’s more, you take the bait every single time.  To those of us who live outside of the Beltway Bubble, this is pure comedy gold.
  • “Delegitimizing the press is in-American.”  Um, no–it’s not.  Satirizing the high and mighty (and believe me, Chuck, you media types absolutely see yourselves as the high and mighty) is every American’s God-given right.  If you’re unsure of this, you can look it up.  It’s the same right that guarantees the freedom of your business to do what it does.

What makes Chuck clueless, however, is that he misses the most obvious point of all:  What makes Trump’s media bashing so funny?  We all know that for humor to work, there must be at least an element of truth in it–and in the case of the Media vs. Donald Trump, there is a truckload of proof that Trump is absolutely correct.  For all the criticism the media heap on him for having a loose relationship with the truth, how many times have they shown their own reckless disregard for the same?  It seems like every day the media get busted for running with a badly-sourced story that is quickly debunked as fake–but that doesn’t seem to matter to them, so long as the story advances their narrative that Donald Trump is a singular threat to democracy.

Which brings us to Katy Tur.  There must be something in the water cooler over at NBC.  How else to explain an inanity such as this?

Granted, Katy once dated Keith Olbermann, so some lapses in judgement are to be expected–but the sheer ego on display here is absolutely stunning.  Firefighters risk their lives when they run into burning buildings, Katy.  What do you risk?  A sarcastic aside from the Donald?  It’s not like he’s going to put a hit out on you for making him mad (unlike, say, Vladimir Putin–reporters who cross him have a habit of ending up dead).

In both of these tweets, though, you can see the arrogance that feeds the Washington press corps’ animus toward Donald Trump.  Even after slobbering over Barack Obama for eight years, throwing away any pretense of objectivity and credibility, they still believe that they should enjoy unquestioned deference from a White House they are actively seeking to destroy.  But unlike George W. Bush, who remained a gentleman (and thus allowed the media to attack him relentlessly), Trump goes on offense against the media–and they don’t know how to handle it.

Here’s a suggestion.  Instead of saying that’s un-American, how about trying out some objective journalism for change?  Maybe you’ll restore some of the trust you’ve lost with the American public.  More importantly, maybe the American public will finally get the coverage of the Trump Administration that it needs.

According to Buzzfeed Journalism is Dead

Yesterday, MSNBC’s Chuck Todd had Ben Smith, Buzzfeed’s editor in chief, on his show “MTP Daily” to discuss Buzzfeed’s controversial release of documents with unverified allegations against President-Elect Donald Trump’s ties to Russia.

Todd’s questions seemed to indicate that he’s concerned Buzzfeed’s release of the documents is a poor reflection on journalism – and he should be.

“You just published fake news,” Todd said in the interview. Smith, quoting the note he sent to his staff after releasing the documents, said “Publishing this dossier reflects how we see the job of reporters in 2017.” (More on this later.)

On Tuesday, Smith released the documents, in the name of “ferocious reporting.”

Then, many of us were hit with a cloud of confusion – reports that part of the document was proven to be false and none have yet to be proven true. And then the story that the president-elect was debriefed on the documents. We’re all wondering, “why would he be debriefed if it was fake news?”

I’m doing my research (as a good journalist should) to write this article and my head is spinning with all the “he said” “she said.” And that brings me to Jake Tapper of CNN. Thank you, Jake! In a series of tweets this morning, he’s captured the short and sweet version of what you need to know – based on the statement released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. Here’s a two tweet summary:

This story doesn’t stop with the Buzzfeed documents. Journalists are on the receiving end of all sorts of juicy gossip. We see (or used to see) them as a filter (or as Smith says “a gatekeeper”). In case we’ve forgotten, journalists are supposed to do their research and only bring us the stories that have substantial evidence. It’s their job to put the stories brought to them into a category – have enough evidence to share, require further investigation or juicy rumors.

To quote a recent piece by David French (because I couldn’t say it better myself):

“So here’s what responsible people say when confronted with claims like that: What’s your evidence? If the answer is ‘an anonymously written and anonymously sourced series of memos that no one has yet been able to substantiate,’ then you either pass on the story or — if you have the time and resources — try to substantiate the claims. If you can’t, then you pass. It’s that simple. Any other action isn’t ‘transparency.’ It’s not ‘reporting.’ It’s malice.”

But according to Smith’s interview with Todd, the reality is the Internet has brought a new era of journalism – when journalists should share with the public all the juicy leads they get, verified and unverified, without doing any research, assessment or qualification.

Journalism, according to Smith, is dead. After all, I can post all sorts of juicy leads on my Facebook page. How is that any different? I have higher standards for my Facebook page than Smith has for Buzzfeed.

As I mentioned yesterday, whether you are President-elect Donald Trump claiming Ted Cruz’s dad assassinated President John F. Kennedy, or BuzzFeed publishing unverified stories – you are WRONG. Fake news is fake news, and neglecting to do (and cite) thorough research isn’t journalism at all. It doesn’t matter what side you’re on.

The American people deserve better. Do your job and don’t publish until you have the facts.