IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST: Playing the Trump card
LIKE IT OR NOT, thanks to Donald Trump, the current presidential election in the United States has attracted more worldwide attention than any previous election I can recall – and I make the assertion having had the opportunity to be in that country for two.
As I have said openly in my newsroom on numerous occasions, most often just to be provocative, I am glad that Trump is a candidate. I am happy that he has upset the Republican Party machinery to become the candidate; and that his brash and grossly unrefined manner is getting under the skin of Hillary Clinton and the whole Democratic Party movement.
Like any other society, America’s daily experience is replete with hypocracy and contradiction, but unlike so many other places in the world, the propaganda machinery has been so effective for so long we blindly buy into this concept of an all-perfect American dream.
Thinking people know it is not like that, but countless, including many well educated and otherwise sensible Blacks, still swallow it hook, line and sinker.
It is part of the current thinking in the election that if you are black it is nothing short of sacrilegious to be critical of President Obama, to even hint that you do not support Clinton, or to let anyone know that you agree with a Republican initiative or proposal.
Each day I sit and listen to supposedly intelligent people comment on the issues and the level of reasoning applied leaves me flabbergasted. But it is the American news media that has absolutely amazed me, particularly the international icon of everything supposedly holy and just in journalism, CNN.
Yes, I accept that journalists are human and they will therefore not be perfect. As a veteran, I understand that each of us enters the fray with our in-built biases; but I also know that if we observe the tenets of the profession, there are enough checks and balances to allow us to be objective despite these biases.
When I tune in to the Fox network, I expect Bill O’Riley and a rash of right wing thinkers to spew their pro-Republican stuff; and by the same token, when I’m watching MSNBC I expect to hear Rachel Maddow and her cohorts extol the virtues of Clinton and the Democrats and trash anything with even a hint of red in it.
But oh, not on CNN. At that Atlanta-based paragon of journalistic virtue there is no broadcast sin. That was until Trump came along as a candidate. Now it is possible to put together an unbiased panel day after day for any (or every) show and not find a single pro-Trump voice – and that they would have us believe is coincidental.
It is possible for a presenter, a full time, supposedly fair journalist to each night put on a show and his only topic (and his personal opinion) is the worthlessness of Trump and the Republicans.
I nearly had a heart attack at the weekend when Trump gave his Gettysburg speech and immediately one of the CNN commentators, again a full time journalist, told the world essentially that Trump was a fool for saying he would sue the women who accused him of sexual misconduct. His logic: the next morning all the newspaper headlines would ignore the salient points Trump made about what he would do in his first 100 days as president, and instead splash headlines about the salacious.
Help me Lord! Does it not occur to a veteran journalist that such a comment is an absolutely poor reflection on our profession and not on Trump?
It would take the presence of the Lord himself to convince me that CNN’s leadership has not taken an anti-Trump position and has given appropriate direction to its on-air personalities.
Come November though, when the elections are over and they return to their usual stance of presenting just-in, breaking news that can be as old as 48 hours, they will want you to regard them as “professional”. There will be, God forbid, another unarmed black man shot in cold blood by a white cop and they will parade their expert opinion setters who will have the rest of the world believe they don’t have an agenda.
Thanks to Donald Trump, the veil has been torn, and perhaps those of us in the rest of the world who are not called Americans will start to think a little more critically; and those who are called Americans will admit that theirs is not a perfect system, not by a long shot – although admittedly it is better than what many others offer their people.
When this election is over in the United States it is not Donald Trump [or Hilary Clinton] who would have lost, it would have been good, honest journalism.
I sincerely hope therefore, that as we in Barbados move into our election season we will take away some lessons from the American campaign, especially the clear evidence that when you spend all your time focused on personalities it is invariably at the expense of the issues.
Our socio-economic situation is too precarious right now for us to expend our energy and resources on anything less than these issues.