Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Editorials: Where I rant to the wall about politics. And sometimes the wall rants back.

Has Trump forced the media into a Kobayashi Maru?

Jerry Stratton, November 14, 2018

Kobayashi Journalism

The news media would like to tell you that they’re sorry they have to lie so often, but Trump is forcing their hand. The latest iteration of this devil-made-me-do-it excuse comes from Ezra Klein at Vox.com; I saw it reposted on Facebook with the comment:

This makes way too much sense. In addition to the headline, it also covers the implications of both doing so and the methods being used to do so.

Klein himself writes, in the article, about “The media’s lose-lose situation”. He says the media can’t win because whenever they report on the horrible things Trump does, Trump gets to point at them and call them fake news. How can they extricate themselves from this Kobayashi Maru?1 By not reporting on Trump? He’s the president, they have to report on him!

What Klein is ignoring is why people believe Trump when he calls them fake news. If CBS hadn’t run with obviously faked documents about George Bush; if NBC hadn’t doctored the Zimmerman 911 call to the opposite of reality; if CNN and MSNBC newscasters didn’t get angry when obvious mobs were called mobs, then Trump’s claims that the major outlets create fake news would not stick.

If they weren’t even now arguing that tweeting about baseball and bad hair days is a secret code to white nationalists, or saying incredibly stupid and/or hypocritical things like “We have to stop demonizing people and realize the biggest terror threat in this country is white men, most of them radicalized to the right, and we have to start doing something about them.” then Trump wouldn’t be able to convince voters that the media is in opposition not just to the truth but are in fact an opposition party. They are actively manipulating their coverage as if they were Democrat operatives rather than news reporters.

This article itself is a case in point. Trump is “proto-fascist”, and only Fox News is called out for being a “propagandistic outlet”, not CNN (“the biggest terror threat in this country is white men”) or MSNBC (“baseball tweets are secret codes to white nationalists”).

Trump is only proto-fascist if you define proto-fascist as “people who disagree with you”. Trump isn’t in any sense shutting down any news outlets. They’re still blaring their lies and propaganda, complaining about Trump 24-7, and all he’s doing is calling them on it. That’s pretty much as far from any sort of malign dictatorship as you can get. No journalists are getting jailed, killed, nor, no matter how appropriate it might appear in any individual case, confined to psychiatric hospitals under heavy sedation.

The reason the major news outlets see their Trump coverage as a lose-lose scenario is how they define losing. They think it’s a loss if they aren’t believed when they continue lying. All of Trump’s complaints about the press go away if the news media just stops lying all the time.

Klein further writes that:

The media used to have a stick here: negative coverage. Sure, you could get us to cover you by being outrageous or offensive, but you wouldn’t want that kind of coverage. That kind of coverage could destroy your career.

This doesn’t work anymore, Klein writes, because all it does it make Trump look like he has a point. Which is pretty much burying the lede, because it doesn’t just make Trump look like he has a point, negative news coverage just because the journalist disagrees with Trump proves his point. In fact, it looks almost, one might say proto… fascist.

They’re constantly Orwellizing the English language. For example, equating opposition to criminals as opposition to immigrants, even banning the perfectly descriptive phrase “illegal immigrants” to describe people who come here illegally. Or trying to memory-hole mobs in the same way, by refusing to use or allow the term “mobs” to describe clearly mob-like behavior.

And then exposing anyone who has the nerve to disagree with them—or might in the future—to their mobs. If there’s a fascist in the room, it looks more like the news media itself than Trump.

The major media outlets find themselves in a lose-lose only because they have abused their position in the past by going negative at the drop of a hat, without any facts, when a conservative is implicated; and by refusing to report negative facts when the facts implicate Democrats. You can’t play an honest media. Trump can only paint them as enemies of the people with their consent and assistance—because they are acting as enemies of the people. They are doxing normal people and encouraging violence against them.

This is not Kobayashi Maru. This is Little Bighorn. They can win simply by ending their bad behavior. Reporting the truth, not hiding the truth. As long as they keep charging in with their old tactics of lying, omission, and negative coverage for propaganda purposes, Trump’s charges will continue to stick.

In response to The Make-Believe Media’s New Normal: Whoever wins the election will be the new Sarah Palin. But they’re all acting like John McCain, obliviously unaware that the press might turn on them the moment they win the primary.

  1. For the uninitiated, Kobayashi Maru refers to an unwinnable test given to prospective starship captains in Star Trek. The simulation was a no-win scenario, in that no matter what the student does they cannot fulfill the conditions of victory. It was meant to gauge how the student would handle the immense stress and responsibility of commanding a starship.

    In the news media’s personal Kobayashi Maru, they aren’t handling the stress, or the responsibility, well.

  1. <- Trump outsmarts left