“Trumpeting”: Assassination by headline.

I began this post on October 12, 2019, by skimming Flipboard, a news app on my iPad. I like Flipboard because I can follow multiple news sources, rather than a single website or newspaper. Today I decided to aggregate just one day of negative headlines about President Trump, and then read the stories themselves to determine whether the headlines accurately reflected the story and the evidence. Here’s what I found. This is only a partial list–I ran out of energy before i ran out of headlines.

Bad impeachment move for Trump—GOP senators enraged by turkey’s invasion of Syria. Fox News. “There is rage over Trump’s decision. It is rage over a policy choice, not over high crimes and misdemeanors. Only the most blindly angry can doubt the lawfulness of the commander-in-chief’s movement of U.S. soldiers, even though it rendered inevitable the Turks’ rout of the Kurds. Ironically, though, the lack of an impeachable offense is not the relevant impeachment consideration. Nor does it matter much that, while excruciating, the president’s decision is defensible and will be applauded by Americans weary of entanglement in the Muslim Middle East’s wars.” Quoting this non-story, in which no senators were named or quoted, shows that Fox is hardly Trump’s mouthpiece.

Top military officers unload on Trump. The Atlantic. None of the “top military officers” were named or quoted. Rather, the writer summarized and editorialized. But the headline sure sounded good for impeachment, I guess, or simply to show that accusation without evidence can work in the United States, not just dictatorships.

Opinion: Trump Needs to be Brought to U.N. on Charges of Genocide. PoliticusUsa.com. “A review of the convention’s (1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide) salient articles makes clear that not only is Trump complicit in this current act of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds, but also his administration has repeatedly in its policies engaged in genocidal behavior, most blatantly in his immigration enforcement policies, his denial of asylum seekers, and his caging of children and separation of them from their parents.” So now Trump is to blame for what Turkey does, as well as Obama administration immigration policies.

Rudy Giuliani Just Got Trump Impeached By Admitting The President Directed Ukraine Operation. PoliticusUsa.com. “While defending himself in the criminal investigation, Rudy Giuliani admitted that he was acting at the direction of Trump in Ukraine.” So how does that “get Trump impeached”?

Anatomy of the phone call now imperiling Trump’s presidency. AP. They go into great detail comparing procedures of briefing the president. White House staffers did not brief the president on this call the way other presidents were briefed on phone calls to foreign leaders. So what? How does that tidbit “imperil Trump’s presidency?”

The Latest Hero Exposing Trump’s Corruption Has a Name, and She Is Not F*cking Around. Esquire. The article was about the ambassador to the Ukraine who was just replaced complaining about some anonymous person (the article suspects it was Rudy Giuliani) badmouthing her to Trump. I failed to find the promised expose of Trump’s corruption.

Trump’s losses mount in stunning day of setbacks. CNN. “Five federal courts dealt blows to President Donald Trump on Friday just as the limits of his legal strategy to block an impeachment inquiry became clear. It amounted to a challenging end of a challenging week for Trump, who remains consumed by an impeachment crisis that is clouding his presidency.” I read the court decisions. They were hardly stunning. Most had nothing to do with impeachment.

We could not “in good conscience” show parts of a Trump 2020 campaign rally. MSNBC. “Trump held a campaign rally in Minnesota last night. There are parts of it we can’t show you — or, rather — there are parts of it that we’re not gonna show you……the president consistently spews ‘red meat vitriol,’ but the he went further than he’s ever gone before, so, we are going further than we’ve ever gone before to say we aren’t going to play the sound. We aren’t going to repeat the president’s vicious attacks on Hunter Biden.” I for one would like to know specifically what he said about Hunter Biden (who couldn’t possibly be guilty of anything) and what constituted “red meat” vitriol, but I trust MSNBC implicitly to accurately assess and deliver judgment on Trump….LIKE HELL.

Whether you like President Donald Trump or not, agree with his policies or not, want him re-elected or not, do you understand what is happening here? In a dictatorship (ex. Syria, Somalia), or a totalitarian mock-democracy (ex. Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo), the national leader is usually replaced violently, by assassination. In most Communist countries (ex. Cuba, North Korea), the national leader usually isn’t replaced, except by purge or coup. In the United States, assassination has occurred, though without violent upheaval, and neither coup nor purge has replaced the president, nor are those methods likely to. Here, we are so “civilized”, character assassination by media is the preferred method, but rarely leads to replacement (Nixon being the sole example, by resignation). “Unprecedented” is a word that is almost always hyperbole, but it is my opinion that this degree of assassination by headline and soundbite IS unprecedented. When the headlines “scream” guilty and the text of the editorial or article doesn’t provide the substance to back up the headline, when Trump’s opposition voices opinions about what he “said” while rarely quoting (and letting the public decide what the words mean), when the New York Times creates an entire project devoted to distorting US history (1619 project) for the purpose of undermining Trump or when CNN and it’s ilk devotes 12 hours bashing Trump for every hour of actual news, does it not make you wonder?

They want us to think “where there’s smoke, there’s fire”, which is not true in the case of a smoke grenade. I am dubious about some of Trump’s policies, many of his ideas and practically all of his tweets, but I intend to vote for him. My biggest single reason is this: He has obviously kicked over a hornet’s nest, stepped on a fire ant colony and started bulldozing a too-comfortable bureaucracy and entrenched establishment. A wrecking ball is needed.

“Free speech” may seem free; the cost is in the listening.

Steve Kerr, famously woke, socially conscious coach of the NBA Warriors, offered this take on the China/NBA controversy: “Again, we’re fortunate in this country to have free speech. I exercise that. But part of having free speech is also electing not to speak if you don’t feel comfortable about something.” When asked a follow-up on whether he was broadly supportive of the right of other NBA officials to speak on matters outside the U.S. and, specifically, if he believed (Daryl) Morey shouldn’t be fired for doing so. Kerr’s response: “I appreciate the fact that you have to ask me something like this. I get it. But I’d hope you’d appreciate my right to not answer that question. Because all it does it create a headline and a soundbite. I choose not to be a soundbite tonight. Probably too late for that tonight. I choose not to be that soundbite.”

Both TheDailyWire.com and NBCSports.com wrote about Mr. Kerr’s remarks, and except for their adjectives, the reports were very similar, but the adjectives often tell us more about the bias of the writer (and the audience their employer wants to attract) than anything about the subject. Wire described Kerr’s remarks as cowardly, NBC described the same remarks as thoughtful. Guess which one appeals to the “right” and which appeals to the “left”? I do agree with one thing–he is smart enough not o be the “soundbite.”

The best commentary on Kerr’s remarks came from TheAthletic.com: “A lot of social media discussion feeds off the hunt of hypocrisy as an end game. The way it’s played is that you capture your out-group’s hypocrisy for the pleasure of your in-group. The unstated goal of the hunt is to rob your foe of moral authority, in hopes that nobody will ever listen to them ever again. Nobody really wins the hypocrisy game, other than clout seekers. Kerr will continue to speak and if people agree with what he’s saying, they’re likely to resonate to it. Merely mocking Kerr and the other NBA figures for their silence doesn’t often convey a sense of how certain matters should be handled.

“Again, if NBA people don’t wish to comment due to fear of the censors, then they should not comment. That actually gives the public a better sense of what’s happening than these tortured rationalizations about why providing any commentary is simply impossible. The NBA’s leading figures are trying to maintain the pretense of open honesty while keeping their mouths shut on the relevant topic. It’s probably best they just do the latter rather than try to sell the former. The dishonesty is jarring and insofar as it is accepted as wisdom, it undermines the case of stateside residents who are actually making informed, salient judgments on the issue.”

I agree. My two problems with celebrities, be it in the world of professional sports or entertainment–though they are the same thing–speaking their opinions on events and mind-reading motives on the national and global stage are: they are not truthfully informed–they generally only pay attention to their own preferred media; they are unduly influenced by both their economic motives (“protecting their brand”) and maintaining popularity with their equally uninformed peer group. Still, they have the right to speak, or not speak. The rest of us have the right to listen, or not.

Another sports figure, Jacksonville Jaguars billionaire owner Shahid Khan, told the Yahoo Finance All Markets Summit, “You have to respect the norms. An opinion…of the sovereign management of those countries is for those people.” Khan emigrated here from Pakistan as a penniless youth, and now owns companies in multiple countries. He is far more sophisticated and experienced in these matters than most other professional sports figures. He praises some and criticizes some of President Trump’s policies, rather than imputing motives and launching personal attacks. I am more likely to listen to him than someone like Kerr, who claims he is “more qualified” to speak about problems in this country than overseas “where I am not informed.” Mr., you aren’t informed about either–you just have opinions. Every terrible thing you liberals accuse Trump of “wishing he could do” (mind-reading anyone?), China has ACTUALLY DONE, and much worse. So you can refuse a White House visit because “Trump is evil” but can’t speak about China because you aren’t “well informed”? Puleeese…..

As Theodore Dalrymple of Takimag.com wrote: “The need to say something is often far greater than the need, or the capacity, of the speaker to say something important or worthwhile listening to. Many a person wants to communicate without having anything specific to communicate.” AMEN!