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Without Fear Or Favor. Or Whining.

| August 26, 2018

Juan Gris’ ‘Le Journal,’ 1916.

Donald Trump thinks any American media unaffiliated with Fox News is the “enemy of the people.” His road show appearances are framed by a great deal of insults for the reporters covering him, who are kept in a cage in whatever venue he’s performing. It’s cheap applause, the way bad comics turn to crass humor when they don’t have anything more searching. His tweets, when he runs out of insults for black women or black men or silent praise for white supremacists or their enablers, regularly refuel his bile with attacks on individual reporters and stuttering repetitions of the words “fake news.”

pierre tristam column flaglerlive Trump is no original. Every president has denigrated the media over the years. LBJ used to bring reporters into the Oval Office to assault them whenever he didn’t like the way a story read. JFK did something worse than insult reporters. He regularly lied to them, and reporters even more unforgivingly covered for him when they knew of his lies (no, not the sex, the Bay of Pigs). Nixon did his share of treating reporters like the enemy, though at one point or another he treated everyone, including his own cabinet, like the enemy. George W. Bush had so much contempt for factual evidence that his administration  invented events out of thin air, whether it was the rescue of a soldier in Iraq, “Mission Accomplished” or saving of New Orleans from Hurricane Katrina. And Barack Obama had the distinction of actually prosecuting more reporters than any president before him.  

Trump is just more crude and more violent. He instigates violence. Like any lusty coward with a pair of Caligulas for testosterone he enjoys it, as long as others are inflicting it for his jollies. His rallies became dangerous places for anyone not in lockstep, and they are now dangerous places for reporters the way no venue featuring a president ever was before, at least not in this country. Trump is encouraging his followers to hate the press and is sending a message to authoritarian leaders and their mercenaries around the globe that attacking journalists is OK. Five hundred journalists have been killed or murdered since 2010 around the globe, about half of them in crossfire, that’s true, but that’s to say the job is dangerous enough without a couch-potato president lighting fuses and encouraging attacks on reporters.

Last week the Boston Globe asked editorial boards from around the country, liberal or conservative, to push back against Trump’s assaults by writing editorials on the same theme. The call drew an impressive response from over 300 papers basically saying what the Denver Post said: “We are simply standing up for what we believe in as journalists.”

We are. But I wonder if the effort was necessary, if it wasn’t redundant, a bit self-serving and a bit off-key. It’s necessary to speak in defense of the press, and we may wish that those in power did so more than they attack it. But the last place reporters should seek validation from is the seat of power. Anyone in power dripping flattery on the press, whether in the public or private sector, is as trustworthy as a time-bomb.

If there are few things more deplorable in journalism than obsequious reporters cozying up to those they cover, it’s reporters seeking affirmation from them, or bitching about those they cover for being too mean. Especially in a country where, all told, the problem isn’t a lack of freedom for the press, a lack of voices or a lack of access. It’s a lack of guts, an addiction to lazy formulas and the false idols of “balance” and “objectivity” posing as fairness. That’s when the press isn’t wasting the majority of its airtime and page space on trivialities not to inform, analyze, question and debate, but to “amuse ourselves to death,” in the words of Neil Postman. And as skepticism goes, I’d also question this call that originated from large media outlets and gave many six- and seven-figure talking heads a chance to speak about how hard they have it. I’m not sure I want sermons on press freedom from the Megyn Kellys and Jim Acostas of the trade (and their armies of lawyers).

There’s inspiration closer to home–that is, anywhere outside the echo chambers of big media. The Observer last week published its endorsements for the coming primary. No doubt half the politicians running for election wish a plague on the Observer. So do I, for some of them: unanimity about any media outlet is also suspicious, unless you like propaganda organs. The News-Journal, the Observer, WNZF and FlaglerLive’s news staffs aren’t running around Flagler’s streets to hear commendations from local politicians, but to hold them to account. Doing what we do day in and day out, “without fear or favor,” as Adolph Ochs wrote in his very first editorial after buying the New York Times in 1896, is a more eloquent defense of the press than any editorial we could write.

So the joint effort to speak in defense of media may have had its value for half a news cycle. So is denouncing Trump’s violent and sham rhetoric. But if politicians and their sycophants think we reporters are the enemy, let’s be proud of it, shut the hell up and do our jobs. If we do it well, that’ll shut them up. They’ll soon be gone anyway. We won’t.

Pierre Tristam is FlaglerLive’s editor. Reach him by email here or follow him @PierreTristam. A version of this piece aired on WNZF.

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44 Responses for “Without Fear Or Favor. Or Whining.”

  1. Mark says:

    Without whining? Sounds like a big glass of whining to me.

  2. Really says:

    Well said nice job. Chump will be shut down by the crumbling of his circle of U- Trust

  3. Robert Gordon says:

    But here’s the rub, at least in the case of Trump. Fox News, with it’s many viewers, created Donald Trump, got him elected, keeps his boat afloat, has morphed into a quasi state media, and has in the process marginalized other more legitimate news outlets. Fox has been able to successfully muffle their voices by pandering to Trump and his base, obliterating facts and bottle feeding the man child with it’s own agenda to such an extent they are actually setting policy at times. It is an unholy symbiotic relationship and represents the antithesis of “without fear and favor”…which will only work well if there is a fair playing field….and if there is not an accepted alternate reality in play.

  4. Makeitso1701 says:

    Totally agree, if a politician, or a corporation for that matter, would attack a news media/paper so viciously, like what we are seeing from this administration,that would signal to me that the media/paper must be doing something right, that said, I think it’s safe to say that the Fake Fox news channel is in a totally separate category. I would put them in the same category of the famous very reliable “news” as the Enquirer.

  5. Outside Looking Out says:

    In the words of your queen Nancy, “he won,get over it” . MAGA

  6. mak101 says:

    And just think, if voters on the democratic side would have gotten out and voted we would not have been in this mess with a Trumpet in office. Baring impeachment we have 878 days left till the worst president in history is out of office.

  7. Lazaruis says:

    Why is it then the only news on CNN is always about anti trump ?
    Liberals have turned into a bunch of crybabies.

  8. Fredrick says:

    Would you like some cheese with that whine Pierre. It’s all about the economy. It’s not broke. Don’t fix it.

  9. Mark says:

    I guess Shepard Smith is a figment of my imagination?

  10. I.B. Erudite says:

    @Robert Gordon, you got part of it correct. Actually, CNN helped create the Donald Trump presidency by heaping praise on him in the early primaries. They did the same with Mitt Romney four years prior. They pick the candidate they feel will be easiest for the dems to defeat in the general election. They then give them constant covergae and heap praise (and some criticism) upon them. The candidate dominates the news cycle and subsequently locks up the nomination. Then they go on the attack to destroy their candidacy ahead of the general election. Go back and look at their coverage of Romney. They made him out to be unstoppable, disciplined, and the potential savior of our nation. Then, when he got the nomination he was elitist, sexist, and supposedly his campaign was disintegrating. They thought Trump was the chump that Hillary would certainly beat. Nobody thought he would win. Now we are stuck with this idiot of a president and CNN is largely to thank. Now when they criticize him and rightly so, few will listen. Fox didn’t create Trump but they are sustaining him. He will never crumble until Fox finally wises up and stops defending his obvious corruption and ineptitude. So before Trump can be removed from office it will take the consent of Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham. If Trump keeps the loyalty of thise three he stays in office and maybe gets re-elected. Trump could fire his entire cabinet and as long as he has those three, he sadly keeps the keys to the White House.

  11. Fuggetaboutit says:

    LMAO. The poor sensitive journalist’s should try being more objective. Instead, some like Pierre feel the need to shove his subjective, liberal opinions up everybody’s rear end because he has a platform here. Anyone else think Pierre’s opinion’s stink?

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      And where exactly are you shoving your opinion that you just dropped here Fugg? It’s not like I have time to get myself some Preparation H, though how I wish doctors could prescribe irony capsules.

  12. Jim O says:

    Funny, you never….never speak to how slanted the media is against Trump. How they collude to organize an effort to discredit him and his administration. You really need to take a long hard look at what your website is all about. It is a left leaning mouth piece to everything not Trump. Sad..

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Jim, knowing what we’ve known–what we’ve always known really about this criminal–the problem isn’t slant, it’s not enough slant: the false idol of balance I refer to in the article is restraining too much reporting, and if there was an obscene amount of imbalance it was the way media equated Hillary’s idiocies with Trump’s criminality. There never was an equivalence, there is far less so now, though in his sycophants’ eyes of course the more he looks like a lurid, criminal, lying mob boss, the more admirable he gets. Good job.

  13. Edith Campins says:

    As always, great article.

  14. William Moya says:

    Journalism, is or should be a vocation that requires excellent skills in rhetoric, but just as important is to be a contrarian, to be beacon , a harbinger of things to come. In most other countries, especially in the third world they do so everyday.
    Alas, in our country no so much, because our capitalist system has permeated every aspect of society, elite media outlets have to do a great deal of suck-up (sycophancy) to get close to power which in turn gives them, prestige, power, and money.
    Many of them, during the primaries and before, knew what Trump was, a fascist, a racist, a misogynist, and an ignoramus, but they remain silent, with exceptions, Jorge Ramos comes to mind, and you Pierre.

  15. Robert says:

    @Outside looking out…Using banal MAGA quips to address Mr Tristam’s commentary adds absolutely nothing to the discussion and may suggest that you didn’t understand it.

  16. Sherry says:

    Consider the possibility that the smartest option is to focus on actual FACTS. . . along with your own “fact checking” through sites like “Politifacts” and “Snopes”.

    For example. . . FOX talking heads score extremely LOW when it comes to providing accurate statements. . . with over 50% being “Pants on Fire”, “False”, or “Mostly False”. Take a good read:

    If you are getting your news from social media. . . please understand you are likely being duped and brainwashed by the likes of Russia, China and Iran, as well as the “crazies” in our own country.

    Try watching PBS News Hour, or going directly to the Associated Press News site on the internet. Take the time and make the effort to be educated on the FACTS reported by “professional” journalists.

  17. snapperhead says:

    The press whining doesn’t even compare to the daily tweets and whining from King Donald and the conservative media blowhards protesting the Mueller investigation. Of course the legions of Trump loyalists, so easily persuaded by half truths and flat out lies of some spooky mysterious “deep state” conspiracy, gobble that stuff up like the pounds of biscuits and gravy they gorge themselves on for breakfast while watching Fox and Friends. Murica….Git-R-Dun

  18. Richard says:

    How quickly one forgets about the violence and destruction of private property and city property (police vehicles, buildings, etc.) that was brought on by president Obama when he sided with black criminals who blatantly broke the law and called out any white people for any crimes against black people. He single-highhandedly (well in conjunction with Al Sharpton, a key presidential advisor) divided this country BACK into segregation which had taken years to overcome. Way to go past president Obama! And also thanks for taking care of the black on black violence and deaths happening in your city of Chicago which continue to happen to this day. Good job Obama!

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      Richard, you’re a frequent and frequently valued commenter, so I’ll go easy: first, what minimal destruction of property took place doesn’t begin to compare with the destruction of black lives that took–that takes–place, except of course for those who still think of blacks as property, and property less defensible than their iPhone. Second, the destruction of a few police vehicles wasn’t caused by Obama, but by cops shooting unarmed blacks. Or unarmed property, if you prefer. If you didn’t side with protesters of those killings, I pity your moral imbalance. Third, don’t give us your Fox-bleached fabrications about Obama dividing this country then turn around and pretend to care about black-on-black crime. We don’t need patronizing moralism in blackface. Fourth, it seems we’re living in different Americas if you think segregation has been “overcome,” considering the whites-only thinking of the first part of your comment, but it explains a lot. Finally, your comment had nothing to do with the column. But at least you’re in usual company on that score.

  19. Just read says:

    Who did the interesting painting that appears above this article? Reminiscent of the paintings oh Gerald Murphy who painted, primarily, inte 20s.

    • Pierre Tristam says:

      The painting is by the Spanish artist Juan Gris (1887-1927), worked in Paris, gave Picasso a run for his cubism in his short life, and I think influenced Warhol’s flair for finding art in the commercial. He is now a faithful reader of FlaglerLive.

  20. capt says:

    Sherry , spot on about the AP. People need to get the real facts there instead of CNN or FOX. AP is the least BIASED of them all with the exception of PBS which I also review.

  21. Robert Gordon says:

    I just counted the number of pro-Trump vs anti-Trump related comments. Curiously, the percentages came out to be fairly consistent with that of the country…40% pro…60% anti. I remain mystified with that 40%….and actually a bit frightened.

  22. Mark says:

    You all can’t handle facts, everyone puts their own spin on everything. The truth is what you perceive the truth to be. No one can see into a person’s mind to see the real truth. Everyone, and I mean everyone, lies. Everyone fears and favors. And everyone whines. Let the first one that doesn’t throw the first stone!

  23. Sherry says:

    Yes, I agree, racism is on the rise. However, from the perspective of this “open minded”, educated voter, twice elected President Obama did NOT create the racism we have today. President Obama’s time in office did, however, anger the FOX brainwashed fear filled bigots. They just couldn’t believe a “black” person could be elected as President of “their” country!

    That FOX drum beat of fear filled, racist anger was seized upon by a completely corrupt, racist, sexist, narcissistic megalomaniac reality show star who used those horrific emotions to prey upon the American voter. The cunning reality show host paid off his detractors, and cozied up to enemies of our country in order to rig our election by creating a mindless “cult” of voters to put him in office. During the past 2 years, the white supremacists have become emboldened under his leadership because he is bigoted. . . and his “cult” mindlessly follows.

    Therefore, we have the conflation of anti-immigration prejudice, along with bigotry against all things non-white, non-hetersexual, non-Christian and of course non-” cult trump”. These things have manifested themselves with great passion and self righteousness from within the cult.

    While President Obama foolishly thought he was opening the door to such high ideals as “Ethical Behavior”, “Equal Opportunity and Justice”, “Truth”, “Honor” and “Dignity” for all. . . he underestimated the massive level of fear and hatred 20 years of FOX and Rush brainwashing had created. President Obama forgot that an open door lets in the horror, as well as the beauty, and that is his sin.

  24. Johnx says:

    Don’t forget Obama’s administration actually spied on journalists and congress. Some might argue Orwellian behavior like that is the gravest blow of all.

  25. Randy Jones says:

    Investor’s Business Daily. While many said there was “no way Donald Trump would be President” the IBD/TIPP poll proved once again to be the most accurate presidential poll In America.

    You claim, “if politicians and their sycophants thinks we reporters are the enemy, let’s be proud of it, shut the hell up and do our jobs. If we do it well, that’ll shut them up. They’ll soon be gone anyway. We won’t.”

    FACT: the MSN did NOT do it well (insisting there was NO WAY Trump could get to “270”) and so neither the supporters of our constitutional republic, nor those citizens whom you label self-seeking, servile flattering, fawning parasites nor those who have lost faith in the 24 hour news cycle have “gone away.” And to parrot you – they won’t.

    Consider if you will, the MSN may have actually COST Hillary the Presidency by their consistent, insistent claims of BIG leads for her; claims which most likely kept MANY voters away from the polls. A reasonable person could say the poll mongering by main stream media influenced our election more so than did the Russians. Elections (and polls) have consequences) eh Pierre?

  26. Anon says:

    Mark, becoming brainwashed by the likes of Giuliani and Trump. Is the grass green or brown? Is the sky blue or black? Are there germs or not – ya can’t see em… FACTS are facts, truths are truths. Trump is a serial liar, communist lover (his favorite countries are Russia, China, Cuba, North Korea) who once said he would love to retire to Saudi Arabia, where they treat women like dogs. Trump is destroying everything that makes the U.S. great. Hitler II is using his acting experience and used car salesman (or timeshare salesman) persona to lie to the American public. He is doing his best to propagandize everyone into hating the FBI, the CIA, all of our intelligence communities, and everyone who is checking him out for his criminal activities. Has he shown his tax returns yet? Nope. Because he has a LOT to hide. I feel sorry for the morally-lacking supporters of Trump who will follow him right off the cliff while he steals every penny he can from them.

  27. I.B. erudite says:

    We as a nation continue to elect unworthy people to the presidency. So we get what we deserve I suppose. Trump supporters ought to realize that just because he says or does some things they approve of, he is not a good President. He has had nearly two years with a Republican majority in the House and Senate yet he has few achievements in Congress. He inspires no loyalty from those around him because of his obviously flawed and defective character. Obama could give a shit about half the country and only pushed through every radical idea he could get away with. The days of a President being President for all the people are probably long gone. Regardless of party, I long for the day when we have a president that most Americans trust and admire. Doesn’t mean they have to agree on policies, but at least overwhelmingly believe in the good of the person. I have given up. We as a nation lack informed judgement to competently elect a good president. Get ready for the next spin cycle, I mean election cycle.

  28. Vinny says:

    Trump / Pence 2020

    Stop WHINNING Pierre water, you candidate LOST over 2 years ago. Isn’t it time for you to move on to bigger liberal pastures like MSNBC ?

  29. atilla says:

    Richard’s post is the only one with the facts and like me getting sick and tired of these moocher who prey on the government for everything. There are PLENTY of jobs if these dead beats would get off their asses and go to work. Obama has fueled the race issue and is the BIGGEST RACIST in modern times. He should be considered a TRAITOR.

  30. MarkingTheDays says:

    Well said as usual, Pierre.

  31. Traveling Rep says:

    Thank you Pierre “Acosta” for this sniffling rant about how the Trump-meister is eating the lunch of regressive democrat “journalists” everywhere. We still love the tasty tears, nearly 2 years on! MAGA!!!

  32. Robert Gordon says:

    Mark, You can’t profess and combine relative truth with absolute truth in the same comment…unless you are Rudy Giuliani’s PR guy. You should maybe take up your philosophical contentions with the Washington Post, who (as of their last count) calculated 4226 presidential lies.

  33. Sherry says:

    @ Atilla. . . Will you please cite the sources for the “facts” you say Richard has presented. I see nothing except bigoted “opinion” from either of you. Thanks!

  34. a says:

    Does the truth hurt Sherry????????????????

  35. Stranger in a strange land says:

    The press should always be skeptical of those in power, particularly the President of the United States, no matter which party or philosophy he or she subscribes to. The cosiness of the press with president Kennedy should never occur again. Particularly at a time when one party controls the house, senate, and presidency it is the legitimate press that has to hold those in power in check by being the truth seekers, even if that entails being the opposition. That being said, one of the big problems causing the current polarization is partisans from both extremes confusing reporters/ the press with opinion/entertainment. When I say opinion/entertainment, I am referring to Hannity, Madow, Carlson, Lemon, Limbaugh, Levin, Jones, etc. These entertainers are out to capture eyeballs to increase ad revenue and their income. Dog bites man = no coverage. Man bites dog, NOW THERE IS A STORY! The more outrageous, the more inflammatory the story the more eyeballs captured. Hilary and Podesta in charge of a pedofile ring? RATINGS! CHA-CHING! These entertainers have no journalistic standards. They rarely correct a falsehood, in fact they generally promote them. When a legitimate journalist makes a mistake it is written up in the publication or pointed out during a broadcast. My preference for true journalism are major news papers (Wall Street Journal, Orlando Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times, for you conservatives. NY times, Washington Post, NY daily News, for liberals). For Television, I find the PBS News hour least biased and most accurate (not dependant on viewer ship). If you insist on watching Fox, at least watch Shepard Smith (daily at 3pm), Niel Cavouto, and especially Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. On CNN, Wolf Blitzer, Jim Acosta, and Jake tapper. Watch the Sunday news shows. Stop watching the rumor and fear mongers. They are the spreaders of fake “whatever” (not news). TRUE journalists deserve your attention and respect whatever outlet you choose, but give PBS News hour a chance. It may reduce your blood pressure as an added benefit!

  36. Concerned Citizen says:

    Mr. Trump might be my President by law but it doesn’t mean I have to personally recognize him as President. That’s one of the nice things about our country is we have the privilege of disagreeing with our politicians.

    With any luck he might not be allowed to serve his whole term. The Justice Department is going after his inner circle and he won’t have much of an inner ring left when they are finished. Now if a new senate and congress gets elected in the midterms maybe impeachment proceedings won’t be far from behind. We all know he won’t do the honorable thing and resign. If they impeach him and remove him from office then criminal charges might not be far behind.

    Once the Justice Department is done with Trump perhaps they can then turn their attention to the Clintons’s. Both sides of the Swamp need draining.

  37. Sherry says:

    Since the Clintons (and Bushs) no longer hold political office in the “swamp”, why in the world should our tax payers’ dollar be spent on beating that already dead horse?

  38. Sherry says:

    @ a. . . . LOL! LOL! LOL!

    It seems I’m not the one all bent out of shape from living in a twilight zone where “truth is not truth” as Giuliani says:

    and the “Alternative Facts” made up by Kellyanne Conway:

    in addition to the over 4,000 lies told by your “Fuhrer”:

    The “truth” from this administration really doesn’t hurt me because it is not an issue. . . LOL! LOL! LOL!

  39. Richard says:

    Sherry says “President Obama’s time in office did, however, anger the FOX brainwashed fear filled bigots. They just couldn’t believe a “black” person could be elected as President of “their” country!”

    And I say that President Trump has angered the MSM and Crooked Hillary supporters since his unexpected election. They just couldn’t believe that the country would elect a non-political establishment type person to be president of “their” country.

  40. Alphonse Abonte says:

    Vote Democrat……….Stay Poor

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