The Real Traitors to the Republic: Major Media

Traitor: 1: a person who is not loyal or true to a friend, duty, cause, or belief or is false to a personal duty. 2: a person who betrays his or her country : a person who commits treason.

Today, 5 U.S.C. 3331 specifies the language of the oath for federal officials. According to this statute, officials must “solemnly swear (or affirm)” that they “will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic” and that they “will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.”

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The Oath required at swearing in ceremonies for new citizens to the United States, begins: “I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen, that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic ... “

What is a "domestic" enemy?

The Press often declares their absolute rights under the Constitution.  Yet, the plain fact of citizenship is that there are no rights without duties, which the Oath of Citizenship clearly reveals.  This is so basic it should not need to be stated.

The Press also asserts the right to protect their “sources”, although courts often send reporters to jail for not revealing “sources”, especially in cases involving the magic phrase: “national security”.  This same “Press” is often sued for lying about people, and frequently loses these cases (tabloid journalism).  When the lie is about a public figure, courts require the person suing to prove malicious intent [see the movie “Absence of Malice”].

There are differences between what might be called legal duties on the one hand, and moral duties on the other.  If there are no clearly defined legal duties, media corporations routinely assert that they are not required to do what is “right”, only what is “legal”. 

Is, or should there be, any relationship between the “news” and the “truth”?   All kinds of media organizations employ many “fact checkers”, to determine if an article they will publish is “factually” correct.  But do they really, and consistently, hold themselves to the same standard?

For example (see the HBO series Newsroom for details), media critics have long asserted the false assumption that when Media reports “political” material, it can treat the situation as if: there must be two “sides”.  True facts do not have “two sides”.  Yet, there are no correct facts in politics, if one speaker is a Republican and the other a Democrat.  If a politician says something, whether or not it is a lie (not true) - this element of the situation is not normally part of the news “story”.  So politicians have the habits of saying anything, and get it easily reported without any “fact checking” at all.

Television comedy shows (such as the Daily Show, or John Oliver) routinely play video clips of politicians saying one thing one day and the exact opposite another day.  This activity of these comedy shows reveals that the merest fact checking of political statements would reveal an almost constant state of hypocrisy among politicians.   Lying is their stock in trade, and politicians seem to have no shame when this is pointed out.

This has gotten so weird, that some politicians assert as scientific facts, material that the scientific community does not accept as factual.  Or the reverse, where politicians deny the truth value of recognized scientific facts.  Politicians have no problem treating a scientific consensus, such as the existence of "climate change", as were it an obvious fallacy.  But, for media there have to be two sides, so from the point of view of the major media news organizations, these statements are not “fact checked”, or pointed out to be “lies”. 

When Kevin Spacey was preparing for his television show, House of Cards, he spent time with politicians, and many of them admitted that their major way of working, even when they were interviewed by the TV news folks, was all basically “theater”.  No “truth” was necessary, and reporters have admitted that were they to regularly fact check politicians no one would talk to them anymore; i.e. they would lose their highly coveted “access” to sources.

It is not hyperbole to suggest that major media news people sell their souls for access.  In effect they whore themselves for the by-lines and profits that come with access.

This was not always the case, for when the Army-McCarthy hearings were destroying the lives of many, with false allegations (by politicians) of membership in the Communist party and similar extreme left leanings, it was a major news organization, following the lead of Edward R. Murrow, that publicly forced the issue and brought about an end to a horrible chapter in American public life.  The tragedy was that this was the last gasp of major media news organizations having the freedom to critically call out politicians, for soon after the entertainment divisions of the major media organization, took over the news departments, and thus arose what we today call: infotainment [see the film "Good Night and Good Luck"].

What is the cost to the Republic when news organizations regularly fail to report the truth? 

The People become uninformed, and cannot do their duties as citizens on a regular basis, and most especially during election cycles.

Now most ordinary people have a couple of phrases they like to use in regards to others, often politicians: “He’s full of shit”; and, “He’s an asshole”.  The only reason we vote for most of them is because we are not given any other choices, since the political parties control the selection process.   Factually, even in presidential election years, 50% of the eligible electorate stays home - effectively voting for none of the above.  Coupled with the long term (judicially unopposed) gerrymandering, the Tea Party was able to insert over 100 completely unqualified men and women into Congress, which has contributed greatly to the present day ideological gridlock in Washington D.C.  Major media forgets to tell this sad "story".

While the Comedy shows routinely show completely idiotic statements being made on the floor of Congress, major media ignores them.

It was hoped by the Founders that a free Press (which is why they were listed in the First Amendment), would serve as a barrier to political excesses, because they (the Press) would tell the truth, something elected officials had a tendency not to do, even in the decades around the Founding.  The Founders had a good understanding of human nature, and tried in the Constitution to protect the Republic from our worst weakness (such as a willingness to lie, cheat, and steal, in order to gain wealth and power). 

Everyone seems to know this, except the major media.  Or if they do, they don’t care.  Partially no doubt,because media conglomerates, who must court Congress for special favors, not demanding the truth from politicians is the way things need to work for them (tragically at the expense of the People, and the Republic.

Why do I constantly refer to "the Republic"?

America, as Ben Franklin so aptly put it, is an Idea.  It is not a geographical place, a military-industrial organization, the application of political power in Washington D.C., or even the seemingly great temples of finance on Wall Street in New York City.  This idea is captured in the words of Lincoln: "... a nation of the People, by the People, and for the People ...".  The Republic is a form of government designed to place the nature and needs of the American People at its center, and the true reason for government itself  existing.  The Press was to be the first guardians in the life of this delicate social experiment.

Tragically the major media do not pay attention to the Idea-content of the election cycles.  For the media, it is all about a horse race, with winners and losers.  It is as if all those highly paid talking heads, most of whom certainly went to our major universities, never got a decent course in Civics.

The rise of Donald Trump comes about largely because major media wanted a good “story” more than they wanted the “truth”.  A high school student could easily fact check his lies, so the media have no excuses for failing in their duties as citizens of the Republic.

So Trump gets to say whatever he wants, and the major media give it play night after night - the best free advertising any presidential campaign has ever received.   All because his outrageous behavior makes for good TV, and no "fact checking" is needed.

But that’s not the only failure of the duty that goes with the no longer deserved rights of a “major media” free Press.  The other major failure is by complete omission of the real nature of polling data.   From the beginning of his “outsiders campaign” Trump was able to claim he was winning among the voters.  He was not, and this again was again something someone in high school could discover with only a smart phone.

The American people can be divided into many kinds of groups.  For the purposes of voting facts, the largest group is eligible voters - anyone of voting age in any State.  The next smaller number of possible voters is those registered as belonging to a party, which includes not only Republicans and Democrats, but Greens, Communists and a host of others, including non-party affiliated, that various State's rules allow as a registration category.  

The science of polling has long been questioned.  A great deal depends on the questions asked, and many polls ask questions designed only to check the course of the horse race among only a small group of potential voters.  Polls today are like those infamous rating agencies that told us lies about the value of various stock transactions that led to the 2008 economic debacle.   When a major news outlet reports on poll data, it is using material that hasn’t really passed a serious “fact checking” effort.  The following, which I first posted to Facebook (it has been slightly edited), took about a half hour to gather and calculate:

“Real Electoral Fraud

“A case in point ... numbers are approximate ... confusion abounds ...

“Louisiana has a population of 3.4 million that are eligible to vote (17 and older). Of these "eligible” voters, 2.9 million are registered. Right now it appears far less than 1.0 million actually voted. The split between Republicans and Democrats is about 50/50, and to vote in a presidential primary you have to be registered as a member of one of those parties (in Louisiana).

“So, with 1% of the votes counted, the Networks announced a win for Trump - statistical guesses it would seem.

“Trump got 124,818 (41%) and Clinton 221,615 (71%). Totals suggest then that about 300,000 voted in each presidential primary, for a total of 600,000 out of 3.4 million eligible, and 2.9 million registered.  With regards to Trump he got less than half of the 300,000 Republican voters who actually bothered to vote.  There being 1.4 million registered Republican voters, it would seem that Trump got less the 10% of his Party’s votes.

“So it also looks like (as regards eligible voters) that 2.8 million voted for none of the above.

“Certainly 59% of those who actually voted in the Republican Party primary did not vote for Trump.  The Fraud is with the Networks, who report this “horse race” as if it meant large portions of the America people favored this idiot, and so with this kind of News out there, no wonder Americans appear to others to be lost.”

Trumps popularity among Republicans is not real (not factual), when less than 10% those registered turn out to vote for him, and 59% of those who do turn out, vote for someone else.

Polls asking larger questions reveal this fact, showing the he is not all that popular with Republicans in general.  Trump's whole operation is a fraud, foisted on the American public, by major news media that like a story/tale more than the truth. Everyone who is serious about American politics knows that primary elections have very low turnouts.  While this it not particularly "news", when the major media treat Trump as winning his parties favor for the nomination, this is false.  He is winning a truly broken and ineffectual political process, at a dire cost to our polity, but he is not winning the hearts and minds of the American People.  They are clearly frightened of him, of his now becoming violent fans, and the possibility that a maniac and fraud might become their President.

That major media do not report this reveals that the last things on their agenda are the needs of the People.

This is a high stakes equivocation of the truth in favor of having highly rated news programs, for the purpose of selling commercials and making a profit.  It is such a gross failure of providing the American people with actual facts, that I for one consider it treason to the Republic.  Recall the first definition with which this essay began: “Traitor: 1: a person who is not loyal or true to a friend, duty, cause, or belief or is false to a personal duty.”

Major media are not just less than good citizens (recall media conglomerates as corporations claim to have the same rights as individual citizens), they have a direct, and intentional,  fraudulent effect on our understanding of electoral facts.  They show no evidence of duty or responsibility to the American People, or the Republic, and have to be called, therefore: traitors.

No other word suffices.