The media needs to separate wheat from chaff
Donald Trump’s baseless claims about former President Obama having bugged his telephone build on a growing body of evidence that the new US President is engaged in a deliberate misinformation campaign.
That’s not to say he doesn’t believe the garbage he picks up from talk radio and Breitbart and then repeats on Twitter. The only ‘truth’ for Trump is his own greatness, and all other evidence in observable reality is malleable to that eternal centre of gravity.
But this latest nonsense really does seem like a conscious effort by someone in team Trump to hijack and derail the news agenda away from scrutiny of his campaign’s links with Russia – and indeed, the god-awful legislative agenda of the Republican Congress.
None of this is helped by the media’s willingness to jump on every latest flap at the expense of a sustained line of reporting and of choosing what deserves the most attention.
As today’s New York Times reports:
“Instead of what [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions did or did not do, the Sunday talk shows were dominated by discussion about what Mr Obama did or did not do.”
Of course, the US president accusing his predecessor of ‘McCarthyism’ and ‘Nixon/Watergate’-style espionage deserves its place in the news. But surely the urgent requirement is for the media, the general public and Trump’s political critics and opponents to subject the daily buckets of newsworthy Trump material to ruthless discrimination.
His every mad pronouncement certainly ought to be covered, and is worthy of discussion and debate, but this shouldn’t drive more important stories off the news. We should have learned by now that there’s a near limitless demand for Trumpfotainment, and so long as that’s the case his people will happily supply it.
Similarly, the internet-era’s capacity for information is vulnerable to the mass dumping of toxic waste, and this is open to exploitation by those with a special talent for producing it. The job of anyone serious is to try and separate wheat from chaff.
Adam Barnett is staff writer for Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter @AdamBarnett13Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.