The press and the prez

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

“There are people in every time and every land who want to stop history in its tracks. They fear the future, mistrust the present, and invoke the security of a comfortable past which, in fact, never existed.”

This is a quote from Robert F. Kennedy in 1964, speaking to the fact that his brother Jack had been assassinated the year before by someone who was trying to stop history.

I admire what he said, the prescience of it, the clear thinking to express it. It not only defines President John F. Kennedy’s killer but Luddites, a 19th-century group who did not approve of the progress of their era – machines that sewed and wove; they knew this was their job, not a machine’s, and so they started smashing the metal culprits housed in big factories throughout England. The word Luddite also defines the president we have right now.

His rah-rah line, “Make America Great Again,” is a campaign slogan taken up gleefully by the press, for some reason. The phrase engages people who would, if they could, stop history to live in a past recalled through rose-colored glasses. This rosy past existed for a few but it did not exist for the many except on TV shows. The good old days are an ideal rather than an actuality.

Of all people, news people should know this: without a knowledge of the world’s history, it is near to impossible to write clearly about today’s history in the making.
The creator of “MAGA” does not exactly define “America Great” by dates (as in when exactly was it that America was so great that we want to return to it – horse and buggy? Stealing Indian lands? bank depressions? school segregation? only males in authority? Indians, Africans, Irish, Italians ill-treated?).

But from his rhetoric we do get an inkling that “America Great” means bringing jobs back to coal mines, which are dying simply because natural gas is better, cleaner and easier to rape from the earth than coal; as well as manufacturing jobs that have to do with steel (I think he’s interested in manufacturing jobs that have to do with steel; he’s not always clear), but producing steel is cheaper someplace else in the world, so it has been the local steel industry itself that has sent its work overseas. If they don’t want it here, who is it that is going to reopen those steel mills?

In the endless months since this all started with reckless, uninformed, repetitive speeches, worse things have popped into the country’s consciousness than “returning” to coal and in the process dissing solar and wind energy that could possibly be the saviors of the planet.

Lying about a returning steel industry, that paid people a living wage – which is how a democratic society survives and thrives – might have stopped abruptly if a union was involved; this word would have scared him silly were he aware of it.

The weirdity here is that it is probably the 1950s that #45 is raving about, and it was in this era when he was about 5 that people who worked in manual industry had unions, which meant they got a living wage, a pension, health care…all the things that this administration is agin.

To capitalists, unions are the devil. Which means that the laborers who make the products for consumption, the industrialists’ wealth . . . all of those workers are the devil. And he was on to this during his tower-building career, as he reneged on many a laborer, construction worker, steelman building or repairing his edifices with their sweat and knowhow.

In the last two years we have had to put up with an entire network news outlet lying about what’s going on in support of a vacillating leader’s Tweets and therefore convincing millions that lies are truth. It has divided the country in the most horrendous way. We are living through a civil war of fact versus non-fact. The party that supports him, practiced and now adept at blaming others for their misdeeds, glomb on to their own news source and its champion and blame the liberals for the things they, the other party themselves, do to screw the American public.

What do working conservatives think the tax bill is about? Putting money in their pockets? Look at it carefully. All the tax breaks are going to the top one percent. Their greed is boundless: in this country as well as across the globe the one percent already has 99 percent of all the money.

How many billionaires have helped you lately, including this one? What was it about voting for a smart woman that was going to emasculate you? Turn you into a person who would be seen as taking orders from the “lesser” sex rather than take orders from a large fellow physically, if not mentally, who has NEVER worked for anybody, who inherited his wealth, who acts like that kid in sixth grade that you would not have asked to be on your team on the playground?

And I’m not sure what it is about ANY woman who would rather vote for a male who is a womanizer with a fourth-grade vocabulary who hasn’t paid income taxes for 20 years compared to a smart woman who worked her entire life to lift up and support women and children across the globe. The press made a hash of her; it never failed to say her voice was harsh, her ankles thick, her pants suit unsuitable, her policies wrong, although her policies had to do with women and children, jobs, health care, environment, protection from banks and financial institutions and their greed.

Her opposition had not one policy except to build a wall- 4th-century cutting-edge deterrent to neighbors. And no one talked much about his pants suits and thick ankles.
We as public were never allowed to hear the best of her or the worst of him. And just as an aside, Socialist Bernie Sanders was shut out most of the time. Press – for shame.

The press let us down [and I am the press]. Most of us, and nearly all of the Eastern establishment and yellow press, knew all about Trump, New Yorker that he was and what a four-flushing life he lived. They had been dealing with him as a minor blowhard for a couple of decades – his partying, his exaggerations, his bankrupt buildings, his phony university, his yacht, his briefly owned jet and so forth. The press told us little that had to do with our making sound judgments regarding our next president.

That they didn’t tell us who they knew he really was while he was running for the most important position in the world is to their shame and our regret. They were willing to make money off his outlandish and disgusting words and deeds as he played to the public. The press thought he wasn’t going to win anyway, so why not sell papers, who needs to inform the public, why do our job? The business of informing the public is in fact the sole duty of a free press. The business of entertaining the public has to do with PR, public relations; and, sadly, owners of newspapers and their bottom lines.

I was taught as a young journalist that I as reporter was the advocate of the reader, the people; I was not the champion, ever, of the subject I was writing about; unless I was in PR – these writer folks are sometimes called hacks by journalists.

We are in trouble because of a male in charge who is inept; but he is not the only one who must take the blame. There were too many people who knew who he was and refused to tell us.

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