Is Trump giving Americans “bread and circus”to keep them happy?


February 20, 2017

Dr.Fareed is back with his latest take on Trump

Is Trump giving Americans “bread and circus”to keep them happy?

by Dr Fareed Zakaria

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-trump-circus/2017/02/16/d1bc4a86-f48c-11e6-8d72-263470bf0401_story.html?utm_term=.04404ea201e8

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Let’s say you are a Trump voter, the kind we often hear about — an honest, hard-working American who put up with Donald Trump’s unusual behavior because you wanted a president who would stop playing Washington’s political games, bring a businessman’s obsession with action and results, and focus on the economy. How is that working out for you?

The first few weeks of President Trump’s administration have been an illustration of writer Alfred Montapert’s adage, “Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.” We are witnessing a rocking-horse Presidency in which everyone is jerking back and forth furiously, yet there is no forward movement.

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Image result for Combative TrumpBoth Trump and Nixon: Taking on the Media

Since winning the election, Trump has dominated the news nearly every day. He has picked fights with the media, making a series of bizarre, mostly false claims — about the magnitude of his victory, the size of his inauguration crowd, the weather that day, the numbers of illegally cast ballots, among many others. He has had photo ops with everyone from Kanye West and Jack Ma to Shinzo Abe and Justin Trudeau. Now he is embroiled in a controversy about ties to Russia. But in the midst of it all, what has he actually done? Hardly anything.

 

Trump versus the Media


January 31, 2017

Analysis

Trump versus the Media

by Mike Minehan

http://www.ideaschannel.com/index.php/analysis/2787-trump-versus-the-media

Image result for Mike MinehanMike T. Minehan

It seems that the new President of the United States is happiest when he has an enemy to attack. His fans also love this pugilism, perhaps because this is the feeling of being in the thick of it together, us against them.

‘Them’ in this case is the mainstream media in America, mainly the big outlets such as the New York Times, The Washington Post, and CNN.

It suits Trump to berate the media, because these news media were quick to point out his inaccuracies, contradictions and falsehoods during his election campaign.

Almost all of Trump’s rallies were an opportunity to attack the media. “I would never kill them, but I do hate them. And some of them are such lying, disgusting people.” This was Trump’s opinion about journalists at one of his campaign rallies.

Yet one of the most interesting discoveries about Trump’s ascent to the Presidency of the USA is that alternative media, not conventional media, played the most important role in his success. The proof of this, according to Fortune magazine was because the flood of articles and coverage about Trump’s outrageous behaviour, had almost no effect on most of the voters. These were the stories about his falsehoods, his refusal to publish his tax returns, his companies that were ethically challenged, his refusal to place his businesses in a blind trust, and his boasting about sexually groping women.

Trump’s support base simply wasn’t reading or consuming conventional media. This is probably not so much because these supporters couldn’t read, but because they were getting their information from the myriad of new sources that the internet has made available.

“What Trump supporters were listening to was Trump himself on Twitter, and organs of the Trump Nation such as Breitbart News, InfoWars, and other alternative and fringe news sites”.

Also, 44 per cent of Americans had switched to Facebook for their news. News on Facebook consists of the stories that trend the most according to how many other users like them, and according to algorithms which provide more of the stories that you will like.

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This is the ‘echo chamber effect’ where people get the news that they like, and which will reinforce their existing opinions, or biases.

The other new, alarming phenomenon has been the rise of fake news sites. Almost anyone with basic internet skills can set up a site with an apparently innocuous name, and then fill it with pictures and attention-grabbing stories, false or otherwise.

These site were simply working on the principle of attracting enough traffic that, in turn, would generate income when the site owners would then place advertising on it for profit.

The genie is out of the bottle and the news as we knew it not so long ago has irrevocably changed. This is particularly in countries such as the USA, where free speech, almost any speech, is protected by the First Amendment.

Alright, so why should Trump bother any more about mainstream media, when mainstream media is no longer central to his success?

The answer, according to Trump’s biographer, Michael D’Antonio, is that Trump is ‘irritated and even enraged by those who check facts and look for evidence to confirm or disprove his claims. He thinks he should just be able to say things, and that those things should be reported and considered uncritically. So he resents it when people fail to do that and instead hold him to some standard, and he takes it personally’.

It appears that Trump wants to be loved and forgiven by the mainstream media, irrespective of his inability to get his facts straight. This need for constant approval seems to indicate a deep-seated insecurity. There’s almost a child-like petulance and rage about his reaction to criticism. This immaturity would be amusing, it Trump wasn’t the President of the United States, with the nuclear codes within reach.

Well, mainstream media just won’t roll over and suddenly ignore the falsehoods and Trump’s ‘alternative reality‘ where the facts just don’t matter any more. American credibility itself is on the block.

Accordingly, the media wars have only just started, and what we’ve seen so far are only the first shots being fired. More brutal combat is on the way.

The Journalism Conundrum


January 24, 2016

The Journalism Conundrum

by Jahabar Sadiq

https://m.facebook.com/notes/jahabar-sadiq/the-journalism-conundrum/10154106417045966

Mr Rajah Nadeswaran, known to friends as Nades and fans as Citizen Nades, launched his second book Curi Curi Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur this past week.

The acerbic if not combative journalist– and there are more adjectives out there for him– is no stranger to anyone in Malaysia. He is an investigative reporter, a consumer rights crusader, a no-nonsense editor and for a while, a sharp and hardworking part-time subeditor.

At his launch, a few of us who worked with him or trained under or supervised him were asked about the future of journalism and whether we would see any future Nadeswarans in our industry now blighted by fake news, propaganda, listicles, web-clips and such.

Or rather, the digital age where newspapers are dying and revenue is shrinking.

There is no easy answer. Media survives in any form, as does good journalism. But is there a market for the reportage that Nadeswaran excelled in? Is there a market for political reporting or analysis at a time when governments and politicians just want their narratives to be the prime directive?

Is post-truth the standard now? That the ones who wield power decide what is true and those who think otherwise cannot share their thoughts and face the wrath for even thinking out aloud?

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So can a future Nadeswaran exist? And how did this Nadeswaran prosper and grow from the time he began as a sports stringer in 1969 and turn into this famed journalist who made people in power accountable?

Although he has lamented that not much action was ever taken despite the copious amounts of copy written about the scandals that only grow in the amount of money lost or stolen or wasted.

The simple fact is this. Nades came up at a time when Malaysian newspapers invested in journalism and journalists. Getting the best, letting and giving them time and money to pursue issues of the day, scandals and any kind of mischief that would make the news.

The government and the powers-that-be were held accountable. These people saw the media as the fourth estate and respected it as much. Those days are sadly gone.

The media today is a tool, and news is just a job of cut-and-paste and whatever that is kosher in the eyes of the powers-that-be. There is not much investment in getting the real stories out, the scoop, the analysis and the follow-up.

Simply put, if we don’t invest in journalism, we won’t get anymore reporters in the style of Nadeswaran. And what he writes might seem small potatoes but it starts there, the little Napoleons who get away with the petty stuff but go on to make their millions later.

The gigantic scandals of today began a long time ago with the smaller cases that Nadeswaran has written in his book. Those cases reveal how Malaysians have been slowly inured to the growing scale of kleptocracy and power abuse over the years.

And even if Nadeswaran has not touched some of those huge scandals known by their acronyms, he has investigated the few that show how easily this “road to hell” is paved with good intentions.

But he is one of a select few able to do it, thanks to his superiors who invested and encouraged him to pursue such scandals. Would we have more of such editors or publishers?

And would anyone pay for such journalism? Or do we just want it for free as fodder for Facebook posts and twitter outrage?

Perhaps we think Malaysian journalism is nowhere near global standards and refuse to invest in it, considering we can get bits and bobs from the global media, which is ironically paid by others.

Funny, our parents and some of us used to pay for local newspapers but balk at the idea of paying for something online. And if we continue refusing to pay and demand that kind of journalism rather than the insipid and patronising stuff that passes as news, then the new Nadeswarans won’t ever appear.

I noted this at a Paris media forum weeks after The Malaysian Insider was shut down and it is something to note for those still wondering what the future of Malaysian journalism is. “You pay to be informed or get it free to be influenced.”

So if you want the kind of news and columns that Nadeswaran wrote before he formally retired from print journalism last December, you have to pay. Or just pick up the licensed newspapers, read the free news portals, watch regulated broadcasters and be happy with what they offer as news.

And there’s always Facebook and other social media that shares all kind of articles. Like this.

Obama’s Farewell Press Conference


January 19, 2017

President Barack H. Obama’s Farewell Press Conference

Government does not work in a democracy without a free and accountable media. This is because an informed citizenry keeps those endowed with power honest and accountable. Political Leaders must understand this simple message.  At the same time, a credible media can play only its role by maintaining high ethical standards of journalism.–Din Merican

 

Great Anniversary, Malaysiakini


December 1, 2016

Great Anniversary, Malaysiakini

Premesh Chandran, Steven Gan, Fathi Aris Omar and the great team of talented and brave journalists, you are very special Malaysians. My wife Dr. Kamsiah Haider and I admire your determination to bring to us in Malaysia and others around the world news and views on a timely basis. Please accept our sincere good wishes for many more years of exemplary journalism.

We  stand with you and, as loyal subscribers, we thank you for keeping us posted on developments about our country. You will remain our web-paper of first choice because you are the best in the business. 

To mark the occasion, your 17th Anniversary, Dr. Kamsiah Haider and I dedicate Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “Ulysses”  Tennyson to you all, our fellow travelers in search of the truth. Yes, we are not faultless. But we are Malaysians who care for our country and are not afraid to speak the truth to power.  May Alfred  Lord Tennyson inspire you to continue on a journey to do your best for Malaysia, and never to yield.–Dr. Kamsiah Haider and Din Merican

 Seventeen years of Courageous Journalism

by http://www.malaysiakini.com

A long road traversed, dodging potholes, negotiating sharp bends as well as running into roadblocks and litigation hurdles.

Borne out of the intention to break the government’s monopoly on truth, Malaysiakini has helped provide a space for voices that are often unheard and ignored. Not surprisingly, the often-hurled allegation is that the news portal is pro-opposition. The answer is of course an emphatic ‘No!’

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The dedicated Malaysiakini Team

Such allegations stem from what is known as the law of the excluded middle, where what is not white must therefore be black – there is no third alternative. In other words, if you are not with us, you must be against us.

Detractors argue that since greater prominence is given to those critical of the government, as opposed to others, Malaysiakini must therefore be taking sides.

The first part of the argument is valid, but this does not lend credence to the notion that the editorial team therefore comprises opposition cheerleaders.

There are two reasons for this.

The first is that those in the opposition are more productive in generating media statements and more active in engaging with the media, compared to their ruling counterparts, where apart from a handful, the rest choose to remain silent or prefer to confide in acquiescing media organisations.

The second, and more important factor, is that the media, as the fourth estate, must help create a level-playing field in the information arena.

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The undeniable fact in Malaysia is that the ruling BN and its component parties still control the narrative in almost all major newspapers, radio and TV stations.

In addition, despite repeated denials, the actions of certain powerful individuals helming institutions of supreme importance in our country suggest clear bias in favour of the government.

When the chasm of disparity in influence is so wide, it would be a disservice to justice if Malaysiakini provided equal space to all.Indeed, when power is so lopsided, giving equal coverage to both sides only maintains injustice. To overcome this, media organisations must give a greater say to those without a voice, those without power, and those without influence.

We seek to challenge unequal power structures, not to reproduce them. However, if and when the scales are level, Malaysiakini too will provide a balanced space for both sides.That said, Malaysiakini is non-partisan. Our role is to tell truth to power and hold them to account, be they BN or opposition politicians.

But that doesn’t mean we are apolitical. We take strong editorial stance on many issues we hold dear – good governance, anti-corruption, independence of the judiciary, press freedom and the like.

However, this does not mean Malaysiakini provides the opposition with a carte blanche. The news portal recognises that the opposition is no longer a voice in the political wilderness but rather a government-in-waiting – it is already in power in some states – and therefore it too must be held accountable.

And while Malaysiakini supports freedom of expression, it must be stressed that such liberties come with responsibility – for both writers and readers.

Malaysiakini encourages the contestation of ideas, but it is just as important to ensure that this democratic process is carried out in a civil manner, without resorting to personal attacks, racist and sexist remarks or lewd comments.

One of the most common complaints against Malaysiakini is that the news portal spins articles, ostensibly to further a certain agenda.

More often than not, it is the politician who does a 180-degree turn after shooting his or her mouth off – and then blames the media when the heat is turned on.

But does this mean Malaysiakini is faultless?The answer is ‘No’. We do make mistakes. But unlike politicians, we admit and apologise instead of blaming others.

 

Farewell, America–A Requiem on The Media


November 14, 2016

Farewell, America–A Requiem on The Media

No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on November 7, they will now look at us differently.

 

America died on November 8, 2016, not with a bang or a whimper, but at its own hand via electoral suicide. We the people chose a man who has shredded our values, our morals, our compassion, our tolerance, our decency, our sense of common purpose, our very identity — all the things that, however tenuously, made a nation out of a country.

Whatever place we now live in is not the same place it was on November 7. No matter how the rest of the world looked at us on November 7, they will now look at us differently. We are likely to be a pariah country. And we are lost for it. As I surveyed the ruin of that country this gray Wednesday morning, I found weary consolation in W.H. Auden’s poem, September 1, 1939, which concludes:

“Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.”

I hunt for that affirming flame.

This generally has been called the “hate election” because everyone professed to hate both candidates. It turned out to be the hate election because, and let’s not mince words, of the hatefulness of the electorate. In the years to come, we will brace for the violence, the anger, the racism, the misogyny, the xenophobia, the nativism, the white sense of grievance that will undoubtedly be unleashed now that we have destroyed the values that have bound us.

We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone.

We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone.

We all knew these hatreds lurked under the thinnest veneer of civility. That civility finally is gone. In its absence, we may realize just how imperative that politesse was. It is the way we managed to coexist.

If there is a single sentence that characterizes the election, it is this: “He says the things I’m thinking.” That may be what is so terrifying. Who knew that so many tens of millions of white Americans were thinking unconscionable things about their fellow Americans? Who knew that tens of millions of white men felt so emasculated by women and challenged by minorities? Who knew that after years of seeming progress on race and gender, tens of millions of white Americans lived in seething resentment, waiting for a demagogue to arrive who would legitimize their worst selves and channel them into political power? Perhaps we had been living in a fool’s paradise. Now we aren’t.

This country has survived a civil war, two world wars, and a great depression. There are many who say we will survive this, too. Maybe we will, but we won’t survive unscathed. We know too much about each other to heal. No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things. Nor can we pretend that democracy works and that elections have more or less happy endings. Democracy only functions when its participants abide by certain conventions, certain codes of conduct and a respect for the process.

No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things.

No more can we pretend that we are exceptional or good or progressive or united. We are none of those things.

The virus that kills democracy is extremism because extremism disables those codes. Republicans have disrespected the process for decades. They have regarded any Democratic president as illegitimate. They have proudly boasted of preventing popularly elected Democrats from effecting policy and have asserted that only Republicans have the right to determine the nation’s course. They have worked tirelessly to make sure that the government cannot govern and to redefine the purpose of government as prevention rather than effectuation. In short, they haven’t believed in democracy for a long time, and the media never called them out on it.

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The sun sets behind the Jefferson Memorial in Washington DC

Democracy can’t cope with extremism. Only violence and time can defeat it. The first is unacceptable, the second takes too long. Though Trump is an extremist, I have a feeling that he will be a very popular president and one likely to be re-elected by a substantial margin, no matter what he does or fails to do. That’s because ever since the days of Ronald Reagan, rhetoric has obviated action, speechifying has superseded governing.

Trump was absolutely correct when he bragged that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue and his supporters wouldn’t care. It was a dictator’s ugly vaunt, but one that recognized this election never was about policy or economics or the “right path/wrong path,” or even values. It was about venting. So long as Trump vented their grievances, his all-white supporters didn’t care about anything else. He is smart enough to know that won’t change in the presidency. In fact, it is only likely to intensify. White America, Trump’s America, just wants to hear its anger bellowed. This is one time when the Bully Pulpit will be literal.

The media can’t be let off the hook for enabling an authoritarian to get to the White House. Long before he considered a presidential run, he was a media creation — a regular in the gossip pages, a photo on magazine covers, the bankrupt (morally and otherwise) mogul who hired and fired on The Apprentice. When he ran, the media treated him not as a candidate, but as a celebrity, and so treated him differently from ordinary pols. The media gave him free publicity, trumpeted his shenanigans, blasted out his tweets, allowed him to phone in his interviews, fell into his traps and generally kowtowed until they suddenly discovered that this joke could actually become president.

The media can’t be let off the hook for enabling an authoritarian to get to the White House. Long before he considered a presidential run, he was a media creation — a regular in the gossip pages, a photo on magazine covers, the bankrupt (morally and otherwise) mogul who hired and fired on The Apprentice. When he ran, the media treated him not as a candidate, but as a celebrity, and so treated him differently from ordinary pols. The media gave him free publicity, trumpeted his shenanigans, blasted out his tweets, allowed him to phone in his interviews, fell into his traps and generally kowtowed until they suddenly discovered that this joke could actually become president.

Just as Trump has shredded our values, our nation and our democracy, he has shredded the media. In this, as in his politics, he is only the latest avatar of a process that began long before his candidacy. Just as the sainted Ronald Reagan created an unbridgeable chasm between rich and poor that the Republicans would later exploit against Democrats, conservatives delegitimized mainstream journalism so that they could fill the vacuum.

With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived

With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived.

Retiring conservative talk show host Charlie Sykes complained that after years of bashing from the right wing, the mainstream media no longer could perform their function as reporters, observers, fact dispensers, and even truth tellers, and he said we needed them. Like Goebbels before them, conservatives understood that they had to create their own facts, their own truths, their own reality. They have done so, and in so doing effectively destroyed the very idea of objectivity. Trump can lie constantly only because white America has accepted an Orwellian sense of truth — the truth pulled inside out.

With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived.

With Trump’s election, I think that the ideal of an objective, truthful journalism is dead, never to be revived. Like Nixon and Sarah Palin before him, Trump ran against the media, boomeranging off the public’s contempt for the press. He ran against what he regarded as media elitism and bias, and he ran on the idea that the press disdained working-class white America. Among the many now-widening divides in the country, this is a big one, the divide between the media and working-class whites, because it creates a Wild West of information – a media ecology in which nothing can be believed except what you already believe.

With the mainstream media so delegitimized — a delegitimization for which they bear a good deal of blame, not having had the courage to take on lies and expose false equivalencies — they have very little role to play going forward in our politics. I suspect most of them will surrender to Trumpism — if they were able to normalize Trump as a candidate, they will no doubt normalize him as president. Cable news may even welcome him as a continuous entertainment and ratings booster. And in any case, like Reagan, he is bulletproof. The media cannot touch him, even if they wanted to. Presumably, there will be some courageous guerillas in the mainstream press, a kind of Resistance, who will try to fact-check him. But there will be few of them, and they will be whistling in the wind. Trump, like all dictators, is his own truth.

What’s more, Trump already has promised to take his war on the press into courtrooms and the halls of Congress. He wants to loosen libel protections, and he has threatened Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos of Amazon with an antitrust suit. Individual journalists have reason to fear him as well. He has already singled out NBC’s Katy Tur, perhaps the best of the television reporters, so that she needed the Secret Service to escort her from one of his rallies. Jewish journalists who have criticized Trump have been subjected to vicious anti-Semitism and intimidation from the alt-right. For the press, this is likely to be the new normal in an America in which white supremacists, neo-Nazi militias, racists, sexists, homophobes and anti-Semites have been legitimized by a new president who “says what I’m thinking.” It will be open season.

This converts the media from reporters to targets, and they have little recourse. Still, if anyone points the way forward, it may be New York Times columnist David Brooks. Brooks is no paragon. He always had seemed to willfully neglect modern Republicanism’s incipient fascism (now no longer incipient), and he was an apologist for conservative self-enrichment and bigotry. But this campaign season, Brooks pretty much dispensed with politics. He seemed to have arrived at the conclusion that no good could possibly come of any of this and retreated into spirituality. What Brooks promoted were values of mutual respect, a bolder sense of civic engagement, an emphasis on community and neighborhood, and overall a belief in trickle-up decency rather than trickle-down economics. He is not hopeful, but he hasn’t lost all hope.

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Hillary, Thank You for the Good Fight–Din Merican

For those of us now languishing in despair, this may be a prescription for rejuvenation. We have lost the country, but by refocusing, we may have gained our own little patch of the world and, more granularly, our own family. For journalists, Brooks may show how political reporting, which, as I said, is likely to be irrelevant in the Trump age, might yield to a broader moral context in which one considers the effect that policy, strategy and governance have not only on our physical and economic well-being but also on our spiritual well-being. In a society that is likely to be fractious and odious, we need a national conversation on values. The media could help start it.

But the disempowered media may have one more role to fill: They must bear witness. Many years from now, future generations will need to know what happened to us and how it happened. They will need to know how disgruntled white Americans, full of self-righteous indignation, found a way to take back a country they felt they were entitled to and which they believed had been lost. They will need to know about the ugliness and evil that destroyed us as a nation after great men like Lincoln and Roosevelt guided us through previous crises and kept our values intact. They will need to know, and they will need a vigorous, engaged, moral media to tell them. They will also need us.

We are not living for ourselves anymore in this country. Now we are living for history.

Farewell, America