The Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan writes about the two "big stories" recently dominating mainstream media reporting, only one of which merits the coverage -- one being the "feud" between Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and the other being the latest revelations of Trump's knowledge and participation in the Ukraine shakedown scandal. We know which was the more important, by far, to the health and survival of our democracy. But, as Sullivan notes, the lack of a sense of proportion is missing, as it often is in news coverage involving the historically corrupt, venal and dangerous Trump regime. The default for the media is to normalize Trump's abnormalities, as reporting on his crazed Nuremberg rallies has proven.
This lack of truth and proportion is, Sullivan writes, something Trump (and his rotted- out party) depends on:
This was true most recently in the 2016 election cycle, with "reporting" in the New York Times and Sullivan's own WaPo throwing proportion out the window in covering the nothingburger "scandal" of Hillary Clinton's email server, while Trump's glaring, disqualifying flaws were shoved to the background. The asymmetry was widespread in the media (click on image to enlarge):
None of this is new and none of this will go away in 2020. The distractions will be different, of course, but the media will be played (and go along with it) because, as pointed out above, it's more profitable "to play to people's prejudices or lowest instincts." Even when the media is reporting on Trump's criminality and incompetence, it's often well after the fact (and sometimes as a result of a book deal, as Tengrain notes with the "Very Stable Genius" book by WaPo reporters, revealing events from 2017 that they sat on until they could be teased out to goose book sales).
Although we hate to close with a tweet from a former Bush assministration flunky turned Never Trumper turned independent, this reproach on how the media allows liars to operate is right on --
News media should not have balance as a standard. Truth should be the standard. And if someone takes you further from the truth they should not be given a platform.— Matthew Dowd (@matthewjdowd) January 16, 2020
Sullivan says the public needs the media to do much better. Don't count on that happening. Change will be up to us.