Writing on CNN.com, syndicated columnist Roland Martin apologizes “as a nearly 20-year professional journalist” for Donald Trump. As a journalist, he is well-placed to do this. The apology is due America, but really it can be seen only as a down-payment on what is owed for a truth-bending, propagandistic war on fact and reality by America’s right-leaning mainstream media.
As Martin says, his industry is largely responsible for the “creation and spectacle” of “The Donald,” saying that “we have afforded him the kind of respect normally reserved for people who have truly made a major difference in this world.” These are true words. But they are true as well of people very much in the public consciousness, like Sarah Palin, whose sole actual contribution to the world was being elected to be governor of Alaska, a trust she abandoned half-way through her four-year term when the consequences of her thoughtless and careless behavior become more than she could bear.
John McCain selected Sarah Palin to be his running mate, but it was the right-leaning mainstream media that Palin herself so often disparages as “lamestream” that created the monster she became.
Martin writes that,
Yet with his most recent flirtation with running for the Republican nomination for president of the United States, we have finally pulled curtain back from this wizard of the weird, and what has been revealed is a man so obsessed with the sound of his own voice that even when he is caught in a lie, he pretends it is absolute truth.
The same could be said of Sarah Palin, John McCain and a myriad of other Republican and Tea Party politicians over the past two years since President Obama took office, including in its entirety the GOP contingent of the U.S. House of Representatives. Journalists have given these liars and propagandists a pulpit from which to spread their mis- and disinformation; and by their failure to ask questions, their willingness to accept statements as gospel truth without question, and their abject failure to do the most basic due diligence or fact-checking, have acquiesced in their anti-American, anti-Constitutional behavior.
Donald Trump is only the most recent example of this complete lack of journalistic integrity; he is far from the most egregious. However outrageous his statements and behavior, it is nothing we have not already seen before. Donald Trump is not treading into territory that has not already been well-trod.
Martin writes that “With his rampant lying about President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, Trump dominated the airwaves, pushing aside any discussions about real issues of the day.” Again, this is very true and I applaud Martin for saying so. But this has been an issue for many conservative pundits and politicians for the past two years. And here too Martin brings up an issue that has bothered every reasonable American for the past two years:
Instead of starting every interview with the most important question, “Donald, why do you keep lying?” we fell for the okey-doke as if his joining of the birther movement somehow gave their wild, outlandish and untruthful view a dose of credibility.
Again, this applies to most of the Republican and Tea Party politicians we have seen for the past two years. Donald Trump is hardly the first and only birther, and birtherism is hardly the first and only product of the media-sponsored GOP Lie Factory. Again, Sarah Palin comes to mind. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck lie with great regularity and have often been interviewed by journalists without facing any challenge to their fantastic assertions.
But Martin is no doubt right that the reason “respected journalists” fail to put Trump (and, I would add, any other conservative politician or pundit) on the spot is because he “makes good copy.” You don’t want to discredit or kill the golden goose. So producers and “news operations nationwide” have instead “allowed Trump to pimp them out as they run his outlandish comments.” As Martin points out, “None of the major news organizations in this country is immune from doing this. NONE.”
Martin is apologetic. He says he is sorry that his media brothers and sisters “failed in being honest” with us. We are owed an apology and this should be only the first of many. And the apology should apply to far more than Donald Trump. Trump is an easy sacrifice, an easy scapegoat for the right-leaning MSM to make should they choose to follow Martin; he’s not really one of them after all, a conservative Christian only by convenience, not temperament. Throw The Donald under the bus and say, “See, we’re tough! We are hard-hitting! We hold politicians accountable!”
Martin says, “We fed the beast for years” but the MSM is still feeding the beast. This is not a one-beast zoo, folks. Trump is a rather new exhibit and hardly the loudest or fiercest specimen. So start apologizing, MSM, and apologize like you mean it. You may be the MSM, but as long as we have a functioning Constitution, as long as the theocratic and totalitarian forces of fundamentalism and corporatism are held at bay, we will have other methods and other avenues of disseminating the truth and examining facts. It is not only lies and propaganda that can be spread. Remember that. And fail at your own cost to understand that we can learn to do without you.
I applaud Roland S. Martin for speaking out. But it is past time journalism came to grips with its responsibility to the American people to be honest and scrupulous where the facts are concerned. Where is it written that a journalist must simply repeat what is said without examining it, without analyzing it, without subjecting it to the barest hint of thought? Rather than acting like journalists, these men and women have acted like press agents at best and propagandists at worst, which is hardly the same thing. We don’t need you to simply popularize what is said; we need you to ask the hard questions and demand answers. You’re the ones in position to do this; you’re the ones with access to the halls of power, to the people who claim they know what’s best for America.
Start doing your job, MSM, but first the apologies please. We’re waiting.