Matt Taibbi “Insane Clown President”

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people there’s only a small small group
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of people who can travel every day for
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weeks and weeks and weeks and months and
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months on end so it’s only that specific
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small subset of sort of corporate funded
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media that’s on on the plane of those
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people the schedule for reporters has
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gotten drastically different in the last
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twelve to sixteen years back in the 70s
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and 80s newspaper reporters who traveled
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on the plane the toughest schedule they
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usually had was to file maybe at most
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once a day you had to write one article
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a day if you’re on the plane when the
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internet came along that changed people
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who work for the major dailies suddenly
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had to not only write stories for the
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print edition but they had to do two
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three four five website updates a day
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and the people who worked for the cable
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news stations instead of doing one
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report for the 6 o’clock news broadcast
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or the 11 o’clock broadcast they were
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doing 5 6 7 8 9 hits a day and they were
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constantly constantly working and if
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anybody’s ever read about cults like
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ouch in Rico or anything like that one
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of the things that they tell you is that
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the working people constantly and
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keeping them sleep-deprived is a way of
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sapping their will and and reducing
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their ability to think critically and
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this is something that happens
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absolutely on the campaign trail a
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typical schedule for a reporter and also
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for the politicians interestingly enough
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especially when you get into the second
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half of a presidential campaign is you
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leave a hotel at 5:30 or 6:00 in the
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morning you will follow the candidate
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you’ll be writing constantly as soon as
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the candidates
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as anything you start writing your story
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at the end of every event they heard you
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into a little room called the filing
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room you do your work you go from you go
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back to a bus you go onto a plane you
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repeat the process three or four times
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and you don’t get to your hotel until 11
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or 12 o’clock that night and then you
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repeat it all over again and for most
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people their writing or reporting pretty
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much constantly from the time they wake
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up in the morning till the time they go
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to sleep and then they’re waking up
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again the next day at 6 o’clock and that
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was pretty much everybody in the plane
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who covers who covered presidential
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elections except me because as a
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magazine writer and there are very few
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magazine writers who regularly cover
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presidential campaigns my deadline was
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once every six weeks every two months
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and so they would heard all the
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reporters into these filing rooms and
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while everybody else sitting there
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furiously clacking away I would be doing
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nothing in fact the first time I went on
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the on these trips I actually got in
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trouble with some of the other reporters
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because I was too loudly flipping the
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pages of a Sports Illustrated at another
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stop in Houston they busted me for using
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or having a Rubik’s Cube which they
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found annoying so for actually two or
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three election cycles

 

 

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and years um I noticed that the campaign
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marketing process is a very strange
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thing it’s it’s extremely sophisticated
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in some ways and extremely simple-minded
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in other ways if you listen to the
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speeches in the in the pre Trump era
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they were basically just strings of
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meaningless cliches piled on top of one
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another and it didn’t almost didn’t
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matter which candidate was speaking if
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you took out certain words from each
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speech you wouldn’t be able to tell
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which party the person represented or
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what of what policies he or she
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supported they just they were just sort
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of anodyne meaningless phrases strung
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together one after the other and just to
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give you a couple of examples of actual
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campaign rhetoric that was very common
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here’s one for millions and millions of
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American the-dream millions and millions
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of Americans the dream with which I grew
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up has been shattered the choice is
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between the right change in the wrong
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change between going forward and going
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backward this is totally meaningless of
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course but within these meaningless
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phrases there was actually you know as
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we found as I found out an incredibly
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sophisticated marketing phenomenon and
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what we now know and in fact they
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actually introduced this to to consumers
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that they were they were using
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incredibly sophisticated technology to
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find out which words people liked more
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than other words I’m sure everybody
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who’s watched debates now and they
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you’ll sometimes see there’s a crawl on
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the bottom with a little graph and when
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a candidate is talking you’ll see it go
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up or down and this is what they call
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dial survey technology and basically
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what they’ll do is they’ll get a group a
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control group into a room and they’ll
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have a bunch of people sit there and
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you’ll have a candidate read off a
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speech and if the people like the word
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they’re supposed to turn the dial
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this way and if they don’t like the word
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they turn they turn it that way and what
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people the people who are running these
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campaigns found out is that certain
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kinds of voters just like it they like
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hearing certain kinds of words and what
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they would do is they would write these
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speeches which were essentially
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collections of words that had
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meaningless sentences connecting them
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together and so for progressive voters
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if you listen to speeches that are
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directed towards that kind of voter
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you’ll find that they are very often
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contain words like futuresmart and
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compassion but for a right-wing voter
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you’ll often see words like family tough
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work obligation and so what these
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candidates were doing they were using
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this very very advanced technology to
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basically lay this incredibly idiotic
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kind of politics on millions and
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millions of people and the way I like to
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think of it is they were building like
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the most advanced rocket in history to
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deliver the world’s worst cheeseburger
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to the moon basically it’s just it was
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very very sophisticated marketing very
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very dumb politics and so why is one
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part of the process done in one part of
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its smart well the politics part when
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you think about it doesn’t need to be
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smart really most people only have one
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of three choices when it comes to
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politics they can either vote Democratic
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they can vote Republican or they can not
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vote at all of course interestingly not
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voting at all it continues to be the
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overwhelmingly most popular choice among
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the three but the level of marketing
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sophistication that you need to get
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people to make one of three choices is
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relatively simpler than it is to get
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people to watch a political show at all
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compared to everything else that’s on
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television right so in other words it’s
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easier to get somebody to vote
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Democratic or republican than it is to
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get a person to watch a political speech
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instead of Monday Night Football or
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Keeping Up with the Kardashians or or
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porn or whatever it is they’re you they
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watch
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so as time went on the sort of reality
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show aspects of campaigning this all the
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trappings of campaigns the the lighting
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the the production values the the back
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the backdrops the scenery all of that
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became more and more sophisticated over
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time while the actual politics became
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more and more simplistic over time so
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what you ended up getting was an
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incredibly sophisticated television show
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about very very unsophisticated politics
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and Donald Trump’s insight and a lot of
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this had to do with the fact that he was
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a reality television star was that not
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only had our politics devolved into a TV
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show but it was basically a bad TV show
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any TV show that planned to have its
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leading characters be people like Jeb
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Bush Scott Walker and Lindsey Graham you
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know probably needed new producers and
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Donald Trump turned he took what was you
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know a television show that was constant
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had drama every single day something
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happens in the campaign every day so
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it’s great for reality TV format from
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that’s perspective there’s always some
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kind of thing going on there was a
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back-and-forth between the candidates
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but the content tended to be relatively
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a non sensational compared to Survivor
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or you know Tila Tequila show or a you
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know whatever flava flav Flavor of Love
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Donald Trump wasn’t competing with other
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Republican candidates he was repeating
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competing with Flavor Flav and Tila
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Tequila and he turned the
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the presidential campaign add to this
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this crazy can’t-miss wild reality
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television show and for the news media
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that makes its money by getting people
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to watch their program this was like
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manna and heaven for them um so so
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that’s one thing that he understood that
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other candidates didn’t he also
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understood how to how to make the
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process more intimate and how to bring
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people into the process one of the
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things that have happened over the years
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is that people actual people became
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irrelevant to this television show that
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we were making the way the campaign is
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structured as you fly around with with
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the with the press corps you don’t have
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enough time when you’re in each city to
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actually talk to people and the
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campaign’s increasingly didn’t talk to
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them either they just needed people as
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sort of stylized backdrops they were
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there to be props basically in a
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television show they were there to you
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know if he needed somebody to to show
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that he was sort of down with
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construction workers or with the working
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person they would have a bunch of people
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in hard hats up on stage or the you know
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they wanted to appeal the farmers they
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would visit a farming town and you know
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be photographed you know hugging a
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farmer but they didn’t actually talk to
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these people and the people in the press
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started to fall into the trap also of
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just using people for quotes we would
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descend on mass into these towns we
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would not really spend a whole lot of
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time with them and then we would just
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hustle them for quotes do you like this
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/ Canada do you like that candidate
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oftentimes we were looking for the
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people in the crowd to say a certain
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thing and we would search people out and
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until they actually said the quote that
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they were looking for – another very bad
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practice that journalists do and people
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of course they resented it and what
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ended up happening was is that both
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politicians and the media started to
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lose touch with actual people and they
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increasingly relied upon each other
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especially upon pollsters to sort of
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take the temperature of the people out
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there and if you’ve ever traveled in in
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a campaign it’s actually like it’s
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literally a prison once the Secret
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Service gets involved you can’t leave
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the group after the general election
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campaign starts because security is so
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tight I would bet back in my first
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campaigns I was a pretty heavy smoker
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back that I’m not anymore but you
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actually had to get what they called
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Sherpas to leave there were like people
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who carried bags for the campaign’s they
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would leave the group to go to stores
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and get cigarettes and other supplies
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for people because you’re so cut off
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from the actual voters that you can’t
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leave the group and so you lose touch
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with what’s going on you and what
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happened is over over in decades not
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only do you do you lose touch with what
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people are thinking but you lose touch
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with the ability to talk to people and
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to understand the cues that they’re
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saying and to learn for instance people
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would would start to rely on polls to
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tell them whether or not
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voters liked or disliked this or that
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candidate what polls can’t tell you the
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difference between say you know rage and
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mere disapproval they’re they’re able to
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tell you that people are drifting them
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one way or the other but until you get
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that qualitative experience of sitting
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down with people and really
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understanding what their frustrations
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are you’re just going to miss what’s
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actually going on um and so Trump he
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took advantage of all this he took
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advantage of the fact that we were out
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of touch and he used that again to help
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solve his own problems what he started
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to do was he started to incorporate the
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press into his act I remember being in
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at Plymouth State University in New
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Hampshire and Trump you as it usually
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happens is there’s like a Arizer in the
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middle of the hall and there’s a bunch
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of reporters and camera people and we’re
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stuck behind ropes like zoo animals in
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the middle of the crowd and Trump he
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started to experiment with mentioning us
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in the middle of his speeches and he
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would say things like look at these
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people look at these
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suckers they hate me they never thought
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I would make it this far they’ve never
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traveled so far for an event look at
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them they hate you you know and what
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would happen over time was his rhetoric
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became more and more aggressive and
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crowds would start to physically turn
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towards the the media during his
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presentations and it would hiss and Boo
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and sometimes even throw stuff and you
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know occasionally like you little
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scuffles broke out and it got a little
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bit dangerous in there and you know on
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one level it was horrible and terrifying
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because it evokes images of a lot of
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sort of fascistic techniques from other
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sort of strongman type politicians but
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on the other hand he was also using a
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sort of a WWE style method of turning
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what had been a sort of supernaturally
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boring phenomenon which is the
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presidential stump speech to just you
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know if anybody has ever been to one if
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you can survive one that’s amazing but
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you know for the press corps to be able
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to listen to the same speech 50 or 60
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times like we do I used to have a
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numbered cliche system I heard one
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candidate’s cliches so often that I knew
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the top 20 by heart and instead of
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writing down notes from his speeches I
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would just have collections of numbers
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it would be like 3 8 15 11 you know and
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so Trump took this this terrible boring
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format and he turned it into this
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intimate menacing real physical
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experience where the representative of
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the hated establishment was literally in
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the room and that was us and again a lot
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of this this was this was years of the
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press gradually losing its ability to
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talk to ordinary people had turned
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around and allowed this fatuous New York
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billionaire to sell himself as closer to
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the common man
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and then reporters and and when I talked
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to people who were at Trump crowds I
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would ask them you know why do you what
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do you feel this way or that way why do
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you like this guy and they would say
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well he’s real he’s not reading from a
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script’ which was true you know unlike
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the other you know the numbered cliches
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Trump literally couldn’t keep it would
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pass out his speeches but the text of
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what was supposed to be his speech and
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he would deviate from it in the second
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word because he is the attention span
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and so it’s so short that he couldn’t he
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couldn’t read actual prepared remarks
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people would say things to me like he’s
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real and you people aren’t you know I
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remember one guy in Washington Wisconsin
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saying to me you know I’m going to clean
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up his his speech here a little bit but
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he says basically you jerks were always
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trying to tell us how to live our lives
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but you can’t change a goddamn oil
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filter and you know he was right you’re
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sort of right you know the the people
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who represent the press corps tend to be
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the suit of a feat again rich for the
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most part because we’re you know the
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people who are there they have to be in
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order to in order to afford the trip
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they have to come from a certain class
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they’re almost all from New York
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Washington and LA they went to the best
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schools and they have a certain attitude
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towards life and and Trump used that and
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he used that to sort of bridge the gap
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between himself and ordinary people and
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so the last thing I want to talk about
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is is sort of the appropriation of
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bogeymen Trump did something that was
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really strange but interesting the
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traditional method of winning elections
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in this country is you get up in front
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of a group of people you say to them you
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know I know you’ve had it hard in the
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last four or five years and I’m going to
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tell you who to blame and then X Y Z and
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then a B and C they’re all there they’re
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to blame for your troubles and you know
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don’t don’t we hate them and that was
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that’s sort of the traditional format of
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a campaign speech the only difference is
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that they’re a different bogeyman on the
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Republican side and on the Democratic
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side on the Republican side
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the the villains tend to be immigrants
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you know welfare moms liberal professors
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terrorists they actually have a very
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long list of villains on the other side
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you know on the Democratic side it’s
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it’s a little bit smarter and a little
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bit more sophisticated it’s it’s
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corporations it’s it’s health insurance
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companies etc etc and what’s interesting
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is that the traditional candidate never
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crossed lines that you you know if you
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were either used one group of villains
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or another group of villains Trump just
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gobbled up all of them he’s just he’s so
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omnivorous in in his sort of the way he
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approaches life in every way that he
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used both lists you know he would go to
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every crowd and he was all things to all
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people at all times I’m against the
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corporations I’m against Goldman Sachs
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I’m against immigrants and against this
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and that and the other and whatever you
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hated Trump would eventually get around
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to it in his speech and again the reason
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that people didn’t do this in the past
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traditionally is because the media would
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say well look this is a contradiction
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you can’t be this and that because those
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two things don’t really go together but
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Trump was tuned into the fact that the
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people had tuned us out they had stopped
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listening to us and that you know all of
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us sort of News reporters who love to
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correct people spelling on Twitter and
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you know or just didn’t know how to fix
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cars that what we thought about what we
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know his his politics didn’t really
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matter anymore
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and his ability to sort of continue to
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continually survive the negative
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editorializing of the press and our
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attempts to sort of bounce him out of
43:17
the race through this or seal of death
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episodes which increased in frequency as
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the campaign went along and as as
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reporters became more and more aware of
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their role their financial role in
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helping Trump win but we we became more
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cognizant of it you heard of things like
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les Moonves with CBS everybody here this
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you know these famously said Trump is
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bad for America but good for business
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you know as as that kind of spread in
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press we became more and more aggressive
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in our in our editorial stance towards
43:51
Trump and that just worked to his
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advantage the the meaner we got Trump
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has this uncanny ability to turn
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everybody in his orbit into another
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pro-wrestling character and when he gets
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up there and he says that where we were
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the opposition after a while it actually
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turned out to be a little bit true we
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you know he he cartoon eyes his own
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opposition he eventually gets everybody
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to sort of lower themselves you think
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about you know Rubio making sort of dong
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jokes during the middle of the debates
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or you know people throwing water at
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each other and Ted Ted Cruz started
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acting like a ham during debate doing
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impersonations from The Princess Bride
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and and Ron Paul was chained selling
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things in half and shooting the tax code
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and everybody starts acting like a
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reality star when they’re around Trump
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long enough and and we were like that
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too in the news media and what ends up
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happening was that the symbiotic
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relationship started occurring where we
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paid more and more attention to them
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even even though even though the things
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we were saying about them were negative
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we never took the cameras off of him
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fret for a second and we still haven’t
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and what is the end result of that
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here’s some striking statistics sense
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the since the election in November cable
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news ratings are up 50% at CNN they’re
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up 50% at Fox they’re up over 35% at
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MSNBC and some programs are up higher
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than that on that channel CNN expects to
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make over a billion dollars this year in
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profits and again what what starts to
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happen after a while is that
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unconsciously this the fact that he’s
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making everybody so much money and make
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no mistake about it it’s the fact that
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that politics has begun to eat into the
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entertainment world
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and the the profitability of
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entertainment and we’re taking some of
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Hollywood’s market share by creating
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politics as this giant reality show
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unconsciously the people who are
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covering Donald Trump whether they know
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it or not they legitimize it the whole
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thing and that’s why you’ll see periodic
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episodes like you know he gives that
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speech after the joint speech to
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Congress and and there’s a you know CNN
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will say you know he became president in
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the United States tonight or that
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happens after he lobs missiles you know
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Tomahawk missiles that Syria you know
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Fareed Zakaria will get up and say
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exactly the same thing you know Donald
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Trump became President of the United
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States tonight and this is a company
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that’s making a billion dollars this
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year because of Donald Trump and so it’s
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just a symbiotic relationship this had
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been going on for a long time
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it with this sort of synthesis of all
46:53
these different things the the the
46:55
collapse and Trust in news media the
46:56
declining profitability of news media
46:58
which was suddenly turned around by this
47:01
candidate who suddenly made money for
47:03
everybody nobody could make money for
47:05
for a longest time and then suddenly
47:07
everybody’s making money you have to
47:09
think about this when you think about
47:11
how politics is covered in this country
47:12
and it’s not just Trump that’s that’s
47:17
you know so my final word of caution
47:20
would be that the network’s have learned
47:23
and a lot of us in the business started
47:26
to talk about this last year that that
47:29
you know what Trump does his total
47:32
indifference to whether a thing is true
47:34
or not and the fact that he knows that
47:37
his his core supporters don’t really
47:39
care all that much the network’s have
47:41
also learned that lesson two in the last
47:44
year or so they knows we sort of by
47:48
custom and because of the libel laws
47:50
which don’t you know are incredibly weak
47:52
in this country and and really don’t
47:54
apply all that much the public figures
47:57
you know by custom we we we we try very
48:01
very hard to get things right and to not
48:03
be careless about citing sources that
48:05
aren’t reliable
48:05
that sort of thing but in the age of
48:07
Trump that’s really it’s starting to go
48:09
out the window everywhere and you know
48:13
it just as a sort of general warning I
48:14
would say again this whole phenomenon of
48:19
Trump and how he sort of unlocked he’s
48:23
converted politics into a show that has
48:28
implications that go beyond Donald Trump
48:30
as well I think everybody should just be
48:31
aware that this is a phenomenon that has
48:34
negatively impacted the entire business
48:37
and everything that was bad about
48:40
for-profit media in the past has gotten
48:44
exponentially worse in the last year and
48:47
you can expect you know going forward
48:51
that we’ll see we’ll see less and less
48:52
coverage of you know actual things that
48:55
matter you know environmental issues you
48:58
know if corruption and contracting in
49:01
the military disasters like flint you
49:06
know those things will get less and less
49:07
airtime and what will we get instead is
49:09
a very heavily polarized media landscape
49:15
where there’s one set of viewers that
49:17
hates this politician and one set of
49:19
viewers that hates another politician
49:20
and they’re all going to they’re all
49:22
going to tune in and watch and the
49:24
standards are going to go out the window
49:26
so it’s just in some I would just say
49:28
just be careful you know not without
49:31
commenting on any particular story that
49:34
the arc of the sort of failure of our
49:37
business has has really steepen in the
49:40
last year or so and I think as news
49:42
consumers people should pay more and
49:44
more attention to independent media and
49:46
alternative media and worry more and
49:49
more about the commercial media going
49:50
forward and thank you very much and I
49:52
would love to talk
49:53
[Music]
49:59
[Applause]
49:59
[Music]
50:02
[Applause]
50:07
so if you have questions please come
50:11
this way and we’ll do a line back that
50:13
way thank you I mean amazing talk I was
50:16
wondering if you could talk about some
50:18
of the unseen kind of new levels of
50:22
thought control such as Cambridge
50:26
analytical and how Trump used data
50:29
mining how that’s even a bigger climate
50:33
that were it right now and how that’s
50:35
affecting us jump using data might mean
50:37
all the candidates use data mining I
50:38
mean I I think that’s you know without
50:43
knowing exactly that exact thing but I
50:48
know that that was a phenomenon that
50:50
dated back to the Kerry the first Kerry
50:54
Bush campaign that was when that first
50:55
really started and I think it’s
51:00
worrisome I think the whole idea of
51:04
targeting shaping a candidate’s policies
51:09
based on the on your on the research
51:12
that you do into people searching habits
51:14
I think that’s going to be something
51:14
that’s more and more true going forward
51:16
they’re going to be able to target
51:17
political advertising the people based
51:19
on what they search for and on the web
51:22
and all that’s incredibly disturbing I
51:25
you know in the same way that they’re
51:27
they’re selling that data to to
51:30
prospective employers so they get
51:31
they’re going to be able to tell what
51:32
you what websites you look at the idea
51:36
of politicians being able to look at is
51:37
just horrifying
51:39
and I think yeah that’s definitely
51:41
something to worry about
51:46
so I was just going to see if you agree
51:48
at this opinion and I think it presents
51:50
a problem and I’m wondering if you know
51:52
of a possible solution to it
51:55
but I like that you compared it to him
51:58
not competing with the other politicians
51:59
but the reality stars because when he
52:02
got primary to actually said that the
52:03
only way that Clinton could win is if
52:05
she changed her name to Hillary booboo
52:06
right and but the problem is I feel like
52:11
because it is so entertainment
52:13
centric that’s almost kind of like a lot
52:16
people like to compare like the Empire
52:18
of America
52:19
Rome but then it’s kind of glad it’s
52:20
gladiator kind of asked where I feel
52:23
like it’s it’s good that you we do have
52:26
these critiques and that you are
52:27
addressing this and I love it is
52:29
actually directed at the press even
52:30
though it says president on your book
52:32
but I think a lot people hook get on
52:34
Trump and try to analyze him as a person
52:36
instead of looking at the system that
52:38
created them because I feel like for him
52:39
it’s self-fulfilling he doesn’t have a
52:41
clue like he’s not right and essentially
52:43
doing this but as long as we’re giving
52:45
attention to it it’s like a growing
52:47
beast and and where’s where’s it going
52:49
to end like how do you stop that how do
52:51
you it’s a great question there’s a
52:52
couple things that are really
52:53
interesting you know that I’d love to
52:55
talk about here first though is that one
52:58
of the things that one of the huge
52:59
weaknesses of the political press in
53:01
this country is that we we always think
53:04
when we see a political phenomenon we
53:06
always imagine that it originates with
53:10
the politician right like just to give
53:12
you a classic example the Bernie Sanders
53:15
phenomenon wasn’t was all about Bernie
53:18
Sanders to Washington reporters right it
53:20
wasn’t it wasn’t 13 million people
53:22
expressing themselves and being upset
53:24
about you know the their feelings about
53:27
the Democratic Party it wasn’t this
53:29
organic thing that rose up from the
53:31
population it was because some you know
53:34
independent socialist backbencher jumped
53:38
the line and got you know and so they
53:40
that’s the way they like they always
53:41
look at the Washington character first
53:42
and they don’t look outward at the at
53:46
the actual people and then the larger
53:48
thing that’s going on
53:50
Trump is is horrible for for that
53:54
instinct because he he concentrates so
53:57
much attention on him and his person and
54:02
he deflects so much attention not only
54:04
from the system but from the larger
54:06
forces that are going on in the
54:08
population that everybody imagines that
54:10
Donald Trump is the only problem and not
54:12
that there have been you know growing
54:15
trend towards nativism and racism in
54:18
this in the population cetera et cetera
54:20
et cetera so the what the solution is I
54:24
think we just have to focus out more as
54:27
in the media we got to focus on systemic
54:29
problems more we got to talk to people
54:32
more and and make it less about the the
54:35
fairy tale soap opera which is the easy
54:39
way to do the story you know that and
54:41
that’s that’s why we do it because
54:42
that’s easy you know and so yeah I think
54:46
the what the solution is we just got to
54:48
do our jobs better and I don’t know how
54:50
that’s going to happen so if we assume
54:56
that the Trump’s the nominee in 2020
54:58
which he most likely will be barring
55:00
something serious like impeachment or
55:04
something like that if he is the nominee
55:05
and based on your experience what you’ve
55:08
seen
55:09
if this dynamic is still present where
55:11
he’s he’s he he is who he is he’s
55:14
gladiatorial what will be the formula
55:16
for the Democrats the counter that
55:17
should they have someone who’s also like
55:19
him or should they have someone who’s
55:22
who’s somehow a foil to him I mean based
55:25
on what you’ve seen what’s the answer
55:26
for the left in 2020
55:32
it’s a great question um see how what I
55:38
worry about is that is the I already
55:41
hear people in Washington talking about
55:43
this and saying that we have to get our
55:45
own version of Trump all right and we
55:48
have to get a media figure we got to get
55:51
you know whether it’s Dwayne the rock
55:54
Johnson or Mark Zuckerberg or whoever it
55:57
is right like we we need to go that
55:59
route and what’s interesting to me is
56:01
that they’ve already forgotten the
56:03
lessons I think of Barack Obama Barack
56:05
Obama is a diametrically opposite
56:07
character to Donald Trump he is someone
56:10
who prefers you know he’s reserved
56:13
polite he doesn’t act like a real
56:15
reality star he comports him even though
56:18
you know for me personally politically I
56:20
don’t agree with Obama life he’s been a
56:22
disappointment to me a lot of ways
56:23
style-wise he won by appealing I think
56:29
to people’s better imagination right and
56:33
what I see in Washington is a lot of
56:36
pessimism they don’t believe that that
56:39
you know finding a better way to
56:42
communicate with people that get it you
56:44
know telling people that they understand
56:47
what their problems are making a sincere
56:48
effort to find out why people are
56:50
disaffected I think that’s the easiest
56:52
route to winning you know is going out
56:54
and actually finding out what’s wrong
56:58
and coming up with solutions that people
56:59
can connect with you know and but you
57:03
won’t they won’t do that you know I
57:05
think they what they’re going to do is
57:07
they’re going to look at a lot of polls
57:08
and they’re going to they’re going to
57:09
look at the media media centric version
57:13
of how to win elections and they’re
57:15
going to try to do their own version I
57:16
think
57:22
hi so I started thinking about this a
57:25
couple days ago in terms of you know the
57:29
backlash if Trump continues to try and
57:32
dig his own grave and put his foot in
57:36
his mouth and all that other stuff
57:37
eventually things will start to roll
57:40
against him but there’s going to be a
57:43
backlash from that in terms of all the
57:45
people who support him and it’ll be like
57:46
you know why are you taking away my toy
57:48
and you know the that could be the media
57:52
that could be the Democratic Party that
57:53
could be the Republican Party and so you
57:55
might have a phenomenon where
57:56
everybody’s trying to be like no you and
57:59
Peacham I don’t want to impeach um you
58:00
impeach him you know so that they don’t
58:02
deal with that backlash and I’m
58:03
wondering if you see any signs of that
58:05
and how that would play out yeah I think
58:11
actually I would say that there’s not a
58:14
lot of hesitation about taking on Donald
58:17
Trump in Washington now anything I would
58:20
say that there’s sort of an opposite
58:21
problem which is that being against
58:24
Trump has become whatever the only thing
58:27
that a lot of politicians are about now
58:29
and I I think that the key to succeeding
58:34
going forward is they have to have some
58:35
other kind of messages in addition to
58:37
that politically going after Donald
58:39
Trump doesn’t seem to be anybody’s
58:40
problem and they’re the the knives are
58:42
out in full force right now for for
58:44
Trump and they’re gunning for
58:47
impeachment there’s no question about
58:48
that except for people like Mitch
58:49
McConnell well he’s a Republican first
58:51
well he is but but but in terms of like
58:54
I was kind of surprised about uh not
58:56
completely but you know cuz he’s trying
58:58
to control this thing
58:59
you know whoa look impeachment is a it’s
59:06
a very extreme step and and think think
59:11
about approving it for a member of your
59:13
own party and think about think about
59:16
doing it in this situation you know um
59:20
there’s a lot of political will to try
59:23
to end Donald Trump’s presidency right
59:24
now and it’s far harder than it’s been
59:26
for anybody since since Bill Clinton so
59:29
I wouldn’t say that that’s a problem I
59:31
think there going to be plenty of
59:32
candidates we’re going to want to play
59:33
that role of the person who took on
59:35
Donald Trump I mean they’re practically
59:37
stepping over each other to do it Warner
59:40
Schiff all these people that these
59:42
committee chairs are anxious to be that
59:45
person in front of the cameras oh
59:46
there’s political opportunity there the
59:49
the problem the problem that I see you
59:54
know I just I just worry that the palace
59:57
intrigue aspect of it is has occupied so
60:00
much of the Democrats time that they’re
60:02
they’re not paying attention to other
60:03
things Thanks hi thanks for great talk
60:11
the thing that I noticed about the two
60:15
sides of the bus the politicians in the
60:18
front and the reporters in back is that
60:21
there is a kind of underlying logic
60:23
which is a profit incentive in both
60:25
cases and to me that bespeaks the fact
60:30
that capitalism is something that feeds
60:32
off the systemic pathologies of
60:34
societies and right now it seems like
60:37
it’s gotten the point where it’s just
60:39
reached a level of death Drive and like
60:41
there something about the Trump
60:43
phenomenon that feels like it could
60:45
really just unleash some really
60:47
pathological forces in our society to
60:50
the point where the situation you’re
60:52
describing with the media is just one
60:53
component of a kind of embrace of sheer
60:55
irrationality and I feel or my question
60:59
for you is that whether you think some
61:01
kind of like deep and systemic
61:04
paradigmatic changes is called for as
61:07
part of what were yeah no I totally
61:10
agree I I I think one of the things that
61:15
I believe that one of the reasons that
61:18
Trump happened is because people are on
61:22
some level they’re screaming out for
61:24
something drastically different you know
61:26
and it’s it’s for a lot of people it’s
61:29
an inarticulate longing you know for a
61:32
new way to experience life and and I
61:34
think the sort of this is relentless
61:37
heartlessness of modern American you
61:40
know industrial capitalism and it’s it’s
61:43
a sort of really casual immorality and
61:47
and I think it’s tough for people you
61:49
know even if they don’t understand it
61:50
you know it and we need I think we need
61:54
something we need to at least have
61:55
somebody who’s capable of opening a
61:58
discussion of can we live another way in
62:01
this country you know and that question
62:04
has been suppressed at the at the
62:06
presidential level you know it’s not
62:08
really it hasn’t really been possible to
62:10
have that dialogue because words like
62:13
you know socialism is of course a taboo
62:15
bernie has made it less so but even you
62:17
know other ideas you know like you know
62:20
there’s a European you know guaranteed
62:22
income movement you know like these
62:24
really interesting thoughts they’re not
62:26
did we can entertain them because our
62:29
politics are so narrow and yeah I agree
62:32
with you and and and just to talk about
62:35
one thing about the media in terms of
62:37
capitalism for ages we insulated
62:41
ourselves from the profit motive problem
62:44
in media by having this sort of unspoken
62:48
understanding you know the FCC they
62:50
licensed out the airwaves to the PUC to
62:51
these private companies and there was a
62:54
there was an understanding that that
62:56
they would get to make all this money by
62:59
having these TV stations and radio
63:01
stations but in return they would have
63:03
to do something in the public interest
63:04
in terms of news so traditionally news
63:08
was a lost leader for four television
63:11
stations radio stations and they made
63:13
their money covering sports and
63:14
entertainment other stuff and they
63:16
didn’t worry about making money off the
63:17
news well that changed started changing
63:19
in the 80s and now you know this is what
63:23
you get when one news is all about
63:25
profits it just becomes insane you know
63:28
unfactual unobjective and you know it’s
63:31
I think it’s really disturbing Thanks
63:35
[Applause]
63:39
hi Matt I’m today on Netflix the
63:43
Rogerses movie debuted and up until
63:47
Trump who are justö was more or less a
63:50
husband how influential was he in the
63:54
2016 election sorry who the one
63:58
Rajasthan Rajasthan how influential is
64:01
he um my understanding of Roger stone is
64:07
that he’s a big talker who uh who has
64:13
less access to powerful people than he
64:16
has always claimed so I don’t know you
64:19
know Roger stone he was an advisor to
64:22
the Trump campaign he’s um
64:26
really not in position to really answer
64:29
that question very well you know
64:30
obviously he figures a lot in this this
64:32
Russia drama depending on who you talk
64:35
to but that’s just you know I I couldn’t
64:39
speak to it because I never haven’t
64:41
uncovered that story okay I have a part
64:43
to it this question if the media did not
64:48
cover Trump like they did because they
64:52
would concern with the ratings do you
64:55
think he would have gotten as far as you
64:57
did so that’s a great question but I
65:01
think it goes hand in hand with a couple
65:03
of things so if if we as had as a habit
65:07
did not have a for-profit media we would
65:11
have a different kind of audience
65:13
leading into 2016 we would have a more
65:15
thinking audience we would have a more
65:17
discerning audience you know Trump isn’t
65:20
something that happens overnight it
65:21
happens after decades of watching the
65:24
dumbest possible television and lowering
65:28
your attention span to half a second
65:34
and I think you know the fact that
65:37
nobody reads anymore and I mean the
65:41
ability to think critically about what
65:43
people are looking at is a phenomenon
65:45
that’s been that’s been degraded for
65:47
decades and if we if we had a different
65:50
kind of media dating back decades
65:52
there’s no way Donald Trump would win
65:54
because he was so plainly unsuited for
65:57
the job but he was perfectly suited for
66:00
what this actually was which is a
66:03
television show I mean and and and so if
66:06
we didn’t have that format he would
66:08
never have been successful thank you hi
66:16
hi so um what the person said earlier
66:20
about uh the Democrats opening their own
66:22
Trump I was thinking that too like he
66:25
maybe he’s gonna open his own franchises
66:26
like his University or something so
66:29
we’ll teach you
66:29
political hacking but um you were saying
66:34
stuff about being in the bullpen and
66:36
that he got the crowd to turn on you and
66:39
like all this up for the press in
66:40
general but despite all that I’ve
66:43
noticed you’re really objective about
66:46
this guy still like you’re able to look
66:48
at it from many sites like you don’t I
66:49
get the sense you don’t like Trump but
66:51
you know you can you can like kinda you
66:55
can kind of see through like his tactics
66:57
and like oh he’s like he’s like flipped
66:59
it around he’s like he figured out a
67:00
deal for these politics so if Paul if
67:04
politicians are actors is a Donald Trump
67:07
the greatest actor and can you respect
67:08
his hustle as an actor well that’s a
67:13
tough question I mean I find Trump
67:15
fascinating on a lot of levels and um
67:17
and and there’s a huge question
67:22
philosophical question with Trump which
67:24
is is it did you do this on purpose did
67:27
he did he intend to have all these
67:29
tactics work this way
67:31
or was it just a total accident of his
67:33
insane narcissistic personality that
67:35
just happened to fit like a glove into
67:38
the equally insane format of our
67:40
presidential system when and that’s the
67:43
form that’s the thing I leaned toward
67:44
but
67:46
you know I remember another New
67:48
Hampshire incident you probably all
67:51
remember it in Manchester when Trump
67:55
said there was a woman who stood up in
67:58
the crowd and said can I swear here she
68:02
sees he says Ted Cruz is a right
68:05
and and Trump looked at the woman and he
68:09
said oh that’s terrible what she said
68:10
that’s terrible and you shouldn’t you
68:12
shouldn’t have said that say it again
68:13
all right so so she says it again and
68:17
you know all of us in the media we’re
68:20
watching him and you could see him
68:21
thinking he’s he’s thinking if she says
68:25
it’s a six-hour story if I say it it’s a
68:27
four days story you know what I mean and
68:29
he he paused and he thought and then he
68:33
goes she just said Ted Cruz ooh
68:35
right and now there’s video right and it
68:39
Rockets around the internet and
68:40
obliterates everything else you know the
68:42
involved with the New Hampshire election
68:44
so Trump I think on some level he just
68:47
he can’t help himself like you know he
68:49
watches his tweeting habits and
68:50
everything there’s no way that this guy
68:52
is sitting there and calculating it’s a
68:54
good idea to tweet about Meryl Streep
68:56
and stuff like you know like no way but
68:58
he part of it you know he does have some
69:02
instincts that some of it is conscious
69:03
so I think it’s a mix of things like you
69:06
know you know as a reporter you have to
69:08
resist the easy interpretation that X Y
69:11
or Z I think it can be all things you
69:13
know I think he’s crazy and an actor and
69:15
you know and a manipulator and all that
69:17
stuff so the bypassing disgusts you
69:19
or as fascinates you well it’s
69:23
disgusting clearly I mean no the the
69:25
it’s everything you wouldn’t want in a
69:28
politician but the you know on some
69:30
level if you read the book clearly early
69:34
in the campaign when I I thought I saw
69:36
Trump I thought his historical role was
69:40
going to be that he was going to destroy
69:41
the Republican Party because it seemed
69:44
pretty clear early and early on that he
69:47
was he was sort of steam rolling through
69:49
the whole process almost like a like a
69:52
classic farcical parody of everything
69:55
right and he made everybody who was on
69:56
stage with him
69:58
look more ridiculous than he was and on
70:01
some of them on a literary level it was
70:03
kind of perfect right it was a perfect
70:06
story and the fact that it was people
70:07
like Rubio and Jeb Bush and all those
70:11
people who were the victims of it kind
70:13
of didn’t make you feel so bad about it
70:14
I mean to me it made it a much funnier
70:17
story and then and then after the
70:19
nomination it took this incredibly dark
70:22
turn where it’s like this is actually
70:24
going to happen and he’s going to get
70:26
elected and when that started to happen
70:30
you know that it stopped being funny and
70:32
then it started to be like insane and
70:34
crazy and terrifying and and you know I
70:37
think that’s where we are right now so I
70:40
had I had different feelings about it
70:43
the whole way through I thought I would
70:45
imagine everybody did great did you uh
70:48
I thought the longer he was in the race
70:50
more likely he was going to win and that
70:53
was even when he was with Hillary right
70:56
so it’s like okay it’s like one week so
70:59
he’s probably gonna win right at this
71:00
point right right excellent
71:02
excellent well you it was a good good
71:04
job thanks Matt I really thought I was
71:10
excellent I might take a different kind
71:12
of direction on this uh when I hear you
71:14
discussing this issue first of all the
71:17
idea of focusing not on the incident but
71:18
the context but I guess the context of
71:21
your profession in particular like the
71:22
fact that you’re a magazine writer and
71:24
at a news writer enables you to engage
71:28
more of your critical thinking
71:29
facilities than other people might be
71:31
able to I think we all have recognized
71:33
that we make poor decisions when we’re
71:34
rushed but given that like I mean like
71:37
right now I’m a professor and I have
71:38
many students who want their papers
71:41
immediately more they’d rather their
71:44
papers be done quickly than accurately
71:46
right given that we’re all rushed for
71:48
time what is the hope for your
71:50
profession is there hope because it
71:52
seemed like there’s a positive feedback
71:53
loop that you point to being a problem
71:55
is there a point where that just the
71:57
human body cannot take any longer or do
72:00
we you know stand in the ruins of
72:01
democracy before then
72:03
Wow that’s a great question and a scary
72:07
one no I I’m really worried about it
72:10
because um you know it’s this is this
72:13
has been a problem going back in our
72:15
business for decades and it started off
72:18
really I would say in the mid 80s and
72:21
early 90s and what started off with
72:24
seemingly small problems like the
72:26
appearance of free alternative
72:29
newspapers right and we started to give
72:32
give gift papers away then the internet
72:35
came along and people got their ads from
72:38
you know they didn’t have to go to buy
72:40
the Village Voice anymore to find to get
72:43
an apartment or put up a want ad they
72:45
could just go on the internet so that
72:46
depleted massively depleted the income
72:50
streams of alternative media and what
72:53
was the first thing that newspapers cut
72:55
when they stopped making a lot of money
72:57
they stopped they cut the people who
72:59
only spent who worked five or six weeks
73:03
on one story right the first thing they
73:05
cut was investigative reporting the
73:07
second thing they cut was fact-checking
73:09
right and so you know in the old days
73:13
you would have things like the
73:14
Cincinnati Enquirer doing a ten-part
73:16
series on the Chiquita banana company
73:18
right and they would send these two
73:19
reporters down to South America and they
73:22
would they would you know they would be
73:24
very well funded to do these long
73:26
investigations and and people were were
73:30
psyched for that kind of stuff they had
73:31
an app but the public had an appetite
73:32
for that kind of reporting well now you
73:35
two things would happen number one the
73:37
audience’s don’t have the attention span
73:38
to devour four and five thousand more
73:41
piece articles about things they’re
73:44
consuming tweets right and the other
73:47
thing is that the companies have found
73:49
out that they don’t need to do that to
73:50
make money you know so they they’re
73:52
they’ve invested all their money in
73:54
graphics and presentation and and the
73:58
content gets smaller and smaller and and
74:01
less weighty all the time and so there’s
74:04
no investigations there’s no critical
74:06
thinking there’s no reflection
74:08
it’s just reactive and it’s become like
74:10
this animalistic thing almost right and
74:13
I really worry about that because not
74:15
not only are you not getting good
74:16
reporting but you’re also training your
74:18
audience right to be rushed like that
74:22
right and and and you sure you see it
74:25
kids come up now they just they just
74:28
don’t have the the stomach to read
74:31
through long things anymore and I think
74:34
it’s a serious problem and I don’t know
74:36
how to fix it do you have an idea I mean
74:38
I you know I I mean I guess in general
74:40
it just seems like like speed is kind of
74:42
the enemy of democracy although we seem
74:44
to love speed so much I don’t know
74:46
myself except I just refuse to acquiesce
74:48
sometimes and right right throw sand in
74:51
the gears I think is a common popular
74:53
way to scribe it yeah no I mean I I wish
74:56
there was some way to do it but yeah I
74:59
think it’s you’re absolutely right speed
75:00
is a huge problem with us in Trump with
75:02
Trump again Trump was perfect for this
75:04
because you had to check Twitter every
75:06
ten seconds to see what he was up to he
75:09
was that he’s the perfect futuristic
75:11
speed candidate right like you know you
75:13
could be high on something at 4:00 in
75:14
the morning and he’d be changing doing
75:16
something you know he’s yeah it’s it’s
75:20
it’s very bad thank you good evening
75:26
Matt thanks for the talk tonight a
75:29
couple of observations maybe from you
75:32
can we agree that probably we don’t this
75:36
des gentleman before me the only one who
75:38
use the word all night but a democracy
75:42
and can we agree that we it’s a myth
75:45
probably in the United States it
75:47
probably more closer we live in a
75:48
corporate fascist state the way you win
75:52
elections also it seems to me is whether
75:54
it’s Republican or Democrat you want the
75:56
fewest people to turn out right and in
75:59
the end result was that maybe there was
76:00
52 or 54 percent of people that voted
76:03
for president which means that the man
76:05
at one got probably 25% of the total
76:08
vote yeah no it’s it’s ridiculous
76:12
yeah I know I agree with the quite
76:14
otally agree the wait the way we elect
76:17
presidents in this country has nothing
76:18
to do with democracy it has nothing to
76:20
do with it’s you know it’s a very
76:23
strange process then and
76:28
in the degree to which people are not
76:31
concerned with the lack of turnout you
76:34
know and and aren’t horrified that that
76:38
that neither you know beats both of the
76:41
candidates you know by factor of two to
76:43
one other than Russia for a long time
76:46
and they used to use to be able to vote
76:47
for none of the above in elections and
76:50
in a couple of races that it actually
76:52
won and and you know that it’s this is
76:58
really the crazy thing is the Trump what
77:02
what Trump did last year was almost more
77:05
democratic than the other system which
77:06
is just we’re going to give two sort of
77:08
preordained sort of corporate-funded
77:10
parties the ability to choose between
77:14
you know to spend a billion dollars
77:16
apiece on on a couple of marketing
77:19
campaigns and people will get to choose
77:20
between one of those two things you know
77:22
that’s not terribly democratic either
77:24
and and yeah I worry about it sure hi my
77:30
question is that you said that Trump
77:32
brought out the polarization that’s been
77:35
happening do we have time to unify or is
77:40
it too far for that and Trump being
77:44
someone that I don’t I didn’t vote for
77:46
but if he were baby impeached behind him
77:49
is pence and then behind him is Ryan so
77:52
and I’m hard pressed to find a
77:54
politician that I can really believe in
77:56
regardless right right I mean it’s a
77:59
great question the one thing I would
78:03
worry about with the whole idea of
78:05
unifying is that these the campaigns in
78:07
general have just become so become so
78:10
aggressive that the idea of you know
78:15
Democrats and Republicans ever coming
78:18
together again on any you know or people
78:20
or the whole country feeling good about
78:22
anyone who could be President I just
78:24
don’t I don’t see that happening going
78:26
forward I think you’re going to have one
78:27
half of the country that’s just furious
78:28
and you know that the template of you
78:32
know started with Obama you know the
78:34
people were hysterical on the other side
78:36
and now and now we have this with Trump
78:38
and um you know
78:40
both both sides are in this militaristic
78:43
mode and hate each other hating each
78:45
other mode and I don’t know I don’t
78:46
think that’s good either
78:47
first I’ve just been asked to announce
78:49
that there’s there’s a couple people in
78:50
line but that’s the last couple
78:51
questions and then my question is that
78:53
as a big believer that government and
78:57
policy should be deeply engaging to the
78:58
broader public is there any opportunity
79:00
to pivot here when we have sort of what
79:02
seems like unprecedented public
79:04
attention to is there a way to keep that
79:06
without continuing to appeal to the
79:08
basest interest it’s a great question um
79:11
I
79:14
I thought the Sanders movement was
79:16
really amazing in a lot of ways because
79:19
Sanders also you know he was again kind
79:23
of opposite to all the things I was
79:24
talking about he he’s exactly what
79:28
reporters mean when they talk about
79:29
someone being unelectable right
79:31
he doesn’t look good on TV he’s got a
79:35
funny speaking style he’s a socialist
79:38
right and yet there was an outpouring of
79:43
support for him and when you when he
79:45
gave speeches he what did he talk about
79:47
he talked about inequality and you know
79:50
all these actual problems it was a you
79:52
know it was amazing to see America
79:55
actually tuned into this for a while um
79:58
and I thought that that was proof that
80:02
you know there there is the ability of
80:04
politicians to engage people on
80:05
something other than stupidity in this
80:08
country but you know you right now you
80:13
know it’s it’s hard to say I hope people
80:16
get the lessons from the Sanders thing
80:19
and say that you know being just sort of
80:23
an honest politician who makes an effort
80:26
to try to reach out to people that that
80:28
can be successful to you know is there
80:30
an opportunity for the media in
80:31
particular there to entertain more of
80:36
those discussions well if you look at
80:37
what happened with Bernie Sanders you’ll
80:38
see that even though you he and Trump
80:41
were very equivalent stories actually in
80:44
a lot of ways they were they were both
80:46
rebels within their own party who were
80:48
taking on the
80:49
or at their own party structure but
80:51
Trump got 23 times the amount of
80:53
television coverage of Bernie Sanders
80:55
you had phenomena like you know an empty
80:58
mic stand whoop you know cable even
81:01
MSNBC publishing you know showing people
81:06
waiting for Trump to speak whereas when
81:08
Sanders spoke he would they wouldn’t
81:10
keep the cameras on it for very long and
81:12
I think you know he was still considered
81:18
taboo in a lot of ways and I don’t think
81:20
they’re really past that yet so you know
81:23
I mm-hmm yeah yeah yeah exactly yeah
81:28
Trump’s I met you had some negative any
81:34
deservedly negative comments about the
81:37
mainstream media I’m most concerned
81:38
about the control of information what
81:41
people can get now I’m retired I’m kind
81:44
of in the position that you were in when
81:45
you were writing and you had weeks and
81:46
weeks and weeks to do I’m I can spend
81:48
hours right looking for things and I
81:51
know how to sift through things I’m a
81:53
scientist to begin with but I’m most
81:55
concerned huh what kind of science
81:57
environmental science excellent
82:05
so I’ve come across things on the
82:08
internet that like for instance not not
82:11
that I agree with everything he says
82:12
Lord Monckton
82:13
is a tremendous speaker it’s got
82:16
completely contrary information to what
82:19
everybody gets on the mainstream media
82:21
about climate change hmm and you don’t
82:24
get any debate about that you don’t see
82:26
any of that how do you what’s your
82:27
advice on the people on how to sift
82:30
through what’s on the Internet and to
82:33
find the good stuff so it’s really
82:35
really hard these days because because
82:39
the standards really aren’t good
82:41
anywhere anymore again as the business
82:45
because because we’ve had this huge
82:48
decline in profitability and then in the
82:49
news media for years fact-checking you
82:53
know have
82:54
it used to be in order to get anything
82:56
into print you had to go through this
82:58
whole very long process now that’s
83:00
completely gone for daily Daily News
83:03
writing for magazine writing it’s mostly
83:06
all gone you know it still exists in a
83:08
few places our magazine still has a
83:10
little bit of it but nowadays when
83:13
you’re trying to decide whether
83:15
somebody’s reputable news source or not
83:16
you’re mostly relying on whether or not
83:19
that person has a track record of caring
83:23
about whether or not they’re factual you
83:26
know the institutions themselves don’t
83:27
really have time anymore to try to catch
83:31
everything and they don’t they don’t
83:32
worry about it anymore as much as they
83:34
used to so um you know I I don’t I don’t
83:37
know what to advise you except to say
83:39
that academic journals are tend to be
83:42
more respectable people who will link to
83:46
a primary source you know that that’s
83:49
always a good sign but even things like
83:52
can be you know it’s I was talking about
83:54
this with the reporter the other day in
83:55
the old days when when a member of
83:59
Congress would cite something a fact in
84:01
a prepared remark we always felt good
84:03
about using that as a fact in a story
84:06
nowadays even even members of Congress
84:09
have no problem using unsourced material
84:11
when they when they give speeches and
84:13
and so there’s this epidemic of kind of
84:16
unverified stuff flying around and it’s
84:19
just become really really hard so that I
84:22
think the main piece of advice is just
84:23
to read a lot on every subject and just
84:26
try to see what the most common story is
84:28
you know just one more thing on on the
84:31
published books are the publishers still
84:34
doing the fact-checking publishers do do
84:37
fact-checking but um it’s not it’s not
84:42
it depends on the project let’s put it
84:44
that way there’s there’s a legal vet for
84:48
pretty much every book but the kind of
84:51
line by line thing that used to be
84:53
standard in this business and it like
84:58
you know I used to write these six and
84:59
seven thousand word features for Rolling
85:00
Stone and literally every line you know
85:03
the sky was blue this day they would
85:05
check you know was it blue that day
85:07
that doesn’t happen anymore in books
85:09
they’re mostly concerned about what can
85:10
we be sued for and you know what are the
85:15
major factual issues in this book and
85:17
let’s just check those out but they
85:18
don’t you know the little things you
85:20
know really depends on the publisher and
85:23
you know you can’t you can’t depend on
85:25
somebody being everything being vetted
85:28
anymore I really appreciate your
85:37
analysis of the corporate media and also
85:40
how it’s not actually just about Trump
85:43
about their these systemic problems of
85:45
anti-immigration
85:46
anti-immigrant and nationalism and so
85:50
I’m wondering is there a practical way
85:52
to look at is our profitability to
85:58
talking about immigrants and say Middle
86:00
Easterners who have had traditionally in
86:03
the media kind of like a one-dimensional
86:05
perspective is there a way to reap or
86:08
tray them in part because it can help
86:10
maybe go against that tie that has been
86:13
actually set by the media historically
86:15
that and is there a way to do that in a
86:19
profitable way to entice the corporate
86:22
corporate entities to be interested in
86:24
that um it’s a great question
86:27
unfortunately I would say that you know
86:30
clearly the model is hate sells and you
86:35
know discernment doesn’t and if you look
86:38
back at our recent history advertisers
86:42
are terrified of being seen as for
86:46
instance you know back in 2003 2004
86:50
the cable networks made enormous
86:51
enormous sums of money promoting the
86:54
Iraq war and there was literally zero
86:58
incentive for those companies to put a
87:01
halt to the you know Islamophobia to any
87:04
any of that that’s that’s never going to
87:07
be a moneymaker for the network’s you
87:09
know being being discerning you know I
87:12
would even say right now there’s a thing
87:15
about being anti Russian that that
87:18
you know you’re not going to find
87:20
anybody who is going to be willing to
87:24
kind of stand up and say hey you know
87:25
I’m pro-russian like that that’s that
87:27
there’s not going to be an incentive for
87:28
that I think some of the networks have
87:31
tried to do a better job of that in
87:34
their news coverage but that you know in
87:36
terms of a financial incentive you just
87:37
won’t find it unfortunately so a few
87:43
final words please support us this is
87:46
this place is dedicated independent
87:48
media and it is really fulfilling to us
87:51
to see all of you in this room and we
87:53
have sanctuary resist t-shirts everyone
87:56
needs one and we just really want to
87:58
thank Matt because you’re really a hero
88:00
in the movement right now and it’s so
88:02
important that you’re here
88:12
thank you soon

The Miracle of Kindness (Chris Hedges)

Emir-Stein Center
50.1K subscribers
Evil, even in the darkest moments, is impotent before the miracle of human kindness. This miracle defies prejudices and hatreds. It crosses cultures and religions. It lies at the core of faith. Take a brief journey through the eyes of American, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Chris Hedges to Jerusalem, Gaza, and Iraq, and discover the sacred bonds that make us human.

Subtitles: 🇺🇸The Miracle of Kindness 🇪🇸El milagro de la bondad humana

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Website: http://www.emir-stein.org

Script:
I studied Arabic four hours a day, five days a week, with my Palestinian professor, Omar Othman, in Jerusalem. We met in my house on Mt. Scopus overlooking the old city every morning. He would arrive with his books and something from his garden, olives, peaches, apricots or a bag of pistachios he would patiently unshell as we worked and then push towards me. Yom fil mishmish, we would say as we ate his apricots, literally meaning tomorrow will be good times and we will eat apricots, but given the long tragedy that has befallen the Palestinians, this phrase is converted into a wistful tomorrow will never come.
Omar, a polyglot who spoke German, Hebrew, and English fluently and who had worked as a teacher in the court of King Hussein in Jordan, was determined I would not only learn Arabic, but the politesse and formalities of Palestinian society. He drilled into me what to say when someone offered me food – Yislamu Edek – may God bless your hands, or when a women entered the room — nowar el beit – you light up the house – or when someone brought me a small cup of thick, sugary Arabic coffee — ‘away dime. A phrase that meant, may we always drink coffee together in an occasion like this.
Omar had a fondness for the Lebanese child singer Remi Bandali, a fondness I did not share, but on his insistence, I memorized the lyrics to several of her songs. He told long involved shaggy dog jokes in Arabic and made me commit them to memory, although sometimes the humor was lost on me.

In March of 1991 I was in Basra, Iraq during the Shiite uprising as a reporter for The New York Times. I had entered Kuwait with the Marine Corps and then left them behind to cover the fighting in Basra. I was taken prisoner by the Iraqi Republican Guard, who in the chaos – whole army units had defected to join the rebels – had ripped their distinguishing patches off their uniforms so as not to be identified with the regime of Saddam Hussein. I was studiously polite, because of Omar, with my interrogators. I swiftly struck up conversations with my guards. My facility in Arabic rendered me human. And when I ran out of things to say I told the long, shaggy dog jokes taught to me by Omar. Perhaps it was my accented Arabic, but my guards found these jokes unfailingly amusing.
I spent a week as a prisoner. I slept and ate with Iraqi soldiers, developed friendships with some, including the major who commanded the unit, and there were several moments when, trapped in heavy fighting with the rebels, they shielded and protected me. I would hear them whisper at night about what would happen to me once I was turned over to the secret police or Mukhabarat, something they and I knew was inevitable and dreaded.
That day came. I was flown on a helicopter to Baghdad and handed to the Mukhabarat, whose dead eyes and cold demeanor reminded me of the East German Stasi. There was no bantering now. I was manhandled and pushed forcefully into a room and left there without food or water for 24 hours.
I awoke the next day to plaintive call to prayer, the adhaan, as the first pale light crept over the city.
“God is greater. There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of God.”
I went to the window and saw the heavily armed guards in the courtyard below. I did not know if I would live or die.
At dawn the women and often children climb to the flat rooves in Baghdad to bake bread in rounded clay ovens. I was famished. I called out in Arabic to these women. “I am an American journalist. I am a captive. I have not eaten.”
A mother handed fresh bread to her young son who scampered across the rooves to feed me. A few hours later I was turned over to the International Committee for the Red Cross and driven to Jordan and freedom.
Where are they now, these men and women who showed me such compassion, who ignored the role my own country had played in their oppression, to see me as a one of them? How can I replay this solidarity and empathy? How can I live to be like them? I owe Omar, I owe all these people, some of whom I did not know, the miracle of human kindness – and my life.

Knight Ridder journalists weigh in on U.S.-Iran tensions

The 2017 film “Shock and Awe” shows how a group of journalists exposed major gaps in the Bush administration’s justification for the Iraq war. It’s a situation worth re-examining as tensions rise between the U.S. and Iran. The reporters at the center of “Shock and Awe” include Warren Strobel, Jonathan Landay and John Walcott. They joined CBSN to take a closer look at the comparisons between the two situations.

Free societies need an Agora: Knightfall: Knight Ridder and how the erosion of newspaper journalism is putting democracy at risk

By Davis Merrit

Born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina

Graduated in 1958 from the University of North Carolina

(born 1936?) ~ 83 years old

Adjunct journalism professor at University of Kansas and Witchita State

~Live in Wichita, Kansas?

21 N Cypress Dr, Wichita, KS?

316-686-4728 ?

dmerritt9@cox.net.

Website: https://www.bydavismerritt.com/about-davis-merritt

 

A free press is essential to a functioning democracy. A function democracy is essential to a free press.  They synergy of these two ideas is important because a free society cannot determine its course — that is,, self-determination does not exist — without three things: shared, relevant information; an agora (that is, a place or mechanism where the implications of information can be discussed); and shared values (at a minimum, a belief in personal liberty itself).

 

Coming to Public Judgement is the title of a seminal book in which Daniel Yankelovich explains the phenomenon of public judgement and how it is formed. Published in 1991, it demonstrates that the democratic way of dealing with problems is to strive for a resolution that

(end: page 17)

everyone can live with; that benefits more people than it harms; that recognizes and allows for differing opinions and values but nevertheless helps settle the issue so the public’s business can move on.

Public judgement,, Yankelovich explains, is far more complex than mere opinion. In his three decades of research into public opinion preceding publication of the book, he developed ways to distinguish between off-the-cuff public opinion, as reflected in most statistical surveys, and true public judgement.

A public judgement is “the state of highly developed public opinion that exists once people have engaged in an issue, considered it from all sides, understood the choices it leads to, and accepted the full consequences of the choices they make.

Reaching public judgement about important and complex issues can take years or only hours. For instance, Americans reached public judgement about women’s rights decades ago after more than a century of debate, but aligning that determination with life’s realities is still a work in progress. On the other hand, surveys showed that public judgement on Operation Desert Storm in 1991 was almost instantaneous and supportive.

.. True public judgement, once arrived at, reflects values at least as much as it reflects information because of the complex way in which the public arrives at the judgement, Yankelovich contends. The process involves three stages: consciousness raising, working through, and resolution. He describes them this way:

Consciousness raising is “the stage in which the public learns about an issue and becomes aware of its existence and meaning .. When one’s consciousness is raised, not only does awareness grow but so does concern and readiness for action.” In other words, people decide: We must do something about this. But what? And how?

Working through can be complex and time-consuming, for it involves individuals having second thoughts — that is, “resolving the conflict between impulse and prudence”; accepting new (and sometimes unsettling) realities; and resolving conflicts among the competing values that they hold. In other words, working through involves cognitive, emotional, and moral calculations.

Resolution occurs only after successful consciousness raising and working through, and the accumulated mass of that effort then reflects a public judgement.

Consciousness raising — which journalists are good at and dearly love — does not alone lead to public judgement. The working-through phase is essential. So when newspapers, either deliberately or by lack

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of insight or public service orientation, limit their role to merely calling attention to things and flit, hummingbird-like, from one issue to the next, the process begins to break down; public judgements rare not given time to mature; the working-through process is time-consuming, expensive, and full of risk. It is not the sort of thing that newspapers can do with one eye always on the bottom line.

 

For decades, the mantra that people in journalism delivered to people who thought they wanted to be in journalism went something like this: You won’t get rich and you probably won’t be famous, but you can make a difference and have a lot of fun in the process.

(page 132)

 

Seeing Richard Nixon as a prototype rather than an anomaly, journalists began a two-decade-long practice of treating all political figures at any level as potential suspects in the next Whatever-Gate. The journalistic norm became “We catch crooks.” Scalps on the belt, particularly government scalps, were the sign of rank and the measure of testosterone at gatherings of the journalistic tribe. The democratic process, which had been superbly served by the Watergate reporting, was enveloped in a flood of self-indulgent and self-serving efforts by journalists-cum-cops to find a bogeyman under every government and institutional bed.

.. Journalism also learned from Watergate that, unlike the era of Chester S. Lord, journalists could indeed become both wealthy and famous, a realization that would turn the occasional knaves or fools who sneaked into the profession into an army of wanna-bees much more sinister and difficult to deal with: serial liars, cheats, and thieves driven by reckless ambition and bereft of the restraint and respect for intellectual honesty that guided most of their predecessors.

In the first thirty-five years of my experience in daily news-papering, I did not encounter any such liars, cheats, and thieves, or at least

(page 137)

was not aware of the if they workd around or for me. In the last ten years of my experience, they were everywhere infecting a business, and a society, that seemed to have no useful serum for combating them.

(page 138)

 

Hodding Carter III is president and chief executive officer of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which has within its mission the improvement of American journalism through many mechanisms, including endowed chairs at journalism schools. Carter is also, by genetics and training, a newspaperman inflamed by the idea of journalism as a public trust. And he’s angry about what is happening to newspaper journalism. In a speech at Kent State University in April 2001, he argued that newspaper companies need not march to Wall Street’s drumbeat of ever-increasing profits.

It is a fallacy, said Carter that newspaper companies “must accept the market’s logic and demands,” and went on to say:

Actually you don’t [have to accept it], as long as you’re not emphasizing profit growth as masculinity surrogate, a macho game of “my profit growth is bigger than yours.”  The Washington Post goes to the market. The New York Times goes to the market. Neither comes close to the profit margins the market allegedly demands. Neither will as long as current management endures. Both these great newspapers prosper and lead.

What it takes is a little guts. A little cohesion among media managers and all would echo [Washington Post CEO] Dom Graham’s remarks to Wall Street analysts not long ago. You want profits, he told the. We want profits. But we know what matters. Our journalism is not the focus of your interests, but it is the focus of min, and it is better than ever. It’s going to stay that way.

Let me put a proposition to you. Today, GM averages around a 5 percent to 6 percent profit.. Suppose GM went to 20 to 25 percent. Would you buy its cars? Would you believe the product was as good at a 25 percent return as a product at 5 percent? And yet the newspaper industry has doubled what used to be the acceptable profit margin, well past what we routinely call “obscene profits” in the oil industry in days gone by, and things it can’t live below 25 percent.

Of course, the way Wall Street see it is determinative for

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some. Terry Smith of The News Hour with Jim Lehrer did a segment on the issue of newspaper profits.  Well, he ask the bright analyst, what margin does Wall Street expect from a publicly held newspaper company? If they average in the twenties, is that enough? No she replied, it’s never enough, of course, This is Wall Street we’re talking about.

Precisely. And what we should be talking about is journalism in the public interest.

(page 224)