I used to label almost everything uttered by our new president as babble, bull and carnival barking.
However, after watching Agent Orange lecture reporters at his news conference last week, I have to rethink that.
He has brought me to an epiphany. He explained away something that has been nagging at me for years. After listening to His Orangeness, I see journalism — I was a reporter and editor for three decades — with the kind of clarity you can only get after 10 hours in a tanning booth.
I finally understand why most journalists make so little money.
A lot of us missed the memo. We were never told we had to be dishonest to succeed. Fools, we sought the truth.
Agent Orange, though, stood up at the news conference and set everybody straight.
Evil, dishonest reporters in the Mainstream Media are America’s enemy. Especially dastardly are those at the big news organizations that cover Agent Orange in person. They make up sources, he said. They will not give him credit, he said. They don’t even call for his side to the story, he claimed.
They are successful, especially those big names in TV and newspapers, according to Our Orangest, because they are not loyal to the truth, rather to their Mainstream masters.
He said: “I’m making this presentation directly to the American people, with the media present, which is an honor to have you.
This morning, because many of our nation’s reporters and folks will not tell you the truth …”
“Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system.”
“The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.”
I interpret his theory as this: Reporters lie to:
1) attack and discredit him because he is not part of the entrenched Washington power structure 2) get more readers and web traffic 3) please their liberal publishing and broadcasting masters and 4) feather their own nests.
Thank you His Orangency. You’ve outed the bastards.
Man, how stupid we in the lower levels of TV and newspapers have been for all these many, many years. We prided ourselves on our ability to dig, investigate, uncover. Yet, evil Super Journalists have been cabaling like crazy to undermine the profession. In an impenatrable, complex labyrinth of utter secrecy, no less!
And to think that I blamed my inability to rise to the upper echelons of journalism on my own failings: a lackluster education, not enough skill, pugnaciousness. I read with jealousy the writers who made it to big operations like the New York Times, Washington Post and the Associated Press — those with the manpower to cover the presidency face-to-face.
I admired them though I was also envious. What a relief Agent Orange has provided. I just wasn’t dishonest enough! Not me or the tens of thousands of other, lower-tier journalists across the U.S.
We plugged away, piling up the overtime just to get by, chasing after firetrucks and police cars, studying far too many reports about wastewater and sludge, sitting through interminable school board budget sessions, filing Freedom of Information requests to get the most basic information about the latest federal kerfuffle, knocking on doors in the dark, freezing through floods, snow and tornadoes, enduring the jabs of local politicians, fielding angry, threatening phone calls, going for years without raises and sticking to our Code of Ethics even when it meant challenging our own bosses.
Meanwhile, those slick suckers at the top of the Journalism Food Chain prevaricated away, fabricating sources, adding their own evil “tone” to stories whenever they felt like it and taking their dishonesty all the way to the bank.
Sir Orange-a-lot has called them to the carpet, though. He caught them. He indicted them, tried them and convicted them in that blockbuster of a news conference.
How amazing! What great news for the rest of the ink-stained wretches who still see journalism as a noble calling.
What’s shocking, though, is how quickly Change-Agent Orange figured this out.
He certainly moved fast. He’s still a novice to both politics and governing. He announced these damning, major findings about a month into his presidency.
Oops. I need to press pause here. Just a minute. I’ve been away from the news business a while due to illness. I have to check something.
His Orangeness, I’m seeing now, didn’t provide any real evidence. Did he?
I think I’m losing my journalism chops. I have rejoiced too soon. I forgot that we journalists fact-check the words of the powerful — especially when ulterior motives are possible, or obvious. That’s even more important when your first instinct is to believe wholeheartedly because it helps you feel better about yourself, your job or your family.
There’s a worn-but-wonderful saying in journalism: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.”
Here’s one for 2017: If Donald Trump says he loves you, leave the business.
Reporters are trained to be skeptical, to challenge, to consider that many factors are at play beneath the surface. They are also trained to break news and love to do that. It’s exciting to be first; you hardly ever share what you gather with other news agencies before it is published.
It’s good old American competition, something the Orange One should know something about.
Reporters scramble, race and sweat and get very resourceful when it comes to finding the dirt, getting the scoop, telling the big story.
That’s what I saw for years and years and years when I was a reporter, and later as an editor when I helped reporters with their stories. These big news organizations, at least the established ones, operate the same way.
Their reporters have come up through the ranks from smaller operations, learned the business, studied their Codes of Ethics and, for the most part, play by the rules.
How does all that jibe with the Feb. 16 words from the Orangest One? Think hard about this question: How can all these competing reporters come up with the same lies? On deadline? Why would they conspire?
Why wouldn’t they out their competitors?
Why isn’t a reporter from the New York Times breaking news that the top reporter for the Washington Post has spread false information to discredit the Leader of the Free World? Or, vice versa?
Why do newspapers run corrections if the goal is to lie? Why so some employ ombudsmen to criticize and reexamine the work that they publish on their own pages? Why do they allow letters to the editor that challenge their stories.
Why, Agent Orange? Why?
Well, unfortunately for us all, the answer is very simple.
They’re not lying. Donald Trump is lying.
And — here’s the really sad part — he thinks we are dumb enough to believe him.