Dear Media, Are You Willing to Help Us?

An open letter to all members of the media. The writers, the reporters, bloggers and the on-air talent.

Dear Media, Are You Willing to Help Us?
“A person reads a newspaper on a bench in front of a graffitied building in Berlin” by Roman Kraft on Unsplash

This thread is for people like Jake Tapper, SE Cupp, Maggie Haberman, Josh Marshall, Don Lemon, Anderson Cooper. For Erin Burnett, Chris Cuomo, Katy Tur, Ali Velshi, Stephanie Ruhle, Matt Taibi, Jim Acosta, Van Jones and Rachel Maddow. Also looking at you Chris Wallace and Shep Smith and countless others.

I’d appreciate anyone reading this to send it out wider, especially to more media members.

We need your help.

We ordinary folk who feel like we’re being kicked in the nuts, on the regular, by an unscrupulous, ego-maniacal, discriminatory band of thugs. Thugs who will say & do anything they please to enrich themselves, skirt the law, ignore the will of the people & flout common decency.

We’d appreciate if that would stop and in this space between elections, we need you to be our voice.

We need you to do a better job of protecting we the people.

Now, I know that asking for more, is asking a lot. That maybe it’s unfair to expect that members of the media, human beings yourselves, be somehow better equipped to deal with this current cavalcade of buffoonery. But I’m going to ask you to try.

What I ask is going to be difficult. The unscrupulous will push back hard. They will make you a target, Trump will give you a stupid nickname and restrict your access ( for a time ), and something like ten percent of this country will vilify you.

But you need to help stop this asshattery.

It can start very simply.

You have to be better at doing what you do.

There Have Been Some Bright Spots

Credit where credit is due, lately, you’ve been better. Cohen’s finances, UAE agents, the grilling of Sarah Sanders with 4–5% more gusto, hell even Hannity fumbled his way into getting Guiliani to spit out new “truths.”

But it’s not enough.

You’ve got to hit back hard, with incontrovertible truth, data, and evidence and you’ve got to respond at the scene of the lie, whenever possible.

Here are a couple of examples:

When Chris Cuomo has Rudy Guiliani on to ask an essential question about his hypocrisy, don’t let Guiliani talk over the clip, cut his mic and then ask him point blank to respond to his own words.

Or how about this?

As Alex Azar starts taking about Canadians rationing drugs ( ??? ), or how importing drugs from Canada is neither safe nor effective ( ??? ), call him out.

Would it be too much to have a Canadian doctor ( or government health professional ), and/or an American citizen who has purchased life-saving drugs from Canada, on the line to rebut and bring reality to this discussion?

I get it, in both cases, it might be the last time you re-book the respective guests.

So what? There will always be talking heads, the administration needs to get it’s messaging out, and if you all band together to keep these guys honest, they’ll have no choice but to come back on.

It’s going to require prep and hustle, working out the angles when possible and seeing a little further down the line.

Maintain integrity.

Be better than those you’re reporting on and ask yourself if you have to play the game the way it’s always been played when your subjects refuse to do the same.

Please Stop Accepting That This Is How It Is

The genesis of this entire thread was a tweet.

In support of their colleague who was being ignored, they all walked out in protest.

From English language reporting on the story:

“Journalists in the eastern state of Brandenburg walked out of a news conference on Tuesday after the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party refused to take questions from one of the journalists.” —

How amazing is that?

When one is discriminated against, we are all left the lesser, so why aren’t we up in arms about this when Sarah Sanders refuses to call on Jim Acosta, or when the Washington Post is barred from…well, everything?

How are you as a body of professionals not working together for a greater good?

Germans learned the hard way what happens when political leaders go unchecked. Good on them for learning from the mistakes of their past and working to keep politicians honest.

Please, start talking, there is strength in numbers, and we must begin by refusing to allow the administration to dictate with whom and when they inform us of their actions.

If They Choose To Ignore Reality, Feed it to Them

We live in an age where access to information is never more than a couple of taps away, so why aren’t we making better use of technology to illuminate truth?

Show up prepared. If the topic of the day is Trump lying about paying off Stormy Daniels and when you ask him about it, he lies right to your face, as he does in the video below.

Do not accept it.

The second he finished uttering the comment “you take a look at what I said,” an iPad with a clip of him telling lies needs to be whipped out and shoved in his face.

No doubt he’ll use that as an excuse to leave the conversation, great, let him. When the base is all about bullying, show weakness and allow doubt to set in.

Think this impossible?

Meet Wouter Zwart.

Wouter, in December of last year, pulled off precisely this move. While interviewing Pete Hoekstra, the at the time, newly minted Ambassador to the Netherlands, Wouter asked about comments the ambassador had made disparaging Muslims in the Netherlands. Hoekstra had previously said ( on video ) that there were “no-go-zones,” in the Netherlands, whole areas of the country run by jihadists, inaccessible to non-Muslims.

Imagine Wouters surprise when Hoekstra said he never made those comments.

To which Wouter proceeds to, on the spot, show him the video of him making precisely those statements.

Do this.

All. The. Time.

And follow Wouter on Twitter, show that man some love.

If it Walks Like a Duck and Quacks Like a Duck, Call it a Fucking Duck

We can handle the truth, even when it’s dark.

We don’t need you to couch your words or soften your stance. Just give it to us straight and call things as they are.

You cannot do this enough when it comes to something like the alt-right.

Racism in America isn’t going away, it’s flourishing, and that is disturbing.

We allowed the door to open a crack, to let the vicious and the vile taste that sweet cupcake of acceptance and they liked it. Neo-nazis and white supremacists have enjoyed parading the streets, empowered by a regime which can’t be bothered to muster the modicum of criticism required to keep the cockroaches from leaving the shadows.

We cannot allow this to fester. More light must shine onto the failings of those too ignorant to know how harmful they are.

Once again, this one is on you.

Be human, be vulnerable, but do not let up on speaking that truth.

If you need help in doing this, watch a master at work.

People Are Figuring This Out

There is hope.

Things are happening.

Mother Jones is taking a stand in creating a “Disinformation Squad.”

They’re drawing a line in the sand and putting in a system of checks and balances, choosing not to accept things at face value, preferring now to dig until they can understand the whole picture.

“So that’s where we plan to go on the disinformation beat. We hope to put a reporter on this issue full time, along with a data scientist and our ace fact-checking and research teams. We want to get behind the torrent of day-to-day falsehoods and propaganda to identify where it comes from.”

There is no downside here.

You should all do this. Or better yet, build some shared infrastructure and let everyone benefit.

From the Disinformation Squad announcement, “Disinformation is not going to slink away, vampire-style, in the face of sunlight.”

Doesn’t that sound about right?

Look To Your Past

You’ve been with us through good times and bad times.

Through you, we learned about landing on the moon and the death of JFK.

We watched in horror as the towers fell and rejoiced when Bin Laden paid the price.

We saw daily the frustrations of George Bush and the enormity of Barack Obama.

You brought us the truth.

Brokaw. Jennings. Rather. Cronkite. Murrow did this.

Katharine Graham might not have ended a presidency, but she did not back down from doing what was right.

@camanpour, @mitchellreports, @LesleyRStahl and other women continue bringing us the full story.

It’s all of you.

You have an industry with a rich history of telling compelling stories and of leading this nation through darkness. Get back to it.

Playing Journalist For a Moment

Would you mind if I asked some questions?

Could you tell the story without giving endless coverage to falsehoods?

Have you been giving too much deference to liars?

Have you done all you can do?

Do you want to do more?

Can you be better?

It Will Be Our Turn Again Soon…Ish

All of this will be for naught if we, the voting populace don’t get off our asses and course correct in 2020. This like all things should be about shared responsibility, so feel free to call us out in between now and then if we’re looking complacent or ignorant.

I Want to End With Two Last Thoughts

The first should scare you.

Below is the transcript of a speech from Adolf Hitler in 1939. Remove the word Germany, and you’d be hard pressed to read this and not believe it came from Donald Trump.

‘By My Own Efforts’

“I overcame chaos in Germany, restored order, enormously raised production in all fields of our national economy…I succeeded in completely resettling in useful production those 7 million unemployed who so touched our hearts…I have not only politically united the German nation but also rearmed it militarily, and I have further tried to liquidate that Treaty sheet by sheet whose 448 Articles contain the vilest rape that nations and human beings have ever been expected to submit to. I have restored to the Reich the provinces grabbed from us in 1919; I have led millions of deeply unhappy Germans, who have been snatched away from us, back into the Fatherland; I have restored the thousand-year-old historical unity of German living space; and I have attempted to accomplish all that without shedding blood and without inflicting the sufferings of war on my people or any other. I have accomplished all this, as one who 21 years ago was still an unknown worker and soldier of my people, by my own efforts…”

The second I would hope inspires.

From the mighty pen of the nation’s poet, Mr. Aaron Sorkin.

The Newsroom Season 1, Episode 1

“We sure used to be. We stood up for what was right! We fought for moral reasons, we passed and struck down laws for moral reasons. We waged wars on poverty, not poor people. We sacrificed, we cared about our neighbors, we put our money where our mouths were, and we never beat our chest. We built great big things, made ungodly technological advances, explored the universe, cured diseases, and cultivated the world’s greatest artists and the world’s greatest economy. We reached for the stars, and we acted like men. We aspired to intelligence; we didn’t belittle it; it didn’t make us feel inferior. We didn’t identify ourselves by who we voted for in the last election, and we didn’t scare so easy. And we were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were informed. By great men, men who were revered. The first step in solving any problem is recognizing there is one — America is not the greatest country in the world anymore.”

Fitting, no?

One final request.

The next time Sarah Sanders claims she’s yet to talk to the president to get the details, suggest she go ask him, tell her you’ll wait.

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