I got a great laugh out of this Chuck Todd near meltdown on Meet the Depressed the other day. His voice quivered in moral outrage over Jack Welch suggesting something was up with the unemployment numbers last Friday. Chuck Todd proclaimed, "What we're doing, we're corroding trust in our government in a way, and one time responsible people are doing to control it. And the idea that Donald Trump and Jack Welch, rich people with crazy conspiracy, can get traction on this, is a bad trend."
He really does not get it. Chuck Todd reflects most of the media not getting it. As ratings decline, newspaper fold, and they all scream about how biased Fox News is, they do not get it.
Neil King is a political reporter for the Wall Street Journal. He is married to Shailagh Murray who left a reporting job at the Washington Post to take the job of Joe Biden's communications director. She replaced Jay Carney who moved to the White House and who himself left Time to take the communications director role for Biden.
John Harris of the Politico is married to an abortion rights activist who used to run NARAL Virginia.
The Politico's Chief Washington Correspondent, Jonathan Allen, left the Politico to work for Debbie Wasserman Schultz, then returned to the Politico.
Andy Barr of the Politico left the Politico to work for the Democratic National Committee and now works for Richard Carmona, the Democrats' candidate for Senate in Arizona against Jeff Flake.
George Stephanopolous of ABC News used to be a strategist for Bill Clinton and even after becoming Chief Washington Correspondent still engaged in regular conversations with Rahm Emanuel, James Carville, and Paul Begala from the Clinton days. (Ironic, isn't it, that John Harris wrote that story)
Michael Scherer of Time, where Jay Carney left to go to Joe Biden's office, got his start in left wing publications, as did Ezra Klein of the Washington Post who famously created the left wing Journolist filled with Washington journalists and pundits to bounce around themes in the left wing echo chamber.
Linda Douglass of ABC News left ABC to serve as Chief Propaganda Officer for the Obama White House in charge of getting Obamacare through.
Andrew Rosenthal of the New York Times made up the story about President George H. W. Bush being surprised and taken aback by a common supermarket check out scanner. The story was made up by Rosenthal who was not even present. Andrew Rosenthal is now the Editor of the New York Times Editorial Page.
The BuzzFeed crew are mostly left of center, hang out with left of center reporters and pundits, and the media considers them and their cat GIFs the second coming of a supposedly objective Huffington Post.
Chuck Todd himself is married to a former DNC staffer and he worked as a Democratic staffer to Senator Tom Harkin. He works with Chris Matthews who worked for a Democrat in Congress and Jimmy Carter. They both work with Andrea Mitchell who is married to Alan Greenspan, the former Chairman of the Federal Reserve. And they're all just a degree or two removed from Tawana Brawley thanks to their relationship with MSNBC host Al Sharpton.
In other words, Chuck, it is you and your colleagues in the New York-Washington media corridor who are corroding trust — not by covering what Jack Welch and Donald Trump say, but merely by reporting as you do on the issues you cover or are not covering. The American public has grown cynical and tired of a left-leaning media establishment that refuses to acknowledge its own liberalism and that has become insular and removed from the affairs of Americans across the country. The media establishment relates to people who live within 25 miles of the Atlantic or Pacific and relates poorly to people who live within 50 miles of American river valleys other than the Hudson.
[This post has been up for an hour and I have to say I feel a bit bad as people are taking it as me really slamming Chuck Todd. While focusing on Chuck's comments, I think he is but one example of the Gang of 500 — what Mark Halperin calls the political press and pundits who drive and set the conventional wisdom — and the vast majority of the reporters in the DC-NYC corridor have the same lament and concerns and they are all so badly disconnected from the reality of the situation]
The only major news network that seems to understand and report on issues people who live near river valleys cares about is Fox News. But the media would rather wash their hands of Fox and claim them a "conservative" organization that recognize that most major media outlets don't know jack about what happens around the Mississippi River, Missouri River, Red River, Tennessee River, Ohio River, and the rest of the prominent river valleys in the country. Flip on any major news network other than Fox and you'll be greeted by reports heralding gay marriage, an issue that has failed repeatedly in more than half the states, a generally liberal social world view, Washington compromising jacking up the national debt, and unquestioning acceptance that a poorly produced video on the internet caused our American Ambassador in Libya to die. You'll probably even get some poo-pooing about excesses of the First Amendment with regards to Coptic Christians and Citizens United, but rarely about pornography or the press itself.
Compounding the problem is a bipartisan Washington establishment that has likewise grown insular, only going home to campaign. These Republican and Democratic politicos and members of the press are sometimes married, sometimes having affairs, often times at cocktail parties together, and over time think more and more alike.
Consider this — I'm willing to bet that Chuck Todd thinks Jim DeMint, Mike Lee, Rand Paul and the like are fire breathers. Like many other members of the media, Chuck & Co. lament the loss of people like Richard Lugar, Robert Bennett, Evan Bayh, Olympia Snowe, etc. Those Senators "reached across the aisle." But in reaching across the aisle, they made the American public reach around and grab their wallets. They and their wonderful bipartisan compromises drove us to $16 trillion in debt. The guys who fight the compromises and fight the debt increases are routinely the villains and the press frequently ignores their heroes are the ones getting us in the messes. But they are "adults" and "grown ups" and "mature."
While Chuck and the rest of the press lament the national debt, they refuse to hold accountable the bipartisan compromisers who voted on the measures that got us to $16 trillion in debt.
When Chuck Todd laments the corrosion of "trust in government," what he is really lamenting is that the American people have caught on to the way the game is played and the public now realizes just how complicit the media is. Compounding that, the public largely now realizes just how in bed — sometimes literally — the press is with members of the Obama Administration. There is a revolving door between liberal organizations and the mainstream press. For every one Republican who may become an "objective" member of the press, there are many more Democrats who do the same. Further, for all the Republicans who do it, there are many more liberal than conservative Republicans who do it.
The press is full of herd mentality, group think, and incestuous relationship with power and politics. The press also lacks a lot of self-reflection and accountability. What self-reflection is done is often subsequently ignored.
What Chuck Todd lamented, with his voice quivering, is that the media has failed. They are no longer reporters and watch dogs. They are regurgitators and lap dogs and fewer and fewer Americans believe them. He can be outraged at supposed crazy conspiracies, but it is the actions of the American political press and their relationships within the corridors of Washington that made it possible.
No one trusts the media and that is the media's own fault. No one trusts government any more and the media is complicit in that by failing to be the objective press it pretends to be.
------- Updated at 7:37 a.m. on October 10, 2012 -------
Let me add a bit to this as the sun rises here in Macon.
A week or so ago, Tucker Carlson released the full video of Barack Obama giving his race speech to a black audience at a university. The media collectively said, "Oh, pffffft. We've covered that. This all ya got?"
I went on CNN that morning and the anchor said CNN had covered that. Well, actually, the media didn't cover it. There were a few short write ups, but the media did not cover what Barack Obama actually said. They did not report that Barack Obama told a black audience that the federal government did not consider blacks in New Orleans as part of the American community. He very clearly did this. The audience knew exactly what he meant. He said New Orleans had been denied waivers of the Stafford funding matching funds requirement. The media never pointed out, as Barack Obama whipped the crowd up, that he had voted against those waivers.
Part of the problem, if the media is honest, is that much of the press corp agreed with what Barack Obama was saying. That's why they did not consider it news.
After the Libya fiasco, Mitt Romney spoke and the media proclaimed he'd made a gaffe in his statement. No, there is a sizable portion of the nation that really does believe Barack Obama bowed to world leaders (he did and we have video of him doing it) and traveled around the world apologizing for America. But the media acted as if Mitt Romney had made a gaffe pointing these things out.
Time and again the media reports on gaffes and does not report on stories that not just conservatives, but people outside Washington and New York, are talking about. Time and again, the media decides something is so or something is not so and reports it as the media sees it even when a sizable portion of the country disagrees with them, whether it be abortion, gay marriage, global warming, war, poverty, Hurricane Katrina, Mitt Romney's campaign, Obamacare, and the list goes on and on and on.
The press corp often ridicules various factions in the country for being stuck in echo chambers oblivious to their own echo chamber from which they rarely escape to experience America as most Americans live it.