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On the media and crisis

mckee

We watch with slack-jawed disbelief as the unending gaggle of media – main stream, up-stream and other – completely swamp the 24 hour news cycle with the same subject, over and over. For way too long the media’s selection of the crisis de jour has been Russia’s Vladimir Putin in any direct activity in the United States, or any conceivable offshoot thereof. The scrutiny includes the principals of our new government and extends to all of the henchmen and hanger’s-on clear to the very top – into the oval office and upon the desk of our own old fool. The offshoots, also being thoroughly examined, include fibbing to any degree, money in all of its illegal permutations, and anybody just getting in the way.

All is the topic of legislative hearings by germane committees of the House and Senate, and all are on the plate of the special prosecutor. This amounts to picking over the bones of past events, which will take months before the pieces and parts will be identified and connected up sufficiently to draw any meaningful conclusions.

The absence of hard news or the existence of real evidence has not slowed down the media circus a whit. When they cannot find actual evidence or witnesses with knowledge to question, they interview each other and trade predictions and speculations back and forth with abandon. There are occasional interruptions for the snippet of a speech or press interview by somebody with actual knowledge, but save these few exceptions, the on-air time is overwhelmingly devoted to panel after panel of media notables interviewing each other.

Meanwhile, the world turns from one truly international catastrophe to another. There are the rumblings and endless fighting in Syria and Afghanistan, and the darkening clouds of war over Yemen and now Qatar. Trump has turned all of this over to the generals, and the generals are treating everything as a military problem. Nobody is paying attention. We are finding out about events in the press summaries and wrap-ups, with no examination of the why’s or wherefore’s.

The realities of Trump’s disastrous tour of the Middle East is beginning to spill forth. He is pressing Congress to approve a billion dollar arms deal with the Saudis despite strong, historical objection from the diplomatic interests, and mounting vociferous objection from the human rights crowd. Never mind that it will reverse what has been our policy for decades to move with great caution before providing arms to the Saudis. Nobody seems to care. The Saudis, believing they had our Old Fool in their pocket from the smarmy speech he delivered, jerked the rug out from under Qatar, a close ally of the U.S. and the location of a significant U.S. naval support facility and a major regional airbase. We are just now in the process of delivering an arms shipment to Qatar, including a passel of F-15 fighters. The whole works is rapidly turning into a roiling regional crisis, but nobody is paying attention. No one is listening.

Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia was obviously not cleared with the Secretary of State. It included a totally misguided diatribe against Iran, without mentioning that Iran had just re-elected a moderate leader, over significant objection of the Ayatollah and the hard liners, meaning huge prospects for improving future relations with the West. Our old fool slammed Iran, and continues to do so, without any consideration to the moderating government actions that may well stem from the renewed Rouhani regime. As should be obvious by now, stability in the region depends upon the development of stable, peaceful relations with Iran. Some cautious progress had been made in this direction under Obama; our old fool is doing his best to undo it all. Nobody seems to care.

In another jaw-dropping remark, he complemented Erdogan, the emerging dictator of Turkey, on the success of his obviously rigged election, as that country was continuing its apparent descent into totalitarianism. Turkey, still a member of NATO, is beginning serious overtures towards Putin’s Russia. The magnitude of international crises that is about to erupt because of these conflicts boggle; yet, nobody seems to be minding the store.

Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election in the U.K. with disastrous consequences to the Tories, and probably to her hold on government. All of this may have lasting effect on the U.K.’s exit from the European Common Market. The U.S. is more interested in the personal insults the Trump handed to the Mayor of London. Trump had omitted a vital reference to our commitment to NATO from the speech he delivered to the European powers. His three senior cabinet officials, State, Defense and NSA, thought they had a deal that he would include the reference, and he thumbed his nose at them – and the rest of NATO – and left it out at the last minute. In the uproar that followed, Trump had to spend hours walking back this omission and assuring all who would listen that we truly do support NATO; in the process, and in the fashion we have come to expect, he managed to wing the Chancellor of Germany, the Prime Minister of Belgium, the new President of France, and the Mayor of London. His once planned formal State visit to the U.K. is now on hold until the public reaction to this most recent faux pas dies down.

In other times, any of these issues would be white-hot and on the front burner of every cooker in the media. Today, however, the media fastened on the delicious aroma of scandal, money and criminal involvement swirling around the Trump and his cabal of sycophants, to virtually the exclusion of all else, as the cognoscenti happily dismantle the hyperbolic fancies of Russian intrigue and clandestine money laundries, predicting with gleeful fervor exactly how the special prosecutor will probably plunge into his tasks and begin hauling miscreants before grand juries any day now. The mere fact of anyone on the other side of the fence even talking with a lawyer has become breaking news.

There is nothing to be done about this, of course. The “media” is a headless fiction driven by a myriad of influences, and certainly beyond the control of any single set of individual interests. And in any event, the problem is really not the media, it is the fire-hose volume of mishaps, accidents, oversights, slip-ups, errors, and bone-head mistakes spewing forth from the paralyzed, incompetent and ill-prepared office of the supposed leader of the free world. There is no way to keep up with any of it, let alone try to force a triage upon the media to analyze it all and rank the issues from most to least.

Congress has abdicated all responsibility here; it has become petrified, mired in its own intransigence, and incapable of any significant action. The rest of government is equally ill-equipped to respond to any important question. Most have unqualified leaders at their helm and all are only half staffed, if that. Hundreds of critical undersecretary positions spread through every cabinet agency are vacant because the Trump has declined to fill the positions. The Whitehouse itself is staffed with witless sycophants and bickering amateurs. And even here, nobody seems to care.

When will it all change? When again will reason and common sense return to the media, and we will again see the actual critical stories of the day, appropriately rated, ranked and analyzed with true efficiency?

It’s three years, six months, three weeks and a few days until the inauguration of our 46th president, but then, who’s counting. Take a deep breath and relax. How could it get any worse?

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