Jozef Imrich, name worthy of Kafka, has his finger on the pulse of any irony of interest and shares his findings to keep you in-the-know with the savviest trend setters and infomaniacs.
''I want to stay as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all kinds of things you can't see from the center.''
What should the media do with President Trump’s false election claims?
What should the media do with President
Trump’s false election claims?
President Donald Trump
gives two thumbs up to supporters as he departs after playing golf on
Sunday. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)
For the past six months, the country
has been on edge as we led up to the 2020 election. But even now, as the
election is essentially over, the country cannot totally exhale.
We have 72 days between now and
inauguration day when Joe Biden is expected to be sworn in as the 46th
president of the United States. Buckle up because this ride will be bumpy.
There’s no indication that the
transition of power will go smoothly over the next two months. President
Donald Trump has taken a defiant tone, showing no signs of conceding while
ramping up his insistence that the election has been rigged. We expect to
see recounts and lawsuits, which are acceptable in our democracy. We also
expect to see plenty of baseless rhetoric and unproven conspiracy theories,
which are not acceptable.
So what role does the media play in how
the next two months will go?
In her latest piece, Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan
wrote of Trump: “He was a deeply abnormal president, but we
constantly sought to normalize him, treating his deranged tweets like
legitimate news and piously forecasting, every time he sounded the least
bit calm, that he was becoming ‘presidential.’”
She added, “From the beginning, TV
news far too often took his public rallies and speeches as live feeds,
letting his misinformation pollute the ecosystem.”
There is a danger of that happening
again. Based on how he has reacted so far, Trump seems likely to continue
floating his false theories, putting the media in an uncomfortable
Up until now, most news outlets have
tried to walk a tightrope — reporting on the president’s protestations
about the election, while attempting to point out that Trump’s assertions
are not rooted in fact or reality.
News broadcasters sound something
like this: “The president says the election is rigged. There is no proof
that is true.” We’ve heard versions of this on all networks for the past
But is that enough? Doesn’t there
come a point when repeating the president’s unproven claims, even while
debunking those claims, does damage? Doesn’t putting Trump’s bogus
allegations into the ether chip away at the trust in our elections even
though there is no reason to doubt the honesty of our elections?
On one hand, Trump is the president.
What he says and what he does right now is news, especially if his refusal
to participate in a transition of power impacts the nation. On the other
hand, just because Trump insists the election is a fraud doesn’t make it so
— and it doesn’t make it news. As The Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg told Brian
Stelter on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” “The salience of this
administration goes down by the day.”
But it is not going to disintegrate
News outlets have to think long and
hard about what truly is news at this point. It looks as if it will be
impossible to completely ignore everything the president says about the
election. When the media is forced to cover this part of the story, it must
keep repeating that his conspiracies are not true. But the media also
doesn’t have to cover Trump’s dangerous speech every time he tweets or
Trump has made his allegations known.
The media has reported on that. For the media to keep reporting on it every
single time Trump repeats it is no longer necessary.
If something changes — if Trump
concedes, or Trump offers something more than just wild, off-the-cuff lies
— then report it. Otherwise, ignore it and cover real news. Goodness knows
there’s plenty of it with coronavirus, the economy and so much more.
Wallace’s strong words
Fox News’ Chris
Wallace. (Courtesy: Fox News)
Fox News’ Chris Wallace had a couple
of moments over the weekend that need to be pointed out.
First, on Saturday, after Biden was
projected the winner of the 2020 election, Wallace commented on Trump’s
refusal to accept the results of the election.
“I think it’s going to become increasingly
untenable,” Wallace said on the air. “It’s one thing to be pursuing legal
challenges. It’s another to have this very heightened rhetoric that we know
is the way the president does business. I think it’s going to become
increasingly untenable because I think you’re going to start to see a lot
of the Republican leaders who are realizing their fortunes and their
futures are no longer so directly tied to Donald Trump are going to begin
to pull back.”
Wallace also pointed out how
“un-normal” Trump’s refusal to accept Biden’s victory is.
“It would seem to me that Republicans
on Capitol Hill have a role to play in this,” Wallace said. “A very few of
them have said, look, you pursue your legal options, but, you know, damn
down the rhetoric, like Mitt Romney, like Pat Toomey.”
Then he said this whopper:
“There are a lot who are just silent. And then there are some — I mentioned
Ted Cruz — you know who are like the Japanese soldiers who come out 30
years after the war — out of the jungle — and say, ‘Is the fight still
Here’s how NBC News’ Lester Holt
closed his “Nightly News” broadcast on Saturday, the day Biden was
projected to win the election:
“The handwriting has been on the wall
for days. Today, it was on the screen in bold letters and a check mark and
for the first time it could be said out loud: America has decided to go
another way. This kind of passion — the deep disappointment of the president’s
supporters, the celebratory dances of Joe Biden voters — should be allowed
their moment. As a country the campaign whipped us into a frenzy, too often
rooted in fear of the other. Today, we let it out. Both sides deserve a
collective primal scream over all we’ve been through.
“But tomorrow, just maybe we can
leave it on the field, wave away the smoke screens and confront what we
know to be real and urgent — a pandemic that is literally killing us and
sending too many into financial ruin. If we can reengage unity on anything,
let it be in the insistence that our leaders, both incoming and outgoing,
put us and our well being first.”
How did the media do?
In case you missed it, I had a
special edition of my Poynter Report newsletter on Saturday, applauding how
the media handled Election Day turned Election Week. If you missed it, you
can check it out here.
The ratings game
CNN was the big winner on what turned
out to be the final day of the election. From 3 a.m. Saturday morning until
3 a.m. Sunday morning, CNN was the most-watched cable news network. It drew
4.2 million viewers, which was more than MSNBC (3.01 million) and Fox News
(1.72 million). Interesting to note that Fox News was the most-watched
network of all on Tuesday’s Election Day, but then CNN mostly took over
Making the call
CNN’s Brian Stelter compiled exactly
when the networks made the calls on Saturday to project that Joe Biden
would be the next president.
CNN was the first at 11:24:20 a.m.
NBC was next at 11:25:15, followed by CBS at 11:25:45, and The Associated
Press and ABC at 11:26. Fox News made its call at 11:40 a.m.
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Big ESPN news
(AP Photo/Jenny Kane,
Connor Schell, the No. 2 in charge at
ESPN, will depart by the end of the year. The story was first broken by the New York Post’s
Andrew Marchand. ESPN announced just last week that it was
laying off 300 employees and not filling 200 other positions. Reports
indicate that Schell’s departure was amicable and stemmed from Schell’s
desire to pursue other work.
Schell oversees all of ESPN’s
content, including “SportsCenter,” “Monday Night Football” and its
documentary programming like “30 for 30,” which has produced
highly-acclaimed documentaries such as “O.J.: Made in America” and “The
Last Dance” series about Michael Jordan. Front Office Sports’ Michael McCarthy wrote,
“As EVP of content, Schell directly manages more people than anybody (at
ESPN) with the exception of (network president Jimmy) Pitaro.”
Marchand wrote, “Now, he will return
to his strength, which is creating content as opposed to managing people.”
Schell is close with The Ringer
founder Bill Simmons. There’s no word that they are going to partner up,
but just something to keep in mind.
What is sad news?
Alex Trebek at the
Daytime Emmy Awards in May 2019. (Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP)
The headline above is in the form of
a question to honor longtime “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek, who died Tuesday
at the age of 80. The cause of death was not released, but he announced he
had pancreatic cancer in March 2019.
“Jeopardy” tapes several weeks in
advance of the airing of shows, so Trebek-hosted shows will continue to run
through Christmas Day. His last tape of taping was Oct. 29. In announcing
Trebek’s death, “Jeopardy” said it is not announcing plans for Trebek’s replacement
at this time.
Trebek will end up having hosted more
than 8,200 shows. The New York Times’ Julia Jacobs rounded
up some of the tributes that came in on Sunday, including those from
legendary “Jeopardy” contestant Ken Jennings, musician John Legend,
late-night host Jimmy Kimmel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Want to see how The Washington
Post went through the stages of designing its front page for Sunday? Click here.
I’ve said it time and time
and time again, there isn’t a more informative segment on the news
each week these days than when CBS’s “Face the Nation” moderator
Margaret Brennan interviews former Food and Drug Administration commissioner
Dr. Scott Gottlieb about the coronavirus. Here’s the transcript from Sunday’s
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow
wasn’t able to be in the studio as Biden overcame Trump to become
president. She tweeted Friday evening that she
had come in contact with someone who had tested positive for COVID-19.
She said she had, so far, tested negative, but was going to
self-quarantine until it was safe to return to work. She did appear on
MSNBC over the weekend from her home.
Because she wasn’t on the
air during her normal time slot Saturday night, there was speculation
that Fox News had suspended Trump advocate Judge Jeanine Pirro. But a
Fox News spokesperson said in a statement: “The network ran election
coverage (Saturday) night and Jeanine Pirro will be back next week
along with regularly scheduled programming.”
Saturday was the best
traffic day ever in the history of Slate, and Sunday was on pace to be
the second-best day ever. The heavy traffic was led by a package
called “Goodbye,” in which staffers
essentially said good riddance to White House personalities such as
Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, Steven Miller, Mike Pence
and so on. The package already had more than 13 million pageviews and
was continuing to climb.