Jay Rosen explains the POTUS approach to the media

In his latest article at Pressthink, Jay Rosen explains how the deingration and dismissal of the media is a permanent feature of the Trump approach to governance, for a number of reasons which he explains in some detail.
Media employees and leaders who expect that he will suddenly smack his forehead one day in the near future and say “OMG I have made a terrible mistake by being mean to all those media folks – let me invite them to dinner at the White House so I can apologize” are living in cloud-cuckooland.
Trump’s entire strategy is to totally discredit the established media in order to promote only media channels that are beholden to him (step forward Breitbart), or to shift the entire focus of his communications towards direct communication with his support base, mostly using Twitter.
This is not exactly a new approach. GOP politicians have been doing this to varying degrees for a long time. Rick Perry, when running for re-election to the Governorship of Texas in 2012, persistently refused to meet with any of the Texas newspapers, most of whom endorsed his opponent, gave few interviews and almost no news conferences, and avoided debates as much as he could. Instead, he relied on his enormous fund-raising advantage to blanket the media outlets with his own adverts. Greg Abbott did much the same thing in 2016 against Wendy Davis, that time around he had an even bigger fund-raising advantage.
Distribution channel experts call this disintermediation. It has been happening in other industry sectors for decades (see the airline and travel industries, where travel agents are going out of business at a rate of knots as travelers deal direct with airlines, hotels, rental car companies etc.) If the media thought they were exempt from that trend, they clearly were not paying attention. All it needed was a political movement with the ability to either buy massive airtime on established media outlets (they don’t mind using the media channels for communication, they just don’t want any commentary or investigation), or a candidate or party with the ability to use free social media platforms as a direct communication tool. The ability to covertly flood social media channels like Twitter and Facebook with postings from fake accounts and bots has now been developed to a high degree in the last 2 years. The results can be seen easily today with analysis tools showing that 45% of Donald Trump’s Twitter followers are probably fake accounts or bots.
So, when it comes to election time, the GOP blankets the airwaves with paid adverts, and covert organizations flood social media with supportive posts and links from fake accounts and bots, while Donald Trump babbles and burbles away all the time on Twitter.
The result is likely to be the same.
The established media outlets can no longer obtain much of any airtime with the White House, and they still have not worked out what to do about it.
The media has to decide whether they want to be manipulated into playing by Trump’s rules or not. So far, all the indications are that they are unwilling to do what they should do; namely to stop attending briefings where the main content is a White House spokesperson whining about and excoriating the media for promoting “fake news”. Instead they need to be putting resources into the single most important activity that could change their image; investigative journalism. David Fahrenthold at the Washington Post has shown how to do it, with his relentless investigation of Donald Trump’s fake and bullshit charity donation trail.
A couple of dozen more people with Fahrenthold’s energy and resourcefulness might have uncovered a lot more well-researched facts by now. Instead, the media is still being played like the cheapest of cheap violins by a President whose only aim is to diminish their reputation down to something approaching zero. This is a classic rock-meet-hard-place dilemna. If the media repeats the Trump administration’s claims uncritically, a large number of people will regard them as spineless incompetents. If they critique the Trump administration claims, then Trump and his sycophants unleash a torrent of excoriation and abuse on social media. Most of the media outlets are unwilling to devote energy and time to refuting or dismantling the bullshit in a compelling way, and then telling the White House to go piss up a rope when they want props for a press conference whine-fest.
The clock is ticking. Another 2-3 years of this and the current generation of news networks will also be locked into a Dodo-like descent to extinction.


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