Sessions Moves to Make News Media a PR Department for President

Leaks to the legitimate news media are among the few tactics America currently has against the radical alt-Right Trump agenda. The people leaking (most of them) likely believe that releasing inside information is justified to counter the jerky descent (think of someone tumbling erratically down a steep bumpy cliff) into an authoritarian state never before seen in this country.

The news media needs to band together with a massive outreach effort to counter the label of “fake news.

Worse yet, and now more URGENT, is today’s warning from Attorney General Jeff Sessions that news/information leakers and their news media recipients/users will be prosecuted and punished.

Of course, there have always been guidelines, regulations, laws and judgments  regarding the use of anonymous sources and leaked information. The safety of American personnel and the safeguarding of important national security information needs to be respected.

However, Trump and his cabinet members are capable of onerous pronouncements and policies which run contrary to many (most) established protocols.

Whether Sessions intends to go after every leak–significant or not–is unknown. It should be expected that he will at least try to so as to control info coming from the White House and elsewhere and direct news narratives into favorable stories about the administration.

As I have long believed Trump is mostly egocentric (maybe psychotically so) and devoid of any core political beliefs. And although he has surrounded himself with some harmless sycophants (e.g. Ivanka), there are others–cabinet members, staff, business people, a few Congress members–with their own far-alt-right-to-fascist agendas who are now empowered to carry out those agendas. Trump is too ignorant or too enamored with them (and himself) to control or stop them in.

Civil liberties, the environment (meaning the ENTIRE planet), the economy, the health of U.S. citizens, issues of war and peace, freedom from HATE and so much more is now in jeopardy because some Americans wanted to return to some mythical good ol’ days (1950s? maybe even 1920s?) and others just believed an outsider businessman could create high-paying manufacturing jobs for them.

An outreach campaign by the news media has to be “outside” its own silos of supporters using billboards, direct mail and non-traditional placements of messages. This needs to begin immediately because Trump and his enabled supporters and administrators are already dreaming of a new America in which the traditional, legitimate news media is nothing but a PR arm of the Presidency.

MSM influence is Slip-sliding Away

A  PARADIGM  HAS  SHIFTED and the traditional news media will never return to the good old days of civil discourse in the marketplace of ideas. Professional and honest news people, regardless of their political inclinations, must now contend with a growing number of crazed or crooked posers and provocateurs. The marketplace has become so confused that many people, even those trying to, cannot discern the difference between real and fake news.

And while this is not be the first time news media have faced criticism from politicians, the current assault by the Trump administration and others exhibit overtones similar to those found as part of or prelude to repressive governments in less democratic countries.

Some news organizations (CNN, New York Times, MSNBC) are beginning to run ads promoting their vital Fourth Estate role in America.  HOWEVER, THERE IS AN URGENT NEED FOR A UNITED FRONT BY ALL TRADITIONAL, LEGITIMATE NEWS OUTLETS.

News industry companies and associations need to act now to reach every level of society and regain the respect and attention the Fourth Estate requires to remain viable in our democracy. All the changes the news media has experienced in the past decade in terms of delivery platforms, eyes-on-the-page and credibility are small compared to the catastrophic hammering it is taking now.  Although readers and viewers are growing in some areas, there is a real danger of losing credibility with vast swaths of demographics for years, possibly generations, to come.