Saturday, October 8, 2016

Dueling Leaks

Friday October 7th was a big day in the downward slide of our electoral politics.  Within hours of each other, we received not one, but two leaks perfectly timed to throw each candidate off his or her game in the midst of the final preparations for the make-or-break Sunday night duel.

So now we have Trump on a bus and email clues on HRC talks at Goldman. Not long ago the focus would be on gaffes. "He will be our next President unless he has a big gaffe in the debate or the campaign trail." After more than a year of Trump shockers, gaffes are so passe, but not so leaks.

Dependence on leaks is a direct result of "fair and balanced" news coverage. The logical progression goes like this:
-Objective reporting is defined as fair and balanced(FAB)
-FAB requires objective journalists to report facts without interpretation, context or meaning. The reason is that we are all voters.
-Voters make choices based on their political persuasion.
-Political persuasion necessarily makes a journalist too biased to report fairly without deferring to subject matter experts.
-Subject matter experts, one from each side of the debate, must be chosen.
-He said/She said talk-over denials and accusations are the result, which leads to dubious statements by the candidates that require fact-checking.
-Fact-checking turns into a whack-a-mole exercise. Some candidate statements are outright false, some fall into a gray area (hence numbers of pinocchios). Some are important. Others are not.
-Narrative coherence is lost
-Voters are left to their own devices to believe whatever they choose.

Leaks on the other hand provide irrefutable evidence.  (Never mind that tapes and emails could be doctored.) The big surprise is not the story told by the evidence. We all know what DJT is like. The surprise is the sudden emergence of the evidence that makes facing the truth, by the candidate, and especially by prominent supporters, more difficult.

Leaks give the objective journalist permission to report the truth in context - in the case of Trump, to say what he is really like, which we already could infer from all available evidence. Maybe not in a court of law to convict of a crime, but surely to judge fitness to be POTUS.

The fact that leaks are needed to prove what we already know demonstrates that the traditional reporting standards for objective journalism are obsolete.

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