NEWS AND OPINION:
Fox News anchorman Chris Wallace recently received the Founders Award for Excellence in Journalism from the International Center for Journalism, a 33-year-old organization based in the nation’s capital which promotes better news media practices. Mr. Wallace’s award was a big deal. So were his closing remarks, made before an audience of 600 people, at an event moderated by CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer.
“If President Trump is trying to undermine the press for his own calculated reasons, when he talks about bias in the media — unfairness — I think he has a point,” Mr. Wallace told the crowd, citing melodramatic, alarmist headlines from The New York Times, CBS News, and CNN which suggested Mr. Trump and his administration were “divorced from reality” while Americans faced “an unimaginable scenario,” among other things.
“I’m sure some of you hear those comments and think they’re spot on. But ask yourself honestly. Do they belong on the front page of the paper, or as the lead of the evening news? Here’s what I think is going on. I believe some of our colleagues — many of our colleagues — think this president has gone so far over the line bashing the media it has given them an excuse to cross the line themselves. To push back. As tempting as that may be, I think it’s a big mistake. We are not players in the game. We are umpires — or observers — trying to be objective witnesses to what is going on. That doesn’t mean we’re stenographers. If the president or anyone we’re covering says something untrue or does something questionable, we can and should report it,” Mr. Wallace told his audience.
“But we shouldn’t be drawn into becoming players on the field, trying to match the people we cover in invective. It’s not our role. We’re not as good at it as they are. And we’re giving up our special place in our democracy. There’s enough to report about this president that we don’t need to offer opinions or put our thumb on the scale. Be as straight and accurate and dispassionate as we first learned to be as reporters,” observed the veteran newsman concluded.
“Thank you for letting me get some things off my chest,” Mr. Wallace added.
TRUMP WRANGLES THE PRESS
President Trump has “brought the political media class to its knees,” writes Peter Hamby, a columnist for Vanity Fair and currently the host of “Good Luck America,” a feature on Snapchat.
“Trump and his team understand that for the political press, the only thing that matters is what’s happening right now, not yesterday. And whether through his tweets or his surrogates in the briefing room, the president has been largely able to bait reporters into playing his game, because he knows what makes them tick,” Mr. Hamby says.
“He’s also a product of 1980s New York tabloid culture who understands how political journalists think and operate. And whether he learned by intent or accident, Trump is endlessly capable of exploiting the personal insecurities, professional incentives, and meager attention spans of political reporters. What’s even scarier: the Trump administration seems to understand our fractured media landscape better than we in the political media do.”
WAIT, AMERICANS AGREE ON SOMETHING
For the first time ever, the majority of Americans say the campaign against the Islamic State is going well, reports a new Pew Research Center poll which finds that 69 percent of the public now say they approve of the U.S. military campaign against Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria — and 55 percent say it is going well.
The normal partisan divide is not as pronounced as usual either. Among Republicans, 82 percent approve of the military campaign, along with 63 percent of Democrats. Two thirds of Republicans and half of Democrats say the effort is going well in the poll of 1,504 U.S. adults, conducted Oct. 25-30.
A MESSAGE TO MCCONNELL
Top officials in the Trump administration still struggle to staff major positions in their agencies, their efforts obstructed by Democratic lawmakers. The situation is dire in the Interior Department, where four significant nominees have been on hold for months. “As a former Navy SEAL, this is not the type of hostage situation I am accustomed to,” advised Secretary Ryan Zinke in a letter to Sen. Richard Durbin, Illinois Democrat.
“It is the hostage situation that is taking place all across the federal bureaucracy. The Democrats consider federal agencies to be their rightful property, and they have no intention of allowing a Republican president to exercise the constitutional powers of his office,” says John Hinderaker, a columnist for Powerline.com. “The Democrats take the position that President Trump is not entitled to exercise the powers of his office. Here, as in many other instances, the Senate minority is holding nominees hostage to its demand that Obama administration policies not be changed. Barack Obama gets to be president forever, apparently.”
Talk of a shadow government has been afoot for quite some time. Mr. Hinderaker now appears ready for some action.
‘This obstructionism is unprecedented in American history. The question is, what are Mitch McConnell and the other alleged leaders of the Republican majority going to do about it?” asks Mr. Hinderaker. “Like many others, I have just about come to the conclusion that Congressional Republicans are worthless. Time is running out for McConnell and his colleagues to show us that our votes and our financial support for Republicans haven’t been wasted. And please: don’t lecture us on the hallowed traditions of the Senate. Those traditions have been blasted to smithereens by the Democrats. This is a war, Senator McConnell, and if you are not interested in fighting it, then we need to find someone who is.”
POLL DU JOUR
• 43 percent of residents in 11 Southern states says memorials to Confederate Civil War soldiers should be left “where they are”; 19 percent of black residents and 50 percent of white residents agree.
• 25 percent of residents overall say the memorials should be left alone, but an explanatory plaque added; 12 percent of black residents and 29 percent of white residents agree.
• 25 percent of residents overall say the memorials should be moved to a museum; 50 percent of black residents and 17 percent of white residents agree.
• 5 percent of residents overall say the memorials should removed completely; 17 percent of black residents and 2 percent of white residents agree.
• 3 percent overall were unsure; 2 percent of black residents and 1 percent of white residents agree.
Source: A Winthrop University poll of 830 U.S. adults living in of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia conducted Oct. 22- Nov. 5.
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