Reporting Trump’s first year – fascinating insight into journalists on the ropes

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I have a guilty secret.

Every so often, I retreat to Greggs for a Steak Slice, sausage roll, cup of tea and a read of last Saturday’s New York Times.

I get quite excited by the Anglo-American mixture of it all.

Why last Saturday’s New York Times? – I don’t hear you cry.

Well, it would be a bit OTT for me to have each day’s NYT delivered to me. So I have an arrangement with the local W.H.Smith’s whereby they hold each Saturday’s edition for me. Sometimes I get a bit behind with reading them. I caused some consternation recently when I took seven back copies to the Isles of Scilly to peruse on holiday. We were nearly into excess baggage territory. There was some fear that the ship might start taking in water as a result of the extra weight. But I do eventually read them.

Essentially, if you want to know what’s going on in the world, then read the New York Times. The sheer width and depth of articles they carry, on all manner of subjects, is staggering.

Anyway, the BBC have just finished airing an excellent series of documentaries which follow the NYT journalists and editors during the first year of Trump.

If you haven’t seen the series then it is worth watching it on BBC iPlayer where the last three episodes are available to view for the next week or so. The series is called “Reporting Trump’s First Year – The Fourth Estate”.

It is a thoroughly fascinating series which shows the team going through the process of reporting on Donald Trump as President. It sees them dealing with Trump’s attacks on “fake news” – of which the NYT is meant to be purveyor-in-chief.

Looking back on it, one is reminded how we are numbed by Trump. He does and says so many outrageous things that we have become quite inured to him.

That is dangerous.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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10 Comments

  • John Marriott 28th Jul '18 - 11:47am

    Trump has proved to be the motherload for impressionists on both sides of the Atlantic. The trouble is that the real thing is usually massively funnier than the impersonations! However, given the state of US politics I wouldn’t rule out a second term unless Mueller, Cohen and Stormy get to him first!

  • I think the most likely – by far – result of the 2020 American Presidential election is that Trump will get re-elected. The US economy is powering ahead – 4.1% GDP growth has just been announced. Almost entirely in my opinion due to Obama but that is a separate issue. Almost all that counts in getting re-elected is a good economy.

    In the meantime – the Democrats will almost certainly make progress in the midterm Congressional elections – as the party that does not hold the White House almost invariably does. Whether it will get to overall control is a mute point – they may well make the three gains they need for the Senate but possibly suffer some losses.

    It just MIGHT be that the Mueller probe will find something damning against Trump – we obviously don’t know until it reports. But to my mind at the moment it doesn’t look as if there is much to link Trump to collusion with the Russians – as Steve Bannon has said they had trouble colluding with the Republican National Committee – let alone the Russians.

    On “fake news” – we have comments in other thread about not believing everything you believe in the papers. And I doubt whether any Lib Dem believes that the British media gives a “true” view of the world as they see it.

  • Little Jackie Paper 28th Jul '18 - 1:54pm

    Like it or not Donald Trump has raised reasonable questions about the quality of the media (online and offline). Probably those questions have been kicking around for a long time – but they are sharper now. Admittedly I’m one of the extra-disappointed. Back in the mid-1990s a young and dumb me really thought that the internet would be a wonderful, democratising thing that would dumb the world up. I never thought it would be as bad as this. I have no idea what can be done about it, but let’s not kid ourselves.

    Comment journalism, of course, has a place as does serious investigation. But is what we have the media that we as a society at large wants – not likely.

    As it stands, I’d agree with an earlier comment, Trump probably will be reelected. Mueller will likely find nothing of great consequence.

  • John Marriott 28th Jul '18 - 2:23pm

    @Paul Walter
    Greggs, heh? Very ‘man of the people’. I would have thought you would be a ‘Prêt à Manger’ man! And the New York Times? Not likely to see that combination in our local Greggs – The Sun or Mail if you are lucky. Didn’t Gideon (aka George) buy his famous pasty in Greggs?

    But I digress. As I said in a previous thread, only when the US drags its electoral system into the 21st century from the 18th where it currently resides will they get a Leader and. Congress that more accurately reflect their demographics. Mind you, you could apply the same qualification over here as well.

  • Peter Martin 28th Jul '18 - 2:35pm

    @ Paul,

    Yep. I must becoming less anti-American in my old age because I like the NY Times too.

    I’d recommend Paul Krugman. Even though I don’t totally agree with him on everything, he is generally on the right lines. Like when he says:

    “Many of Europe’s problems come from the disastrous decision, a generation ago, to adopt a single currency.”

    I don’t believe the europhiles on this side of the pond have a good appreciation of just how bad that decision was.

    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/05/21/opinion/europe-euro-democracy-wrong.html

  • @Little Jackie Paper

    Please don’t believe the media take on the internet – or 90% of it. I think it an amazing blessing to be able to read both the New York Times and Brietbart online. The Daily Express and The Guardian. Every time I see or hear a fact I try and question it. James Robbins on the BBC recently said that relations between America and Britain were at an all-time low. Really? Worse than just after the war of independence? And went on to contradict himself in the same report. I keep thinking about “facts” on the BBC either from its contributors or reporters – and it is better than many – and even over the past few weeks it must run into the tens that are demonstrably factually untrue. In many more I think is there someone from the other side(s) on this discussion and often there is not. But the internet gives one amazing power to check and dispute facts and arguments and find new ones.

    No brief report – and all news reports are by their very nature – very brief – just a few hundred words – can give the whole picture. “Reality” is complex. Absolute poverty versus relative poverty, a mean average versus a median average are all valid ways of looking at and summarising a complex world.

    There is also a whole raft of amazing videos and information on the internet on science, technology, maths, and on and on. Many left wing news sites have sprung up – challenging the vast control that the right wing media had in this country.

    It is a complete and utter facility that there is some absolute objective truth out there.

    And of course humans use any tool to do “bad” things and “neutral” things – we are um.. human – but a vast, vast amount of good is being done by the internet and social media.

    The old media hate the new media – they have taken their lunch away. And if they hate the new media they absolutely detest Facebook. Although actually now sites like the Washington Post, NYT, The Guardian have worked out how to make money in this new world and are beginning to flourish again.

    No service or technology is perfect and they all have their faults and they all are used by imperfect humans sometimes for their bad ends. And news is about the bad things that happen in the world. But let’s also recognise what a brilliant, amazing, wonderful, awe-inspiring if sometimes frustrating and bad invention the internet is.

  • Although reference is made by contributors about similarities with America, we take them too lightly. We should not assume that just because our government is in a shambles there is no one in the wings with a game plan to exploit our instability. It is clear that our democracy is under attack. But then it always has been. Our modern world, which has a system commonly called capitalism, is based on regulation and clear separation of powers. We need to look at how we bring the internet under control, and improve the international regulation of commerce.
    Of course playing an active part in the EU would be a helpful start!

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 29th Jul '18 - 11:39am

    I haven’t found time to watch these yet and I’m gutted that the first episode is gone now. We were talking about them the other night and apparently it is absolutely brilliant so I will have to put some time aside to watch them.

    On your point about becoming inured to Trump, we also need to keep an eye on the awful things he does that don’t attract as much publicity. While we’re all being outraged about kids in cages, and the end of Roe vs Wade, he will be signing some executive order that will take away some sort of social or environmental protection.

  • The first episode does appear to be on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8djZgMBJCyo

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