Let's get this straight about Trump's indictment, before news media screws it up... again.
This morning, a dear friend and accomplished, professional colleague texted to tell me how unsettling it was to listen to a cable news channel talking about the Trump indictment and framing up the 2024 election again as a battle between normal parties and candidates. Nothing could be further from the truth. News, cable news especially, may just well end up being the poison arrow in the body of our American democracy.
If we are to keep our republic, it will require at a minimum, a handful of hard changes before the 2024, national election cycle, and not one of them is an easy fix. Let’s take a look at what those things are and commit to making the required upgrades. We don’t do this for left vs. right, but because if all Americans don’t commit to reforming the landmine-filled media landscape we live in, we cannot sustain American democracy.
The Trump era has acutely illuminated these vulnerabilities in our nation. As my adult children might say, “once you’ve seen what these vulnerabilities are, you can’t unsee them.” Trump’s indictment announcement yesterday is the starter’s gun, that starts the race between what we currently experience, and what we must do to keep America as what it was intended to be.
America as a democracy, hangs in the balance.
First and foremost, not all media is news, even if they put the word news in the title. For example, FOX News is rated by the best media evaluators as a conspiracy theory site, devoid of credibility. Their behaviour before Jan 6th was as Seditious as was Trump’s, and the Republican party. They are also complicit in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of US citizens, due to their willful and persistent broadcasts of COVID mis and disinformation. As recent depositions have shown in the Dominion voting machines case, they knew full well that they were lying to voters. Their behaviour was the same regarding their constant haranguing of viewers, with fake news about COVID.
FOX is but one of thousands of such sites online, on our screens and in our ears. Although the extreme right has the overwhelming majority of such sites, they do exist on the left as well. The truly frightening aspect of this phenomenon is that so many Americans believe this un-American, political and adversarial fodder.
US media, especially during the 2016, US election cycle portrayed the insanity of the Trump campaign as just another US election between parties and candidates, which was utterly false. The MAGA movement is not conservative. Even the most respected sites like the AP and REUTERS struggled in 2016. This cannot continue. The facts are known, regardless of whether one party will publicly acknowledge them or not. What the heck MSM, speak the truth and stop pandering to ad dollars. Are you willing to destroy democracy for another few ad subscriptions? It’s time for the media to stop patronizing the old adage, “if it bleeds, it leads.” If you report news, then do just that, not political advocacy.
It’s not a matter of censorship, a poorly understood concept by most Americans in the first place. If you report news, do your homework regarding vetting information. Respectable news typically does a great job of this but then… there’s about 80% (rough estimate) that refuses to do, due diligence. FOX knows the truth, but they also consciously make regular decisions to ignore the truth in their pursuit of $$$ and an insider seat at the political table.
That seat ensures scoops, inside influence and insider opportunities to ignore laws, policies and standards. This violates the values our nation was founded on, in a variety of ways. We put labels on movies and should do the same on media sites. NewsGuard does a pretty good job of this on Google searches with their little blue “nutrition tags that rate sources between 0-100% for credibility. Another I find of daily value is, Media Bias Fact Check.
Finally, in respect to media, it’s time to be honest about when a party ceases to be a political entity and becomes an extremist movement. The current version of the GOP and since the Trump candidacy has been a far-right extremist movement, controlled by the MAGA element. Any R vote on a ballot is in support of RWE, right-wing extremism for the simple reason that, it’s an extremist majority in charge of all decisions.
The next thing that we must do, and I mean every voter is to demand truth and speak up against conspiracy theories and dishonesty. The one thing, above all else that our constitution guarantees us is freedom, with very few limitations. The other thing that our founders expected of citizens was to be well and accurately informed. This has implications outside of what you read, watch and listen to.
Being well informed also means in regard to what was called Civics when I was in school. I am staggered when I read social media, often from people I know or that knew tangentially at some point in my life, at how completely ignorant they are of our laws and constitution. If you are listening to a politician, regardless of “side” why aren’t citizens speaking up when they lie about our constitutional rights? It’s simple, it’s because they don’t know the basics and find it easier to listen to someone tell them what they want to hear, rather than tell them the truth. Don’t tell us you care about freedom if you don’t understand what it means in our republic.
Of course, then you must do some other homework on issues. I become intensely frustrated when people tell me that it’s, “just too hard to find the truth.” Everyone who says this, can find the reviews for restaurants or which mechanic to use based on reviews but refuse to try and find truth about the very issues that impact everyone’s lives. This is why people refer to those addicted to their political identity, “sheeple.” Freedom means thinking for yourself, not allowing yourself to be manipulated by professional influencers.
Supporting our democracy is a team sport. If you allow politicians to tell you what they want you to hear rather than the truth, it’s mostly your fault. I know this is a tough fact to accept but we all have this weakness. It’s just how that humans are wired. Developing resilience requires an investment of time and a little work. Investigation has never been easier. We all have a high-speed computer in our hand most of the time. Phones do more now than the giant, room-sized computers we used for moon landings… use them.
The US national security community must do their job.
Finally, and in the name of fairness, I will tell you candidly and from a professional perspective, that the US government is failing us all, when it comes to defending our nation from foreign influence. This is my core specialty in uniform as part of the USSOCOM community, in and outside of multiple combat zones. The US at this time is relatively defenseless against foreign adversarial influence such as what Russia did to in the 2016 election cycle and going forward.
It’s not just Russia though, it’s also China, N. Korea, Iran, Israel and pretty much every other nation friend or foe. Influence is part of the national security landscape both offensively and defensively and at all levels. We as a nation have been failures at influence in support of our national security strategy for decades and it’s not getting better. In fact, it’s getting far worse due to the heavy influence of ineffective experts enriching themselves at the defense contracting, pig-trough. They sell what makes them money, not what we need. President Eisenhower warned us about them in his farewell address, in 1961. We didn’t listen.
In the US, the 2016 election and all others going forward has seen the Russians work in common with the US Republican party. This occurs wittingly in some cases and unwittingly in most cases. The most elite committee in Congress regarding intelligence is the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence or the SSCI. In over 960 pages in Volume 5 of their 3+ year deep dive into Russian election interference, they provide in excruciating detail how Russian and the Trump Campaign, including parts of the Republican party conspired to sway the election to Trump. This type of influence is still ongoing.
When we have no defense from outside influencers that cooperate with American entities like the GOP, our nation is at extreme threat. We are now in this position and the only way out is to, at a minimum, pay attention to today’s insights. Now, before everyone loses their mind that I’m being “partisan” I will also state that there should be limited trust for any party due to the lobbying of Corporate America, which looks after the profit line of the corporation, quite often at the expense of US citizens.
Gasoline prices before the 2022 midterms are the perfect example. Big oil allowed price hikes at the pump and called it all inflation in order to sway efforts to keep the GOP in power due to their tendency to not limit the industry with required environmental controls. Wall Street investors were also part of this effort and exclusively to increase profits while Americans trying to make a living suffered badly.
Today’s closing is short and potentially painful for many. When it comes right down to it, Americans are all responsible for the security of our republic. The trend of following politicians without doing your homework must stop. Allowing parties to tell you what to think, is your own personal abdication of the rights our founders risked all for. Don’t you think that a little investing in truth is a small price to pay, for all of the extraordinary benefits we have as Americans? If every single citizen is not willing to at least know truth, then we don’t deserve the republic that most of the world wishes to be a part of.
To bring this back to where I started, if you watch media or trust exclusively in your party, we run the risk of putting a traitor back into the White House. Regardless of which party you belong to, you owe it your family and your fellow citizens, to be a diligent citizen who understands the nation and knows how to look for truth. The more of us that fail our obligations of citizenship, imperils all of us. We did this in 2016, so let’s not do it again.