GELFAND’S WORLD--A local CBS television outlet defined fake news last Friday when it featured a Trump rant as if it were legitimate.
In a story you can find on the CBS site titled "Trump Claims Democratic Party is 'Anti-Israel', 'Anti-Jewish" the announcer leads off with the words, "President Trump levied serious declarations about the Democratic Party, saying it has become an anti-Jewish party, and more."
His co-anchor followed: "This comes after what he described as a disgraceful House resolution vote condemning hate."
By itself, this introduction (lasting only a few seconds to be sure) was failed journalism because it treated Trump as if he were like other presidents, entitled to serious respect in his pronouncements. The problem here is that CBS news writers and editors are perfectly aware that Trump says whatever he wants without regard to its truth or falsity, and he does this all the time. So, to open a segment with a serious treatment of another Trump accusation goes pretty close to journalistic malpractice.
Note that this came from a network that has in its better moments analyzed Trump's dishonesty in detail through the work of Steven Colbert and his staff. Had Colbert taken up this particular Trump statement, he would have done it justice, pointing out where the mass of Jewish votes have been going in past decades and what party has been chosen by most Jewish lawmakers.
The CBS announcers then referred the remainder of the story to resident political reporter Dave Bryan, who treated the whole thing essentially as a "he said, she said" report: " . . . and the fingers are pointing in both directions between the president and the Democrats … "
This is what is called false balance. It's like finding one anti-vaccine proponent to argue whether children should receive tetanus shots, or one Nazi to argue on the side of the rioters in Charlottesville.
Dave Bryan went on to discuss the resolution in the House of Representatives that condemned hate, both antisemitic and anti-Muslim. This was the real core to the story, as it was a legitimate news item involving newly elected Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar, who had made comments (traditionally accepted as antisemitic) about American lawmakers being expected to hold loyalty to two different countries.
Perhaps my response has been sensitized by the news division failing to announce "Trump lies again!" on practically every day -- after all, they should be doing this if they want to uphold their own journalistic integrity.
Many of you will have heard the story about an Oregon family that refuses vaccination. Their young boy cut himself and within a few days, showed the unmistakable symptoms of tetanus. This is a particularly horrible disease, previously known as lock jaw, which would ordinarily result in a lingering, painful death. Luckily for this six-year-old, the emergency room doctors recognized the symptoms and started him on treatments that lasted more than a month and eventually ran up bills of around eight hundred thousand dollars.
The boy's parents refuse to bring him up to date on his immunizations. They wouldn't even consent to a second tetanus immunization.
What's curious and ironic about this story is that the parents allowed the boy to be treated fully for his infection, using all the wonders of modern medicine, but somehow the full misery of the situation did not seem to have budged them from their anti-vaccine position.
Trump's Budget Proposal Cuts Medicare
Even the Republicans in the Senate won't like this one.
But they have nobody but themselves to blame, since the Trump administration's tax cut on the wealthy has resulted in huge deficits. So as predictable as the sunrise, Trump's new budget proposal calls for cuts on domestic programs, federal agencies (a nine percent cut to the National Science Foundation), and Medicaid spending.
Of course, there is the obligate increase in military spending.
This time around, the Democrats who control the House of Representatives should be inserting a few judicious budget cuts into their own budget proposal. The Constitution provides for this.
(Bob Gelfand writes on science, culture, and politics for CityWatch. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)