The media vs. Trump

Michael Goodwin:

This month marks the two-year anniversary of one of the most important articles ever written on journalism. On Aug. 7, 2016, after Donald Trump formally secured the Republican nomination and the general election was underway, New York Times media columnist James Rutenberg began with a question:

“If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies, that he cozies up to anti-American dictators and that he would be dangerous with control of the United States nuclear codes, how the heck are you supposed to cover him?”

Under the Times’ traditional standards, the right answer is that you wouldn’t be allowed to cover any candidate you were so biased against. But that’s not the answer Rutenberg gave.

Instead, quoting an editor who called Hillary Clinton “normal” and Trump “abnormal,” Rutenberg suggested “normal standards” didn’t apply. He admitted that “balance has been on vacation” since Trump began to campaign and ended by declaring that it is “journalism’s job to be true to the readers and viewers, and true to the facts, in a way that will stand up to history’s judgment.”

I wrote then that the article was a failed attempt to justify the lopsided anti-Trump coverage in the Times and other news organizations. It was indeed that — and more, for it also served as a dog whistle for anti-Trump journalists, telling them it was acceptable to reveal their biases. After all, history would judge them.

Weeks later, Dean Baquet, the Times’ executive editor, told an interviewer the Rutenberg article “nailed” his thinking and convinced him that the struggle for fairness was over.

“I think that Trump has ended that struggle,” Baquet boasted. “I think we now say stuff. We fact-check him. We write it more powerfully that it’s false.”

Because the Times is the liberal media’s bell cow, the floodgates were flung open to routinely call Trump a liar, a racist and a traitor. Standards of fairness were trashed as nearly every prominent news organization demonized Trump and effectively endorsed Clinton. This open partisanship was a disgraceful chapter in the history of American journalism.

Yet the shocking failure of that effort produced no change in behavior. After the briefest of mea culpas for failing to see even the possibility of a Trump victory, the warped coverage continued and became the media wing of the resistance movement.

Which is how we arrived at the latest low moment in journalism. This one involved the more than 300 newspapers (including The Post) that followed The Boston Globe and, especially his accusation that they are “the ­enemy of the people.”

The high-minded among the media mob insisted they were joining together to protect the First Amendment and freedom of the press. In fact, the effort looked, smelled and felt like self-interest and rank partisanship masquerading as principle.

True to their habit, most of the papers expressed contempt for the president and some extended that contempt to his supporters.

Nancy Ancrum, the editorial-page editor of The Miami Herald, told Fox News her paper joined the effort without any hope of changing the minds of Trump supporters because “they are just too far gone.”

Imagine that — 63 million Americans are written off because they disagree with the media elite’s politics. Echoes of Clinton’s “deplorables” comment ring loud and clear.

I agree that Trump is wrong to call the media the “enemy of the people” and wish he would stick to less inflammatory words. His ­favorite charge of “fake news” makes his point well enough without any hint that he favors retribution on individual journalists.

But I am also concerned that media leaders refuse to see their destructive role in the war with the president. Few show any remorse over how the relentlessly hostile coverage of Trump is damaging the nation and changing journalism for the worse.

One obvious consequence is increased political polarization, with many media outlets making it their mission to denounce Trump from first page to last, day in and day out. Studies show 90 percent of TV news coverage is negative and the Times, Washington Post and CNN, among others, appear addicted to Trump ­hatred as if it is a narcotic.

This lack of balance permits little or no coverage of any of his achievements. How many people, for example, know about the employment records shattered by the jobs boom unleashed by Trump’s policies?

Black unemployment stands at 5.9 percent, the lowest rate on record. For Latinos, it is 4.5 percent, also the lowest on record. For women, it’s the lowest rate in 65 years and for young people, it’s the lowest since 1966.

Those statistics mean millions of people are getting their shot at the American dream. How can that not be newsworthy?

Rest assured that if Barack Obama had achieved those milestones, they and he would have been celebrated to the high heavens.

Yet when it comes to Trump, nothing is ever good. Having decided he is unfit to be president, most news groups act as propagandists, ignoring or distorting facts that contradict their view of him.

While media manipulation hurts Trump’s popularity, there is a second, ironic impact: The skewed coverage is doing even more damage to public trust in the media itself.

A Gallup/Knight Foundation survey of 1,440 panelists earlier this year found adults estimating that “62 percent of the news they read in newspapers, see on television or hear on the radio is biased” and that 44 percent of “news” is inaccurate.

Separately, Axios and SurveyMonkey polled nearly 4,000 adults in June and found that 70 percent believe mainline news organizations report as news things “they know to be fake, false or purposely misleading.”

Among Republicans and GOP-leaning independents, an astonishing 92 percent harbor that distrust, as do 53 percent of Democrats.

And get this: Two-thirds of those who believe there is rampant false news say it usually happens because journalists “have an agenda.” Clearly, the distrust is not limited to Trump supporters.

These numbers reflect an urgent crisis of confidence in the press. And it’s getting worse.

A Gallup survey three years ago found that 40 percent trusted the media; two years ago, the trust meter declined by 8 points, to 32 percent. Now even that low bar looks like the good old days.

Yet instead of soberly examining their conduct, most in the media ratchet up the vitriol, apparently believing that screaming louder and longer will lead the public to hate Trump as much as they do.

But as the surveys show, their bias is a boomerang. With media behavior undermining public trust more than anything Trump says or does, a return to traditional standards of fairness and a separation of news from opinion are essential.

Jeff Jacoby adds:

Last week more than 400 newspapers nationwide responded to a call by The Boston Globe to publish editorials in defense of freedom of the press, and to explain why the news media, far from being, in President Trump’s malicious phrase, the “enemy of the people,” is one of the foremost guarantors of the people’s liberty.

I’ve written about Trump and the press before, both to caution against an anti-Trump feeding frenzy and to warn of the danger in a presidential war against the press . Here I want to focus on something else — the notion, especially widespread on the right these days, that freedom of the press is for “unbiased” news coverage, not for journalism that is unfair or hostile to the president.

An Ipsos poll taken earlier this month found that 26% of Americans — and 43% of Republicans — believe that “the president should have the authority to close news outlets engaged in bad behavior.” In a Quinnipiac poll , also released this month, 26% of voters agreed that “the news media is the enemy of the people.” Among Republicans, an actual majority, 51%, agreed with that statement.

It is hard to overstate how radically un-American such views are. Public disenchantment with the press, and complaints by officials that the press treats them unfairly, are as old as the press itself. But whatever people think of the media, the question of their right to publish what they please was settled when the First Amendment to the Constitution was ratified in 1791: “Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press . . .”

Nothing in the language of the Amendment makes freedom of the press contingent on objectivity, or popularity, or public approval. Such a condition would never have occurred to the Constitution’s framers, because the press in their day was anything but (to coin a phrase) fair and balanced. Newspapers made no pretense of detachment — quite the opposite.

In 1800, for example, Samuel Morse of Danbury, Conn., publisher of the Sun of Liberty newspaper, readily flaunted his support for Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic-Republican Party. He was opposed to the Federalists led by John Adams, and saw no need to hide the fact. “A despicable impartiality I disclaim,” he wrote. “I have a heart and I have a country — to the last I shall ever dedicate the first.”

By that point, the tradition of a freewheeling, no-holds-barred, decidedly partisan press was well-established. On my way to the Globe’s office each day, I pass the spot on Court Street in downtown Boston where James Franklin, the publisher of the New England Courant (and the older brother of Benjamin Franklin), had his printing presses. Franklin’s Courant got into a famous battle in 1721 with the Massachusetts Puritan leader Cotton Mather over the best way to treat smallpox, which was then ravaging the colony.

As Matthew Price wrote in a Globe essay in 2006, “Franklin made hell for Mather with a potent combination of slander and innuendo. Mather shot back that the Courant was a ‘Flagitious and Wicked Paper.’” (That was Puritan-speak for “fake news.”)

My point isn’t that the openly, even brutally, partisan press culture of the 18th and 19th centuries is better or worse than the ideal of journalistic impartiality that began to take hold during the Progressive Era early in the 20th century. It is that when the First Congress and the states enshrined in the First Amendment an adamantine prohibition on “abridging the freedom of . . . the press,” they were protecting the raucous, argumentative, ideological, often vicious journalism of their day. Freedom of the press, like freedom of speech, is meaningless if it only protects decorous messages and inoffensive expression that ruffle nobody’s feathers.

News organizations — and their customers — don’t need the Constitution to shield anodyne, noncontroversial journalism. If newspapers restricted themselves to printing stories that the president liked, what would be the point of newspapers? If Fox News or MSNBC broadcast commentary that challenged no one’s partisan preferences, what would be the point of watching?

“If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other, it is the principle of free thought,” wrote Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. in 1929. “Not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.”

Only people profoundly and alarmingly ignorant of Americans’ constitutional liberties could believe that presidents should have the right to shut down publications “engaged in bad behavior.” The proper term for such “bad behavior” is a free press, and it is among the shining glories of America’s constitutional democracy.

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Science fiction and today’s reality

Science fiction novelist Travis Corcoran won the Libertarian Futurist Society‘s Corcoran Award for his novel The Powers of the Earth. His acceptance speech included:

Eric S Raymond said it best: “Hard SF is the vital heart of the field”. The core of hard science fiction is libertarianism: “ornery and insistent individualism, veneration of the competent man, instinctive distrust of coercive social engineering”.

I agree; science fiction is best when it tells stories about free people using intelligence, skills and hard work to overcome challenges.

This vision of science fiction is under attack by collectivists, and hard SF and libertarian SF are being pushed out of publisher lineups and off of bookstore shelves.

Very well. We have intelligence, we have skills and we’re not afraid of hard work. Let’s rise to this challenge!

The Powers of the Earth is a novel about many things.

It’s a war story about ancaps, uplifted dogs, and AI fighting against government using combat robots, large guns, and kinetic energy weapons.

It’s an engineering story about space travel, open source software, tunnel boring machines, and fintech.

It’s a cyberpunk story about prediction markets, CNC guns, and illegal ROMs.

It’s a story about competent men who build machines, competent women who pilot spaceships, and competent dogs who write code.

It’s a novel that pays homage to Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, which in turn pays homage to the American Revolution.

. . . But the historical inspiration for the novel was not, actually, the American Revolution. It’s the founding of the Icelandic Free State almost a thousand years earlier. The difference is subtle, but important.

The American Revolution was an act of secession: one part of a government declaring itself independent and co-equal, and continuing to act as a government. The establishment of the Icelandic Free State is different in two important particulars. First, it did not consist of people challenging an existing government, but of people physically leaving a region governed by a tyrant. And second, the men and women who expatriated themselves from the reign of Harald Fairhair did not create a government – they wanted to flee authoritarianism, not establish their own branch of it!

Thus we get to one of the most important themes of The Powers of the Earth and its sequel, Causes of Separation: the concepts of Exit, Voice, and Loyalty. The tri-chotomy was first codified in an essay—titled “Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States”—by economist Albert Hirschman in 1970.

An aside: I love that this essay was penned while Americans walked on the moon.

Hirschman argued that when a vendor or government fails to deliver, people can either remain loyal, can speak out within the system, or can exit the system.

The problem we Americans have in 2018 is that there is no more frontier. Like the engineers in Christopher Priest’s “The Inverted World”, we moved west until we hit an ocean, and that has been our doom.

When there is a frontier, it is impossible to deny that the pie is growing. Want a farm? Go hack one out of the forest. Want a house? Go build one.

Once the frontier is gone, value can still be created ab initio. The pie is not fixed. For the price of a cheap computer you can create a novel or a software package. With a $100 video camera you can be a garage Kubrick. With a free Craigslist ad you can be a dog-walking entrepreneur.

. . . But the closing of the frontier made it easier for the collectivists to argue that the pie is fixed. And—worse yet—it made it impossible for the rest of us to get away.

We’d all love to live in David Friedman’s polycentric legal system, Robert Nozick’s meta-utopia, Moldbug’s patchwork, or Scott Alexander’s archipelago – a place where each of us could live by rules we choose, and people who preferred another set could live by those… but we can’t, and that’s for one reason and one reason alone: the collectivists who can’t bear to let anyone, anywhere, be ungoverned.

Totalitarian ideologies – Nazism, Communism, Islamofascism, Progressivism – all subscribe to the Mussolini quote “All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state.”

The Nazi sees any area not under Nazi control as a threat.

The communist sees any area not under communist control as a threat.

The Islamofascist sees any area outside of Dar al Islam as Dar al-Harb—a populace to be subjugated.

Collectivists sees anything not under collectivist control as a threat—and as an opportunity.

A threat, because areas not under collectivist control always work better. It is no accident that just as the Soviets jammed broadcasts from the west, Nazis outlawed American music, Chinese built a Great Firewall, so too do progressives shadow-ban free voices on Twitter and Facebook and expel people from conventions.

An opportunity, because of what totalitarians do when they see a patch of freedom: they try to take it over. “All within, nothing outside”.

When the patch of freedom is a state, we get the long march through the institutions, as outlined by communist Antonio Gramsci and refined by communist Rudi Dutschke. First they become teachers, then they influence the students, then they take over the courts . . . and then it’s not too long until some O’Brien is holding up four fingers to some Winston Smith, crushing out the last of the wrongthink.

When the patch of freedom is a subculture the mechanism is different—it’s discussed in the brilliant essay “Geeks, MOPs, and sociopaths in subculture evolution” by David Chapman.

One core attribute of totalitarians is that they don’t create, they steal. And because they steal, they are both confused by and hate those who do create. As Barrack Obama said “You didn’t build that.” As the internet meme says: “You made this? <pause> I made this.”

Since the first Worldcon in 1939 science fiction has been a libertarian territory under attack from authoritarians. Futurian Donald Wollheim was a communist, and argued that all of science fiction “should actively work for the realization of the . . . world-state as the only . . . justification for their activities”.

Wollheim failed with his takeover in 1939—he was physically removed from Worldcon—but he started a Gramscian long march through the institutions, and it worked. In the current year conventions, editors, and publishing houses are all cordy-cepted. The sociopaths have pushed the geeks out and have taken over the cultural territory.

“You made this? <pause> I made this.”

When the state tries to take your home, they come with guns, and you have to fight them with guns, if at all.

When a subculture tries to take your home, they come with snark and shame and entryism . . . and you fight them by making better art.

The bad news for us libertarians is that the cities we built have fallen. The publishers? Gone. The bookstore shelves? Gone.

But what of it? We have Amazon, we have print on demand, we have Kickstarter.

And, most importantly of all, we have the vital heart, the radiant core of science fiction: we can tell great stories about ornery individualism, about competent men and women using skills and hard work to overcome challenges. This is the one thing the collectivists can never steal from us, because it is antithetical to their nature.

There is not an ocean in front of us, dooming us to captivity—there is only sky. The frontier is still open.

Onward!

Four years ago and last week

Gov. Scott Walker said last week that he is likely to start out the gubernatorial race behind.

There has been concern in Republican circles about the larger turnout for Democrats than Republicans in last week’s primary. And Republicans certainly need to get out and get out the vote.

Keep in mind, though, that (1) Democratic turnout may well have included people who intend to vote Republican in November but voted Democrat because of (2) the gubernatorial race and because (3) they intended to vote for whoever won the U.S. Senate Republican primary.

For those who panic about polls three months before an election, read this from last week and this from November 2014.

 

About us “enemies”

Ripon Commonwealth Press publisher Tim Lyke:

You know why Ripon claims to be the actual birthsite of the Republican Party?

The name.

The “Republican” label was suggested to Alvan Bovay by a newspaper editor.

In 1850 Bovay moved with his family from Utica, N.Y., to Ripon, Wis., a community comprised of 13 houses. Under his leadership, “Bovay’s addition” grew as he practiced law, co-founded a college and transformed his tiny town into a major bulwark against the spread of slavery.

In 1852 he returned to New York, where he informed New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley of his plans to start a new party. Excited by his pal’s plans, Greeley recommended Ripon’s movement be dubbed the “Republican” party.

So there you go.

An ink-stained wretch gave a name to the abolitionist party rooted in that little white schoolhouse off Blackburn Street.

Greeley’s role is but a thread in an American tapestry whose fabric is bound by journalists sharing facts and shining lights to make the powerful accountable to the people.

This is as well publicized as Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein going door-to-door to ask close-lipped Committee to Re-Elect the President staffers how campaign contributions were ending up in a White House-controlled slush fund.

It’s also as local as our editor Ian Stepleton creating three-ring binders to organize invoices and escrow account disbursement requests he collected to show Ripon taxpayers how their $6 million were frittered away by a Milwaukee attorney to pay his own law firm; analyze Midwest pizza/pasta bars; research Ripon traffic patterns; make a down payment on brew-pub equipment; hire someone to visit the nation’s top spas; and pay two consultants  to read books about women’s shopping habits.

Because we have elected an egotist-in-chief who surrounds himself with sycophants reinforcing his belief that rules don’t apply to him personally, professionally or legally, he brands journalists of all stripes who report on his actions as the “enemies of the American people” who are “dangerous and sick” purveyors of “fake news.”

Attacking reporters is a bipartisan sport. Bernie Sanders calls them “corporate media.” Hillary Clinton decries their “shoddy reporting.” And who said, “My instinct is everybody hates [the] media right now?”

Barack Obama.

People who buy ink by the barrel have thick skin.

Many realize that some of their wounds are self inflicted, given the shortened news cycle, the blurring of news reporting and analysis, and their bull-headed inability to admit that bias and error infect their reporting because they are human.

But news consumers?

The day 50+1 percent believe that the press is their adversary is the day a pillar of democracy will topple, flattening the governed under the unchecked weight of those who  govern with impunity and immunity.

Washington Post Publisher Ben Bradlee was called names we can’t print when he dared publish the truth about Watergate and later, the U.S. role in expanding the Vietnam War.

I was honored a few years ago to meet this tenacious newspaperman, who history and Hollywood have long since vindicated.

Power corrupts even the best leaders.

That’s why James Madison realized government needed independent voices to check its worst instincts.

If America is at war with that concept, then we deserve whatever authoritarian we elect to unilaterally destroy our Republican party, our nation and our world order.

The press can be fallible, ignorant, sloppy, sensationalistic, exploitative, rude, profane, irresponsible.

And when it falls short, readers and viewers can take it to task by changing channels or letting their subscription lapse.

But when the government falls short, the public may never know it if the press are silenced by a president who divides the nation by stomping on those who refuse to kiss his feet.

Then the new slaves will be the American people.

Where is the next Alvan Bovay who will rise up to free people being enslaved by lies, insults and ignorance?

Presty the DJ for Aug. 20

Today in 1965, the Rolling Stones released the song that would become their first number one hit, and yet Mick Jagger still claimed …

Today in 1967, the New York Times reported on a method of reducing the noise recording devices make during recording. The inventor, Ray Dolby, had pioneered the process for studio recordings, but the Times story mentioned its potential for home use.

Ray Dolby, by the way, is no known relation to the other Dolby …

Today in 1987, Lindsey Buckingham refused to go out on tour with Fleetwood Mac for its “Tango in the Night” album, perhaps thinking that the road would make him …

The band probably told him …

… but look who came back a few years later:

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Aug. 20”

Presty the DJ for Aug. 18

How can two songs be the number one song in the country today in 1956? Do a Google search for the words “B side”:

(Those songs, by the way, were the first Elvis recorded with his fantastic backup singers, the Jordanaires.)

Today in 1962, the Beatles made their debut with their new drummer, Ringo Starr, following a two-hour rehearsal.

Continue reading “Presty the DJ for Aug. 18”

“The BEST MUSIC … ALL SUMMER LONG!”

Back when WLS radio in Chicago was a rock station that could be heard over most of the nation, during the summer WLS would run a top-of-the-hour jingle that started with the headline and then the singing of “Music Radio, WLS, Chicago!’

Then would be played what Inside Radio writes about now, referring to Portable People Meters, a measure of radio or TV audience:

All indications point to another battle between classic hits and classic rock to be crowned the Format of The Summer of 2018. June and July PPMs show what has become an annual trend: As the temperature rises, so do ratings for the two formats. In June the classic hits format saw its highest 6+ share (5.9) in PPM markets since Nielsen began tracking national format ratings. Classic rock has also begun its share ascent, moving from a 4.9 share in the first five months of the year to a to a 5.2 in June. The Format of the Summer is based on the format with the most uplift in audience between June and August, compared to the first five months of the year. Classic rock has been named the summer’s fastest-growing format for the past two years, while classic hits took the title in the two years prior, 2014 and 2015. …

Inside Radio caught up with a number of programmers specializing in these gold-based formats to see why the heat brings the ears to classic hits and classic rock stations over the summer months. “Classic rock has always been a ‘windows in the car down, hair blowing in the wind, singing every word loudly, taking you back nostalgically to a great point in your life’ kind of format,” explains WCSX Detroit PD Jerry Tarrants. The longer summer days, he says, increase TSL from the station’s P1’s. That, along with an influx of tune-in from P2 and P3 listeners, “certainly works to our advantage.” he said.

Summertime activities also lead to more tune-in opportunities. Cumulus Media VP/Programming classic hits Brian Thomas notes, “People are outside, at the beach, on the boat or having a BBQ and love to hear the classic hits they know. All the songs are familiar.”

Adds Scott Jameson, VP/classic rock for Cumulus, “Many markets have limited warm weather seasons, so it’s a great time to activate the audience on many levels. When you add it up, the energy and activity of the summer many times translates to higher ratings.”

Jim Ryan, classic hits formatcaptain at Entercom, doesn’t believe listeners flock to classic hits or classic rock stations simply because of the summer months, but he does think that “they are more inclined to stay with the format in the warmer months.” Expanding upon Jameson’s thoughts about parts of the country that get all four seasons, Ryan added, “Between November elections and winter snowstorms, there is more of a need to sample news radio stations and those are our people.”

Without a doubt, the summer months change people’s perspective. Long summer days turn into warm summer nights and radio serves as an ideal companion.

“I try to drive tempo more in the warmer months because people want the music on the radio to reflect their mood,” Ryan says. “When someone is up and happy they are more inclined to turn up and sing along with songs like ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ rather than ‘Who’s Crying Now.’” Thomas agrees: “The audience wants to have fun. Bring on the party.”

Jameson sees a difference in the mindset of the audience during summer, “particularly in Midwest and northern markets where warm weather doesn’t last long,” he explains. “With kids out of school and parents looking for things to do, rock formats provide a great soundtrack for a variety of activities.”

The summer months, with their built-in long holiday weekends – Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day – lend themselves to specialty programming that fits in nicely with the classic hits/rock formats. “I advise the classic rock stations I work with to develop creative ways to re-package the format using these holidays as a backdrop,” Jameson tells Inside Radio. “Gold-based stations don’t have the luxury of exposing new music, so we need to find clever ways to allow old music to sound fresh again. Whether it’s a ‘Rock n’ Roll 500’ over Memorial Day or ‘Four on the Fourth,’ it lets the format breathe a bit and listeners love the various themes.”

Thomas says “specialty weekends bring in big audience for classic hits. We see this in every market where the station that does a Memorial Day Top 500 scores big.”

Tarrants likes to keep the specialty weekend themes going throughout the year, not just when the temperature gets above 80 degrees. “In Michigan we experience such significant changes in seasonal climate it allows us some good opportunities to emotionally charge our listeners with some creative imaging all year,” he explained. “We do as much fall/winter seasonal pieces as we do summer.”

Besides theme weekends, Ryan brings back the tempo of the music and how it shifts from season to season. “In every category in my music scheduling program, you will find ballads on top,” Ryan said. During the warm weather months, he finds himself “skipping over those big time… Save those ballads for a rainy Monday night.”

Thomas, who previously programmed WCBS-FM before joining Cumulus, says, “We have joked that once it hits 70 degrees in Chicago or 75 when I was in New York we don’t play anymore slow songs, especially on the weekends.” This is something he has seen AC stations do as well, with “no slow songs weekends.”

Tarrants adds, “Musically when the weather breaks in the spring, I will groom the library… throttling back the darker songs and accelerating the brighter fun-filled themed titles.”

The Milwaukee radio market proves this point. In the July Nielsen ratings classic hits WRIT (95.7 FM) was rated first by a sizeable margin above news/talk WTMJ (620 AM), with classic rock WKLH (96.5) third.

That’s somewhat the case in Madison too. The spring ratings showed classic-hits WOLX (94.9 FM) first, contemporary hits Z104 second, news/talk WIBA (1310) third, alternative Triple M fourth, and classic rock WIBA-FM fifth.

What is the difference between classic hits and classic rock? The always accurate Wikipedia defines “classic hits” as “rock and pop music from the early/mid 1960s through the mid/late 1980s (occasionally early/mid 1990s in some markets),” and “a contemporary version of the oldies format.” “Classic rock,” meanwhile, is “developed from the album-oriented rock (AOR) format in the early 1980s. In the United States, the classic rock format features music ranging generally from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, primarily focusing on commercially successful hard rock popularized in the 1970s.”

WIBA-FM in Madison was an AOR station in the 1980s, and has basically not changed the music it plays since the 1990s. WOLX converted from elevator music to be one of Wisconsin’s first oldies stations in the late 1980s, when much of the music it plays now was on such pop stations as Z-104.

Here are a few YouTube opinions:

Why might songs of the ’70s or ’80s be more popular than songs of today? Maybe because, despite the unquestionable technological improvements of today, the music then was better … perhaps because the artists and producers had to work harder at it. This New York Times slideshow shows how summer music was quite diverse — as measured by average volume of the song, creative sound, energy, danceability and use of acoustic instruments instead of e-instruments — in the 1980s and 1990s …

… specifically 1988 …

… and quite non-diverse in terms of sound this decade:

There are some songs that, regardless of when they were recorded, say summer, beginning with the official start of summer when …

The aftermath of Dump On Trump Day

Non-conservative Jack Shafer wrote before yesterday’s coordinated media attack on Donald Trump — I mean defense of the free press:

Nothing flatters an independent journalist less than the sight of him forming a line to drink from the same fountain as his colleagues. Such a spectacle will unfold on Thursday, August 16, as 200 or more editorial pages will heed the call sounded by Boston Globe op-ed page editor Marjorie Pritchard to run editorials opposing President Donald Trump’s unrelieved press-bashing. Participating dailies include the Houston Chronicle, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the Miami Herald and the Denver Post, as well as the Globe. Joining the movement are the American Society of News Editors and the New England Newspaper and Press Association. Dan Rather is on board, as is the Radio Television Digital News Association.

“Our words will differ. But at least we can agree that such attacks are alarming,” Pritchard’s appeal declared.

It goes without saying that press bashing, Trump-style, is alarming. His critiques rarely point to genuine inaccuracies in the press. Instead, his method is to dismiss any news that impedes his agenda or disparages him as fake and dishonest. With demagogic bluster, he routinely deploys “enemies of the people” rhetoric against journalists, which some say has inspired physical threats against journalists. Early this month, he tweeted that reporters are “dangerous & sick” and accused them of causing war (!) and purposely causing “great division & distrust.” Early in his presidency, Trump said, “I’ve never seen more dishonest media than, frankly, the political media.”

Most journalists agree that there’s a great need for Trump rebuttals. I’ve written my share. But this Globe-sponsored coordinated editorial response is sure to backfire: It will provide Trump with circumstantial evidence of the existence of a national press cabal that has been convened solely to oppose him. When the editorials roll off the press on Thursday, all singing from the same script, Trump will reap enough fresh material to whale on the media for at least a month. His forthcoming speeches almost write themselves: By colluding against me, the fake media proved once and for all, that they are in cahoots with the Democrats and have declared themselves to be my true political opposition …

The Globe’s anti-Trump project is also an exercise in redundancy, not to mention self-stroking. Most newspapers have already published a multitude of editorials and columns rebuking the president for his trash-talking of the press. Most major editorial boards opposed Trump’s election, according to this tally by Business Insider. The largest of the 19 newspapers to endorse Trump was the Las Vegas Review-Journal, owned by one of his faithful donors, Sheldon Adelson. More than 240 endorsed Hillary Clinton. Editorial-page sentiment against Trump remains largely unchanged since the election, making the call for a collective reprimand all the more pointless.

Another problem with a nationally coordinated pro-press catechism is that the audience likely to reap the greatest benefit from the haranguing—Trump and many in his base—tends not to read newspapers in the first place. While there’s always value in preaching to the choir—that’s why churches hold services every Sunday—the combined weight of 200 pro-press editorials is not likely to move the opinion needle or deter Trump from defaming and threatening reporters.

Most newspaper editorials are already a watered-down product of groupthink. It’s unlikely that expanding the size of the group and encouraging everybody to bake and serve a tuna-fish casserole on the same day will produce editorials that are more interesting and persuasive than the normal fare.

But maybe I’m wrong. If a single day of pro-press editorials is a good idea for a collective assignment, then maybe newspapers should set aside next Saturday for 200 editorials on tariffs and next Sunday for 200 editorials on global warming and next Monday for 200 editorials on Afghanistan. Surely these issues are as compelling and urgent as press freedom.

For all its faults, the American press refuses the commands from critics who would have it operate like some monolithic entity. Almost daily, our best newspapers express their independence by rejecting the marching orders issued by corporations, politicians and governments. Editorial pages of America, don’t unite! Think for yourselves! Reject this stupid pro-press assignment!

I did.

The Los Angeles Times

More than 300 newspapers around the country will participate today in a group protest of President Trump’s frequent attacks on the news media. Each of the papers will publish editorials — their own separate editorials, in their own words — defending freedom of the press.

The Los Angeles Times, however, has decided not to participate. There will be no free press editorial on our page today.

This is not because we don’t believe that President Trump has been engaged in a cynical, demagogic and unfair assault on our industry. He has, and we have written about it on numerous occasions. As early as April 2017, we wrote this as part of a full-page editorial on “Trump’s War on Journalism”:

“Trump’s strategy is pretty clear: By branding reporters as liars, he apparently hopes to discredit, disrupt or bully into silence anyone who challenges his version of reality. By undermining trust in news organizations and delegitimizing journalism and muddling the facts so that Americans no longer know who to believe, he can deny and distract and help push his administration’s far-fetched storyline.”

We still believe that. Nevertheless, the editorial board decided not to write about the subject on this particular Thursday because we cherish our independence.

The Los Angeles Times editorial board does not speak for the New York Times or for the Boston Globe or the Chicago Tribune or the Denver Post. We share certain opinions with those newspapers; we disagree on other things. Even when we do agree with another editorial page — on the death penalty or climate change or war in Afghanistan, say — we reach our own decisions and positions after careful consultation and deliberation among ourselves, and then we write our own editorials. We would not want to leave the impression that we take our lead from others, or that we engage in groupthink.

The president himself already treats the media as a cabal — “enemies of the people,” he has called us, suggesting over and over that we’re in cahoots to do damage to the country. The idea of joining together to protest him seems almost to encourage that kind of conspiracy thinking by the president and his loyalists. Why give them ammunition to scream about “collusion”?

We mean no disrespect to those who have decided to write on this important subject today. But we will continue to write about the issue on our own schedule.

… and the San Francisco Chronicle participated by saying they weren’t participating:

One of our most essential values is independence. The Globe’s argument is that having a united front on the issue — with voices from Boise to Boston taking a stand for the First Amendment, each in a newspaper’s own words — makes a powerful statement. However, I would counter that answering a call to join the crowd, no matter how worthy the cause, is not the same as an institution deciding on its own to raise a matter.

Our decision might have been different had we not weighed in so often on Trump’s myriad moves to undermine journalism: from calling us “enemies of the American people” to invoking the term “fake news” against real news to denying access to reporters who dare do their jobs to slapping tariffs on newsprint to requesting the prosecution of reporters who reveal classified information to threatening punitive actions against the business interest of owners of CNN and the Washington Post.

The list goes on.

It’s worth pausing to note the role of the editorial board. At The Chronicle, as with most American newspapers, the position on the unsigned pieces on the editorial page reflect the consensus of a board that includes the publisher and the editors and writers in the opinion department. That operation is kept separate from the news side, where editors and reporters make their judgments without regard to the newspaper’s editorial positions. This includes the endorsements we make in elections.

The New York Post managed to not make it just about Trump:

The Boston Globe has asked for a coordinated response today from newspapers across the country, to oppose President Trump’s labeling journalists as an “enemy of the people.”

Who are we to disagree? We support a free and vibrant press, a nation where the powerful are held to account by the Fourth Estate. Journalists are not the enemy of the people; we’re advocating for the people. We stand with our colleagues.

Will this make a difference? Not one whit.

Nor will it stop Nancy Pelosi from claiming that NBC is trying to undermine her because it quoted elected officials, or Gov. Andrew Cuomo from accusing a NY1 reporter of bias because he asked a question.

And it certainly won’t deter Mayor Bill de Blasio, who despises a free press as vehemently as does our president. De Blasio has bashed the Times and Crain’s, accused Bloomberg News of being biased, wished for the death of the Daily News and, oh, said the world would be a better place without The Post.

It may be frustrating to argue that just because we print inconvenient truths doesn’t mean that we’re fake news, but being a journalist isn’t a popularity contest. All we can do is to keep reporting.

Trump and de Blasio will continue to bash the press because it riles up their bases. When you can’t argue the merits, you blame the messenger.

We have faith. As the Bard put it, “At the length truth will out.”

Facebook Friend Michael Smith adds:

I know the press thought unifying 300+ newspapers behind a single theme was a great idea but it also revealed the very reason President Trump called them “the enemy of the people”. I noted in an earlier post (from my blog post of 6 years ago) that even Democrat pollster Pat Caddell called the press the same during the Benghazi scandal.

What this little stunt revealed is how much power the press has to spread lies of commission and omission, half-truths and rumors. Today, a lot of the reporting amounts to outlets reporting on what another news outlet reported – reporters reporting on other reporters, so a single voice gets pushed through the biggest megaphone in America.

When you have that big a megaphone, one would think the press would feel an overwhelming responsibility to get it right – but they don’t. They report based on preconception and an agenda, one designed to bring this administration down. Printing and reporting incomplete and in some cases, false information, not only makes them the enemy of the people (who count on them for accurate and factual information) but it disgraces their profession.

Can you imagine how long a broadcast meteorologist would last if they only reported the weather based on what they wanted it to be rather than what the science told them? If that person was consistently wrong, it wouldn’t be long before nobody would watch or trust that person’s forecasts.

The press is reporting the weather they way they want it to be rather than what it is and rather than recognizing their error and correcting it, they are choosing to tell America why we should just believe them when they tell us it is sunny and the rain is pouring down. It doesn’t matter if 300 weather “experts” are telling you the sun is out and you are getting wet. Quantity of opinion doesn’t make something real.

Once again, the press sent a strong message to the public – but as is becoming all too common these days, it wasn’t the message they thought they were sending.