Way back in the distant past, lost to the internet, when Pharyngula was just a tiny project I was running on my lab computer, one of the subjects that pissed me off was pseudo-objective journalism. The kind of thing where a New York Times reporter would write a long article on the geology of the Grand Canyon, and give equal time to creationism and real science, and excuse it by saying,
I don’t consider myself a creationist. I don’t have any interest in sharing my personal views on how the canyon was carved, mostly because I’ve spent almost no time pondering my personal views — it takes all my energy as a reporter and writer to understand and explain my subjects’ views fairly and thoroughly.
This is the kind of journalism where facts and evidence don’t matter and aren’t part of the evidence — all we’re supposed to care about is cataloging the opinions of the uninformed, and weight is bestowed by how loudly they are shouted, or by how rich and famous the ignoramus with an opinion is. The journalist doesn’t have the time to assess the facts, all their energy is consumed in transcribing quotes. And worst of all, they tout this as a goddamned virtue of good reporting.
This is how that clown Donald Trump can be the Republican front-runner: facts don’t matter. ‘Journalists’ don’t care about the truth of a candidate’s claims (unless, of course, it involves sex), and feel no responsibility to investigate. They just report. Someone can make an idiotic proposal, and the court stenographers at the paper of record just print and publish. There are few who are pointing out the impossibility and inanity of Trump’s ideas.
The Republican presidential candidate leading every poll, Donald Trump, recently unveiled his plan to forcibly deport all 11 million human beings residing in the U.S. without proper documentation, roughly half of whom have children born in the U.S. (and who are thus American citizens). As George Will noted last week, “Trump’s roundup would be about 94 times larger than the wartime internment of 117,000 persons of Japanese descent.” It would require a massive expansion of the most tyrannical police state powers far beyond their already immense post-9/11 explosion. And that’s to say nothing of the incomparably ugly sentiments that Trump’s advocacy of this plan, far before its implementation, is predictably unleashing.
Further, the pandering ‘journalists’ will turn most savagely against any real journalist who dares to question. Jorge Ramos was one of the rare ones who was brave enough to object to stupidity with evidence, and he was vilified by other reporters. The Washington Post was outrageous, presenting the story as two “conflict junkies”, Ramos and Trump, who were simply mirror images of each other.
I saw red at that. It was just like those bad newspaper articles that would equate evolution and creationism. Hey, they’re both theories, right? We gotta be fair and balanced! We don’t have time to get a science degree, we’re too busy writing down everything Ken Ham and Kent Hovind say!
But here’s what Ramos was saying.
“What he’s trying to sell to the American public simply doesn’t work. It’s impossible. He cannot deport 11 million people from this country,” Ramos said “Can you imagine the human rights violations that would create? And then the expense … is he willing to spend $137 billion to deport 11 million from this country? That’s just one problem. He can’t build an 1,900-mile border [fence] between Mexico and the United States. It’s absurd.”
“When you say immigrants from Mexico are criminals and rapists, isn’t that spreading hate?” Ramos continued. “When you call U.S. citizens anchor babies, isn’t that spreading hate? When you call 11 million people in this country ‘illegals’ — and no human being is ‘illegal’ — isn’t that spreading hate?
“This is not politics for us. This is personal. When he’s talking about immigrants, he’s talking about me. He’s talking about half of the Latino population in this country that is 18 years or older that was born in another country. So the things that he considers just ‘blunt talk’ is clearly offensive.”
That ought to be front and center in every story about Trump: that he’s howling hate and insanity, and promising cartoonishly impractical and vicious policies. Every piece about the man ought to say, at some point, “But that won’t work, and it will harm millions of people”. But instead they all rubber-stamp the lunacy, and the electorate blithely assumes that it is therefore reasonable.
America is cursed with a political party that is racing for bottom of the cesspit, a public that doesn’t care, and a media that has totally failed to do its job and check the excesses of political rhetoric with reality.