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INK BY THE BARREL

June 11, 2017

INK BY THE BARREL

Mark Twain, an American legend who brought us Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, was a master of witticism as well. One of my favorite sayings of his in his discussion of attacking the press is to the effect that one should be careful in attacking those who buy ink by the barrel, and by such statement that those who  attack the Fourth Estate he is necessarily endorsing the veracity of those in the press with their editorial safeguards and other tactics in journalistic ethics that ensure the veracity of press reports in general -though not opinions – with such notable exceptions in history as William Randolph Hearst’s deliberate confusion of news and opinion aka propaganda, perfected long before Goebbels who so artfully designed a propaganda regime for Hitler which led to mass slaughter of Jews, communists, gypsies, gays et al.

However, Twain left us long before twitter and email and other forms of communication, means of mass communication that are now in mass use but without editorial safeguards and other methods of checking the veracity of assertions made or the record for honesty by those who deliberately confuse fact with opinion in order to gain economic or political or other advantage.

Thus the motto of the Hoover Administration that his election would bring about “two chickens in every pot” gave us the Wall Street-inspired crash of 1929 and the Great Depression wherein there were virtually no chickens in any pot, the “Remember the Maine” and other propaganda of William Randolph Hearst but for which there may well not have been the Spanish-American War etc. (Some even yet today think blowing up the battleship Maine in Havana harbor was an inside job by our sugar interests in competition with Cuban sugar interests in order to serve as a pretext for war.)

Today we have a Hearst-Goebbels demented man on the loose at the highest level, and his name is Trump. Since his reputation for veracity is zero, he frames today’s issues to deflect attention from his total loss of veracity marked by incessant lying via attacks on the press with phony framing of imaginary issues with claims of fake news in some narcissistic Orwellian otherworld he is trying to sell us in our world, i.e., that the press is the enemy of the people etc. He has perfected the Hearst-Goebbels propaganda methodologies quite well while leading millions of his base to believe that he is right because his accusers are wrong, which hardly follows Aristotelian logic. One is right or wrong because one is right or wrong. Case closed.

He is wrong because he is wrong on the issues of the day even if no Fourth Estate were in existence. He is wrong to lie to those he represents; he is wrong to accuse others of lying without proof; he is wrong to further enrich the rich while denying affordable healthcare to sick and dying Americans; he is wrong not to support a livable wage for working Americans; he is wrong to placate if not delight Putin by putting down NATO, our first line of defense; he is wrong on many other issues I have neither time nor inclination to cite, and none of them has anything to do with whether someone else is right or wrong.

You cannot frame these issues by other such standards he has used when, for instance, he was questioned about his sexual antics and answered “Look what Bill Clinton did,” as though that answered the question of what he did. What he did was wrong whether Bill Clinton had never existed, and what he is currently doing in labelling the press as “the enemy of the people” is wrong if we never had a First Amendment which, among other things, cites the “the freedom of the press.”

The problem with lying is that one has to tell other lies to justify or cover the lies already told, as noted by none other than Shakespeare. Trump is so deep in so many lies that he seems to have left our world and gone to his own world, a world of narcissism where facts are only facts if in accord with the narcissist’s view of things past, present and future and that all other so-called facts are fake news, lies etc. The continuing problem in this connection is that facts are facts, that two and two are four irrespective of what you think the answer ought to be. Anyone at this late date who thinks along with our papal and other predecessors that the earth does not revolve around the sun is either demented or out of touch with objective reality, or both, and I think Trump fits both such descriptions.

Our problem is that he is somehow the president and that his vilification of the Fourth Estate has had some degree of success. Perhaps ink in this electronic age is not a necessity for the press, which further undercuts Twain’s observation, but I here note that freedom is a necessity for the press and that those such as Trump are ignoring their sworn constitutional vow to uphold the Constitution and its First Amendment by attempting to undercut or even remove such constitutionally protected right.

Hearst and Goebbels and the rest of you amateurs move over! The Liar in Chief has arrived in our world (though not in his Orwellian world where Narcissus types never lie and those who say otherwise are themselves liars, a cozy arrangement in insane logic).  We have some serious lying to do in both such worlds and this is a job for professionals such as Trump, so get out of the way!     GERALD      E

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