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Sykes: Critique of Media Bias Opened Door for Trumpist Lies

When conservative radio talker Charlie Sykes announced in early October that he was quitting after 25 years on the air, he said he didn’t want to be part of a conservative movement that would fall in line behind a sexist, racist, xenophobic fascist. He warns that all of us alternative-media types have participated in undermining one of the greatest defenses against Trumpism, mainstream journalism:

One staple of every radio talk show was, of course, the bias of the mainstream media. This was, indeed, a target-rich environment. But as we learned this year, we had succeeded in persuading our audiences to ignore and discount any information from the mainstream media. Over time, we’d succeeded in delegitimizing the media altogether — all the normal guideposts were down, the referees discredited.

That left a void that we conservatives failed to fill. For years, we ignored the birthers, the racists, the truthers and other conspiracy theorists who indulged fantasies of Mr. Obama’s secret Muslim plot to subvert Christendom, or who peddled baseless tales of Mrs. Clinton’s murder victims. Rather than confront the purveyors of such disinformation, we changed the channel because, after all, they were our allies, whose quirks could be allowed or at least ignored.

We destroyed our own immunity to fake news, while empowering the worst and most reckless voices on the right [Charles J. Sykes, “Charlie Sykes on Where the Right Went Wrong,” New York Times, 2016.12.15].

I take plenty of my own shots at South Dakota’s mainstream media, which sometimes huffs and puffs about minor issuesunder-covers important issuesgiving lunkhead Republicans more ink that Democratic rebuttals of that lunkheadery, and choosing profits over quality writing. But I also recognize that South Dakota’s mainstream media does many things right, like rejecting paid propaganda polls and supporting Bob Mercer’s knowledgeable and unparalleled reporting on state government. (Bob! We ache at your absence! Get well before Session!)

I have never tried to make the media out to be bigger liars than Donald Trump or Ben Carson. I don’t want people to take an either-or approach to mainstream and alternative media; I want them to go both-and. In my ideal modern media model, we all still get news from the networks and the big newspapers, but we read critically, and we augment our reading with the independent commentary we can find in a blogosphere and podcastosphere that provide factual information from good-faith neighbors. I want mainstream and alternative media that work together, that are transparent with the backgrounds and biases, and that say to readers with sources and hyperlinks, “Here, see for yourself.”

By recognizing the media gap that his industry opened for liars and schemers, Sykes helps us recognize that our mantra in alternative media must not be, “Trust no one but me.” That’s Donald Trump’s line, and that’s totalitarianism. Our mantra must be, “Trust no one. Check, cross-check, and trust many.”


  1. jerry 2016-12-19 10:46

    South Dakota media failed to inform its readers of the outright theft of elections in the United States by the Russian government. 20 states voters were breached by the Russians, one billion accounts from Yahoo were also breached. Why will they not report that information?

  2. Porter Lansing 2016-12-19 12:34

    South Dakota newspapers have been printing highly Republican biased stories forever. I have a classmate who’s an editor of a top five newspaper and his excuse has always been, “If we print anything other than right wing, circulation falls.” Even big city papers are nearly worthless, anymore. Luckily, free twice daily updates from the NYTimes, WashPost and LATimes are easily available. One need only GOOGLE the name of the paper and look for their daily update sign-up. A worthy synopsis of their top stories is free along with 10 free “full articles” per month. More for about ninety nine cents a month.

  3. Roger Cornelius 2016-12-19 19:27

    The mainstream media is going to be in for a rough ride with a Trump presidency.
    He’ll know have access to all the records and documents that prove his “lies” and distortions and condemn the press out for not reporting what he wants them know.
    It frightens me how gullible the American electorate has become, not just by electing Trump, but believing his lies along with fake news sources.
    It should be worrisome for all when Trump attacks our media and the 1st Amendment that protects them.
    David Newquist has another outstanding post on this subject but more directed at why Democrats ended up hating Hillary and their belief in fake news.

  4. Darin Larson 2016-12-19 23:19

    Trumpist lies and corruption will no longer be of consequence if Trump adopts Newt Gingrich’s suggestion. Gingrich suggested that Trump could use his pardon power to take care of any problems with his advisers and his kids serving as advisers.

    “It is a totally open power, and he could simply say, ‘Look, I want them to be my advisers. I pardon them if anyone finds them to have behaved against the rules. Period.’ Technically, under the Constitution, he has that level of authority.”

    The MSN article continues:

    Gingrich also suggested that Congress change ethics laws so Trump can avoid any conflicts of interest that his global business empire may pose. “We’ve never seen this kind of wealth in the White House, and so traditional rules don’t work,” he said.”We’re going to have to think up a whole new approach.”
    Gingrich didn’t provide any details for what a new approach would entail.

    The ultimate answer is Trump can just pardon himself for any and all infractions of the law. Thus, he can be held accountable for nothing.

  5. mike from iowa 2016-12-20 17:29

    Member all those Drumpist lies about HRC selling access to the WH through donations to the Clinton Foundation? Fairly easy to refute if anyone bothered.
    How about this- The Center for Public Integrity is reporting, “A new Texas nonprofit led by Donald Trump’s grown sons is offering access to the freshly-minted president during inauguration weekend — all in exchange for million-dollar donations to unnamed “conservation” charities, according to interviews and documents reviewed by the Center for Public Integrity. And the donors’ identities may never be known.

    Hypocrisy-thy name is RAC-wingnuts.

  6. leslie 2016-12-20 17:32

    As previously stated here: “Comey’s investigation was the primary cudgel for Trump and his supporters, who claimed — falsely — that Clinton was guilty of “criminal” activity. His large rallies regularly chanted “Lock her up!” and Clinton’s motorcade was greeted in city after city with angry crowds waving signs.”

    “The FBI warrant that shook Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign in its final two weeks has been unsealed … in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Los Angeles lawyer Randy Schoenberg, who wants to determine what probable cause the agency provided…’I see nothing at all in the search warrant application that would give rise to probable cause….” Schoenberg is a lawyer who gained notoriety by reclaiming Jewish-owned art seized by the Nazis and former president of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust.

    At the same time, Comey was in possession of evidence showing Russia was hacking into the Democratic Party apparatus, and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., accused him of holding back “explosive” information about Russian interference.

    Darin-“Gingrich also suggested that Congress change ethics laws so Trump can avoid any conflicts of interest”. Daugaard takes his cues from Washington. Thus no response to EB5 and MCEC non- ethics revelations in SD. Clinton put aside Escalante wilderness, Bush did his own environmental legacy, Obama include the entire Hawaiian chain 1500 miles long, and Duagaard/Thune want to privatize Spearfish Canyon “so the governor can avoid any conflicts of interest” in side stepping the long established protective land exchange regulations that stomp out sweet heart deals. We don’t need no stinkin’ ethics.

    Republicans are all about biblical morals, but ignore business/environmental ethics as inconvenient hurdles regulating and protecting anything they wish to privatize.

  7. Donald Pay 2016-12-20 18:06

    I listened to Sykes at times over the last 15 years. He seemed to be a captive of the righty think tanks and astro-turf organizations, like Club for Growth. He is no progressive. His main audience was centered in the suburban ring around Milwaukee, which is business oriented. That was the heart of the no-Trump movement in Wisconsin, but that evaporated as Reince Preibus gained more and more control. Sykes sort of ended up sawing off a big chunk of his fan base after he found he couldn’t push the Trumpist line. Sykes seemed less a caught up in the cuckoo stuff, except for pushing the issue of non-existent voter fraud. He wouldn’t mind fishing around in racist and cuckoo waters if it benefited his audience numbers. He was a big Walker supporter, so we can thank him for our state’s sinking economy.

  8. leslie 2016-12-26 19:10

    “how dishonest” trumps says of Martha Raditz. “she started crying”.
    it is completely bogus. ABC is now in negotiations with him.

    trump also says he won by a landslide.

    what a putz this guy is.

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