Morning Joe Seeks Cure for Trump ‘Virus’ of Calling Out Media Bias

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Appearing on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Tuesday, Axios co-founder Jim VandeHei warned that allies of President Trump were raising money to fund a campaign calling out media bias. The reporter decried the move as “an escalation of what he’s been doing in going after the media” while others on the liberal morning show warned of Trump injecting a “poison” and “virus” into politics by criticizing the press.

“A group of Trump allies are raising about $2 million to target very specifically reporters and editors at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other mainstream outlets with the stated purpose of trying to discredit these reporters, in addition to the institutions themselves,” VandeHei declared as he touted the new report from Axios.

 

 

After co-host Joe Scarborough noted similar liberal efforts against conservative media outlets, VandeHei argued this effort was worse: “What’s different here is when you read this fundraising pitch it is really to go after the individual reporters and really try to damage their credibility in public, to work with what they call friendly media outlets to get this information into the public sphere during the election to help Trump and to hurt those reporters.”

He fretted over the effectiveness of the tactic:

...their polling is showing that these attacks of bias, whether it’s mainstream media or social media, continue to stir up the base....the problem with the last couple years is you’ve got a huge segment of the country who doesn’t believe a damn thing that any reporter reports any longer....they’re finding if they can say, “Bias, bias, bias,” that “Everywhere you look, everything you listen to, everything you read, everything you hear, it’s bias, believe nothing, believe nothing, believe nothing,” the polls show it works. Like if you pound a message that long into the heads of one party, suddenly you look at the polls and 60%, 65% don’t believe anything.

Rather than engage in the slightest bit of self-reflection, the panel of journalists simply blamed the President for their own lack of credibility. Regular left-wing pundit Mike Barnicle ranted: “This time it’s being led by the commander in chief of the United States of America. And he has injected a poison into our system....This is a virus that he has planted in our culture that is going to be long standing. It’s been incredibly successful already and it’s gonna continue to be successful.”

Co-host Mika Brzezinski voiced her agreement: “Like what do we do at this point when you have a presidency and a whole personality cult arguing facts, not issues?...this is a poison.”

Donny Deutsch, host of MSNBC’s recently cancelled Saturday Night Politics, chimed in: “...the day we do not have a free press that is in any way credible a lot of the pillars starts to fall.” Brzezinski shared the dire prediction: “That’s it.”

A recent unhinged panel discussion on Hardball had host Chris Matthews and his guests denouncing any criticism of the press as “authoritarian” and an effort to “intimidate” reporters.

Media Research Center studies have consistently shown 90% negative that the network evening newscasts 

Here is a full transcript of the September 3 segment on Morning Joe:

6:45 AM ET

MIKA BRZEZINSKI: So meanwhile, Trump allies are spending money on targeting reporters. Joining us now, co-founder and CEO of Axios, Jim VandeHei. What are you guys looking at this morning and who are they going after?

JIM VANDEHEI: Yeah, a group of Trump allies are raising about $2 million to target very specifically reporters and editors at The New York Times, The Washington Post, and other mainstream outlets with the stated purpose of trying to discredit these reporters, in addition to the institutions themselves. This is unusual. It is an escalation of what he’s been doing in going after the media. This targets reporters –  

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Can I stop you there? But isn’t this what Hillary Clinton’s ally did with Media Matters? Because I’ve heard about this story and it just sounds a lot like Media Matters.

VANDEHEI: Yeah, Media Matters no doubt did this on the left and there’s other conservative groups that have gone after the media more specifically – or more broadly. What’s different here is when you read this fundraising pitch it is really to go after the individual reporters and really try to damage their credibility in public, to work with what they call friendly media outlets to get this information into the public sphere during the election to help Trump and to hurt those reporters.

And it comes – we also reported over the weekend that they plan to escalate their attacks not just on the reporters but also on the big social media platforms. That their polling is showing that these attacks of bias, whether it’s mainstream media or social media, continue to stir up the base.

And the problem with all this, the problem with the last couple years is you’ve got a huge segment of the country who doesn’t believe a damn thing that any reporter reports any longer. And when you lose any connection to the truth, like governance is going to be virtually impossible. It’s not like the truth kind of suddenly snaps back and people are like, “Oh, yeah, that’s right, now I actually believe everything I read.”  

SCARBOROUGH: It’s interesting, they’re going to do a war on social media. So many of Donald Trump’s supporters don’t read newspapers. Based on surveys, they get their news from Facebook.

VANDEHEI: Facebook, they do. And –  

SCARBOROUGH: I mean, according to surveys. I know a lot of Trump supporters read newspapers, but you can say that about people on the left too, far left. A lot of people just stay in their little cubbyholes ideologically and go to the –  

BRZEZINSKI: Where they want to go.

SCARBOROUGH: To their corner of Facebook where they want to go.

VANDEHEI: Well, and the irony is, if you look at actually the spending on Facebook, Trump is actually better at using Facebook right now than the Democratic contenders. Spends a lot more money, knows how to use the precision of the platforms. And so on the one hand, he utilizes it and spends a lot of money. But they’re finding if they can say, “Bias, bias, bias,” that “Everywhere you look, everything you listen to, everything you read, everything you hear, it's bias, believe nothing, believe nothing, believe nothing,” the polls show it works.

Like if you pound a message that long into the heads of one party, suddenly you look at the polls and 60%, 65% don’t believe anything. And I think that is going to be one of the lasting consequences of this era. How do you govern, how do you run a country when no one believes anything that doesn’t amplify their own views? And we’ve yet to really dig into like what are the root causes of that? How much is social media to blame, how much is Trump to blame, how much are our stupid reading habits to blame? But until we do, it’s gonna be really hard to get things back on track.

SCARBOROUGH: But you know, Mike, this is something that – this didn’t start with Donald Trump. This is something that Mika and I have been talking about to audiences for a decade now. That people wake up in the morning, they turn on the news channel that reinforces all of their pre-existing beliefs and prejudices, and they get in the car, they turn on the talk radio station that does the same thing. When they get home from work, or during work, they go to the social media platform and their corner of the social media platform. If you’re a liberal, that’s the corner you’re in. If you’re a conservative, that’s the corner you’re in. And by the end of the day, and again, I’ve been saying this for a decade, by the end of the day, the person who thinks differently than you politically is not somebody who has different views than you on issues, they’re your enemy. And this is – this has been a long time coming.

MIKE BARNICLE: All of that is true, Joe. With one stark, naked, dangerous difference. This time it’s being led by the commander in chief of the United States of America. And he has injected a poison into our system. And Jim is absolutely right. I mean, some of the things that have occurred we talk about it a lot. How long will it take to undo the damage that’s already been done? A lot of it can probably be repaired by the next president within a couple of years, two or three years. One term, who knows? This is different.

BRZEZINSKI: Totally different.

BARNICLE: This is a virus that he has planted in our culture that is going to be long standing. It’s been incredibly successful already and it’s gonna continue to be successful.

BRZEZINSKI: But Joe is talking about different views on issues that used to be debated. It’s now different views on facts.

SCARBOROUGH: Sure.

BRZEZINSKI: And your friend thinking that there’s been 300 miles of wall built. And this is a smart person, very well educated.  

BARNICLE: Oh, Stuart Varney, this morning.  

BRZEZINSKI: He literally is arguing fact. You need to take him to the border. Like what do we do at this point when you have a presidency and a whole personality cult arguing facts, not issues? I’m all for a huge debate on issues, I’d love that. But this is different, this is a poison.

DONNY DEUTSCH: Maybe that’s why he’s saluting 1939 Poland, because basically, the day we do not have a free press that is in any way credible a lot of the pillars starts to fall.

BRZEZINSKI: That’s it.

DEUTSCH: I mean that is it.  

SCARBOROUGH: It is, I think, one of the things that really does stagger me, is there are so many people who re smart and educated who will believe the lies.

BRZEZINSKI: Anything that he says.

SCARBOROUGH: Again, this example of our really smart, really good friend who swore that Donald Trump has built 300 miles of wall and he’s building it fast, that he’s built – I mean, turn on Fox News. Fox News will tell you he hasn’t built any of the wall.  

BRZEZINSKI: It depends on who you watch, yeah.  

BARNICLE: How do you combat that?

SCARBOROUGH: Well, and you know what, that’s a great question for Jim VandeHei. Jim, we’ve gotta go, but why don’t you think about that and we’ll get you – [Laughter]

VANDEHEI: I’ll be back tomorrow.

SCARBOROUGH: We’ll get you next time.

NB Daily Media Bias Debate Conservatives & Republicans MSNBC Morning Joe Video Jim VandeHei Joe Scarborough Mike Barnicle Donald Trump

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