Thursday, June 28, 2018

Never-Trumpers at Fox and WSJ

First, let me give you some background about my online activities.  Obviously, I occasionally write posts for this blog.  I don't use or read Twitter.  I rarely use Facebook.  I've joined a couple of the CDT groups (observing only), and occasionally I view a friend's or relative's posts.  I use email and vastly prefer it to my rare texts.  You might call me a hermit, and you wouldn't be too far off. 

I had an excuse earlier in life.  At that time, I was a government employee with a security clearance.  I didn't want to risk my employment.  Even further, most people with the clearance I had did not want to write about the government or participate in any political activities.  Both were thought too much of a risk of accidentally violating rules, regulations or laws, and thus losing your clearance and your job.

Further, I don't like cursing or name calling.  I also don't appreciate people that do not tell the truth, either with falsehoods or by omission.  And, I have to say it, I don't think much of people that fail to think through the logic of an argument and instead base their decision on emotion or bad data.

So, getting back to my thesis, for the most part I don't use social media.  But I tend to read multiple online news sites and blogs to keep up with current events.

Before Trump was elected, I was an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal.  I got a couple of years at a reduced price (about $200/yr), but by the time Trump was elected, I was paying $100 per quarter.  That hurt.  But I really loved the in-depth writing that fully explored the issues under discussion.  They seemed to be pretty non-political, though their analysis tended to line up with conservative positions.

After Trump was elected president, the articles seemed to become less non-political.  Bret Stephens appeared like a rabid Trump hater, and his articles were actually offensive.  I wasn't surprised when he moved to the New York Times.  After his first couple of post-election articles, I didn't look at his material again. 

But more bothersome was what happened to the Best of the Web, a daily humor column that would start with current events.  Before Trump, they had been spot on.  Afterwords, the conclusions were generally the same, but you had sprinkled everywhere things like "Trump went about it the wrong way" or "Trump's approach was unnecessarily offensive."  It didn't seem to matter that Trump's position and goal were correct, he did it wrong and hence was subject to criticism.

As I mentioned before, I don't follow Twitter.  I see it quoted extensively in online articles.  But if someone doesn't quote a tweet in an online article or blog, I'm not going to know about it.  Further, tweets are not part of our governmental processes.  The fact that Trump my hit back at his attackers in a tweet bothers me not a bit.  In fact, when I see liberal tweets with extensive cursing and crude language, President Trump's tweets seem particularly mild.

Bottom line here on the Wall Street Journal, I liked the core content of their articles, but could not stomach the constant Trump criticism for non-policy behavior.  At $400/year, I was not going to pay to read off-hand criticism of my President that has nothing to do with policies that I whole-heartedly support.  Each of those articles would be just as strong, and as interesting, without the presidential attacks.  I stopped my Wall Street Journal subscription.

Fox News is a slightly different situation.  They had both TV and online media that I watched and read.  Then they moved Hannity out of my prime time period and canceled Bill O'Reilly's show.  His No Spin News was my favorite talk show.  I didn't always agree with him, but he always had reasonable positions.  And he gave people the benefit of the doubt.

Fox News also replaced Brit Hume with Bret Baier on their Evening News show.  I really enjoyed Brit and his panel.  It all seemed to change when Bret took over.  Bret just didn't seem to have the depth of understanding and grasp of the issues that Brit displayed.  I may be doing Bret a disservice, but I stopped watching that show too.

Maybe all the change at Fox was innocent, but it sure seemed to remove the biggest Trump supporters from the scene.  Though I think Brit's departure really was a normal retirement.  He had an opinion piece in yesterday's Fox News web site that talked about Maxine Waters' suggestion to mob Trump supporters and staff.  Just like with the Wall Street Journal's editorial pieces, he threw in that Trump's actions were likewise uncivil.  Of course, he didn't quote any of Trump's 'incivility' like he did Rep Waters'.  Why?  Maybe because it wasn't on the same level.

My conclusion is that most of the Wall Street Journal editors and some of those at Fox are Never-Trumpers at heart.  They have conservative beliefs, but cannot reconcile those beliefs with Trump's unusual style.  They have to criticize the President, even when they are writing a piece that agrees with his policy and actions.

Fox News has one good thing going for it.  Their opinion pieces do not seem to all be written by Never-Trumpers.  There is some straight stuff.

On the other hand, their web site seems designed to gather clicks.  Often their short titles are misleading.  Yesterday I read an article about the Army's acquisition of about 476 new Bradley fighting machines/troop carriers.  I don't remember the article's title being misleading.  But today, the article was labeled "...Big Tank Buy..."--though now I've seen it changed again back to Bradleys.  A Bradley is NOT a tank.  My point is, they change article titles to get you to read them.  It is very irritating to open an article when you are assuming the subject is one thing, and get another.

Worse than misleading titles is the fact that the top section of their home page is mostly what I would call personal interest articles (gossip).  I suspect that approach must get more clicks than straight news would.  In all fairness, it doesn't seem to be much different than the approach of  USA Today or Google News, except that those sites have strong liberal bias.  Reuters seems to go more with straight news (good), but it too has a strong liberal bias (bad, but not quite as bad as CNN, MSNBC, USA Today or Google).

So if Fox News ever added a pay wall (like the Wall Street Journal), I would drop it like a hot potato.

Obviously, I'm unhappy with my previous two conservative favorites (Fox and WSJ).  My suggestion, for what it's worth (ha!), would be that, when writing about a government policy,  reporters/journalists stick to the facts about the policy.  That is, what is the policy and how is it being executed.  Leave out irrelevant quotes from political parties and their propagandists.  Opinion writers should write their opinions of the policy and how it is being executed.  Leave out their personal opinions about the character of the government employees involved.

That doesn't mean reporters/journalists should not write articles on political controversies.  I just don't want to read those.  I also don't want to read opinion articles focused primarily on personal behavior of politicians. 

But most of all I really don't want to read another irritating, one-sentence, hypocritical and offensive quote from some politician about their opponent's proposal or action.

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