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February 7, 2022

The ‘News’ Media Dividing the Country

Case study: Trump’s alleged “s—thole” remark.

By Richard McDonough

“More registered voters say that the media is doing more to divide than to unify the nation than think President Donald Trump is doing so, a new Politico/Morning Consult poll shows.” —Craig Bannister, CNS News, November 2, 2018

Michael Smerconish of CNN, reflecting many in the “news” media generally and at CNN in particular, is deeply concerned about Trump’s divisive politics. Since Smerconish was, so to speak, a Republican until 2010 when he became an independent, he represents himself as an independent voice in the “news” media who can be trusted to treat both sides fairly. Since he was a Republican himself once, he knows how those people think. Since, however, Smerconish wrote an essay for the socialist Salon Magazine in 2008 explaining why he might vote for Obama (and did in fact endorse Obama), one might be forgiven for concluding that Smerconish was never a real Republican or conservative.

More important, it appears that the American people do not agree with Smerconish about who is dividing the country. A Politico Morning Consult poll in 2018 reveals that nearly two-thirds (64%) of registered voters said the national “news” media has done more to divide the country, while only 56% said that Trump has done more to divide the country. In the same poll, 30% of registered voters said that Trump has done more to unite than to divide the country, while only 17% said that the media has done more to unite the country.

Additional evidence that it is the “news” media that is dividing the country can be found in Gallup’s November 9, 2020, study titled “American Views 2020: Trust Media and Democracy A Deepening Divide.” In Fig. 49 of that study, in response to the question, “How much blame does the news media deserve for political divisions in this country?” 47% of Americans said the media deserves a great deal of blame for these divisions, another 36% said that the media deserved a moderate amount of blame, and only 4% said the media deserves no blame at all. Even more telling is that 48% of independents said that media deserves a great deal of blame for these political division, 37% said that the media deserves a moderate amount of blame, and only 3% said that the media deserves no blame.

Finally, 71% of Republicans said that the media deserves a great deal of blame for these political divisions. Another 23% said that the media deserves moderate blame. Only1% said that the media deserves no blame for these divisions. By a massive ratio of 71:1, Republicans said that the media is responsible for the political divisions in the country.

One can illustrate the media’s typical modus operandi by looking at the way it covered Trump’s alleged remark in a private meeting that America should not accept so many immigrants from “s—thole” countries like Haiti and African nations. Naturally, the “news” media, eager to push its favorite narrative, was thrilled and reported this as a fact, not an allegation. On January 12, 2018, NBC News, like many “news” organizations, reported that “Trump referred to Haiti and African nations as ‘shithole’ countries … and asked why the U.S. can’t have more immigrants from Norway.” On the same date, Anderson Cooper of CNN, after, as usual, reminding the viewers how great he is and how much he cares, gave an emotional defense of the wonderful Haitian people against Trump’s racist slur. Such reports of Trump’s alleged “s—thole” remark caused outrage around the world. On January 12, 2018, Time Magazine led with the headline: “‘A New Low.’ The World Is Furious at Trump for His Remark About ‘Shithole Countries.’” Trump has, apparently, increased the racial divide within America and damaged America’s reputation abroad.

There are, unfortunately, a few all-too-familiar problems with this typical media script. First, not only did Donald Trump deny that he made those remarks at this meeting, but several other persons who were present, including Tom Cotton and David Perdue, stated that they do not recall Trump making that remark. It used to be true in America that one is innocent until proven guilty, but this no longer holds if one is a Republican or conservative and the usual group of prima donnas in the “news” media need a distressing new headline so that they can virtue signal and make “liberals” everywhere hyperventilate.

Second, even if Trump made that remark, he made no derogatory remark whatsoever about the Haitian people. For that remark is about the country of Haiti, not its people. One can find Cooper’s implicit reasoning in a college sophomore critical reasoning text in the chapter titled “Fallacies.” That is, it is a “fallacy of division” to infer fallaciously from the properties of a whole to the properties of its parts. In plain English, one cannot legitimately infer from the claim that the people in that country are “s—thole” people. Ironically, since Cooper went on in the same show to criticize the country of Haiti, he did not realize that he agrees with Trump’s alleged remark that the country of Haiti a bad place. Cooper let his emotion, and the desire of all narcissists to virtue-signal in public, to distort his reasoning.

On the same date, German Lopez of Vox showed how far the media will go to keep a narrative going when he argued that Trump was talking about the people, not the country. After all, Lopez argued, Trump asked why we are taking all these “people from s—thole countries” and not more people from white countries like Norway. Unfortunately, this is more sophomoric reasoning. There are many non-racial differences between the people of Haiti and Norway that can be cited to explain Trump’s preference for the latter as possible immigrants. First, only about 67% of the people in Haiti are literate, while about 99% of the people of Norway are. Second, the majority of people in Haiti only speak creole, while about 90% of the people in Norway speak English. Finally, whereas about 35% of Norwegians have a university degree, only about 1% of Haitians do. These points alone would make the Norwegians much easier to assimilate and become contributing members of American society. However, the media was, as usual, so eager to promote their obsessive narrative that Trump is a racist that they suspended their reasoning processes.

First, it is not even certain that Trump made that remark. Second, even if he did, it was in a private meeting and could not have divided the country on racial lines or hurt U.S. reputation abroad unless the “news” media, in furtherance of its own constant selfish virtue-signaling political agenda, plucked it from obscurity and hysterically broadcast it as fact to the nation and the world. As a consequence, any divisions within the nation or damage to U.S. reputation abroad falls squarely on the media itself. Unfortunately, this pattern of biased media behaviour is not limited to Trump’s alleged “s—thole” comment. It is all too familiar. That is why most Americans correctly see the media as more divisive than Trump. If Smerconish really wonders where the deep racial and political divisions within the country originated, he can look at his own network and the “news” media generally.

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