No slappy face allowed: Conservative discontent with media deepens - Must Read Alaska
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No slappy face allowed: Conservative discontent with media deepens

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Reporter Christiane Amanpour gives a speech in November as she receives an award. She called Donald Trump an “existential threat” to journalists. (Screenshot from Committee to Protect Journalists.)

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW YOU LEARNED IN KINDERGARTEN

The unhappiness with those who report the news is making the news — again.

With the win of Greg Gianforte for U.S. House in Montana, the congressman-elect took the occasion to express regret for manhandling a reporter who had pushed into a private interview, shoved a mic in his face, and started asking him questions just a few days before the election.

The reporter got body-slammed by the candidate when he wouldn’t leave. It was unfortunate.

Last night after his win, Gianforte apologized.

There were two sides to that dustup, but one remedial lesson Gianforte learned was this: Keep your hands off of your media opponents. And yes, if you’re a Republican, the reporter instinctively doesn’t like you. He or she is probably aligned with your opponents. To think otherwise is to participate in a charade.

In Alaska’s Capitol, Rep. David Wilson, a Wasilla Republican, gave what he considered a playful slap on the face to reporter Nat Herz, who wasn’t so sure it was playful. Herz reported the incident to the police.

Wilson later had a sit-down talk apologized for playing slappy face with Herz. He was would be right to apologize. [Edited May 26 to reflect no apology was made.]

In Iowa, Rep. Rod Blum abruptly ended a TV interview after the reporter asked him why he only allowed people from his district to attend his town halls.

Blum said he was trying to keep his town halls from becoming magnets for disrupters from Chicago or elsewhere who wanted to make a spectacle. When asked if he’d take contributions from outside his district, he ripped off his mic and said, “This is ridiculous.” He didn’t slap, he simply walked out. Good move, Rep. Blum.

Town halls, as conservatives know, have become the rallying cry of the Leftist “Indivisible America” movement that emerged to opposed President Donald Trump. They now demand town halls, even though they never demanded them when Obama was in office. Town halls are part of their opposition playbook, a place where lawmakers can get badgered, filmed, and hounded by a well-organized Left. If politicians don’t show up for them, they’ll suffer consequences in the media, regardless.

THE CASE OF MELANIE PLENDA: WHY MISTRUST OF THE MEDIA IS GROWING

The Associated Press hired a freelancer-activist who on Facebook had blurted out her opposition to Donald Trump a few months prior.

Melanie Plenda was contracted by AP to cover a private, closed-to-press gathering where senior White House official Kellyanne Conway was the guest speaker.

The freelancer-activist entered the gathering without a ticket or media badge and did not reveal herself as a reporter. She just “blended.”

Later, Breitbart News outed her as an activist, who had posted this screed on Nov. 10, 2016:

AP eventually terminated Plenda for violating its editorial standards and filed some corrections on her report of the event, but denied that she had done anything wrong by entering a private political event while essentially under cover.

CONSERVATIVES FEELING THE HEAT

There is a pattern here. Republican lawmakers feel under attack by reporters, and Republicans are venting their anger at those reporters, some more appropriately than others.

Democrat lawmakers, on the other hand, are not angry, and are not hitting reporters. They are not storming out of interviews. Why should they?

The reason is obvious: The reporting class and Democrats have become one and the same, and everyone on the right side of the political fulcrum knows it.

In any given newsroom in America, you will be extremely hard-pressed to find one single, conservative-leaning reporter: A writer who naturally lists toward smaller government and less regulation, traditional family integrity, and nonviolence against unborn children. A reporter who actually votes for conservative candidates? They are rare as a Republican at an Occupy Wall Street meeting.

As a former newspaper editor, I recall hiring all types of reporters, and most of them leaned left. I looked for those who didn’t have degrees in journalism or political science, but who had history or english degrees. The best reporter I ever hired had a degree in Mandarin Chinese. And there was one who had learned his trade in the Coast Guard who came close to reporting from the middle. I felt it was best to hire for attitude and train for skill.

But today’s reporting class has joined the secret handshake of the left-leaning newsroom. They are in lockstep: Donald Trump must be destroyed.

The Washington Press Corps, for example, is furious that the Trump Administration isn’t going along with their usual modus operandi, that deference is not shown to the proper reporters, that White House press conferences now include media that the press corp doesn’t deem worthy.

The mainstream media (yes, an overused phrase) is seething that alternative news organizations are getting traction. The mainstream reporters skew even further to make a point.

WHO THE HECK IS UNICORN RIOT?

The Committee to Protect Journalists recently wrote to the North Dakota state attorney to complain that journalists had been arrested while covering the Standing Rock demonstration protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline:

“CPJ has documented at least 10 journalists still facing charges in relation to the protests, including nine in Morton County. Two of the journalists–Christopher Schiano and Nicholas Georgiades, from the nonprofit media collective Unicorn Riot–face trial on misdemeanor criminal trespass charges today and tomorrow respectively. Police arrested them September 13 while Schiano and Georgiades were filming protesters who had locked themselves to construction equipment. In a video of the arrest, one of the journalists can be heard saying, “I’m press, sir. I’m press.”

Unicorn Riot is indistinguishable from the “Occupy” movement that they cover. But they ride under the banner of “press” because they are documenting their fellow protestors. The group is an example of the rapidly changing media landscape that includes far left (alternative left) and far right coverage (“alt-right”).

AMANPOUR SAYS TRUMP IS EXISTENTIAL THREAT

Christiane Amanpour, a celebrity-level international journalist for CNN, explained it from their side of the notebook while receiving the Burton Benjamin Memorial Award from the Committee to Protect Journalists “for her extraordinary and sustained achievement in the cause of press freedom” on Nov. 22, 2016. In her acceptance speech she said, in part:

I never in a million years thought I would be up here on stage appealing for the freedom and safety of American journalists at home.

Ladies and gentlemen, I added the bits from candidate Trump as a reminder of the peril we face.

I actually hoped that once president-elect, all that would change, and I still do.

But I was chilled when the first tweet after the election was about “professional protesters incited by the media.”

He walked back the part about the protesters but not the part about the media.

…This is how it goes with authoritarians like Sisi, Erdoğan, Putin, the Ayatollahs, Duterte, et al.

There, she said it: President Trump is in the same class as Tayyip Ergodan, Vladimir Putin and the Ayatollahs. Amanpour delegitimized Trump’s win in November and described him as an “existential threat to journalists” and to the world as we know it.

Trump, as has been reported widely, calls the mainstream media an “enemy of the people.”

This is a standoff of inflammatory words. But it cannot end in violence. In America, if we are to survive as a republic, we must allow ideas to compete.

Yes, the conservatives in America are being beaten down by the media, but they are winning the contest of ideas with the voters.  Since Trump was elected, conservatives are still winning special elections, such as the congressional seat won handily by Gianforte in Montana. This, in spite of news coverage increasingly biased against them.

What Amanpour misses, as she reports from her overpaid celebrity bubble, is that it’s not some brownshirt that is unhappy with mainstream journalists — it’s the regular working American.

THE ERA OF ALTERNATIVES

The rise of the alternative media is a result of the infliction that the morning newspaper and the evening newscast has become to many Americans. The public’s anger is real, and technology has given them some hope and some relief.

Whether it’s Unicorn Riot or Breitbart, the alternative media is a growing force. In years ahead, it will be increasingly hard to sort the media from the movement it represents as they will continue to blend. Everyone with a blog will self-identify as members of the “press,” as Unicorn Riot does. The First Amendment protects that, and yeah, good for the First Amendment. But let’s not be confused about what is really going on as the mainstream media tacks ever-harder to the left.

Conservative leaders would be well-advised to invest in refresher training for themselves and their staff members, so they can  cope and communicate in the new media environment. Sharper messages and grace under fire will help conservatives continue to win elections, which will frustrate reporters even more.

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Another great article Suzanne

  • Conservative leaders and Republican elected and appointed officials are well advised to steal a copy, don’t buy it and give the communists money, of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals” and take it to heart. There is little in it you can use to organize conservative opposition to Leftist tactics; the typical Republican/conservative isn’t the sort of person who’ll attend a bean dinner a couple hours before a public meeting so the group can disrupt the meeting by passing gas. The tactic the Left is using on the “town halls” is called “mau-mauing” by the unions after the communist rebel group in Africa in the Sixties. The original Mau-mau used to gruesomely murder village headmen, government officials, and teachers to show the price to be paid if you sided with the government. So far our Leftists in Alaska have confined themselves to shouting and disrupting, but rest assured that their actions will become more and more strident and eventually violent as they try to provoke some official to do something stupid and preferably violent, the whole aim of Alinskyite tactics.
    When the Alaska State Employees Association (ASEA) was at the peak of its Hell-raising guerilla theater in the Hickel and Knowles Administrations the States attitude became “let them be themselves” and they’ll eventually do something completely indefensible. The only time I was ever allowed to just take the gloves off in dealing with a union was when the ASEA bought and paid for Knowles Administration finally just got sick of them. We rounded up the usual suspects fired or disciplined a bunch of them, made it stick, and peace broke out all over. My last media quote as a public official came when the unions predictably mau-maued an “employee appreciation” event that the Murkowski Administration tried to put on against my advice. There is no way a public employee union is going to let the employer do anything good for its employees. The unions put together a mob to go storm the event. I met them at the door to the SOB in Juneau. They were violating both their contracts and the law with the demonstration and I’m sure were confident we’d call the Juneau Police or the Troopers to stop them or arrest some of them. They had their lapdog lefty reporters and TV cameras with them hoping for a big show. I just said to the leaders, “I’m not giving you your Saul Alinsky moment” and walked away. The whole provocation was over in a few minutes, got a little blurb in the Juneau Empire and a mention on communist, excuse me, public radio and faded into history.

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