Howard Kurtz is one of the few media observers that get the profession.
He has an interesting piece in the Hollywood Reporter that is worth reading, but the headline How “Trump Trauma” Is Crippling the News Media hints that not even Kurtz has the full awareness of what actually has gone down.
Take this passage, for example:
It is scorched-earth warfare in which only one side can achieve victory. To a stunning degree, the press is falling into the president’s trap. The country’s top news organizations have targeted Trump with an unprecedented barrage of negative stories, with some no longer making much attempt to hide their contempt. Some stories are legitimate, some are not, and others are generated by the president’s own falsehoods and exaggerations. But the mainstream media, subconsciously at first, has lurched into the opposition camp and is appealing to an anti-Trump base of viewers and readers, failing to grasp how deeply it is distrusted by a wide swath of the country.
Kurtz gets Trump, and the first chapter of his mid-1990s book Media Circus proves it. Trump is not stupid. He is not crazy. He is not irrational. He is far smarter than journalists, who are coming off as a bunch of oblivious nerds with a bad case of sour grapes. That one man can make it all the way to the White House without the media should have told journalists in how much peril they had been.
I saw it as I am also someone who has studied the media as I worked in the profession.
But even Kurtz doesn’t see the uglier truth: that the war was lost on Election Day. Journalism was soundly defeated, and now the never-ending temper tantrum shows how little influence the press now has.
But the press keeps doing the same thing, expecting a different outcome. They are refusing to see what has happened, and how much of their own behaviour and mindset contributed to it. Trump hammered the final nail in journalism’s coffin, but they were the ones who dug the hole, built the coffin, provided the hammer and nails, and then dove right into the pine box.
You have people like me who used to say, stop digging a hole, stop making a coffin, stay away from those hammer and nails…
It didn’t help.
The problem was that the press were bad magicians who rigged coverage in such a brazen way to force people to vote for Hillary Clinton. Trump, who is a genuinely cunning man, saw the rigs, bypassed them, and showed himself to be the true magician.
The news media were inferior performers. Their strongest one was no match for Trump. All of them put together were no match for Trump.
Now, it has been panic and denial of the simple fact that the profession is dead. Media outlets are shutting down. Jobs are being slashed. All the Trump-bashing isn’t working. Trump thrives in chaos.
But journalists do not see it.
They don’t realize they have lost the war.
They placed all their resources in a single basket, and it failed.
So while Kurtz sees a lot, even he doesn’t see that it’s done. We need information-gathering, but journalism’s model has been broken beyond repair.
And it is time the profession face up to the truth of their reality.