Mainstream Media’s 2017 Hangover

Tom Tradup
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Posted: Jan 01, 2017 12:01 AM
Mainstream Media’s 2017 Hangover

As New Year’s Eve revelers prepared to welcome in 2017, President-elect Donald J. Trump issued this instant classic on Twitter: Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don't know what to do. Love!”

This predictably sent mainstream media types sputtering in fits of apoplexy presaging a New Year’s hangover they are unlikely to shake in the near future, obsessed as they are with discrediting Donald J. Trump as the elected leader of the Free World. They appear oblivious that Trump’s presidency will—for many of them—likely be the linear equivalent of New York City’s famed Carnegie Deli closing its doors for the final time as the curtain went down on 2016.

For journalism in the Trump era, “Winter is coming” warns Jay Rosen of New York University. Rosen issued a thoughtful-if-myopic, two-part call to arms on Prospects for the American Press Under Trump (www.PressThink.org) and he observes: “Like it or not, the press….is currently in the fight of its life against forces that want to bring it down.” Rounding up the usual suspects, Rosen sees “an organized movement to discredit mainstream journalism stretching from Steve Bannon in the White House to Trump’s army of online trolls.” For good measure, he also tosses in Talk Radio and FOX News into the peasants with pitchforks menacing traditional media outlets.

The only thing Rosen omits—and possibly the most important item which AP, MSNBC, Voice of America and other “journalists” might actually need--is a mirror. That’s where they will find the real source of public discontent—and distrust—of American media. It will clearly reflect the images of those who proselytized on behalf of Hillary Clinton’s aimless, focus-grouped campaign for nearly two years…ignoring DNC bias against Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries and promoting 24/7 polls predicting a Clinton landslide on November 8th.

As Vice President of News for the Salem Radio Network—which serves over 1,700 radio stations nationwide—one of my primary missions is to insure that listeners cannot tell—by listening to our broadcasts—the political leanings of any of the men and women who serve as our anchors and correspondents. (That is not to imply a lack of political diversity in, say, our Washington, D.C. news bureau…but rather our obligation to keep those inherent human biases out of our on-air product.) Compare this with the hangdog, glum faces on all the major TV networks about 2AM Eastern time on November 9th as Pennsylvania was called for Donald Trump. Most of the on-camera visages looked as if they were auditioning for the role of undertaker Johnny Degnan in John Ford’s political film “The Last Hurrah.” For many of them, it really was.

You know, there’s nothing like good old-fashioned hip replacement surgery to slow a person down and get some eye-level perspective on what the general public experiences via mainstream media. For the past two weeks of primarily bedrest between rehab exercises, I have watched more cable TV news than the average American consumes in a month. And in the process, I’ve actually subtracted from the sum total of my working knowledge about breaking news, the Trump transition, the U.N.’s outrageous anti-Israel vote and other events.

The pathetic and biased “coverage” offered by TV networks—and their acolytes in print—makes it all the more encouraging that incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer this week observed to my colleague Hugh Hewitt that Talk Radio will be high on his radar in the new year: “Talk radio has been an important part of the conservative base for a long time. And one of the things that’s important, and one of the things that the mainstream media missed is when talk radio really started to rise in the early 90s, it gave ideas and outlets, and frankly people a place to go that they could have an adult conversation, an adult debate, about substantive issues. And we recognize that, and we will continue to utilize it as a very powerful medium.”

If NYU’s Jay Rosen is right, Winter is definitely—and deservedly—coming for the once-powerful mainstream media. But for talk radio…it’s Morning in America once again.

Tom Tradup is Vice President of News & Talk Programming for Dallas-based Salem Radio Network.  He can be reached at ttradup@srnradio.com