In the avalanche of “Fake News” stories over the past seven days—led by the mass media hysteria in the wake of President Trump using most reporters as punching bags during his solo news conference at the White House—none can top the ridiculous new gold standard of fake news posted Saturday by NBC News.
“Trump Always Calls Out Chicago, but City Closest to Mar-a-Lago Had Comparable Crime Rate in 2015”was the oversized headline on a “news” story written by someone named Corky Siemaszko. (Let the official record show that I do not personally know Corky, so have no reason to dislike him. Or NBC News for that matter, which often features my Salem Radio Network colleague Hugh Hewitt on MEET THE PRESS and other news/opinion telecasts.)
I stumbled on this story while searching for a live stream of President Trump’s rally in Melbourne, Florida on Saturday, and while watching that event I was transfixed by the “City Closest to Mar-A-Lago” posting. I read it. Then re-read it. Took a break to enjoy cup of coffee and let the dogs out, then returned to it for yet another reading.
Despite what I consider to be a reasonably vigorous attempt to ascertain some logic in it, I concluded that this story is either an early April Fool’s prank, or else NBC News is in serious need of adult supervision.
Like a bad Jessica Fletcher monologue on Murder She Wrote, the story weaves a dystopian tale of two cities:
“The city of West Palm Beach, which sits just across the Intracoastal Waterway from Trump's palatial Mar-a-Lago Resort — aka the Winter White House — on exclusive Palm Beach, had a violent crime rate in 2015 that was equal to that of the Windy City, according to federal crime records.”
(I love that reference to “federal crime records,” as if NBC News had dispatched William Hopper, the trenchcoat-wearing private investigator Paul Drake from the old Perry Mason show to dig into this horror in Donald Trump’s backyard.)
They also interviewed West Palm Beach ‘community activist’ Ricky Aiken—founder of something called Inner City Innovators—who pointed toward Mar-A-Lago and grimly observed: "Trump is a guy who lives over there….If he is serious about making changes in the inner cities, he would be welcome. But people like him tend to avoid communities like mine." NBC News added a helpful photo of community activist Mr. Aiken wielding a bullhorn, surrounded by a number of African-American youths, taken at a peace march in—wait for it—2015.
(Future column: What is the NBC News obsession with the year 2015?)
Don’t believe me? Read the entire piece here.
I do give NBC News and Corky Siemaszko credit for (a) creative writing (b) offering free publicity to community activists who can certainly always use a little boost of p.r. and (c) fanciful stereotyping of non-minorities by referring to them as “the old money WASPs (who) still run the show.”
But in the arena of fake news—which is what has dominated the major media’s navel-gazing ever since Donald Trump placed his hand on the Bible on January 20th—this NBC News post stands out as an absurd attempt at pretzel logic. It’s a dopey, failed effort to make President Trump look bad, which only advances the Commander In Chief’s observation that the curtain has finally been pulled back on the media’s façade of “objectivity” and their abandonment of the professional journalism which all Americans expect and deserve.
But since they missed the boat, here are two key points which make even posting their story a pathetic and depressing exercise: First, this is not 2015. It is 2017. Secondly, Donald J. Trump was not President in 2015—Barack Obama was—when the West Palm Beach violent crime rate was comparable to Chicago’s (according to those “federal crime records.”)
Only in the convoluted world of NBC News could someone take 2015 crime stats for a city “near” Donald Trump’s “palatial” home Mar-A-Lago and use that to rustle-up a community activist who sneers that “people like (Trump) tend to avoid communities like mine" as part of a news story which also stabs old-money WASPS who “still run the show.” This is not journalism…it is like the Frankenstein monster, assembled from various parts as if ordering from a menu at the Yellow Journalism Cafeteria.
Some call it Trump Derangement Syndrome. Others think the President brought this on himself by daring to make references to “the failing New York Times” or telling CNN’s Jim Acosta to sit down because “You are Fake News.” Doesn’t really matter: Americans are ill-served by alleged news reporters with a political chip on their collective shoulders.
Frankly, I don’t really know what to make of it. But it brings to mind a phrase often uttered by my former boss, the broadcasting philosopher Norman Seymour Schrutt, who would observe: “This smells from herring.”