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Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Veteran NBC News Journalist Quits, Confirms Media Is Trolling for Trump Derangement While Supporting Perpetual War in 2,228 Word Memo

By: Aaron Jones and Wes Messamore
The Humble Libertarian

New York (CNN Business) There are goodbye notes — and then there's William Arkin's frustrated farewell to NBC News.

Arkin's 2,228-word memo to his colleagues says that his time at NBC News has been "gratifying."

But he bluntly expresses his displeasure with the "Trump circus," US foreign policy failures, and the state of television news.

"In our day-to-day whirlwind and hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump, I think — like everyone else does — that we miss so much," Arkin says.

He's far from the only person in a national newsroom to feel that way. But he is spelling it out in no uncertain terms.

Arkin has worked for NBC on and off for three decades, sometimes as a military analyst, sometimes as a reporter and consultant.

He describes himself as a scholar at heart, and he has authored numerous books about national security, most recently:

"Unmanned: Drones, Data, And The Illusion of Perfect Warfare."

(THL) Trump being the lede of every news story, even when something more interesting is happening is the Trump circus.

And when Arkin says "hostage status as prisoners of Donald Trump," what I think he is referring to is precisely the CNN columnist publishing this transcript with the headline:

"NBC News Veteran Warns of 'Trump Circus' in 2,228-word Farewell."

Because I would have headlined it:

Veteran NBC News Journalist Quits, Confirms Media Is Trolling for Trump Derangement While Supporting Perpetual War in 2,228 Word Memo

Oh yeah, I did.

Because headlining it the way CNN did is misleading–– it will make some people think Trump or his behavior is the circus Arkin is referring to, not the media's inability to stop itself from framing everything in terms of Trump for those ratings boosts.

Because William Arkin's memo confirms and confronts–– from a mainstream media insider's perspective–– an unofficial mainstream media policy of complicity as a driving force behind perpetual U.S. involvement in armed conflicts all over the planet by its refusal to discuss U.S. military hegemony with a critical eye:

"Seeking refuge in its political horse race roots, NBC (and others) meanwhile report the story of war as one of Rumsfeld vs. the Generals, as Wolfowitz vs. Shinseki, as the CIA vs. Cheney, as the bad torturers vs. the more refined, about numbers of troops and number of deaths, and even then Obama vs. the Congress, poor Obama who couldn't close Guantanamo or reduce nuclear weapons or stand up to Putin because it was just so difficult.

We have contributed to turning the world national security into this sort of political story.

I find it disheartening that we do not report the failures of the generals and national security leaders. I find it shocking that we essentially condone continued American bumbling in the Middle East and now Africa through our ho-hum reporting."

(Hat tip to Brian Selter by the way for this story.) 😄

To me precisely the kind of thing Arkin is talking about in his memo ("political horse race" reporting, manufactured narratives, clickbait stories––– and isn't the Trump phenomenon a hurricane of clickbait stories?)... That is what I call fake news.

And the mainstream media makes more of it than anybody.

And this "ho-hum reporting" is precisely what I was talking about in my critical response to the mainstream media's beatification of George Bush after his recent death, titled:

Unless You Are One Of His Family Members, It Is Ridiculous For You To Mourn George Bush Today

Here's Another Gem From William Arkin's Resignation Letter:

"When the attacks of 9/11 came, I was called back to NBC. I spent weeks on and off the air talking about al Qaeda and the various wars we were rushing into, arguing that airpower and drones would be the centerpiece not troops...

I thought then that there was great danger in the embrace of process and officialdom over values and public longing, and I wrote about the increasing power of the national security community.

Long before Trump and 'deep state' became an expression, I produced one ginormous investigation -- Top Secret America -- for the Washington Post

––and I wrote a nasty book -- American Coup -- about the creeping fascism of homeland security."

"Looking back now they were both harbingers for what President Obama (and then Trump) faced in terms of largely failing to make enduring change. Somewhere in all of that, and particularly as the social media wave began, it was clear that NBC (like the rest of the news media) could no longer keep up with the world.

Added to that was the intellectual challenge of how to report our new kind of wars when there were no real fronts and no actual measures of success."

In that last sentence William Arkin lays bare the lack of imagination at NBC.

Leaked NBC News Veteran's Resignation Letter Criticizes Mainstream Media's Discussion of The Deep State, War

Although I have to say I disagree with some of Arkin's concerns about social media:

"Even without Trump, our biggest challenge as we move forward is that we have become exhausted parents of our infant (and infantile) social media children.

And because of the "cycle," we at NBC (and all others in the field of journalism) suffer from a really bad case of not being able to ever take a breath. We are a long way from resolving the rules of the road in this age, whether it be with regard to our personal conduct or anything related to hard news.

I also don't think that we are on a straight line towards digital nirvana, that is, that all of this information will democratize and improve society.

I sense that there is already smartphone and social media fatigue creeping across the land, and my guess is that nothing we currently see -- nothing that is snappy or chatty -- will solve our horrific challenges of information overload or the role (and nature) of journalism.

And I am sure that once Trump leaves center stage, society will have a gigantic media hangover. Thus for NBC -- and for everyone else -- there is challenge and opportunity ahead. I'd particularly like to think and write more about that."

I have to disagree.

It's clear already that the information age has improved the human condition by miraculous leaps and bounds.

By every standard of progress, humanity all over the planet is improving at a startling pace.

The Cato Institute recently published an analysis that found wealth is increasing significantly faster than the human population is.

And much of this progress goes hand in hand with the exponential improvements in the value of our civilization's digital assets.

And I disagree with the dismal picture of social media that William Arkin paints, as well as his prognosis.

He says we're all drunk on the Trump Kool-Aid, but I don't think that's it. You can't pin all this on Trump.

He and many others are merely surfing atop a wave of new possibilities that were made possible by the many interconnected technological advancements that are now happening, a wave of technology and possibilities that is expanding at an accelerating pace.

There will be no media hangover after Trump steps down from office because we are not intoxicated by Trump. We are intoxicated by the possibilities of so much light shining forth from and into so many places.

We are intoxicated by each other, by how many of us there are and how amazing we all are, and how easy it is now to talk to each other, by how vast this planet is–– truly a cosmos unto itself–– by the fact that we can look into our screens and call forth from the abyss anything our minds think of and our hearts want.

I've got to say I'm actually very encouraged by what is happening on social media today.

Before social media, when I was a teenager, I was obsessed with politics and news. I read all these political news magazines and newspapers.

In my experience that seemed to set me apart from a lot of the people that I knew. I thought an obsessive interest in politics was something very rare.

Then computers get mind-blowingly more powerful in a short period of time and these social media platforms allow all of us to easily think out loud together.

And what a wonderful development I think it is that we were able to connect like never before and join our thoughts together and write anything we wanted that would never have been possible to write until now, to create this vast digital archive of our thoughts together, and instead of something trivial and decadent, people want to think out loud together about politics to a degree that has surprised everyone and has even startled and disturbed the political establishment.

When I was younger I would not have guessed that extended political discourse would be so important to so many people. And I think it's great that it is.

People say that we're social media addicts, that we should go outside for a walk, or read a book, and those are fine things to do, but so is making these posts, and tweets, and comments on social media.

When we do this, we're literally thinking together about the big picture, and that's something important for us to do, and something very fun and rewarding.

And no wonder it's addictive.

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