A six-word phrase summarized President Trump‘s entire mission this week. He shared this phrase during the Save America March, which spread across much of the National Mall on Wednesday as lawmakers addressed the final outcome of the presidential election within the U.S. Capitol. So what did Mr. Trump say?
“This is a time for strength,” the president told the crowd, a message he repeated throughout his speech.
The audience cheered and waved their banners and American flags in response.
In the aftermath, some serious mayhem ensued at the Capitol, about a mile’s walk down the National Mall. The media immediately responded to the dangerous confrontation — which ultimately yielded a lockdown of the Capitol, gunfire and a fatality, reports of improvised explosive devices, an evacuation of lawmakers and Vice President Mike Pence, much alarm among officials and a public message from Mr. Trump asking for “peace.”
News coverage instantly emerged — the kind of which hasn’t been seen since the 1960s when anti-war marches drew police and protesters to the very same hallowed ground. Just a few of many headlines of note:
“Supporters of President Trump breached the Capitol,” (The Washington Post); “Pro-Trump mob storm Capitol building” (The New York Times); “Trump supporters storm U.S. Capitol” (NPR); “Pro-Trump rioters breach Capitol” (USA Today); “Trump supporters violently clash with police, smash down barricades as they try to storm the Capitol” (Mediaite); “U.S. Capitol, Washington on lockdown as Trump supporters breach building” (New York Post); “U.S. Capitol locked down as Trump supporters clash with police” (The Associated Press); and “Insurrectionists storm the U.S. Capitol” (Defense One).
To be sure, protests can be murky, chaotic, dangerous events. The nonprofit Committee to Protect Journalists, in fact, recently named protests as one of the top risks for journalists to cover, along with natural disasters, active conflicts and the coronavirus pandemic.
This serous, disconcerting event deserves thoughtful follow-up news coverage, some analysis from media ethicists at the Society of Professional Journalists and other organizations — and perhaps some serious discussion among Trump supporters and Trump foes alike.
IN SEARCH OF HOME
The nation’s heartland appears to have much understandable appeal to many Americans at the moment.
A new Gallup poll reveals that half of Americans — 48% — now say they would prefer to live in a rural area or a small town, rather than city or suburbs. Republicans prefer life in the country more than anyone else in the nation. Two-thirds — 66% — said this was the lifestyle they preferred, up 13 percentage points since Gallup conducted a similar poll two years ago.
The rural, small-town urge is not so prevalent among Democrats. A third of Democrats — 33% — prefer this lifestyle, the poll found. About half of all Americans — 48% — agree, along with 47% of independents.
“Current attitudes are similar to those recorded in October 2001,” wrote Gallup analyst Lydia Saad.
That survey, she said, had been conducted “during a time of great national upheaval — shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, when the public was still on edge about the potential for more terrorism occurring in densely populated areas.”
In that poll, 47% of the respondents said they would like to move to a small town or rural area, on par with the current findings.
A new broadcast style has emerged which would have been unthinkable in the classic old days of expressionless anchors who delivered the news with factual gravitas. This broadcast style involves theatrics. One analyst is flagging CNN as an example of this trend.
“The journalism industry has evolved into a ‘look at me too’ movement,” Fox News contributor Joe Concha told the network on Wednesday, citing CNN host Brianna Keilar‘s recent expletive-filled attack on Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
It amounts to “performance art,” Mr. Concha said, citing CNN’s two White House reporters and their behavior toward two former White House press secretaries.
“This is a pattern with CNN. We saw it with Jim Acosta during White House press conferences, or April Ryan where they will get into a confrontation. Oftentimes it was a contrived one, either with a Sarah Huckabee Sanders or Sean Spicer, or President Trump. And then they go on the air after to talk about how they were so victimized because that particular person in power or spokesperson was so mean to them,” Mr. Concha said.
“That’s when it’s become at this point, for many in journalism, performance art,” he noted.
“It’s the ‘look at me too’ movement for many in journalism by dropping expletives or getting into confrontations by doing monologues instead of asking pointed questions that inform the public,” the analyst concluded.
Fox News retains its prime-time edge over its cable news competition according to Nielsen Media Research numbers for the final week of 2020.
Fox News drew 1.8 million prime-time viewers, followed by CNN (1.6 million) and MSNBC (1.4 million). The prime-time hosts plus late afternoon staple “The Five” are still proving to be the powerhouse drivers for the network.
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” garnered an audience of 2.7 million while “The Five” drew 2.5 million and “Hannity” 2.4 million. And a note on weekend programming: “Justice with Judge Jeanine” was the No. 1 weekend news program of all, with an audience of 1.9 million viewers.
POLL DU JOUR
• 21% of U.S. adults say politics in America will be “more interesting” in the year ahead; 20% of Republicans, 18% of independents and 25% of Democrats agree.
• 40% say politics in America will be “about the same” in the year ahead; 36% of Republicans, 38% of independents and 45% of Democrats agree.
• 24% say politics will be “less interesting” in the year ahead; 35% of Republicans, 22% of independents and 18% of Democrats agree.
• 15% are not sure what politics will be like in the year ahead; 9% of Republicans, 21% of independents and 12% of Democrats agree.
Source: An Economist/YouGov poll of 1,500 U.S. adults conducted Jan. 3-5.
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