Op-ed: Lies about lies

  • By Bob Franken
  • Tuesday, September 20, 2016 3:33pm
  • Opinion

I’ve always had a special kind of contempt for the malefactors who try to turn their evil behavior against those who are resisting. It can get Orwellian. A good example would be the oligarchs in this country who hoard the wealth they’ve accumulated by hook and crook, and then accuse those who resist of waging class warfare. Never mind that by using their riches to stack the deck in their favor and by bribing the politicians with their campaign contributions, they’re the ones waging the class warfare.

And so it is with Donald Trump, who has taken to saying that when Hillary Clinton calls out his bigotry, she “relies on the tired tactic of smearing opponents who question her policies as racists.” “They talk all about racism, racism, racism,” he goes on, “It’s the only word they know.” He’s even accused the Democrats of bigotry.

Notwithstanding his complaint, Donald Trump is an out-and-out racist, but he’s trying to squirm out of that ugly reality, and so are his followers. They consistently have supported the “birther” slander that he and they embraced for years, calling into question the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency because he’s black. There it is. To make matters worse, now that it doesn’t serve his purposes to continue to express doubts about where President Obama was born, he lies to say that Hillary Clinton originated the charge. No, she did not. He also argues that somehow the “R” word doesn’t apply to anyone who has smeared a judge’s Mexican heritage — in fact, all Mexicans, Muslims, the disabled and women. He’s not only a racist but just about every kind of “ist” that there is.

He also constantly accuses Hillary Clinton of failed judgment and a grasp of policy even though his verbal blunders are such a constant embarrassment that his ignorance has stopped being newsworthy, just like his outrageous and dangerous statements. He has so numbed us in the media that we hardly notice when he pulls some stunt like the way he persuaded the TV networks to carry his lengthy self-serving speech live before he finally uttered the single-sentence admission that Barack Obama was in fact born in the United States. “Period.”

The distortion of the journalistic process has gotten so bad that even the most craven media boss has decided the time has come to fight back. I have one suggestion that I think would be a good place to start: For the remainder of this election period, TV news organizations should no longer carry any candidate’s event live, not the speeches, not any of the contrived photo ops, as they used to say where I grew up, “not nuthin’.” Not live. Instead, we should record the feed of the event, and when the various media decide that news has been made, the video can be turned around and aired. That would put the control of coverage where it belongs: in the hands of the editorial professionals at each network. More importantly, it would reduce the manipulative shenanigans of the political image-makers, particularly when they collude with the candidate to gloss over dishonesty or sleazy business dealings, blatant demagogic appeals to fear, ignorance and prejudice or dangerous statements meant to incite.

The attacks in New York, New Jersey and Minnesota demonstrate still again how irresponsible rhetoric can distract at a time when our leaders must be focused on problems that are deadly, complex and unpredictable. Bullying is not a solution. Nor is careless rhetoric. We need to somehow get back to being united at a time when both candidates are leading a lurch in the other direction. Hillary Clinton has been vapid, cautious to the point of choosing words that mislead. Donald Trump uses words that inspire hatred. Before he can change his ways, he must stop deflecting blame with his verbal deceptions. We are a confused nation. It’s easy to see why.

Bob Franken is a longtime broadcast journalist, including 20 years at CNN.

More in Opinion

No to 67%

Recently, the Alaska State Officers Compensation Commission voted to raise the pay… Continue reading

This image available under the Creative Commons license shows the outline of the state of Alaska filled with the pattern of the state flag.
Opinion: Old models of development are not sustainable for Alaska

Sustainability means investing in keeping Alaska as healthy as possible.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy unveils proposals to offer public school teachers annual retention bonuses and enact policies restricting discussion of sex and gender in education during a news conference in Anchorage. (Screenshot)
Opinion: As a father and a grandfather, I believe the governor’s proposed laws are anti-family

Now, the discrimination sword is pointing to our gay and transgender friends and families.

Kenai Peninsula Education Association President Nathan Erfurth works in his office on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: Now is the time to invest in Kenai Peninsula students

Parents, educators and community members addressed the potential budget cuts with a clear message.

Gov. Mike Dunleavy holds a press conference at the Capitol on Tuesday, April 9, 2019. (Juneau Empire file photo)
Opinion: An accurate portrayal of parental rights isn’t controversial

Affirming and defining parental rights is a matter of respect for the relationship between parent and child

Opinion: When the state values bigotry over the lives of queer kids

It has been a long, difficult week for queer and trans Alaskans like me.

Unsplash / Louis Velazquez
Opinion: Fish, family and freedom… from Big Oil

“Ultimate investment in the status quo” is not what I voted for.

Dr. Sarah Spencer. (Photo by Maureen Todd and courtesy of Dr. Sarah Spencer)
Voices of the Peninsula: Let’s bring opioid addiction treatment to the Alaskans who need it most

This incredibly effective and safe medication has the potential to dramatically increase access to treatment

An orphaned moose calf reared by the author is seen in 1970. (Stephen F. Stringham/courtesy photo)
Voices of the Peninsula: Maximizing moose productivity on the Kenai Peninsula

Maximum isn’t necessarily optimum, as cattle ranchers learned long ago.

(Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: The time has come to stop Eastman’s willful and wanton damage

God in the Bible makes it clear that we are to care for the vulnerable among us.

Caribou graze on the greening tundra of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in northeast Alaska in June, 2001. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Opinion: AIDEA’s $20 million-and-growing investment looks like a bad bet

Not producing in ANWR could probably generate a lot of money for Alaska.

A fisher holds a reel on the Kenai River near Soldotna on June 30, 2021. (Photo by Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Voices of the Peninsula: King salmon closures long overdue

Returns have progressively gone downhill since the early run was closed in June 2012