The Thinker: Rich Galen


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Cease Fire

Rich Galen

Thursday June 29, 2017

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  • It is time to call a cease fire in the day-by-day, hour-by-hour, minute-by-minute artillery fire between the Trump Administration and the Press Corps.

  • It is far worse than unhelpful. It is destructive to our society and to our republic.

  • More than that, all the daily brick throwing that is happening is happening in what is derisively known as the Acela Corridor: From Our Nation's Capital to New York City.

  • There is nothing wrong with there being an adversarial relationship between the media and elected (or appointed) officials. Actually, it is important that a vibrant, skeptical press corps be on duty every day to ask uncomfortable questions and demand clear answers.

  • But, this situation has gone way, way beyond adversarial.

  • This is now guerilla warfare on the part of the press corps and carpet bombing on the part of the Trump Administration.

  • This now has nothing whatever to do with the truth or explanations or providing Americans with the information they need to make good choices.

  • Here's an example: This morning the morning news shows were blaring the latest polling figures on the Senate health care bill. They range in support from 12 percent to 27 percent.

  • Not good.

  • But, I'll bet that the only thing the vast majority of respondents would be able to name as a reason for their position is one number: 22,000,000. That's the number of Medicaid recipients who would not be covered over the next decade, or so.

  • Most, I suspect, don't know the difference between Medicare and Medicaid.

  • Here it is (via
    Medicare is an insurance program.
    Medicaid is an assistance program.

  • There. Was that so hard?

  • Why is it so hard for either side to lower the level of attack and counter-attack? Because it has deteriorated into an all-out war.

  • In 1785, Samuel Johnson wrote:
    "Among the calamities of war may be jointly numbered the diminution of the love of truth, by the falsehoods which interest dictates and credulity encourages."

  • In later years that prose has been reduced to the more familiar:
    "Truth is the first casualty of war."

  • I started as a reporter. A radio reporter at WMOA 1490 on your AM dial in Marietta, Ohio 45750.

  • I was good at it largely because the beat reporter for the daily paper, the late Jerry Condo, took me under his wing and taught me the best lesson ever:
    "When you ask a question, listen to the answer. Don't think about what question you are going to ask next. If the answer is non-responsive, ask it again."

  • I reduced that advice to an oft-used Galenism: "Good answer. Now, let's do my question."

  • One of the reasons I've been pretty successful as a press secretary is because I've always thought like a reporter: "If I were covering this, where would the story be?" That allowed me, on behalf of my boss or client, to be better prepared for whatever was going to come at us.

  • I'm not certain that I would function very well in the current environment.

  • The breathless, sweaty battle among news outlets to publish (or broadcast) the STORY OF THE DAY appears to have overtaken the need to spend more time explaining ever-more complex issues.

  • On the Trump side is � Trump. His constant ad-hominem attacks in 140-character Tweets are unworthy of a Queens slumlord, much less the President of the United States.

  • Sending Sarah Huckabee Sanders out to begin Tuesday's on-camera briefing with a broadside attack on the entire concept of a free press was frightening.

  • Even that was difficult to get a straight report about. "Reporter chews out Sarah Huckabee Sanders for trying to spin bad news as 'fake'" "Sarah Huckabee Sanders rips CNN, media at heated briefing"

  • The media's focus on being the next big thing has led to mistakes. The NY Times editorial the day following the attempted assassination of GOP Congressmen exhumed.. an attack on Sarah Palin that was discredited after the attack on former Congresswoman Gabby Gifford.

  • The Times had to issue a correction. Palin is suing the Times for defamation.

  • How could the editorial board of the New York Times have missed that so badly?

  • Haste.

  • CNN had to retract a story and shed three well-respected reporters for a story they published (but did not broadcast) about possible collusion between a Russian investment fund and a Trump transition team member.

  • Trump's communications team never know what they are supposed to say about major issues because they don't know what Trump is going to say - even if he's talked about the issue in the past.

  • For Trump, the truth is whatever he says it is whenever he says it.

  • The time has come to roll back the rhetorical artillery on both sides and help the rest of America better understand what the hell is going on.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring page today: Links to all of the stories: Huckabee (from both sides),, Palin's defamation suit, and the CNN problem.

    The Mullfoto is great. The best license plate Mullfoto ever.

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