Service of Bad Precedent

November 12th, 2020

Categories: Elections, Free Speech, Media, Politicians, Politics, Precedent

Many of my friends stopped watching the news weeks before the election. They couldn’t take any more stress. Grownups are capable of this choice and of switching channels.

That’s why I found the following news an eye-opener in the land of freedom of speech:

“The three big broadcast networks — ABC, CBS and NBC —cut away from President Trump’s news conference at the White House on Thursday as the president lobbed false claims about the integrity of the election,” Michael M. Grynbaum and Tiffany Hsu wrote in The New York Times. Fox and CNN stayed with it, they reported.

A few days later Fox News did this to press secretary Kayleigh McEnany for the same reason.

So why are the networks suddenly doing this now? Why didn’t they do it during the 2016 presidential campaign?

In July, 2020 The Guardian reported that “Donald Trump has made 20,000 false or misleading claims while in office, according to the Washington Post, which identified a “’tsunami of untruths.’”

The 45th president has been covered on TV many times since.

I think cutting off a political figure–especially a president–or her/his spokesperson because you don’t like what you’re hearing is inappropriate. Instead a news organization should have on hand credible pundits who parry the bogus allegations or they shouldn’t cover the conference in the first place.

Should a news organization, or its news division, use its ability to cut off a prominent speaker because its producers or owners feel she/he is making things up? Remember all the tobacco industry chiefs who stared into the camera telling the public that smoking is not harmful? Is this a bad precedent?

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8 Responses to “Service of Bad Precedent”

  1. HG Said:

    I agree with you.

    However, if I agree with you with a full length response, I’m afraid it will lead to a raising of my blood pressure! Keep on with your good work — we’re behind you all the way…

  2. Jeanne Byington Said:


    I keep thinking of an old saying: “what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.” We may not like what we hear from the 45th president but others might not like what the 46th, 47th and 48th presidents have to say.

    I also think of how behavior at the tennis court was never the same after the tantrums and bad behavior of Jimmy Connors and John McEnroe in the 1980s and ’90s, tolerated because they were such good players. [Same with Tiger Woods on the golf links.] Putting toothpaste back in the tube is impossible to do.

  3. Lucrezia Said:

    One answer to your question is staring at you: $$$$! Actions such as groups advising the channels they’re about to boycott the advertisers, advertisers threatening to boycott the channel, along with thousands of individual threats. Ratings may also have plummeted.

    Assuming free speech, my take is to let the Prez rant on. The more he does, the more folks will realize their initial error: voting for him in the first place. I could be wrong, but all 70++ million who supported him then and now, may just not have been listening. Not that many are interested in current events. Very few have the slightest notion who their US senators or representatives are, so if oblivious to screaming headlines, they’ll vote their usual ticket.

    In defense of our news sources, their job is to publicize prominent and important public figures, regardless of what they have to say. It’s up to the public to silence them by throwing them out of office.

  4. Amanda Ripanykhazova Said:

    I disagree violently and think that the media providing the air beneath his wings for the last 4 years is the reason 71 million people voted for him.

    There is absolutely no reason to ensure a balance between the fireman and the fire.

  5. Jeanne Byington Said:


    Could be–I didn’t think of $$$! The reason they gave him so much air time in the past was because his following generated audiences that added to the advertising coffers.

    I agree re giving the prez –or his spokespeople–as much rope as they want so they can tangle themselves in it. That and freedom of speech.

    I also agree that news sources should give a platform to important public figures and let the public decide not only at the ballot box but with their remote controls. CLICK! GONE!

    But in the case of DJT, media–broadcast and print–gave him so much coverage, especially before the 2016 election, that he didn’t have to use much if any of his campaign advertising budget. The inordinate amount of free coverage put him in office to begin with.

  6. Jeanne Byington Said:


    As I responded to Lucrezia above, and as you noted, the wind beneath his wings generated by his hot air to which the media gave additional air, put him in office. Last Thursday’s cutting him off was too little too late.

    However, even though in the case of DJT it is warranted and long due, I don’t think it’s a good idea as I wrote in the post. It can become a habit that bounces back and strikes someone whom many sane people endorse.

  7. Martha Takayama Said:

    I am not really sure how to answer the questions this post poses. I find it incredibly disturbing as well as unbearable to listen to the endless stream of often incoherent lies put forth by the current president and his allies and lackeys. No one controlled him or fact checked as promised during his fictional narration of the Covid vaccine development last night on MSNBC. I am not sure what the obligation of the media is to give him time.

    I certainly don’t know why they cannot fact check in real time as they threaten or promise do. Why can’t they state that what are absolute lies are lies. During most of this presidency I have been unable to understand the media making endless efforts trying to find a reasonable or positive understanding or interpretation for rabble rousing and dishonest statements such as the”Good people on both sides…” It is certainly not their job to try to spin like this. I think that all the w’s of journalism, who, what, when, where, and why are constantly ignored presently in much news coverage. I have become totally disillusioned

  8. Jeanne Byington Said:


    You speak for 74 million of us. However, 72 million have fallen for the WH spin. One reason: the exposure they were given to a showman before the 2016 election.

    This country has been praised for its excellent marketing techniques. Problem is, people fall for the marketing ploys of a star marketer like DJT. We believe that “Diamonds are Forever,” even though the divorce rate here is about 50 percent. Is Disney really the “happiest place on earth?” That’s what Disney says. Do you climb every mountain with ease or run the marathon because Nike tells you “Just Do It.”

    Even so, I’m not convinced that suddenly and out of the blue it’s OK for networks and cable news stations to cut off a prominent speaker because the producer doesn’t like what she/he is saying. They shouldn’t give them coverage to begin with in that case.

    I like your idea that a fact checker be on the spot to point out a speaker’s falsehoods though I’m not sure how this can be done in real time the way sign language is.

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