CNN's embrace of gonzo journalism 

"As far as I'm concerned it's a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity." –Hunter S. Thompson, 1958

We can probably safely assume that Hunter Thompson would have loathed Donald Trump as much as he did Richard Nixon, but his comment on the state of journalism, from his cover letter for a job application in 1958, is remarkably descriptive of the state of journalism today.  Thompson later invented the term "gonzo journalism" (1970) to describe his own preferred style, a style without objectivity and in which the reporter is often part of the story.  If he were alive today, he would likely be shocked, maybe even pleased, at how gonzo journalism, in one form or another, is the order of the day, especially at CNN.  The cable network spends most of its twenty-four hours on the air smearing President Trump in every way conceivable.  MSNBC does the same.  But CNN has jumped the shark to pure gonzo reporting.  These past few days, CNN talked about CNN all day long. 

So offended by the seconds-long GIF showing Trump beating on a man whose head is a CNN logo, the left, not only those at CNN, lost their minds.  The GIF was and remains funny – a simple, obvious attempt at humor by some anonymous person who, like millions of others, spends his days creating clever posts for one purpose or another.  This one took a bit of ten-year-old video at a WWE event (which everyone knows is staged) and superimposed the CNN logo on Vince McMahon's head.  Suddenly, the same people who were not bothered by Kathy Griffin's beheaded Trump stunt, the nightly assassination of Trump at Shakespeare in the Park, the near assassination of a Republican congressman by a radicalized Bernie Sanders supporter, and the constant stream of venom hurled at Trump all day every day on or in nearly every news outlet are shocked and horrified at the GIF's "call for violence against reporters"!  Trump did not create the GIF – he just retweeted it – but at CNN, this is cause for impeachment, a sign of his mental instability.  These pathetic creampuffs seem to actually be afraid for their lives!  On this score, Hunter Thompson might have leapt to Trump's defense; he would have appreciated his renegade style, his tweets.  Thompson never had any respect for mainstream journalists.

Then Andrew Kaczynski, the CNN person in charge of Republican oppo research, tracked down the person who seemed to have created the GIF.  One can only imagine what tactics were employed to badger the person into a long online servile apology.  CNN patted itself on the back for not revealing his identify but threatened to do so if the person ever went after CNN again.  Even Hunter Thompson would not have considered threatening or blackmailing a critic, but he was just one guy; CNN is a major news corporation behaving like some sort of mafia don.  Their anchors and panel guests spent the day all atwitter, congratulating themselves on their find and their good moral sense in protecting his identity.  They were positively gleeful.  This is how absolutely clueless these "dullards, these people hag-ridden with myopia" are.  They actually have no moral sense, no journalistic ethics. 

There actually is a code of ethics that journalists are supposed to live by: seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent.  Consider the track record of CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, NYT, WaPo, LAT, etc. throughout the Bush and Obama administrations.  They attacked Bush relentlessly, failed to report on Obama's many scandals and breaches of the Constitution.  They did everything in their power not to report the many crimes of the Clintons while they were in the White House or their selling access for millions of dollars while Hillary was secretary of state.  So insulated in their Beltway of intolerance, it never occurred to them that Trump could or would win.  Since he did, they have lost their senses and are behaving like the narcissists they are.  As Mika Brezenski opined one day, "it's our job to control exactly what people think."  Their job, indeed!  No wonder they were all so shocked when Trump won.  They actually believe firmly in the vastly inflated sense of their own power to manipulate the public.  That they failed to secure Hillary's victory of which they were so certain has produced among them paroxysms of rage.  They have not been objective for years and years; not one member of the current White House press corps is a Republican.

CNN does not employ journalists at all.  It employs hacks all too willing to do work for the cause: taking Trump down.  Marshall McLuhan said many years ago that "all media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values."  That they do.

"As far as I'm concerned it's a damned shame that a field as potentially dynamic and vital as journalism should be overrun with dullards, bums, and hacks, hag-ridden with myopia, apathy, and complacence, and generally stuck in a bog of stagnant mediocrity." –Hunter S. Thompson, 1958

We can probably safely assume that Hunter Thompson would have loathed Donald Trump as much as he did Richard Nixon, but his comment on the state of journalism, from his cover letter for a job application in 1958, is remarkably descriptive of the state of journalism today.  Thompson later invented the term "gonzo journalism" (1970) to describe his own preferred style, a style without objectivity and in which the reporter is often part of the story.  If he were alive today, he would likely be shocked, maybe even pleased, at how gonzo journalism, in one form or another, is the order of the day, especially at CNN.  The cable network spends most of its twenty-four hours on the air smearing President Trump in every way conceivable.  MSNBC does the same.  But CNN has jumped the shark to pure gonzo reporting.  These past few days, CNN talked about CNN all day long. 

So offended by the seconds-long GIF showing Trump beating on a man whose head is a CNN logo, the left, not only those at CNN, lost their minds.  The GIF was and remains funny – a simple, obvious attempt at humor by some anonymous person who, like millions of others, spends his days creating clever posts for one purpose or another.  This one took a bit of ten-year-old video at a WWE event (which everyone knows is staged) and superimposed the CNN logo on Vince McMahon's head.  Suddenly, the same people who were not bothered by Kathy Griffin's beheaded Trump stunt, the nightly assassination of Trump at Shakespeare in the Park, the near assassination of a Republican congressman by a radicalized Bernie Sanders supporter, and the constant stream of venom hurled at Trump all day every day on or in nearly every news outlet are shocked and horrified at the GIF's "call for violence against reporters"!  Trump did not create the GIF – he just retweeted it – but at CNN, this is cause for impeachment, a sign of his mental instability.  These pathetic creampuffs seem to actually be afraid for their lives!  On this score, Hunter Thompson might have leapt to Trump's defense; he would have appreciated his renegade style, his tweets.  Thompson never had any respect for mainstream journalists.

Then Andrew Kaczynski, the CNN person in charge of Republican oppo research, tracked down the person who seemed to have created the GIF.  One can only imagine what tactics were employed to badger the person into a long online servile apology.  CNN patted itself on the back for not revealing his identify but threatened to do so if the person ever went after CNN again.  Even Hunter Thompson would not have considered threatening or blackmailing a critic, but he was just one guy; CNN is a major news corporation behaving like some sort of mafia don.  Their anchors and panel guests spent the day all atwitter, congratulating themselves on their find and their good moral sense in protecting his identity.  They were positively gleeful.  This is how absolutely clueless these "dullards, these people hag-ridden with myopia" are.  They actually have no moral sense, no journalistic ethics. 

There actually is a code of ethics that journalists are supposed to live by: seek the truth and report it, minimize harm, act independently, and be accountable and transparent.  Consider the track record of CNN, MSNBC, CBS, ABC, NBC, NYT, WaPo, LAT, etc. throughout the Bush and Obama administrations.  They attacked Bush relentlessly, failed to report on Obama's many scandals and breaches of the Constitution.  They did everything in their power not to report the many crimes of the Clintons while they were in the White House or their selling access for millions of dollars while Hillary was secretary of state.  So insulated in their Beltway of intolerance, it never occurred to them that Trump could or would win.  Since he did, they have lost their senses and are behaving like the narcissists they are.  As Mika Brezenski opined one day, "it's our job to control exactly what people think."  Their job, indeed!  No wonder they were all so shocked when Trump won.  They actually believe firmly in the vastly inflated sense of their own power to manipulate the public.  That they failed to secure Hillary's victory of which they were so certain has produced among them paroxysms of rage.  They have not been objective for years and years; not one member of the current White House press corps is a Republican.

CNN does not employ journalists at all.  It employs hacks all too willing to do work for the cause: taking Trump down.  Marshall McLuhan said many years ago that "all media exist to invest our lives with artificial perceptions and arbitrary values."  That they do.

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