Telling The Truth On The Sentence Level

(Given the dangers of the illegitimate presidency of Donald Trump, Okie Funk will for now donate approximately half of its posts to national issues, especially those that raise the specter of contravening or threatening our country’s democratic structures. What this means in a pragmatic sense is that every other post will focus on something that might be only tangentially related to Oklahoma.—Kurt Hochenauer)

It might seem counter productive right now to criticize the reporting in The New York Times given the grave threat this nation faces by the authoritarian President Donald Trump. We need as many reasoned, intelligent voices as possible.

After all, we have been told that since the election subscriptions have increased “tenfold” at The Times, although it remains unclear to me just what type of subscriptions—digital, print, trial—these represent and how much reading is really happening. The larger question is whether The Times can hold on to the subscribers.

I’m not, of course, generally against skyrocketing interest in what is widely considered not only the best daily newspaper in the world but also the model for journalism in general. But the model part of its reputation and influence is where the problem resides. This problem of The Times as a model has reached a breaking point with the election of Trump and his craven disinformation tactics.

Although just over the weekend there was an extremely hopeful sign, The Times remains tied to an old-school type of objective reporting that has become about itself rather than the truth. This is a sentence-level issue. I’m not the first to make this argument. When journalistic outlets quote lies from people in power—even when uttered by the president of the United States—they should be reported as lies. Words like lie, lying, false, falsehood, distortions, wrong, error, etc., should become a normal part of the journalistic lexicon under a Trump presidency. No one should be allowed to obviously lie in a newspaper story these days without the lie getting defined openly and, frankly, just for what it is.

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January 20, 2017

(I learned late last night that Frosty Troy, the longtime editor of the Oklahoma Observer has died. Troy was a legend in Oklahoma journalism and a great advocate for liberal causes in this state. I will have a post celebrating his life soon. My condolences go out to his family and close friends.)

As he assumes power, it is correct and realistic to say that Donald Trump is an illegitimate president of the United States of America because of the failure of our country’s archaic presidential election system, if not for more reasons.

Note how I referred to the failure of our election system. There’s no clear proof, at least for now, that Trump worked directly with the Russians to hack the election or that there was ballot tampering. What we do know for sure is that his opponent Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by approximately 3 million votes. More people voted for Clinton than Trump, who, based on that fact alone, is an illegitimate president based on our flawed presidential election system.

This, of course, is not the ideal day to discuss the ongoing debate over the electoral college, created historically on racist premises to benefit slave owners, but that is a discussion that needs to be happening in classrooms and homes across the country right now. Trump received a lot of votes no doubt from racists, and it was a racist system that got him elected without actually winning the total vote count.

What we know is that Trump lost the popular vote by a wide margin. We know the Federal Bureau of Investigation meddled in the election at the last moment in support of Trump and that the Russian government hacked into and then revealed national Democratic Party emails that were basically innocuous but were reported by the so-called “liberal” media with breathless urgency and outrage as scandalous. The New York Times these days is boasting about its increase in subscriptions and its commitment to the truth, but its one-sided reporting on the non-story of Clinton’s emails was just as—maybe more so—damaging to her candidacy as the Russian government hack.

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Everybody Does Deserve Health Care

Let’s be clear that everyone deserves health care, even those people who voted for President-elect Donald Trump and for Republicans in the House and Senate.

We’re all in this together, whether we’re insured through our employer, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or Medicare. All three have a symbiotic relationship with one another. Any adjustment to one of the three affects the other two. So when the Senate passed a bill recently that could lead to the repeal of ACA it created a lot of uncertainty about everyone’s health care in this country, except, of course, for the very rich.

Here’s what Oklahoma’s U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, a right-wing extremist from a right-wing state, had to say about the vote:

Last night's vote paves a path for the Republican-led Senate to follow through on the promise we made to the American people; we are now set and ready to repeal Obamacare. For the last seven years Americans all across the country have been feeling the devastating effects of this law. And Oklahoma has been among the worst hit. Individuals have lost their health plans and many families have seen their hard-earned dollars come up short when it comes to affording their skyrocketing healthcare premiums and deductibles. Repealing Obamacare will give us the opportunity to make things right again and will allow us to work with the incoming administration to ensure our healthcare system actually works for this country.

Of course, none of Inhofe’s indictments of the ACA are true, and he doesn’t even mention all the millions of people who now have insurance and are happy about it.

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