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VAL 2016 | En av de roligare konsekvenserna av Donald Trumps valkampanj var den moralpanik som följde på valsegern.

time-augusti-22-2016

(The Reckoning: ”Donald Trump’s sinking polls, unending attacks and public blunders have GOP reconsidering its strategy for November”)

Och hela ”etablissemanget” – politiska, media, kulturella – hängde villigt på både här och over there. ”En ond och sjuk människa ska leda världens mäktigaste nation. Detta är inte bra för världen!”, skrev t.ex. riksdagskvinnan Hillevi Larsson (S) på Twitter.

time-october-2016

(Inside Donald Trump’s Meltdown: ”Donald Trump’s sinking polls, unending attacks and public blunders have the GOP reconsidering its strategy for November”)

Två andra exempel: Skoladministratörer i Boston erbjöd ”råd och stöd” till ungdomar som oroade sig över Trump medan Olle Wästberg, ”USA-kännare” och tidigare generalkonsul i New York, påstod att Trumps seger var värre för Sverige än för amerikanarna.

new-york-october-31-november-13-2016

(Final Days: ”As the unmanageable, unrepentant, and unprecedented candidate careens to the finish line, Donald Trump’s advisers try to figure out how to save themselves – and the movement he started.”)

Men speciellt pinsamt var valresultatet för opinionsinstituten och den politiska journalistiken som ”ended up with egg on their faces”.

I detta inlägg är tre favoriter från Time och New York som borde förfölja redaktörerna i sömnen framöver. Time t.o.m. följde upp sitt omslag med den alltmer smältande Trump i augusti med ett ”total meltdown” omslag i november. Så säker framstod Hillary Clintons valseger vid det laget.

För den som redan känner sig nostalgiska kan klicka på länkarna för att läsa hur fel alla hade.

Tidskriftsomslag: Time den 22 augusti (amerikanska editionen) och den 24 oktober 2016 samt New York den 31 oktober-13 november 2016.

Annonser

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VAL 2016 | Här kommer ett tredje blogginlägg med anledning av Kurt Eichenwalds löpande granskning i Newsweek av Donald Trumps affärer.

newsweek-11-nov-2016

This Way Lies Deceit”:

Over the course of decades, Donald Trump’s companies have systematically destroyed or hidden thousands of emails, digital records and paper documents demanded in official proceedings, often in defiance of court orders. These tactics—exposed by a Newsweek review of thousands of pages of court filings, judicial orders and affidavits from an array of court cases—have enraged judges, prosecutors, opposing lawyers and the many ordinary citizens entangled in litigation with Trump. In each instance, Trump and entities he controlled also erected numerous hurdles that made lawsuits drag on for years, forcing courtroom opponents to spend huge sums of money in legal fees as they struggled—sometimes in vain—to obtain records.

newsweek-23-dec-2016

Tangled Up In Orange”:

Donald Trump hasn’t been sworn in yet, but he is already making decisions and issuing statements to world leaders that radically depart from American foreign policy, all to the benefit of his family’s corporate empire. Because of this, the next president of the United States is already vulnerable to undue influence by other nations, including through bribery and even blackmail. […] President-elect Trump has a monumental choice before him: He can, as he promised during the campaign, protect the sanctity of the presidency—which he can do only by selling his company. Or he can remain corrupted by the conflicts between his country’s future and his family’s fortune.

Tidskriftsomslag: Newsweek den 11 november 2016 och den 23 december 2016.

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Val 2016 | Newsweek fortsätter sin granskning av Donald Trump. Här skriver Kurt Eichenwald bland annat om hans affärer i Fidel Castros Kuba.

newsweek-14-okt-2016

The Havana Hustle”:

Documents show that the Trump company spent a minimum of $68,000 for its 1998 foray into Cuba at a time when the corporate expenditure of even a penny in the Caribbean country was prohibited without U.S. government approval. But the company did not spend the money directly. Instead, with Trump’s knowledge, executives funneled the cash for the Cuba trip through an American consulting firm called Seven Arrows Investment and Development Corp. Once the business consultants traveled to the island and incurred the expenses for the venture, Seven Arrows instructed senior officers with Trump’s company—then called Trump Hotels & Casino Resorts—how to make it appear legal by linking it after the fact to a charitable effort.

newsweek-28-okt-4-nov-2016

Donald the Destroyer”:

Donald Trump loves to put his name on buildings, but there are no hospital wings named for him. No museums have a piece of artwork with a plaque reading “A Gift of Donald J. Trump.” No buildings at the University of Pennsylvania bear his name, even though he constantly cites his graduation from its Wharton School as a sign of his intelligence. (Contrary to Trump’s suggestion, he attended the school for only two years as an undergraduate and did not obtain a degree from Wharton’s far more prestigious graduate business program.)

Tidskriftsomslag: Newsweek den 14 oktober och den 28 oktober-11 november 2016.

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VAL 2016 | Kurt Eichenwald på tidskriften Newsweek tycks vara specialiserad på att granska Donald Trumps affärsverksamhet. Här nedan följer två längre artiklar.

newsweek-2-sep-2016

The Art of the Bad Deal”:

Lost contracts, bankruptcies, defaults, deceptions and indifference to investors—Trump’s business career is a long, long list of such troubles, according to regulatory, corporate and court records, as well as sworn testimony and government investigative reports. Call it the art of the bad deal, one created by the arrogance and recklessness of a businessman whose main talent is self-promotion.

newsweek-23-sep-2016

The Man Who Sold the World”:

Much of the public believes Trump is a hugely successful developer, a television personality and a failed casino operator. But his primary business deals for almost a decade have been a quite different endeavor. The GOP nominee is essentially a licensor who leverages his celebrity into streams of cash from partners from all over the world. The business model for Trump’s company started to change around 2007, after he became the star of NBC’s The Apprentice, which boosted his national and international fame. Rather than constructing Trump’s own hotels, office towers and other buildings, much of his business involved striking deals with overseas developers who pay his company for the right to slap his name on their buildings. (The last building constructed by Trump with his name on it is the Trump-SoHo hotel and condominium project, completed in 2007.)

Tidskriftsomslag: Newsweek den 12 september 2016 och den 23 september 2016.

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USA | Steve Bannon på Breitbart News har kallats USA:s ”most dangerous political operativ” och ”the vast right-wing conspirator”.

Bloomberg Businessweek

Och visst är det en spännande historia som Joshua Green berättar i Bloomberg Businessweek. Politisk påverkan? Visst. Men knappast konspiratoriskt. Snarare tvärt om.

Vad hans anställda ägnar sig åt är i princip vad alla journalister, politiska strateger och PR-konsulter alltid gör – försöker placera faktabaserade storys i lämpliga medier.

Hela hans idé går ut på att göra ett grundligt journalistiskt arbete som är grundat på fakta snarare än rykten och spekulationer.

Detta gör det möjligt även för media som traditionellt lutar mer åt vänster i den politiska rapporteringen, t.ex. The New York Times, att hänga på och driva storyn vidare. På så sätt når storyn även en publik som annars inte skulle ha varit mottaglig för informationen.

Det mest märkvärdiga med detta är varför ingen tidigare på högerkanten tänkt på det.

Det som möjligtvis skiljer Bannon från många andra är att han gör det utifrån ett politiskt perspektiv som primärt gynnar republikanerna. Men inte alltid.

Bannon har inte bara försökt påverka samhällsdebatten genom att fokusera på ena sidans politiker (Hillary Clinton m.fl.) utan också gett sig på republikaner (t.ex. Jeb Bush, John Boehner) som han finner mindre tilltalande.

Green skrev bl.a. följande i sin artikel om Bannon:

Bannon is the executive chairman of Breitbart News, the crusading right-wing populist website that’s a lineal descendant of the Drudge Report (its late founder, Andrew Breitbart, spent years apprenticing with Matt Drudge) and a haven for people who think Fox News is too polite and restrained.

[…]

As befits someone with his peripatetic background, Bannon is a kind of Jekyll-and-Hyde figure in the complicated ecosystem of the right—he’s two things at once. And he’s devised a method to influence politics that marries the old-style attack journalism of Breitbart.com, which helped drive out Boehner, with a more sophisticated approach, conducted through the nonprofit Government Accountability Institute, that builds rigorous, fact-based indictments against major politicians, then partners with mainstream media outlets conservatives typically despise to disseminate those findings to the broadest audience. The biggest product of this system is the project Bannon was so excited about at CPAC: the bestselling investigative book, written by GAI’s president, Peter Schweizer, Clinton Cash: The Untold Story of How and Why Foreign Governments and Businesses Helped Make Bill and Hillary Rich.

[…]

While attacking the favored candidates in both parties at once may seem odd, Bannon says he’s motivated by the same populist disgust with Washington that’s animating candidates from Trump to Bernie Sanders. Like both, Bannon is having a bigger influence than anyone could have reasonably expected. But in the Year of the Outsider, it’s perhaps fitting that a figure like Bannon, whom nobody saw coming, would roil the national political debate.

[…]

For Bannon, the Clinton Cash uproar validated a personal theory, informed by his Goldman Sachs experience, about how conservatives can influence the media and why they failed the last time a Clinton was running for the White House. “In the 1990s,” he told me, “conservative media couldn’t take down [Bill] Clinton because most of what they produced was punditry and opinion, and they always oversold the conclusion: ‘It’s clearly impeachable!’ So they wound up talking to themselves in an echo chamber.” What news conservatives did produce, such as David Brock’s Troopergate investigation on Paula Jones in the American Spectator, was often tainted in the eyes of mainstream editors by its explicit partisan association.

In response, Bannon developed two related insights. “One of the things Goldman teaches you is, don’t be the first guy through the door because you’re going to get all the arrows. If it’s junk bonds, let Michael Milken lead the way,” he says. “Goldman would never lead in any product. Find a business partner.” His other insight was that the reporters staffing the investigative units of major newspapers aren’t the liberal ideologues of conservative fever dreams but kindred souls who could be recruited into his larger enterprise. “What you realize hanging out with investigative reporters is that, while they may be personally liberal, they don’t let that get in the way of a good story,” he says. “And if you bring them a real story built on facts, they’re f—ing badasses, and they’re fair.” Recently, I met with Brock, who renounced conservatism and became an important liberal strategist, fundraiser, and Clinton ally. He founded the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America and just published a book, Killing The Messenger: The Right-Wing Plot to Derail Hillary and Hijack Your Government. Brock’s attitude toward Bannon isn’t enmity toward an ideological opponent, as I’d expected, but rather a curiosity and professional respect for the tradecraft Bannon demonstrated in advancing the Clinton Cash narrative. What conservatives learned in the ’90s, Brock says, is that “your operation isn’t going to succeed if you don’t cross the barrier into the mainstream.” Back then, he says, conservative reporting had to undergo an elaborate laundering to influence U.S. politics. Reporters such as Brock would publish in small magazines and websites, then try to get their story planted in the British tabloids and hope a right-leaning U.S. outlet such as the New York Post or the Drudge Report picked it up. If it generated enough heat, it might break through to a mainstream paper.

“It seems to me,” says Brock of Bannon and his team, “what they were able to do in this deal with the Times is the same strategy, but more sophisticated and potentially more effective and damaging because of the reputation of the Times. If you were trying to create doubt and qualms about [Hillary Clinton] among progressives, the Times is the place to do it.” He pauses. “Looking at it from their point of view, the Times is the perfect host body for the virus.”

Tidskriftsomslag: Bloomberg Businessweek, 12-18 oktober 2015.

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VÄLJARE | Att framhäva politikernas personlighet och privatliv är något både media och politiker inte tycks kunna få nog av.

The American Interest

Det personliga säljer och politiker vill gärna få väljarna att tro att han eller hon är din kompis.

Det är därför Fredrik Reinfeldt gärna talade om att han tyckte om att städa och Stefan Löfven inte har något emot att berätta om sin arbetarbakgrund. Och det är därför Annie Lööf inte så sällan talar om att hon är uppvuxen i glesbygd.

Dessa berättelser är till för att väcka sympatier hos väljarna, få dem att identifiera sig med politikerna och öka förtroendet för politiken.

Om politikerna kan berätta en sympatisk historia om sitt liv hoppas man att detta skall öka sympatierna för deras politik. Och locka över tveksamma väljare.

Om väljarna kan fås att tro att politikern är ”som människor är mest” kan man minimera risken för att väljarna röstar på någon annan p.g.a. politiska förslag som inte är till förmån för väljaren. För inte skulle väl ”min kompis” fatta beslut som skulle skada mig som väljare?!

Resultatet blir att vi allt för ofta ser politiker som prioriterar deltagande i caféprogram och morgonsoffor istället för att möta hårdslående journalister.

En som var mästare på att säga ingenting var förra hälso- och landstingsborgarrådet Filippa Reinfeldt (M).

Den som lyckas hitta en intervju där hon verkligen får stå till svars för sin politik är bara att gratulera. Istället hittar man desto fler lättviktiga reportage och personporträtt som innehåller noll av värde för den politiskt intresserade.

En som tycker att det hela har gått för långt är författaren R. Jay Magill, Jr. som skriver om faran av politisk närhet mellan väljare och politiker (och media som så gärna bidrar till detta).

As the American presidential primary season gears up in earnest, prudent men and women would do well to steel themselves against the coming onslaught of mawkish promotionals bound to head in our general direction.

[…]

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign message, too, is sculpted around intimate details of her life, including her upbringing by her long-suffering mother Dorothy Rodham and her rule-obsessed father Hugh Rodham. The script cries out, “I, like you, have been a victim”, a message crafted to resonate with Democratic constituencies. The New York Times eagerly assists in the effort; note the cover story of the July 19 New York Times Magazine by Mark Leibovich, “The Once and Future Hillary”, followed on Tuesday, July 21, by Amy Chozick’s front-page story, “Clinton Father’s Brusque Style, Mostly Unspoken but Powerful.”

Of course, emotional appeal has been an effective rhetorical device since the beginning of rhetorical devices.Of course, emotional appeal has been an effective rhetorical device since the beginning of rhetorical devices.

[…]

Some of what has happened to American political culture in recent decades is common to Western democracies generally, and some is not. On the one hand, there is evidence of a general personalization of politics in Western democracies over the past three decades. In Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands there has been a increasing focus on the personality of a political figure: his personal preferences, consumer choices, how he looks, behavioral tics, psychological and emotional makeup, personal histories or private family affairs.

[…]

Though certainly there is civic good that comes of knowing that an elected official is laundering money, lying to the citizenry about matters of the public interest, or defrauding taxpayers, it is unclear if knowing about politicians’ private affairs actually matters in their conduct of affairs of state. Europeans tend to think it does not; politicians are not asked to share the intimate details of their private or emotional lives because those details are deemed irrelevant to politics. But Americans tend to think it does.

[…]

Whether one prefers European or American sensibilities in such matters, political leaders are not just ordinary beings like you and me. They have willfully entered public life and, in a representative democracy, agreed to accept the responsibility of adopting a representative public role within it. They have agreed, in effect, to perform for us. They are therefore charged not with disclosing their personal feelings about certain subjects but with achieving what their constituents want them to achieve. This is why politicians in democracies are also known as “public servants”, an arrangement we too often forget, or from which we have been distracted by the culture of political celebrity.

After all, democracy involves giving up some things you want and begrudgingly accepting some things you don’t. And since getting things done is what we expect of our politicians, we ought to focus less on how “sincerely” a politician holds a given belief and more on how effective he is on achieving the ends with which he has been tasked. Indeed, “sincere” beliefs can beget opposing ideological rigidities so powerful as to make pragmatic compromise all but impossible.

[…]

We would be wise to remember that a performing self only becomes “fake” when the standards and qualities set for the private self are substituted into the template for the public political self. It would be better, and it would, by extension, generate less fakeness in the end, if we simply removed the expectation of wanting some of the positive qualities we set for the private self—authenticity, genuineness, sincerity—from the category of the public, political self altogether. We should instead demand other qualities from the political self that have nothing to do with private subjectivity: a strong work ethic, clarity of expression, sound judgment, and even objectivity. Rebuilding the wall between the two kinds of selves and understanding that this demarcation holds is not only morally advisable but would help reinvigorate public life. It would also free politicians from the tyranny of the sense that they must attempt to be intimate with strangers—even if they are voters.

Tidskriftsomslag: The American Interest, September-oktober 2015 (Vol. XI, nr. 1)

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NYHETER | Den politiska rapporteringen kritiseras ofta för att vara mer inriktad på spelet än av politikens innehåll.

Strategy

En som tycks hålla med är Hamilton Nolan på Gawker.

As the 2016 presidential election draws closer, America’s political press corps is warming up for what they do best: drone on about nothing of consequence.

Advocates of press freedom are fond of quoting Thomas Jefferson when he said, ”Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” They are less fond of quoting Thomas Jefferson when he said, ”The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers.” Jefferson was no fool. He understood both the vital importance of a free press to a democratic society, and the propensity of journalists to squander that freedom on absolute bullshit.

Politics is important. The politicians that we elect pass laws that meaningfully affect the lives of millions or billions of people. Political journalism is an important job. These journalists are responsible for telling the public what they need to know about the people they vote for. They are responsible for explaining and analyzing the critical issues that these politicians will be making choices about—many of which are quite literally life-and-death decisions. Will we go to war? Will we figure out how to adapt to climate change? Will we do something to stop the rampant economic inequality that is dividing our society? Getting to the heart of these questions is ultimately what political journalists should do.

That is not, of course, what most political journalists do. Most political journalists cover political campaigns in the same way that sports reporters cover sports. Team A has a new strategy! Team B made a mistake! Team C has a new manager! This style of ”horse race journalism” has the effect of completely obscuring the issues underlying these political campaigns. So why do reporters do this? Because it is easy.

Ouch!

Det var en rejäl smäll mot både medias rapportering och alla som är intresserade av partiernas strategiska planer och kampanjer.

Det ligger naturligtvis mycket i kritiken. Men trots detta finns det en rad invändningar mot Nolans resonemang.

För det första är det bra naivt att tro att media bara skulle rapportera rakt av om politikernas förslag även om det var önskvärt. Media har trots allt en tendens att bestämma själv vad man vill rapportera om.

Det ligger också i politikens natur att kritisera sina motståndare. Och denna kritik handlar inte uteslutande om att man har olika åsikter. Det handlar lika mycket om att man positionera sig i förhållande till varandra.

Det är därför fullt rimligt att rapportera om politikers planer och strategiska arbete eftersom dessa förklarar partiernas agerande.

Om media inte rapporterade om dessa överväganden – även om det ofta görs i något spekulativa termer p.g.a. brist på ”bevis” – skulle man inte göra sitt jobb.

Den som tror att partierna – internt och externt – bara ägnar sig åt djuplodande samtal i Sokrates anda mistar sig rejält.

Så om media inte rapporterade om partiernas strategiska överväganden skulle väljarna missa en viktig pusselbit kring det politiska arbetet. Strategiska och taktiska överväganden upptar nämligen en stor del av partiernas interna arbete.

Politikernas arbete är vare sig så oegennyttigt och nobelt som de själva vill få det att framstå som eller så smutsigt som belackarna hävdar.

Sanningen ligger någonstans däremellan. Och det är medias uppgift att beskriva politiken ”warts and all”.

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