What do you do if you are a cable news channel that has to fill 24 hours a day seven days a week of air time? Spend just one day watching cable news and you will know the answer. You report approximately five minutes of real news each hour and then make stuff up to fill in the rest of the time. That’s right. You make stuff up.
Since “making stuff up” does not sound very professional – or even very honest – they call it “analysis.” They speculate. Think about that as you watch those hosts and panelists. They create a story when they do not know something. Sounds a lot like “making stuff up,” eh?
Of course, when they make up a story, they want to be sure that it comports with to their preconceived opinions – their biases.
Let’s take, for example, the recent announcement that America’s ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is stepping down at the end of the year. She made that announcement at a press availability alongside President Trump in the White House. She said that her motivation is to step out of public life after six years as governor of South Carolina and two years at the U.N. She stressed that her departure is not motivated by any policy conflicts or disagreements. She is very pleased to have served and proud of all that was accomplished. She rejected the idea that she would run for President in 2020 and add that she would be supporting Trump’s re-election.
Trump echoed her words, saying how much he like Haley and appreciated her good service. He said that Haley had informed him earlier of her desire to leave the U.N. Trump said he hoped to name a replacement within two or three weeks.
There you have it. In the two previous paragraphs, you have the news – the facts. But, what did we get from cable news? Hours of speculation, theories and hypotheses. The airwaves filled with what might be the most common phrase in all of newsdom – “We don’t know, but …” And from their “buts” came some of the crappiest made-up stories imaginable. One would think that these news folks studied creative writing instead of journalism.
A whole range of ignorance-based speculations involved the pursuit of “the real reason” for the resignation. Some were not so sure that she is not thinking of a run for President in 2020 even though Haley shot that down in the interview. Furthermore, it makes no sense whatsoever.
Another scurrilously speculated that it was to avoid an ethics problem. Apparently, some of Haley’s travel is being reviewed. Even if there is a problem, it rises to the level of a parking ticket.
Several jumped on the theory that she did not get along with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And what was the evidence of that? Well, because she did not get along with former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
Another said it was because she did not get the Secretary of State job when Tillerson was booted. One talk show host said that she wanted to head the State Department because the U.N. job is a nothing position – merely ceremonial. She would need the State Department as a platform to launch a presidential bid. He went so far as to say that her hypothetical problem with Pompeo was “probably” the reason she quit. That is just one step short of say that IS the reason.
Well, if it was not Pompeo, it was John Bolton. After all, she and Bolton were not getting along – so sayeth the media without a scintilla of evidence. But, we can be sure that some unnamed or invented source will confirm that bit of fiction in the future. The elitist media cannot allow truth to get in the way of a good story – especially one that can be spun against Trump.
It was reported that an unnamed source in the White House said that Ivanka Trump’s name came up as a possibility – and that the President’s daughter laughed at the absurdity of that silly speculation. This did not stop the folks at MSNBC for devoting an entire segment to a prolonged panel discussion. They even used the hypothetical narrative to attack Ivanka. “She is less suited for the U.N. job than Kanye West,” declared one of the panelists. Imagine, attacking Ivanka on her qualifications for a job that she is not going to be offered. Geez!
There was a lot of “coulds” flying around the studios. Haley could be taking a job on a corporate board. She could move into academia. She could join a think tank. Based on that logic, Haley also COULD be opening a Chick Fil A franchise in Chattanooga.
Then there is the medias favorite anti-Trump narrative. Haley’s departure is yet another example of the President’s inability to work with women. If you were looking for some of that gender friction between Trump and Haley, you would be sorely disappointed. In the press briefing, it looked like mutual admiration – and that has been true of the Trump/Haley relationship since she took the U.N. job and put her campaign criticism of Trump behind her.
Much was made of the fact that the announcement came before the midterm election instead of after. Was it some sort of imponderable malevolent strategy? The fact that the timing of the decision is imponderable did not stop the pondering. It was to separate herself from the frequently reported post-election firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the entire White House kitchen staff. Of course, all of that is speculative – except the part about the White House kitchen staff. I am holding to that one.
Maybe she insisted that it be announced before November to have her imagined dissatisfaction with Trump played out in the voting booth. I wonder why no one seemed to speculate that Haley may hit the trail to help GOP candidates across the country – something that she could not do as U.N. ambassador? But, now I am speculating without any knowledge. Hmmmm. Maybe that can get me a job at the Washington Post.
The most contemptible thing about so many of these speculations – in addition to there being very baseless and biased — is that they were contrary to what both Haley and Trump said. In other words, the reasons Haley gave in the press conference were totally disregarded. Among the three major cable networks, it was only Bret Baier, of FOX News, who said: “Maybe we should take them (Haley and Trump) at face value until we learn more.” If that concept catches on, news programming will be back to ten minutes at the top of the hour.
Larry Horist is a conservative activist with an extensive background in economics, public policy and political issues. Clients of his consulting firm have included such conservative icons as Steve Forbes and Milton Friedman, and he has served as a consultant to the White House under Presidents Nixon and Reagan. He has testified as an expert witness before numerous legislative bodies, including the U. S. Congress and lectured at Harvard University, Northwestern University, Florida Atlantic University, Knox College and Hope College. An award-winning debater, his insightful and sometimes controversial commentaries appear frequently on the editorial pages of newspapers across the nation. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.