I was out-of-town the day the news over Donald Trump’s reportedly misogynist statement about Megyn Kelly broke. I did not hear his statements first-hand, so I could only judge by the context provided me by news reporters.
Which is a problem.
Perhaps Trump’s brouhaha can be marked up to poor grammatical style?
It has been reported that Trump said: “She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,” Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her wherever.”
Trump refuses to apologize. He says his “wherever” remark was just his way of dismissing the topic. Only a sick person would think that he meant to imply that Megyn Kelly was hard on him because she was menstruating. Trump maintains that he is a well-educated and smart man who knows better than to make such an insenstive statement. Of course, the fact that he has a track record of making unkind and rude statements without deference to race or gender probably doesn’t help give him much crediblity.
There might not have been a news story if the punctuation was changed. What if the statement was heard and reported this way? “She gets out and she starts asking me all sorts of ridiculous questions,” Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon. “You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her. Wherever. But in my opinion, she was off-base.”
Trump maintains that the news anchors twisted his remarks into another non-story. That they took his remarks out of context. That had he finished his thought he would have said, “out of her ears, her nose.” That his “wherever” remark was intended to be a transition. That he was attempting to move beyond a sillly discussion of why he doesn’t like Ms. Kelly. (Don Lemon might ask himself why he was making the story about Trump and Ms. Kelly, instead of asking Trump substantive questions.)
The real story here just might be Trump’s need to master grammar.
But there can be no denying that we have created a culture of journalists who have no idea what it means to report the news. They are too busy creating the news. There is a huge, huge difference.
One is entertainment.
One is news.
Don’t be misled. This is not a defense of Donald Trump. I don’t know whether he intended to imply Ms. Kelly was menstruating or not. Frankly, none of us really know that. We can only infer his meaning.The problem with that is that news reporters should not be in the business of inferring meaning. Only reporting facts.
Most of what American journalists are dishing up these days is entertainment.
If we want real news we have to go in search of it. We have to find the tape of the discussion between Don Lemon and Donald Trump and listen to it for ourselves. If there are inferences to be made from what Trump said, we should be making those inferences on our own, without relying on this news anchor, or this talking head or that one, telling us what to think.
Real news requires an audience to employ critical thinking skills.
Entertainment news is like consuming cotton candy. It is never filling, never nutritious, and never substainable. A society and culture who feeds on entertainment news cannot and will not thrive. Eventually, it will wither away.
This election is important. I’m not going to tell you one way or another who I am voting for or who I support.But I can assure you this, who I support, who I vote for will not be determined by entertainment news. I will research. I will study. I will familarize myself with the positions of the candidates. We only have to look to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, to think back to the war in Vietnam to understand why it’s important to be informed voters. I will sort through news stories and think about them. I don’t care who is making the headlines. Frankly, I don’t trust the headlines or the production teams who are drumming them up.
Well, with the exception of John Brown of Good Day Orlando. Have you seen this? Brown walked off the set because he refused to do one more story on the Kardashians. Brown said he was sick of doing non-stories.
Don’t you wish every journalist had the cojones this anchor displayed?
Wouldn’t it be something if instead of filling our Social Media feeds with entertainment news, voters rose up in revolt and demanded that news journalist start doing their jobs – reporting factual information?
Karen Spears Zacharias is autho r of Burdy (Mercer University Press).