I used to edit Page 1 stories for the Chicago Tribune, including many from Washington. In this thread, I explain why the media (including me) have been unintentionally complicit in the rise of fascism that threatens our democracy. 1/9
Mainstream media have long tried to treat Republicans and Democrats equally. Some, like me, thought that was the way to be fair. In fact, it was the way to be lazy and not have to sort out the facts. Just quote a Democrat and quote a Republican and you’re done. 2/9
When I edited political stories, I went so far as to count the quotes from Republicans and Democrats, thinking an equal number would make us fairer. I didn’t think I was helping either party. I thought I was helping the readers. I was wrong. 3/9
If you look back 3 or 4 decades, you see many corrupt pols in both parties. Scandals like Abscam and Keating 5 were mostly Democratic. But in recent decades it’s obvious the GOP is more unethical and anti-democratic. Which means treating the parties equally helps Republicans. 4/9
Hillary Clinton mishandled emails. George W. Bush lied to get us into a war. Both were bad. But one was way worse. The media’s self-assigned job to treat Republicans and Democrats equally has compelled them to pump up coverage of Democratic scandals. It’s fairness-signaling. 5/9
The Republicans have overwhelmed the media with corruption. They’ve created scandal fatigue, prompting journalists to do something I call ethics norming. That’s when something that would have been a huge scandal in the recent past is considered normal now. 6/9
The Republicans have pulled off quite a trick. If news is defined as something unusual happening, GOP corruption is not news because the party is so widely corrupt. Some media have turned off their outrage impulse and decided that corruption is normal. 7/9
What’s needed is new framing. Not party-oriented but democracy-oriented. Truth-oriented. The media shouldn't elevate liars in the interest of “fairness.” Yes, media should be fair – to the readers, to the facts. But not to the 2-party system. To our democracy. 8/9
We are now in the midst of an assault on democracy unlike any our country has ever seen. Any journalist who doesn’t frame their reports in that context is doing a grievous disservice to our country. 9/9

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More from @MarkJacob16

May 23
The Senate doesn’t have a football team, so it doesn’t matter that Herschel Walker ran for 5,259 yards with the Georgia Bulldogs.
Here’s a thread on what matters:
* Walker's ex-wife accused him of pointing a gun at her and saying, “I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out.” 1/7
* Herschel Walker also was accused by an ex-girlfriend of threatening to “blow her head off,” according to a police report.
* Walker’s handgun was seized after he talked about having a “shoot-out with police.” 2/7
* Herschel Walker wrote in a book that he had as many as a dozen different personalities — or “alters,” as he called them.
* Walker wrote that he played Russian roulette with himself, pointing a gun at his head. 3/7
Read 7 tweets
Apr 27
If white Americans were the only ones who voted, democracy would have died in this country long ago. That’s why fascist Republicans like Ron DeSantis are trying to steal political power from Black people. 1/4
Voters of color deserve our thanks for saving the country from a sexist, racist, corrupt dictatorship. They have voted for decency. In 2016 and ’20, most white voters backed a presidential candidate who was caught on tape bragging about committing sexual assault. 2/4
In 2017, most white Alabamians voted to put a child molester in the U.S. Senate. Black voters kept that from happening. Nearly two-thirds of white women in Alabama voted for the molester. 3/4
Read 4 tweets
Apr 20
Today’s autocratic movements are not ideological. They’re criminal. They care about power, not policy. That’s why fascists worldwide work together, carving up the Earth like gang bosses assigning territories. In this thread I discuss a global trend I call the Smash-and-Grab. 1/7 Image
We see the Smash-and-Grab in many places: Putin invading a democratic neighbor, Turkey’s Erdogan crushing the free press, Trump inciting an attempted coup. And if Marine Le Pen wins in France, fascism will overtake a prominent democracy. 2/7 Image
Decades ago, democracy was rising. The Berlin Wall fell. Freedom lovers swarmed Tiananmen Square. (Yes, they were crushed, but back then they gave us hope.) In 1989, I designed this Chicago Sun-Times section: “The Democracy Decade.” Now it’s the ‘20s. The Smash-and-Grab era. 3/7 Image
Read 7 tweets
Apr 17
America is on a path toward dictatorship.
I wish this was an exaggeration. It’s not.
Our elections in 2022 and 2024 will determine whether we live in a free country or are ruled over by a corrupt, fascist, racist Republican Party representing a minority of Americans. 1/5
Republicans don’t have to achieve an over-all majority in order to seize control and overturn democracy. They just have to follow their current strategy of gerrymandering their way to congressional power and exploiting their built-in edge in the Electoral College. 2/5
Or Republicans can simply steal power, as they tried to do last year. None of the politicians who played major roles in the attempted coup Jan. 6 have been punished in any way. What’s to stop them from trying again? 3/5
Read 5 tweets
Mar 24
Trump and McConnell are still endorsing Herschel Walker for the Senate despite mounting evidence that it would be a disaster. Walker's ex-wife and ex-girlfriend both said he threatened to kill them, and police once seized his gun because he talked about a shoot-out with cops. 1/5
Here’s a news story from last July, before Herschel Walker announced for the Senate. It details his past mental instability and notes that his ex-wife said “her husband pointed a pistol at her head and said, ‘I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out.’” 2/5
apnews.com/article/lifest…
Here’s a story from last August quoting a 2012 police report about Walker and an ex-girlfriend. She said he threatened to “sit outside her apartment and ‘blow her head off when she came outside’" and then kill himself afterward. 3/5
ajc.com/politics/polic…
Read 5 tweets
Feb 21
In opinion polls, Republicans consistently prefer Vladimir Putin, a murderer, to our own president, Joe Biden. That’s how deeply in love with dictators the Republicans are. In this thread, I recount prominent Republicans' praise of Putin. 1/8
Donald Trump in 2015:
“I’ve always felt fine about Putin. He’s a strong leader, he’s a powerful leader. … He’s actually got popularity within his country.” 2/8
Mike Pence in 2016:
"I think it's inarguable that Vladimir Putin has been a stronger leader in his country than Barack Obama has been in this country.” 3/8
Read 8 tweets

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