Jay Rosen @jayrosen_nyu I teach journalism and direct the Studio 20 program at NYU, critique the press, direct @membershippzzle. 'Ambassador' for @decorrespondent's expansion to US. Oct. 08, 2018 1 min read

There used to be in president-press relations something called a gaffe. The gaffe doesn't exist any more because it's become the whole presidency. This method is surprisingly effective. It's worked for fact-checking too. How can you fact check a hurricane of lies? Thread. 1/

I call it a 'method' because we have a statement explaining it that way. “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with shit," said Steve Bannon to author Michael Lewis. 2/

Flooding the system with too much news, much of it misleading or simply false, not only reduces the weight of any individual story; it has the further effect of keeping opponents in a pop-eyed state of outrage, which in turns shows supporters a hateful image of the other side. 3/

To the elimination of gaffes (through endless daily gaffing) and the overwhelming of fact checks (though endless daily lying) we can now add the dissipation of investigation reporting by means of parading around as the high end grifter the reporters carefully reveal you to be. 4/

That seems to be the outcome of the New York Times investigation of his financial history, which is proving to be simultaneously devastating and harmless, a news condition previously unknown to presidents facing a check-on-power press. 5/

Devastating and harmless. How can that be? Well, it's devastating to his mythology as a rich person, blowing it to verified bits. Harmless in the sense that everything it reveals had already been priced into public estimation of the American president. 6/

I wish @WSJ would lift the paywall on "Dogs Bite Men and Trumps Duck Taxes." It illustrates the point beautifully: "Nothing new under the sun." That's a quote.  https://www.wsj.com/articles/dogs-bite-men-and-trumps-duck-taxes-1538780049  "The Times devotes considerable resources to a tax story that will surprise exactly no one." 7/

What's happening here is that investigative journalism's power to expose has been superseded by a larger power: not only to flood the zone with shit, but to polarize and exhaust through polarization the patience of the sort of public that this sort of journalism depends upon. END


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