By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Jeb Bladine: Frogs caught in the boiling water

This week, I’m at a loss for words: It’s too late for regrets, too early for inspiration.

From our small corner, we can only hope for attenuation of the contempt and hatred that have poisoned our politics, muddied our minds and stifled our search for solutions. It won’t come easy.

Whatchamacolumn

Jeb Bladine is president and publisher of the News-Register.

> See his column

We all know the allegory of a frog that would leap instantly from a pot of boiling water, but remain in gradually heated water until it boils to death … until it’s too late.

Five years ago, 11 months before his election, we warned that Donald J. Trump was gradually heating discontented waters:

“He panders to biases on gut-level issues that plague many Americans … he offers them an alternative to the polarized politics that prevent our system from resolving core American problems … Trump uncovered a deep American pool of frustration, resentment and anger. The ripples he created have echoed back a level of support that continues to baffle the media and his opponents.”

Four years ago, we first mentioned the network of toxic websites, cesspools of conspiracy and vitriol, virtually unnoticed as a launch pad for raising the heat and spreading the poison. We quoted just one of them: “The time has come for the Trump Administration to start arresting traitors in government AND the media.”

Two years ago, we revisited that political sewer, hidden in plain sight but oddly ignored. As written then: “For two years, we have endured a presidential Tweet-storm that assaults our senses with dubious content and offensive language. To see the iceberg beneath that tip, visit mirror websites Trump.news and Clinton.news, and contemplate the likely depth and breadth of that poison-pen network.”

And now, here we are. Boiling.

The cesspool network expanded exponentially, bolstered by an insidious campaign carefully designed to brand all other media as fake news. Many frogs boiled, and some transformed into zombie Trumpian warriors. As credited to author Amanda Hocking, “When you dance with the devil, the devil doesn’t change. The devil changes you.”

With all that, the most lamentable consequence was national rejection of the moderate Republican philosophy that once held in check both ends of political extremism. For many, the greatest fear is that those extremes continue to represent the nation’s primary political power structure.

Yes, it’s too late for regrets, but too early for inspiration. Or perhaps, just perhaps, this is a good time for both.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@newsregister.com or 503-687-1223.

Comments

runnermagda13

I concur with the sentiments expressed in this editorial regarding what you call "the cesspool network" of disinformation and dangerous conspiracy theories. Fox News - with its large & devoted audience - must be included in the cesspool network. You lost me, however, with your characterization of a "moderate Republican philosophy that once held in check both ends of political extremism." Putting establishment Republican officials & policies in the "center" inaccurately & unfairly places Democratic policies & politicians on one of the "extremes." Furthermore, there has been nothing "moderate" about either the philosophies or the policies of the Republican Party establishment for a very long time. The Republican Party - all of it - has for decades purposely sought to groom & nationalize white southern political culture (racism, control of women's bodies, an anachronistic view of "womanhood," gun worship, anti-LGBTQ, religious bigotry) for raw power/political gain in service to the extremely rich and at the expense of workers & consumers. The rise of Trump/Trumpism is the unintended consequence of a Republican Party electoral strategy run amok - something akin to the monster Frankenstein rising up to destroy its creator.
- Sherri Yeager, McMinnville

Jeb Bladine

Sherri,

I should have been more historically clear about "once held in check." My reference to "Moderate Republican Philosophy" was intended to date back to the 1950s, '60s and '70s. For decades, our newspaper (and The Oregonian, for that matter) carried the political identification tag of "Independent Republican." Those politics actually defined the U.S. GOP for quite a few years before being forced to hold a center ground between the growing strength of progressive Democrats on the left and conservative Republicans on the right.

I saw, up close and personal, the takeover of the Oregon Republican party by that new wing back in the 1980s, and the GOP has never recovered. I was bemoaning that the past four years may have dealt a final blow to any chance of GOP return to its former moderate days.

You definitely are correct about it being decades since that time, but it did exist. From a longer view of history, however, perhaps 2020 will become a time known as when that pendulum starting swinging back. We can hope.

RobsNewsRegister

I really don't see how Fox News isn't included in one's news rotation given the extreme amount of story selectivity bias from the main networks. Whether it be Hunter Biden's laptop, or a myriad of other stories related to this past election or during normal times I don't see how one can rely on others network keeping them remotely aware of issues relating to any Democrat party policy stance or particular Democrat.

For example, there was very little voter awareness of a multitude of stories this past election. Maybe it was aggravated by Trump's personality, but it got really bad. Just looks at these ratios - whether it is positive to negative count or time spent, or the percentage of voters uninformed, its rather astonishing from a mathematical perspective. These past four years have reached a new low in press partisanship. This is one reason this Independent voter is far more comfortable voting for Republican, I have little confidence the 4th estate will keep the DNC in check. They are whom we rely on to watch those whom we vote into power.

https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/rich-noyes/2020/12/01/mrc-poll-most-clueless-biden-voters-relied-social-media
https://www.newsbusters.org/blogs/nb/rich-noyes/2020/12/31/rewind-medias-four-year-war-against-trump-presidency

treefarmer


Faux "News," (with the exception of Chris Wallace) along with its many disreputable cousins, is not worthy of defense. They have fomented division, hatred, and chaos by subverting truth to line the pockets of their corporate masters - at tragic expense to American society. I continue to hope there will be consequences.

Meanwhile, here is a quote fresh from the Qanon e-sewer today:

"Wake up - we've been had!"

Perhaps this could be a baby step on the road back to reality? (It seems even unhinged conspiracy theorists do not appreciate being duped.)


RobsNewsRegister

I don't always like Fox but I have no idea how one overcomes story selectivity bias to obtain a full picture without them. For instance, the mainstream media has hardly touched the nefarious beginnings of what, given the latest release of unclassified documents, can now confidently be called the 'Russia Collusion Hoax'. Its like there is a conspiracy of silence - maybe they are embarrassed - I don't know. You can Steele's testimony for yourself. Solomon includes the FBI PDFs. One reason I like him. He testified the Steele dossier was to help the Clinton campaign. The irony is that the sub-source is a suspected Russian spy.

Biden's first moves as president were to cancel the Keystone pipeline permit and rejoin the Paris accords. Both definitively benefit the Russian Federation, a "gas station with nukes", through higher energy prices resulting in billions of dollars per year of increased revenue. Putin is smiling. Should I be calling Biden Putin's puppet? Of course not but that is how crazy it got with the media and Trump.

https://justthenews.com/accountability/russia-and-ukraine-scandals/first-declassified-russia-document-steeles-confessional

treefarmer


Okay Rob – you often cite Fox, (along with a number of those “cousins” I mentioned) so I am a little surprised to read that you don’t always “like” their reporting. And I think Mr. Solomon has a very strained relationship with the truth so he has no credibility with me. I have previously listed the sources that inform my opinions, most likely you don’t respect my sources either?

We have debated that curiously persistent “hoax” storyline before, and while I haven’t seen the release of any “unclassified documents” to date, if it is the COMPLETE file and not cherry-picked and corrupted by the former liar-in-chief, I will read it with an open mind.

Thank the gods that our new President has cancelled the Keystone pipeline and is working to undo the impending rape of the ANWR. (And I suspect evil old Putin is anything BUT happy with the loss of his groveling sycophant.) I am deeply grateful that our nation is rejoining the Paris accord – it WAY past time to stop poisoning the earth and focus on renewable energy. Such a better idea to hop out of the pot BEFORE it boils, eh?

What a magnificent day this has been – we can be proud of America again!!!


p.s. Many thanks to Jeb Bladine and the News~Register for yet another excellent piece of journalism.


RobsNewsRegister

I like Soloman's process. He usually imbeds source documentation and interviews in his articles so you can see them for yourself. A lot times I just skim what his thought and then go straight to the source docs. During the 1st impeachment he took a hit because someone he interviewed in Ukraine changed their story. He can't control that and the interview was in the original story so you could see that the source originally said. For all we know political pressure got to his source resulting in him changing his tune.

During Russia, Russia, Russia, and other Trump 'reporting' we saw single anonymous story after story. It got incredibly sloppy. That's why I like to be able to go to transcripts and source docs if I want.