Friday, December 16, 2016

SHOULD TRUMP BE INVESTIGATED?

We really should have seen this coming. On Monday, amid a whirlwind of shocking news about Russian interference with America's election, Donald Trump had some news of his own—or rather, non-news. He canceled a press conference at which he was supposed to explain how he would disentangle the conflicts of interest posed by his far-flung business interests.

It wasn't the first time Trump had bailed on answering questions: From the time he declared that "we're working on" releasing his tax returns, to when he vowed to produce evidence that he hadn't groped a woman on a plane, to the promised press conference to clear up his wife's immigration history, this is a pattern we're sure to see again.

But why is it only now, well past the election, that Trump is being pushed to address how he would deal with banks to which he is in debt, or foreign leaders who have a say over his company's projects? Those questions were there for anyone to see, and investigate, the minute he announced he was running. And yet, they weren't a focus for media, with a few notable exceptions, until far too late in the game.

Why? Simply put: Math. We've gone into the problems with the dominant media business model before—advertising pays fractions of a penny per click, which means that publishers have to pump out buckets of fast, cheap content to make ends meet, and that leaves little opportunity for serious investigation. Trump understands this well, and he plays that dynamic like a violin.

Grim, right? But there is an alternative to this model. Reader support has allowed MoJo reporters to go after essential stories, no matter what it takes.

In normal times, right now we'd be in the middle of the kind of routine end-of-year fundraising drive many nonprofits do in December ("we need to raise $250,000 by December 31!"). But these aren't normal times; in the weeks since the election, we've seen record interest in the journalism we do, because more and more people see this work—digging for the truth and reporting it without fear—as essential for our democracy. Full story here 

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