You cannot give a good answer to a bad question.
"Have you stopped beating your wife?" for example. It's a simple yes or no. So go ahead. Pick one. Either answer will make you the talk of the neighborhood. Socrates dealt with this false dilemma about 2,500 years ago. Yet it persists.
Another such question has been put to Donald Trump recently by the legacy media and their Democrat acolytes, namely, "Will you admit that the Russian government, or their surrogates, hacked the DNC prior to the election and laundered their stolen goods through Wikileaks?"
This question is a bit more subtle than the wife-beater example, but in form it's the same. Either answer Trump gives will expose him to brutal attacks by the legacy media, none of which attacks will have a basis in fact. If he answers yes, he will be accused of acknowledging that he doesn't deserve to be President because fifty-million Americans are too stupid to realize they were being pawned by Russian propagandists. If he answers no, it demonstrates he is a Putin-friendly obstructionist who is opposed to the legacy media's propaganda. They basically are asking him: "Are you, Mr. Trump, suggesting that Russia's propaganda is more effective than ours?" Yes, I'm being snarky, but you get the point. For decades the legacy media has enjoyed controlling the flow of information to America. And controlling politicians and bureaucrats who are dependent on media coverage. That's why journalists get invited to Washington cocktail parties and have an annual correspondents dinner during which presidents show up to pay obeisance by ridiculing themselves to the delight of all present. Correspondents like it when politicians dance to their tune. It helps make up for the low wages that most endure. The other payoff is that they get to create the narrative for the rest of America. They get to decide what is news and what is not. And in recent years, they have found ways to justify their journalistic bias for one candidate over another, or else one worldview over another. Objectivity has been tossed aside. Subjectivity is the new potion that fills their ink wells and stains their teleprompters. They are social justice warriors with a keyboard/camera and an audience.
Only, Trump out-flanked them. He beat them at their own game. And they don't like it one bit. They're flexing what little muscle they have left. By means of subterfuge. Anything to get him under their thumb. Only, he won't let them. They call him an airbag and grab the balloon in their fist, aiming to get a hand around him. But each time they squeeze, the air slips beyond their grip. That's what a balloon does when you squeeze it in the center. And that's what Trump does. They can't ever get a choke-hold, try though they do. About a year ago -- after casting my lot with Trump -- I decided to invest in popcorn and watch for a while. It's paid off nicely. The legacy media hasn't disappointed. Despite their best efforts, they have yet to put the squeeze on him. And they won't. They have never lived in his world. The turf is different where he comes from. So are the rules.
The problem with the question to Trump from the legacy media about Russian involvement is that the question itself has no basis in demonstrable fact. Like the wife-beater example, there is no reason to ask the question unless there is credible evidence. If one's spouse has no observable bruises or never has implied to anyone that abuse was or is occurring, why would one ask the question in the first place? Unless, of course, one wants to make the husband look bad.
As for the Trump question, Russia and Julian Assange have both denied that the Wikileaks emails came from a Russian source. Moreover, neither the NYTimes nor the WaPo will cite anyone in the CIA who has come forward personally with proof of the alleged Russia-Wikileaks conspiracy. Moreover, no one in our intelligence agencies stepped forward prior to the election with proof of Russian interference. Moreover, the media and now the Obama administration didn't make the allegation until after the election. Moreover, Obama seemed satisfied enough with election results that he called Trump to congratulate him after election day -- despite having up-to-date intelligence on Russia at the time. And finally, why did Craig Murray, the UK's former ambassador to Uzbekistan, state explicity that the leak of Podesta's emails came from within the Democrat machine itself, and that he knows who leaked the information? Also, please note the difference between leaked and hacked. Murray says the emails were leaked from within. The NYTimes and WaPo report the emails were hacked/stolen. There's a world of difference between the two. To me, all those things are newsworthy for interested investigative journalists. Except that investigative journalists don't seem interested.
In effect, the question to Trump is pure propaganda. It illustrates the meaning of "fake news." In fact, all their allegations of "fake news" are but a propaganda effort by the legacy media to insert their own fake news. I'm generalizing, of course, but then again, I'm generalizing about a generally known fact. The Russian conspiracy angle and the fake news meme are on a par with their sudden preoccupation with the electoral college. And their years-long claim that the science of global warming is settled. And their use of terms such as follows, courtesy of The People's Cube, which offers better parody than I can muster:
I thought the media would self-correct after Trump's election. They didn't. They still don't understand why people turned out en masse for Donald Trump on November 8.
Break the habit, folks. Stupid is as stupid does. The legacy media doesn't deserve our respect or our attention.
R. Stephen Bowden blogs at the Steve Bowden Journal at bowdenbeat.blogspot.com.