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I write this column with a heavy heart.

Two fields of endeavor that I care deeply about are disintegrating before my eyes.

In politics, the two candidates for president are deeply flawed and profoundly unpopular.

In journalism, once-evenhanded media institutions and individual reporters have lost their way and become propagandists.

Sadly, I fear that after the election, things will become worse and the warring political camps will start posturing for the next election.

The public has been badly served by all this and now holds both politicians and journalists in disrepute with little possibility of regaining the public trust. The chances of either of them changing their ways and beginning to serve the public without fear or favor -- once the hallmark of a good politician and a good journalist -- are slim.

How did we get to this sad state of affairs?

On the Republican side, Donald Trump, a venom-spewing bully used his superior knowledge of manipulating the media to intimidate his primary opponents and swat them down like flies.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich was such a weak foe that Trump ignored him and he went away, only to sulk as a sorehead and break his promise to support the Republican nominee.

Trump went on to become a modern day version of the Ugly American who cannot keep his pants on, yet he remains within striking distance of the Presidency.

On the Democratic side, the Clintons called in all the favors they had done for fellow Democrats in 30 years and kept all but little-known progressive lion Bernie Sanders out of the race.

There were at least 10 Democratic women -- senators, congresswomen and governors -- who would have made a better candidate than Hillary, but they stayed out in deference to the Clintons.

Sanders caught the public imagination with riveting speeches and progressive issues, but fell short as Clinton insiders in the Democratic Party greased the skids for Hillary.

She got the nomination but as a damaged, unpopular brand with dubious ethics both inside and outside government.

Hillary holds a slight lead in the national polls, but Ohio remains too close to call.

Millions of people are turned off by both major candidates and will not vote. Some will turn to Libertarian Gary Johnson or Green Jill Stein. Millions who do vote will need a clothes-pin to hold their noses shut because both major party choices "stink."

Media goes from fine time to dirt-digging

The media had a fine time covering Trump in the primaries. He was entertaining on the debate stage and at rallies. Their ratings swelled. They never thought he would get the nomination let alone be a serious candidate for President, so why not play along?

Then, 45 days before the election with the polls showing the election too close to call, the media had a come to Jesus moment and realized that Trump was on the verge of becoming President and they, the media, could not let that happen.

So the media, with the exception of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, put Trump under a powerful microscope and dug up all the dirt on him they could find and pounded that "Ugly American" message into the public consciousness, helping Hillary to regain the lead.

Media worship dough at Strickland's expense

Meanwhile, the media, particularly and in Ohio, was doing in Ted Strickland.

Ted had come off the bench nearly two years ago to run for the U.S. Senate because the Ohio Democratic Party was busted and had no credible candidate to run. Enter the former governor and congressman, who lost a close race to Kasich in the GOP landslide election of 2010.

Ted led in the early polling, but this summer GOP Sen. Rob Portman and his big-money right-wing funders unleashed a torrent of TV ads that depicted in all ways imaginable that Ted was a bad governor. At this writing, the amount spent demeaning Ted was approaching $60 million.

Ted did not have that kind of money and could not answer. His 10-point lead in the polls eventually turned into a Portman 10-point lead.

Soon the,, the Associated Press and the national media began writing stories about what a superior campaign Portman was waging and what a poor campaign Ted was running.

Oh, they would mention the barrage of bucks, but never gave it credit for turning the race on its ear and never focused on the pack of lies that Portman and his minions were spewing about Ted.

Money talks and the ad-starved media gives it reverential treatment.

Ted won the Columbus debate TV Oct. 17 by a landslide, but at best 100,000 Ohioans watched once compared to the millions who have seen the negative ads against Ted hundreds of times.

If I were Ted, I would couch the final days of the race this way: Richie Rich Rob versus Working Man Ted. Do Ohioans want their senators elected or purchased?

Dispatch begs readers not to cancel over Hillary nod

The Columbus Dispatch ( could not bring itself to endorse Donald Trump for president and ended decades of endorsing Republicans for the top job to weakly endorse Democrat Hillary, much like it weakly endorsed Democrat Sen. Sherrod Brown for re-election 4 years ago.

The Dispatch apologized profusely to its loyal Republican readers in the Oct. 9 issue, claiming it was doing its civic duty and begging the angered GOP faithful not to get mad and cancel their subscriptions.

Next to the editorial that stated "Trump unfit, Clinton is qualified," the Dispatch ran another of its cartoonist's long line of Obama hate cartoons, this time portraying the first Black president as a buffoon. Perhaps it was enough red meat to keep some of the Republican readers from canceling.

And the Dispatch cuddled up to its Republican base by endorsing Portman, citing an "impressive track record." No mention of Strickland in the piece. I guess being a former governor and former congressman in central Ohio counts for nothing in the eyes of the Dispatch's right-wing editorialists.

Quickies endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, too. Its reason: because Cleveland Cavalier LeBron James endorsed her. If only King LeBron would endorse Ted Strickland.

Gov. Kasich wrote a guest column in the Washington Post, endorsing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, again showing that the interests of his big donor, Asian undergarment importer Les Wexner, are more important to him than the Ohio workers who would lose their jobs if the TPP is approved by Congress.

Kasich continues to drain the Ohio treasury to pay his expenses in secrecy while he campaigns around the country. At seven percent, he trails five other Republicans for president in 2020 in a Politico poll, behind Mike Pence, Paul Ryan, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. As they said about caffeine in the old 7up ads, so it applies to Kasich and the Presidency: "Never had it; never will."

The stock in New Media Investments, the parent of the Columbus Dispatch, has been slumping lately. Media reports blame it on an SEC investigation of hedge-fund manager Leon Cooperman, alleging he failed to file proper paperwork in his New Media Investments stake. The Dispatch apparently responded by cutting the travel section from the Sunday newspaper and feathering it into the arts and leisure section.

It is disheartening to hear Ohio Democrats attempt to discredit Trump's claim of vote rigging when the same Ohio Democrats were all over Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted for trying to kick hundreds of thousands of Ohioans off the voting rolls, so-called vote suppression. Vote rigging. Vote suppression. Same thing. And we dare not forget Robert Fitrakis' investigation into voting machine fraud? Vote rigging. Vote fraud. Same thing.


Hold your nose
Into the polls    

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(ColumbusMediaInsider, copyright, 2016, John K. Hartman, All Rights Reserved)



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