Never Trump Media
A common thread among the elite media seems to be that Trump is so bad anything goes to stop him. Which is interesting, since The Donald brags that his electoral success so far comes from free media coverage.
Howard Kurtz picked up on the NeverTrump media movement in his August 9 Media Buzz column titled Media justify anti-Trump bias, claim he’s too dangerous for normal rules. Howie says some in the media “are flat-out making the case for unfairness—an unprecedented approach for an unprecedented campaign.”:
Liberal investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald recently told Slate that “the U.S. media is essentially 100 percent united, vehemently, against Trump, and preventing him from being elected president”…
Now comes Jim Rutenberg , in his first season as media columnist for the New York Times. He’s a good reporter and I give him credit for trying to openly grapple with this bizarre situation.
But Rutenberg is, in my view, trying to defend the indefensible:
“If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, nonopinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable.”
Then there’s Michael Goodwin in this New York Post column titled American Journalism Collapsing before our eyes:
The largest broadcast networks — CBS, NBC and ABC — and major newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post have jettisoned all pretense of fair play. Their fierce determination to keep Trump out of the Oval Office has no precedent.
And here’s historian Victor Davis Hanson:
The media somehow outdid their propaganda work for Barack Obama and have signed on as unapologetic auxiliaries to the Hillary Clinton campaign — and openly brag that, in Trump’s case, the duty of a journalist is to be biased.
Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic isn’t having it. He explains why it’s difficult to cover Trump. Trump says provocative things like “Obama founded ISIS”. That’s not literally true – you can look it up. So what did Trump mean by it? That answer involves judgement and interpretation:
His strategic gambit was always and precisely to have things both ways.
By insisting that Barack Hussein Obama “founded” ISIS, knowing full well that his use of the word was unusual, inapt, and likely to mislead, then doubling down again and again when asked to clarify, Trump—who began in national politics by questioning Obama’s birth certificate—could again appeal to the part of his base that believes America is led by a secret Muslim foreigner who is allied with America’s Islamist enemies. And as even Trump acknowledged at the end of his interview with Hewitt, Trump willfully chose less accurate, more outrageous words to generate attention.
Having deliberately provoked with the repeated false statement that Obama founded ISIS, and deliberately inflamed with his reluctance to say he was speaking figuratively when asked to clarify, one Trump objective was achieved; having had things one way, he could move on to pretending, at the end of his Hewitt statement, that he was really just saying Obama had lost the peace all along, though he had directly rejected that notion moments earlier when Hewitt presented it.
Then, the next day, Trump sent out a Tweet with yet another contradictory explanation: He didn’t literally think Obama was the founder of ISIS; nor was he simply trying to express that Obama’s policies gave rise to ISIS; rather, when he said Obama founded ISIS, he was being “sarcastic,” but the media doesn’t get sarcasm.
All this deliberate, mendacious gamesmanship puts journalists in a very tricky position. If they merely report what Trump literally says, they’re accused of hyper-literalism. If they report what he reallymeans, judgment and interpretation are required.
Trump the Gardener
President “Bobby”: Mr. Gardner, do you agree with Ben, or do you think that we can stimulate growth through temporary incentives?
Chance the Gardener: As long as the roots are not severed, all is well. And all will be well in the garden.
President “Bobby”: In the garden.
Chance the Gardener: Yes. In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again.
President “Bobby”: Spring and summer.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
President “Bobby”: Then fall and winter.
Chance the Gardener: Yes.
Benjamin Rand: I think what our insightful young friend is saying is that we welcome the inevitable seasons of nature, but we’re upset by the seasons of our economy.
Chance the Gardener: Yes! There will be growth in the spring!
Benjamin Rand: Hmm!
Chance the Gardener: Hmm!
President “Bobby”: Hm. Well, Mr. Gardner, I must admit that is one of the most refreshing and optimistic statements I’ve heard in a very, very long time.
[Benjamin Rand applauds]
President “Bobby”: I admire your good, solid sense. That’s precisely what we lack on Capitol Hill.
I like to watch.