In an earlier post, I noted that the best thing about Trump’s win was watching the Democratic Party and the Left in disarray and fighting over their future and which way they should move. There is a second good thing about it and that is observing the media beating themselves up and getting beat by Trump himself. It would appear the media is headed down the same path as the Democratic Party by circling the wagons and entrenching themselves.
There is that now well-documented pow-wow between Trump himself and executives from the five major networks and their anchors where Trump called them out for unfair and biased coverage. CNN characterized the meeting as a “rocky start” between the President-elect and the media. This is the same network whose contributor fed debate questions to Hillary Clinton. Does anybody really care what CNN thinks?
The media became upset when Trump ditched them for a dinner and cried in the papers and on television about how they were being treated. To add insult to injury, Trump bypassed the traditional media outlets to outline an agenda by posting a video on YouTube.
Perhaps the most amusing aspect of this whole scenario is how Trump continues to troll the mainstream media. While they were building up the story of the vote recounts in Wisconsin and Michigan, Trump took to Twitter to accuse the Democrats of stealing 3 million illegal votes and that despite the fact Clinton won the popular vote, he really won it if you discount those 3 million votes. The enormity of such a charge without proof or evidence shows how gullible the media is after all. The story became “how can he make such charges without any proof?”
Another example of his trolling of media occurred more recently when stories were building up about apparent rancor in the cabinet vetting process and stories about his business dealings and possible conflicts of interest. What did Trump do? He took to Twitter and suddenly the press and the media were debating whether flag burning was free speech or not.
The New York Times is now debating itself whether they should include Trump Twitter messages as “news.” This is a silly notion and follows a theory that to get rid of a troll, you starve them. But when there are so many possible targets of the troll, that is quite difficult. If the Times does not follow the story, then the Washington Post or some other outlet will. No one wants to be “scooped.” To stop Trump in this area would require a collusion of epic proportions among the media.
Further, according to a Gallup poll, American trust in the media is at an all-time low. Only 32% of Americans say they have a great deal or fair amount of trust in the media. This is what the mainstream media is up against and the trend started way before this election season. Trump has simply accelerated that decline in trust of the media.
So what does the media do? Do they soul search and come to the conclusion that maybe their coverage of conservatives and the GOP may be a little slanted? Of course not, being the good Democrats they are. Instead, they see nothing wrong in their hand-wringing autopsies and elevate themselves as the fourth estate.
Our Founders did anticipate a free and vibrant press and believed that even though they built in checks and balances on the presidency and the federal government, things would slip through the cracks at times. It was at these times that a free, vibrant and objective press would serve their role as a default fail-safe mechanism. But something went wrong in recent years where the mainstream media is hardly anything but objective. They had an eight year love affair with the presidency of Barack Obama and what is shaping up as a four year hatefest of Trump.
What they fail to understand is that the rules of the game have changed. There are 49 seats in the White House briefing room, but no one’s name is engraved on any seat. As it stands today, the press secretary briefs the press daily. But these are not formal rules. There is no rule that the most senior correspondent asks the first or last question, or that the top three networks have to sit in the front, or even that the White House has to deliver a daily briefing for that matter. Because George W. Bush and Barack Obama delivered a press conference within 48 hours of their electoral victories is not a rule written anywhere in stone. The proof is that Trump has NOT held a press conference (in the traditional sense) since his election. The more he avoids it and resorts to social media like Twitter and YouTube, the more incensed the media becomes.
The Democrats are in a state of shock and trying to validate that loss on a host of extraneous factors- the Electoral College, the election was hacked, etc. Likewise, the press is blaming their failures on “fake news” and what they can do about it. Ironically, they are suggesting that social media sites clamp down on fake news which is simply censorship in different words. Are there idiots out there who believe these fake news stories? Of course, there are just as there are idiots on the Left who believe the Koch brothers are the evil puppet masters of the GOP. There is no literacy test before reading anything on the Internet.
It remains to be seen where this dynamic ends up and how long Trump will do this dance with the media. Some on the Right are suggesting that turnaround is fair game. But today’s win for conservatism may be tomorrow’s success for liberalism. In the meantime it is somewhat amusing to see the media twisting itself into contortions. And quite frankly, it was long overdue.