President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks during a coronavirus (COVID-19) update briefing Monday, March 30, 2020, in the Rose Garden at the White House. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)
Historically, American presidents have had love-hate relationships with the media. While the First Amendment guarantees the freedom of the press, it has many times been the bane of a president’s existence during his white house tenure. George Washington distrusted the media while John Adams oppressed it. Adams’ son, John Quincy, reluctantly granted an interview to Anne Newport Royall after she caught him nude in the Potomac River behind the White House. During his second term, Thomas Jefferson stated that if newspapers restricted themselves to “true facts & sound principles only” they would have “few subscribers.” Various presidents have used the media to their advantage, including both Roosevelts, Harry Truman, and Ronald Reagan, while also being criticized by them.
Mainstream media players today are no exception. But while their past love-hate relationships with former presidents is well documented, with Trump it appears to be a hate-hate relationship. Why is this? It could be simply that he refuses to validate their views. Most previous presidents may not have liked the media, but their desire for positive press motivated them to play nice. Trump has no such motivations. He does not care what they think about him. Additionally, when they throw a fit and long for validation, he either ignores them or calmly and coolly says, “Fake news” then moves on. This drives them bananas for one simple reason. It takes away their power.
The mainstream media is used to wielding power over politicians, especially the one who holds the highest office in the land. Yet they consistently find the wind taken out of their self-righteous sails by Trump and it infuriates them. Past presidents kowtowed to them, flirted with them, and threw them bones in return for good press coverage. They get none of that from Trump. Why? Because he is more a businessman than a politician. He is about getting a job done right in a profitable manner. He is not about being concerned with how he is seen while doing that job. He stands for working people who had begun to feel like they had no voice, arguably in part because of the mainstream media players working in tandem with powerful, long-seated politicians who kept the public from knowing or understanding what was really happening behind the closed doors of the government. The media loved their position, especially when they had presidents on their side who cared more about appearances than substance. They loved their power, especially when they got to decide how to portray what happened behind the curtain and who was favored and who was destroyed. Now the new sheriff in town has yanked the curtain back. They are appalled. That is why they hate him. The media is akin to the emperor with no clothes on. Trump calls them naked in front of the world and completely demoralizes them. They cannot stop him from doing this and thus are furious.