Trump, the Media, and the Freedom of Owning Neither

In this era of binaries, we’re always supposed to choose between two options.

During the election, members of the #NeverTrump movement, such as myself, were harshly chided for declining to support candidate Donald Trump for president. He was the last one standing of the crowded GOP field, and conservatives and Republicans alike were, shall we say, encouraged to pledge their allegiance to him. Those who didn’t were assumed to be colluding with the Hillary Clinton campaign, since there was no way a voter could conclude neither nominee was worthy of their vote.

Surveying the first few months of the new administration has again confirmed that the decision to not go sold-out for Trump was the correct one. While his brief tenure so far has been dotted with good, worthwhile decisions and orders, there has been a lack of the groundbreaking and substantial, apart from Justice Neil Gorsuch’s appointment. There is a volatile laziness to his presidency.

Opposite of Trump is a media that is suddenly consumed with journalistic integrity. They are under intense scrutiny, at least from those of us who are aware fake news originates from both sides. Though they face a hostile president who routinely mouths off on social media, it is no excuse for shoddy reporting or fearmongering.

The media will remain long after Donald Trump’s Twitter tirades diminish. What’s before us right now is a president who continues to prove himself ill-suited for the job.

As often happens, Jonah Goldberg’s take at National Review is just the sort of spot-on soberness that we need.

I don’t know if the Washington Post story is accurate, but I do think it’s entirely plausible. Put aside whether the story is properly sourced and all that. When you heard the news, did you think it could be true?

If your answer is yes, think about that for a moment. That right there is a problem.

But the idea that Trump — with his irrepressible need to boast to the point of narcissistic incontinence combined with his lackadaisical approach to the nuts-and-bolts demands of the job — somehow just let something slip is utterly and completely believable. It was apparently believable to various members of his own administration.

In other words, I get why you don’t trust the Washington Post. I don’t get why you trust the Trump administration.

The media is and always will be a constant, no matter who inhabits the White House. Trump as president is the variable. I don’t own the unelected media. What I do own is my vote. As someone who didn’t support Trump on election day, there is a freedom from the constant need to defend him just because he’s “my guy”. I am not required to be automatic cheerleader for the MAGA cause over the next four years.

It’s refreshing to wash your hands of tribalism, regardless of any derision lobbed your way.