Yesterday, much to the shock of a lot of the media, President Trump appeared in Iraq and made all those “Trump doesn’t visit the troops in combat zones” stories look juvenile and petty. But Hell has no fury like a NeverTrump journalist robbed of a meme. This is how the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker and Paul Sonne started their story Trump visits U.S. troops in Iraq for first trip to a conflict zone
“President Trump touched down Wednesday in Iraq in his first visit to a conflict zone as commander in chief, a week after announcing a victory over the Islamic State that his own Pentagon and State Department days earlier said remained incomplete.
“The president’s visit to Al Asad Air Base west of Baghdad, which was shrouded in secrecy, follows months of public pressure for him to spend time with troops deployed to conflicts in the Middle East and punctuates the biggest week of turmoil the Pentagon has faced during his presidency.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Editorial Board called it out: The Constant Spin Zone: How one publication reported Trump’s trip to see troops in Iraq.
President Trump and his wife Melania made a surprise visit to American soldiers in Iraq on Wednesday, and you would think that would be a straightforward event to write up. Report how and when he arrived, whom he visited, and what he and some of the soldiers said. These holiday trips have become a ritual for all Presidents, and the troops appreciate the Commander in Chief’s display of support.
We’ll admit we stopped reading there, so perhaps there was actual news later in the story. But can anyone reading those opening two sentences wonder why millions of Americans believe Donald Trump when he tells them that he can’t get a fair shake from the press?
These reporters can’t even begin a news account of a presidential visit to a military base without working in a compilation of Mr. Trump’s controversies, contradictions, and failings.
The point isn’t to feel sorry for Mr. Trump, whose rhetorical attacks on the press have often been contemptible. The point is that such gratuitously negative reporting undermines the credibility of the press without Mr. Trump having to say a word.
Now the Washington Post has completely rewritten those two paragraphs and thanks to the miracles of pixels instead of print, aided by a total lack of integrity, there is no trace of the offending words or any hint they ever existed:
President Trump greeted U.S. troops on an unannounced trip Wednesday to Iraq, where he defended his decision to withdraw forces from neighboring Syria and declared that the Islamic State is “very nearly defeated” while making his first visit to a conflict zone as commander in chief.
The president used his visit to al-Asad Air Base to amplify his call to draw down the U.S. presence in foreign wars and assert his personal influence over the military at a moment of tremendous turmoil at the Pentagon.
The article cited is this piece by Philip Rucker and Paul Sonne — but what do you know — the offending paragraphs quoted by WSJ in their editorial have been significantly altered https://t.co/phRh7xPciT
— Jon Levine (@LevineJonathan) December 27, 2018
The fact that the story was a) changed after the Wall Street Journal criticized it and b) changed with no note to the reader that the story had been substantially altered points to two things. Undoubtedly, Rucker and Sonne knew that they were wrong when they wrote the story but did it anyway because their editors had the same views. Their editors went along with it because they shared that view and assumed the overwhelming majority of their readers did also. Because they loathe the subject of the story and the possibiity of giving Trump credit for anything causes an onset of fecal incontinence, the whole group just ran with something they knew was wrong because it felt good. In fact, it was very much like the case of Der Spiegel and disgraced German fabulist, Claas Relotius, where confirmation bias and the raw anti-Americanism you find among the German elites created a perfect storm of failure.
As I just pointed out, the coverage of any action by Trump has become nothing more than a rather ineptly produced Kabuki play. It is ritualized. It is meaningless to those who are not aficionados. It serves to discredit the entire genre. By this type of nonsense, the media has discredited themselves and reduced their role in our society to one of partisan cheerleader for the Democrats. That image is going to stay with them for long after Donald Trump leaves office.
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