And of course, they do sometimes have good material. Such as Keep crying wolf about Trump, and no one will listen when there’s a real crisis by Kyle Smith. The argument is sound but the rendering of it is good as well.
Starting with some basic home truths.
Nevertheless, a word of neighborly advice to our more genteel media friends, the ones who sit at the high table in their pristine white dinner jackets and ball gowns. You’ve been barfing all over yourselves for a week and a half, and it’s revolting to watch.Then there's this.
For your own sake, and that of the republic for which you allegedly work, wipe off your chins and regain your composure. I didn’t vote for him either, but Trump won. Pull yourselves together and deal with it, if you ever want to be taken seriously again.
What kind of president will Trump be? It’s a tad too early to say, isn’t it? The media are supposed to tell us what happened, not speculate on the future. But its incessant scaremongering, the utter lack of proportionality and the shameless use of double standards are an embarrassment, one that is demeaning the value of the institution. The press’ frantic need to keep the outrage meter dialed up to 11 at all times creates the risk that a desensitized populace will simply shrug off any genuine White House scandals that may lie in the future (or may not).Since an election in which the mainstream news media functioned as operatives with by-lines for the losing candidate, the newspapers have continued their approach to every Trump action since then, cementing their degraded reputation as carnival barkers for the corruption and vested interests. Every action he takes has been heralded as the end of civilization as we know it. Every inaction as augers of paralysis, indecision and dysfunction. All forecasts of things to come delivered, of course, as truth from on high.
What kind of president will Trump be? It’s a tad too early to say, isn’t it? The media are supposed to tell us what happened, not speculate on the future. But its incessant scaremongering, the utter lack of proportionality and the shameless use of double standards are an embarrassment, one that is demeaning the value of the institution. The press’ frantic need to keep the outrage meter dialed up to 11 at all times creates the risk that a desensitized populace will simply shrug off any genuine White House scandals that may lie in the future (or may not).And ignorance on the part of the media is no defense. They know exactly what they are doing, shilling for the establishment; shilling for the vested interests and yet greater inequality.
Look at the bonkers reaction to every move made by Trump’s transition team. “Firings and Discord Put Trump Team in a State of Disarray,” ran a shrill New York Times headline, though it took President-elect Obama three weeks to name his first Cabinet pick. “Trump Transition Shakeup Part of ‘Stalinesque Purge’ of Christie Loyalists,” screamed NBC News.
The Huffington Post noted “Donald Trump’s Transition Team, Or Lack Thereof, Is Causing Real Panic.” “ ‘Knife Fight’ as Trump Builds an Unconventional National Security Cabinet,” said CNN. “Trump Transition: ‘Stalled . . . Scrambling . . . On Pause,’ ” said CBS News.
After reports of discord and disarray dominated the news for a day, later stories suggested that disgruntled lobbyists who couldn’t get past the doorman at Trump Tower were leaking the information, meaning that, as Trump tried to drain the swamp in Washington, the media were taking the side of the swamp. (Note that reporters swooned when President Obama promised to bar lobbyists from his circle, then shrugged when Obama reneged.)
After Trump gave the media the slip Tuesday night and went out for a steak, NBC harrumphed, “With his Tuesday night actions, the Trump administration is shaping up to be the least accessible to the public and the press in modern history.” Quite a leap there, especially considering the wall of opacity erected by the current administration, which has been stonewalling Freedom Of Information Act requests for years.
Once, hard-nosed city editors told cub reporters, “If your mother says she loves you, check it out.” Nowadays, all that really matters is whether your mother advances what longtime New York Times editor Michael Cieply, a 12-year veteran of that institution, called “the narrative” — the predetermined party line that Times reporters are expected to rigorously adhere to and find evidence for. It’s what social scientists call “confirmation bias,” and if the Times actually cared about being seen as impartial, it would have fired executive editor Dean Baquet in the wake of Cieply’s revelations on Nov. 10. It didn’t.
In November 2008, Washington Post ombudsman Deborah Howell said readers who complained about shallow coverage and pro-Obama bias were “right on both counts,” publishing tallies that proved the paper had been far more critical of Obama’s opponent Sen. John McCain than of Obama. A few weeks later, “Game Change” co-author Mark Halperin said the media showed “extreme pro-Obama coverage” in a “disgusting failure.”What was assumed to be true by many, that they were DNC operatives with bylines, was finally proven true beyond a doubt.
In 2012, The New York Times’ public editor Arthur Brisbane said the paper “basked a bit in the warm glow of Mr. Obama’s election in 2008” and cited a study that showed the Times’ coverage had been far more approving of Obama than it had been of President Reagan and both Presidents Bush.
In January 2008, NBC’s Brian Williams was honest enough to point out that the network’s reporter covering Obama had said, “It’s hard to be objective covering this guy.” Williams immediately demanded the reporter be fired for admitting to being unable to do his job.
Just kidding: Williams praised the reporter, calling him “courageous.”
This fall WikiLeaks confirmed everything conservatives have been saying about the media for more than 20 years. CNN, you have been busted. You allowed Democratic Party operative Donna Brazile to get hold of town-hall questions in advance and help Hillary Clinton prep with them.The American public has an expectation that the media will be independent, will speak truth to power, will stand up for the little guy, will demonstrate courage in its reporting without fear or favor and will exhibit the highest standards in protecting our Republic through the disinfecting light of exposure. Those are high standards and can only be delivered upon with some modicum of balance and disinterest. Functioning as a partisan operative simply spoils the industry's reputation further and subverts the Republic.
Note that this is not a Donna Brazile scandal. Brazile did what every party hack is paid to do: She tried to help her side win. This is all on you, CNN. You should have fired yourselves, not Brazile.
John Harwood, New York Times/CNBC reporter and Republican debate moderator, you have been busted. You asked John Podesta, Clinton’s campaign chair, for questions you could pose to Jeb Bush in an interview.
Dana Milbank, Washington Post columnist and longtime phony “nonpartisan” political reporter, you have been busted. You reached out to DNC flack Eric Walker and asked for help putting together a “Passover-themed 10 plagues of Trump” story.
Not only are you evidently an undercover Democratic Party operative who should be drawing checks from the DNC instead of from The WaPo, you’re a tired hack who can’t even come up with his own column ideas without assistance.
Should the media be antagonistic to Trump? Yes, they should be antagonistic to all public officials. Their job is to expose bad judgment and wrongdoing, not to fawn and mewl.
That the media chose to be blasé about Obama overriding the Constitution and making law via fiat was reprehensible. It doesn’t mean the media are under any obligation whatsoever to show deference to Trump should he do the same.
For the good of us all, though, and in the interest of rebuilding the wreckage of its reputation, the media should go back to having gradations of outrage. Switching transition chairmen isn’t the Saturday Night Massacre, and going out for a steak without telling the hacks isn’t on a par with, say, deleting 33,000 e-mails.
The Trump Era hasn’t even started yet. The media should wait for something to actually happen before it declares the end of the world.