Trump Criticism In Review

Reply Sun 5 Feb, 2017 06:55 am
I suppose you could say that this is why human beings in general can't be trusted, especially in the political sphere. I'm not trying to whitewash sloppy journalism. However, I can remember this sort of thing going on in the first days of the Clinton administration, which was off to a rough start. There were leaks to the press about the chaos, and fake news about the "w's" on the White House typewriters, and lots of obvious screw-ups. So after a week or two of this, you start reading accounts by "administration spokesmen" who issue retractions, corrections, and reinterpretations of stories and events.

This is the classic pattern folks. The new administration gets scrutinized, it reacts to what it perceives as negative attention, counter-narratives are floated, and then the friendly press jumps in to provide defensive clarification — and I would class The Daily Caller as "friendly press". How many of these putative "errors" are really all that significant? Which of these mistaken or misleading accounts will be remembered two weeks from now? Does adding up a bunch of small items from various sources really serve to indict the media as a whole?

Where the defensive see "bias" I see the predictable toxic smog which surrounds the complex relations between those in power and those tasked with exposing and explaining how the power is used. People inside the tent attempting to hide, shield, and cover themselves, occasionally cracking the flaps and lobbing out a grenade or two while the people outside the tent are hurling everything they can, most missiles bouncing off the tent but a few of the sharper ones managing to score a prick or two.

Mr. Trump, like Mr. Nixon before him, obviously feels that carrying on a "war" with the press is politically useful. But thin-skinned Nixon was a clever politician and an experienced officeholder and he ran a tight ship. I really don't think you can fault the media for portraying Trump's first two weeks as somewhat "chaotic". And Trump brings most of this criticism upon himself. What his supporters see as "cute" or "endearing" behavior is seen as "bizarre" or "cringeworthy" by long-term observers of our political culture. Bragging about his ratings at the National Prayer Breakfast, continually replaying his upset victory, issuing a travel ban in a hurry and with inadequate planning and criticizing the judge who blocks it — the guy courts media criticism.

Of course one drawback to conducting a campaign to delegitimize the press is complications that arise when you want to use the media to spread a particular message and you end up relying on an institution which has been characterized as "dishonest" and "untrustworthy". I had to laugh yesterday when one of our junior-level rightwing spear-chuckers tried to smear Obama by quoting a story from ... the New York Times!
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