Presidents from both parties have always enjoyed partisan cheerleaders in the press who will defend an administration from attacks and enthusiastically support its agenda. But what the Trump team is trying to assemble is something else entirely. It’s trying to build its own self-sustaining, hermetically sealed information bubble so that Trump, his aides, and his supporters don’t have to acknowledge everyday facts.
This current crisis of confidence is about an entire White House philosophy of dishonesty driven by Trump himself. And that certainly includes Trump TV surrogates such as Spicer and Miller, who are quickly amassing resumes built around pushing daily falsehoods. If news producers are avoiding Conway, they should also be pondering the worth of hosting Spicer and Miller.
President Trump, who spent 2016 chronically boasting about his ability to spike TV news ratings, clearly falls short of the ratings successes Obama posted early in his presidency. As the least popular new president in modern American history, Trump seems to having trouble connecting with the masses.
The good news is Conway’s awkward “massacre” fabrication was quickly and aggressively debunked, and her reputation may have suffered a long-term hit. The disturbing downside: The Conway incident isn’t a random, dismissible incident. As the Trump White House has proven repeatedly, making things up is becoming the rule, not the exception.
Downgrading the scrutiny given to right-wing radicals has long been a goal of conservative media in America. Now Trump is moving to turn that desire into policy. Today, with the threat of homegrown, radical-right extremists still looming, the Trump administration is following the Fox News lead. Rather than increasing scrutiny, it’s proposing to scale it back.
If newsrooms understand that falsehoods are the currency that Trump and his White House aides trade in each day, then reporters should stop treating unconfirmed claims from the White House as fact. Even when the supposed facts revolve around everyday matters like diplomatic phone calls.
Like his attempts to spread lies about the U.S. unemployment rate (not to mention lies about the size of his inauguration crowd), Trump’s argument for building a wall is built on the fabrication that America is under siege from undocumented immigrants. It’s not. Trump’s proposal is a radical fix for a dilemma already in decline
Yes, Trump’s a dishonest conspiracy theorist. But he’s also much more than that. He’s a remorseless liar and a grievously insecure man who seems to feed off spite and revenge. It’s not a political strategy, it’s a character defect. Especially for someone like Trump who appears to have no deep ideological moorings.
Trump’s weird post-inauguration obsession with puffing up the numbers of his celebration might seem like a baffling, insecure tick. It is — he’s just advertising that insecurity via an established right-wing media tactic. The pattern of lying about how many people assemble en masse enjoys a long history within the right-wing media; a history Trump has revived.
New questions have been raised about the Times’ decision late in the campaign to sit on the story that Russian officials may have compromising information on Trump. The Times public editor Liz Spayd suggests that the reason they didn’t run with the “explosive allegations” was that journalists didn’t think Trump was going to win the election, and the paper didn’t want to risk sparking a controversy by reporting on the dossier.
Fact: When Republican leadership adopted the radical position that they’d refuse to even hold hearings for Obama’s next Supreme Court nominee, the GOP systematically shred more than 100 years of protocol in the process. That’s what Obama faced for much of the last eight years, and the press’s messaging has helped Republicans every step of the way.
News organizations face an incoming Trump administration that seems sure to institute new media restrictions that are far more stringent than the Obama White House’s rules for photographers. Yet we don’t we hear much in terms of an organized protest.
Over and over we’re seeing this discouraging and potentially dangerous pattern unfold: At a time when Trump and his team are ratcheting up their attempts to discredit the media, and as they stand poised to choke off all meaningful access for journalists, too many news organizations are responding with timidity and accommodation.
Donald Trump’s a wildly unpopular political figure, yet the press continues to gloss over that fact while granting him soft coverage. In terms of polling data, there’s virtually no good news for Trump. The results generally point in the same direction: He’s widely disliked and inspires little confidence in his presidential abilities.
Known for whipping up partisan fears and corralling voter suspicions of the other, Ailes is a logical choice to occupy a vaunted position on Team Trump after the election. Yet he seems to have joined the ranks of the disappeared in recent weeks.
Lots of Beltway pundits, the type who obsessed over the appearance of conflicts for Hillary Clinton during the campaign, now shrug their shoulders and suggest Trump maintaining a lucrative business association with a news and entertainment giant is no big deal.
The best way for journalists to cover Trump moving forward is to assume they’ll never have any access. That means news organizations can, and should, stop fretting about possibly offending Trump.
In the end, the bailout that Obama championed saved more than one million jobs, and Fox News still hated it. If only Obama had saved 1,000 Carrier jobs instead.
The term “populist” badly downplays the fact Bannon helped run a race-baiting cesspool, while underplaying Bannon’s own alleged history of anti-Semitism.
If Clinton arrived at the White House with open and boundless business conflicts, how would the press cover that story? What kind of outraged, lecturing tone would journalist take? Now treat the Trump story the same way.
Even though the New York Times’ treatment of Hillary Clinton has been the topic of an ongoing media debate, the Times devoted the review of the paper’s election work almost entirely to detailing ways in which the paper hadn’t been understanding enough of Donald Trump’s supporters.
When Trump gleefully ignored all sorts of media norms on the campaign trail, he was met with modest resistance from the press, and he won the election. So why would he suddenly feel pressure to follow previous White House media traditions?
Question: How well did the press succeed in getting Trump to release his tax returns? In getting him to release relevant health information about himself? In getting him to hold a press conference during the final months of the campaign?
For the entire year, the networks have devoted zero minutes to in-depth policy discussions, but they dedicated 125 minutes to Clinton emails. Media Matters found that in the week following’s Comey’s announcement, five major newspapers published 100 stories about the emails, 46 of which appeared on the front page.