Anyone who follows the news every day can see this, even if the anti-Trump media (and Democrats) refuse to admit it. Back in November, I wrote “as for Trump versus the media, my bet is on Trump.”
Trump has declared war on the main stream media, and he is going to go at them with hammer and tongs until he wins. By the end of his four years, either Trump will be impeached and convicted, or the media will be addressing him with the flowery decorum due him out of fear.
There are several reasons this is likely true.
First, the president’s “bully pulpit” is incredibly strong. He personally commands hundreds, if not thousands, of government personnel and the levers of power. Even when he steps over lines of authority and decorum, as he did with former FBI Director James Comey, it’s not illegal per se. The president’s message will always find ears to hear it.
Second, Trump himself is a connoisseur of media. He knows what gets their tails wagging, and he knows–instinctually at this point after 40 years of doing it–how to leverage that to his own purposes. Trump follows media ratings like Goldman Sachs follows stock values. No president in history has taken interest in the media as a business–an entertainment business in many ways–to this level. Honestly, it’s rather an unfair advantage for Trump, but since when has he believed in fairness?
Third, the anti-Trump media constantly and consistently steps all over itself trying to find the most damaging story or the smoking gun against the president.
Let’s be honest here.
If “golden showers,” “grab them by the p***y,” and Trump’s parsimony and deception in his personal giving haven’t taken him down, how is innuendo and speculation about Russia going to?
How can a fake Time Magazine cover hanging in Trump’s golf club, that the press has reacted to like catnip in a crazy cat lady’s house, be worth anything at all outside their own little bubble of like-minded journalists? (Psst: it’s not.)
To be sure, it’s still journalism when the press pursues evidence of wrongdoing, collusion, or incompetence within the Trump campaign or administration. It’s still journalism when they, time after time, follow anonymous tips and leads, publish stories based on them, and are later forced to retract those stories. Everyone can be wrong.
But continuing those pursuits when they are clearly damaging the media more than they are Trump, is, frankly, stupid.
Trump knows it’s stupid, but as long as the media, that part of it he declared to be his enemy, keeps running after the ball when he pretends to throw it, he will continue to bait them. He baits them with ratings, with a juicy story to cover, with wall-to-wall Russia, and with every manner of irrelevant idiocy, and they fall for it. (Even the inaugural crowd size story has resurfaced!)
It needs to stop, for the sake of journalism and America’s trust in the media.
This is for you, Chris Cillizza, who has made career hay at the Washington Post and a plum job at CNN. It’s for you, David Fahrenthold, who, deservedly, won a Pulitzer for digging into Trump’s non-giving. And for Jeff Zucker, Leslie Moonves, Noah Oppenheim and James Goldston. You’ve been trading on the goodwill of your profession, to make business hay and win a battle you are likely to lose.
Those “suits” at the top, along with reporters eager for a career-making move, or vindication for previous embarrassments, by their unhealthy obsession with Trump, are damaging the media as a whole. Trump is only too happy to let you all do it.