If Mainstream Media Deems This Week a “Good” One for Trump, All Remaining Credibility Is Lost
Because the mainstream media is a workforce comprised of sentient beings, it’s tempting to ascribe to its collective body the same capacities as one would an individual. For example, humans are capable of learning from their mistakes, although some must repeat them more frequently than others to achieve enlightenment. By extension, the sum total of the mass media’s failures in a particular area should result in reflection and appropriate coverage course correction.
I realize that this naive logic fails to account for journalism’s progressive corporatization and profit-making goals, as well as the naked partisanship that prevents some outlets from getting at the truth, if and when that’s even a concern. But as I tell my undergraduate students, we can accept reality even if we must kick the hell out of it and demand change.
Ever since that fateful June 16, 2015 day when former reality television star Donald Trump rode a golden escalator to announce his candidacy for President of the Unites States, mainstream media has, for the most part, been flummoxed by the bankruptcy king-turned-politician. It was great fun to cover The Donald beating up on his fellow Republican candidates on live television, because his bid for the White House was simply implausible, right? As The Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan wrote in November 2016:
“They [mainstream media] didn’t get that the huge, enthusiastic crowds at Donald Trump’s rallies would really translate into that many votes. They couldn’t believe that the America they knew could embrace someone who mocked a disabled man, bragged about sexually assaulting women, and spouted misogyny, racism and anti-Semitism.
It would be too horrible. So, therefore, according to some kind of magical thinking, it couldn’t happen.”
Until it did. And in January 2017, the idea of Donald Trump as a vulgar, ill-informed, morally bankrupt Leader of the Free World became a reality. And U.S. residents quickly found that to “Make America Great” again, we had to tolerate ignorance, white supremacy, systemic administrative corruption and disingenuousness, pointless trade wars and a persistent deregulatory frenzy that hurts our air, water, land and pocketbooks while enriching the mercenary Robber Barons of which we thought we’d rid ourselves after the last Gilded Age.
This week, millions of Americans were glued to their televisions, laptops and device screens to watch Special Counsel and former FBI Director Robert Mueller testify before two congressional committees. While the hearings could not be described as riveting, anyone paying attention would be a fool to believe they served the sitting President – or the country – well. Trump’s repeated and dishonest claims that Russia was not working on his behalf in the 2016 election, and that he did not obstruct justice in the government’s efforts to ascertain just how closely the Kremlin collaborated with his team in that regard, were exposed as obvious lies. It is journalistic malpractice to report on this, and the White House’s continued stonewalling in the face of congressional subpoena, in any other way than as an existential threat to truth that imperils that nation and its character.
Yet astonishingly, Politico’s Eliana Johnson and Burgess Everett published a piece on Thursday entitled, Trump’s Good Week. The article’s sub header reads: “For a few days, at least, the president was on top of the world.”
Huh? What now?
Writer Charles P. Pierce of Esquire couldn’t let this lunacy pass without comment, noting that in addition to some truths laid bare by Mueller’s testimony this week:
“[Trump] went completely, raving bananas on live television from the grounds of the White House. If he’d have been an old man on a sidewalk in Los Angeles or Chicago, he’d probably be locked up by now.
[And] he turned to Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats to get a budget deal passed for which he couldn’t get the votes of a third of his own party’s caucus.”
With the 2020 election gearing up in earnest and over 70 percent of Americans believing the country is headed in a wrong and dangerous direction, we must demand more “truthiness” from the media. They work for us, the public, not Donald Trump. And guess what? The President doesn’t think much of the journalistic profession anyway. When Fox News commentators claim that Trump is beating the mainstream media at their own game, they’re not wrong.
No matter what certain members of the mainstream media tell us, things are not going well for POTUS 45. It’s in the interest of all to root for the success of the country’s leader of course, but in his particular case, what’s good for Donald Trump and his band of cronies almost always flies in the face of the national interest, the betterment of regular Americans and their families. A “good” week for him is a necessarily bad one for us regular folks. And when the President bumbles and stumbles as he does so often on the national and international stage, the threats to Americans become that much greater.
All of Trump’s “winning” is costing us the environment, international credibility and the lives of immigrants and their children. If the sentient beings that comprise the mainstream media workforce care about the future of our country, they’ll quit handicapping the narrative in favor of the goon who’s happy to bring it all down upon our heads, if it makes him a buck.