One would think that for all their master's degrees, Pulitzer Prizes, and Nieman Fellowships at Harvard, today journalists would do a little soul-searching.
Instead, the White House press corps spent the weekend pleasuring itself over the size of President Obama's inauguration crowd, cheering on the march of Hillary supporters on Saturday, and the cast of SNL singing "To Sir With Love" to a poster of Obama.
The press sees its job not as a seeker of the truth, but part of a Resistance movement. For eight years, they served as the palace guard. Now they pretend they are the French Underground.
On Monday, President Trump became the first Republican president to receive praise from a group of union leaders after meeting with them at the White House.
Sure, mine workers president John L. Lewis (he of the bushy eyebrows) flipped Republican after a spat with FDR. And the original Jimmy Hoffa backed Nixon. But that was politics. This is business. Outside of government, only 7% of workers are unionized.
The press brushed that aside. Instead they clickbait. The Daily Mail had a story about an inauguration photo placed in the press room had the wrong date.
Citizen's Impeachment! Citizen's Impeachment!
Enough. Conrad Black hit on something I saw on Sunday's "Meet the Press" when Kellyanne Conway said "alternative facts." Chuck Todd immediately fell into her trap.
Jim Rutenberg of the New York Times, who had loyally but lamely defended CNN’s airing of the Golden Shower piffle last week (while tacitly acknowledging that it was unfounded), warned darkly on Monday that the administration’s credibility will be destroyed if it doesn’t repair its relations with the media, which would entail appeasement of men and women who are practically unanimous in their hostility to Mr. Trump. It ill behooves an apologist for the veracity of the Golden Shower to accuse the always well-spoken Ms. Conway of fomenting lies.
So steeped in what Dr. Johnson called “the disingenuousness of years” is the Washington press, they still do not know what has happened. Donald Trump rallied the Archie Bunkers to win the nomination, added enough independents to win the election, counterattacked the press at every stage in the social media and through his talk-radio supporters, and is using the authority of his office to call out media lies through spokesmen. He is exploiting their high disapproval rating.It is "Ballad of a Thin Man." They really don't know what time it is.
They are getting sloppy. The press pool on Friday reported that President Trump installed the Winston Churchill bust in the Oval Office -- and threw out Martin Luther King's bust. That was half-right. Both busts are now there. The real story is this proves President Obama lied when he said the office was not big enough for the both of them.
Then there was this from Media-ite:
ABC News apologized Tuesday after the Monday night edition of Nightline edited a quote from former George W. Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer in a way that made it appear that he was more critical of current White House press secretary Sean Spicer than he actually was.That is pretty important. Fleischer was not combative with a press corps that while not as hostile as this crew, certainly exaggerated and misrepresented the Bush 43 presidency. Dubya kept him on a leash. Trump don't care.
More from Conrad Black:
The press will not have rebuilt its credibility until it recognizes how terribly it has disserved the country from Vietnam and Watergate all the way to the Golden Shower. The Democrats, presumably, will get the hint and change course and recruit better candidates; both sides come to bat. The press is like Talleyrand’s description of the Bourbons returning to Paris in 1815 in the baggage train of Wellington’s army: “They have forgotten nothing and they have learned nothing.”
In a few more years the Bourbons were gone forever; the press will cling on, but they will not make or break administrations as they have and will not regain public confidence from one election to the next, and not before they have conducted a profound self-reappraisal with the help of the 85% of the public who don’t believe them.I have several ideas of how the press can get its groove back.
An Obama-sized honeymoon for Trump would be a good start.
But why bother giving an group of twits advice when they will not admit they have a problem?
From Jim Rutenberg:
It was chilling when Mr. Trump’s assertion that reporters were “among the most dishonest people on earth” became an applause line for the crowd gathered to hear him speak in front of the memorial to fallen agents at C.I.A. headquarters.
Still more chilling was when the White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway appeared on “Meet the Press” on Sunday to assert that Mr. Spicer’s falsehoods were simply “alternative facts.”
Ms. Conway made no bones about what she thought of the news media’s ability to debunk those “alternative facts” in a way Americans — especially Trump-loving Americans — would believe.
“You want to talk provable facts?” she said to the moderator, Chuck Todd. “Look — you’ve got a 14 percent approval rating in the media, that you’ve earned. You want to push back on us?” (She appeared to be referring to a Gallup poll figure related to Republicans’ views.)
And really, there it was: an apparent animating principle of Mr. Trump’s news media strategy since he first began campaigning. That strategy has consistently presumed that low public opinion of mainstream journalism (which Mr. Trump has been only too happy to help stoke) creates an opening to sell the Trump version of reality, no matter its adherence to the facts.
As Mr. Trump and his supporters regularly note, whatever he did during the campaign, it was successful: He won. His most ardent supporters loved the news media bashing. And the complaints and aggressive fact-checking by the news media played right into his hands. He portrayed it as just so much whining and opposition from yet another overprivileged constituency of the Washington establishment.
But will tactics that worked in the campaign work in the White House?Well they will work better than the constant attacks by the press did in both the nomination process and the general election. Rutenberg in August called for the press to drop any pretense of objectivity. It did. And with it it dropped any claim to be a free press that is vital to a democracy.
Ours is a democratic republic.
Press privileges are just that.
85% of the public revoked those privileges.
Good luck winning them back.
Please read "Trump the Press," in which I skewer media experts who wrongly predicted Trump would lose the Republican nomination. "Trump the Press" is available as a paperback, and on Kindle.
It covers the nomination process only. The general election will be covered in a sequel, "Trump the Establishment."
For an autographed copy, email me at DonSurber@GMail.com
Be deplorable. Follow me on Twitter.