Donald Trump’s congenital belligerence may not wear well with the public over the next four years, but it’s been certainly central to a persona that has regularly defied “normal” expectations and won an ardent corps of loyalists.
Trump’s irreverence for political correctness, the media, and the “establishment” resonates with a large swath of the public that’s sick and tired of being told what to think by people who consider themselves better, smarter and more sophisticated than the rest of us.
Trump’s shut down of CNN reporter Jim Acosta (“Don’t be rude. No, I’m not going to give you a question. You are fake news.”), during an inaugural week press conference, was a satisfying display of Trump’s punch-back style. He was particularly incensed that CNN had promoted a dubious Buzzfeed posting of an unsubstantiated “intelligence memo” that claimed Russia had compromising information about him.
Most politicians “play nice” to seek favorable – or, at least, fair –treatment from the dominant liberal media. For Democrats, that’s easy because the overwhelming share of reporters supports the Democrat agenda.
Trump’s approach is more confrontational. If the press is out to get him (which, by and large, it is), then why not drop the pretense of mutual respect?
Reporters and news anchors fawningly worship most Democrats – except those like Anthony Weiner who embarrass the cause. They downplayed unethical behavior by the Obama administration, including when the Obama White House stonewalled reporters’ legitimate requests for information that should be publicly available.
They largely ignored the Justice Department targeting FoxNews’ James Rosen as a “co-conspirator” for his investigation of the Benghazi cover-up story. When Sharyl Attkisson (who won Emmy awards for her investigation of Republicans) bird-dogged the Obama administration for selling guns to Mexican drug-runners and directing federal stimulus funds to political supporters, her superiors at CBS suspiciously lost interest.
More recently, media lackeys repeated uncritically the bogus assertion that the Obama administration was “scandal-free.” Never mind, in addition to the aforementioned: IRS harassing conservative non-profits; “investigations” of Republican donors; VA hospitals lying about wait times for veterans; the administration stonewalling its own internal investigators; Attorney General Eric Holder held in contempt of Congress; the abject failure of ObamaCare, the deceit that helped pass it, and Obama’s unconstitutional actions to protect it and prolong its demise.
Ari Fleischer, press secretary for President George W. Bush, described the double-standard: “If it’s a Democrat, the press duly reports it and quickly moves on. For Republicans, it’s a feeding frenzy; for Democrats, it’s a brief mention.”
Fleischer noted that when it was discovered that Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, had told her daughter that the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi was pre-planned but told the public it was a spontaneous reaction to a YouTube video (so Obama wouldn’t appear weak on terrorism prior to the 2012 election), the press simply moved on.
Does anyone doubt that a similar cover-up within the Trump administration would generate days of front-page outrage?
The media left no doubt during the Obama presidency that they will heap praise on Democrats and minimize their misdeeds, while treating Republicans exactly the opposite.
It’s no wonder that trust in the dominant liberal media is at an all-time low. According to Gallup, only 14% of Republicans and 30% of independents trust the media. Increasingly, the media is talking mostly to Democrats, but barely half (51%) of them call the media trustworthy.
So buckle up for a relentless battle during the next four years. The media is so adversarial that there’s no reason for Trump to expect fair coverage, and given his thin-skin and irascible nature, it’s reasonable for him to ask, “How much worse can it be if I fight back?”
Note to other politicians: Do not try this at home. Trump may be able to pull this off, but it’s doubtful anyone else can.