In his recent commentary on media coverage of Trump, Epshteyn phones in a rather lazy, boilerplate condemnation of the media that’s almost too predictable to need much commentary, but be that as it may, here we go . . .
When is the hyperventilation going to stop? Donald Trump is president. The American people have spoken. Will the left-wing media ever just accept that fact?
Obviously, the phrase “hyperventilation” is a loaded term, connoting hysterical, unthinking reaction. More telling, however, is the phrase “The American people have spoken.”
Indeed they have, but the Founding Fathers, in their “wisdom” (a.k.a., their skepticism about the wisdom of “the people”) created a system in which “the people” don’t directly elect the president. While usually a mere technicality, this has, in a few cases, led to the election of someone whose name was *not* spoken by the people. Such was the case in 2016. Trump lost to Hillary Clinton by nearly 3,000,000 votes.
The people spoke.
They wanted Clinton.
They got Trump
Any argument based on the premise that the current president was chosen by majority rule is, from the start, based on a fallacy.
Of course, we have the phrase “left-wing media” thrown in, an empty epithet contradicted by the facts that mainstream media is owned by a small handful of gigantic corporations (whose interests will be, almost by definition, conservative in the small-c sense of the term) and the revelation that the media bent over backwards to cover Trump, providing him hundreds of millions of dollars of free airtime not granted to his Republican opponents in the primaries or Clinton in the general election campaign. And, as noted in a previous post, content analyses of the coverage of the 2016 campaign showed that the media covered thedebunked “scandal” of the Clinton emails in a way they did not any of themyriad Trump scandals.
I hope so. I talked to you about ABC’s erroneous reporting. Well, reporters from the Washington Post, Bloomberg and CNN (a few times) have also fallen into the same trap of over-eagerness to “get” the president.
Unemployment is at a 16-year low, consumer confidence is at a 17-year high, ISIS has been driven out of Iraq, our country is about to have real tax reform for the first time since 1986. Those issues are woefully under reported.
Epshteyn provides no evidence of any of this. Indeed, he cannot, given that these are all issues that have and are covered. What he seems to be complaining about is that these issues are not covered in a way that gives glowing praise to Trump. But, of course, objectively, the fact is that unemployment and consumer confidence have been trending upward for nine years now, and ISIS was driven out of Iraq by military intervention planned and initiated before Trump was elected, let alone took office. As for tax “reform,” that has been covered widely. And that’s the problem for Epshteyn. The facts regarding the bill have made it more unpopular than many tax hikes. It isn’t that tax issues haven’t been covered; it’s that they haven’t been (inaccurately) framed in the way Epstheyn would like it to be.
If one scans most of the cable networks throughout any day and looks at the broadcast Sunday shows they instead see and hear the same old D.C. insiders, from both parties, spouting off about things like how many diet cokes the president drinks.
The hostility has extended to the press briefing room. Recently, Brian Karem, White House reporter for Playboy and a CNN contributor, decided to yell at Press Secretary Sarah Sanders to be recognized, as if the Brady Press Briefing Room is a common bazaar. When Ms. Sanders did call on him, the reporter asked her if she had ever been sexually harassed. Are you kidding me? That is highly inappropriate sexism at its worst.
“Highly inappropriate sexism at its worst”? As opposed to appropriate sexism?
Obviously it’s an odd phrase, but the problems with it are deeper. The question came in the context of discussing the eruption of allegations/admissions of harassment and assault, behavior that Sanders’s boss has admitted to on tape. Yet, Sanders has promised that there will be witnesses that will refute all of the nearly two-dozen women who have accused the president of inappropriate behavior (there have not been any provided as of this writing). Of course, Trump himself promised to sue his accusers after the election, but has not.
So, the issue of whether the Trump administration has sympathies with those women, particularly in government, who have been victims of harassment is a valid one. There is nothing “sexist” about the question. It is direct and personal, and Sanders had the right to not talk about it, but to deride it as “sexist” is a shallow and lazy critique—one that is little more than the time-old playground retort, “I know you are, but what am I?”
Here is the bottom line: there is no problem with tough questioning and reporting on the president and his staff, but it is not the job of the media, however, to carry out continuous attacks on the White House.
Nor is it the job of the media to obsequiously praise the president (unless you happen to be Sinclair Broadcasting or Fox News). Too often, mainstream media has played along with Trump in unspoken (and occasionally spoken) collusion—Trump’s theatrics and train-wreck persona deliver ratings, while the media provides continuous coverage. As someone whose made a living (such as it is) as little more than a side-show carnival barker, Trump knows any publicity is good publicity, as much as he rails against “fake news.” And the bottom line is this: Epshteyn knows this too.