[guest post by Dana]
Last night, I spent time with two successful individuals from Los Angeles who work in the movie industry. They are both liberals who voted for Hillary Clinton, and both are aghast that Donald J. Trump is now our president. They are also very clear-eyed about the media’s role in helping Trump get into office. They understand that Trump was given far more print space and air time than any other candidate in the running. This by a media desperate for the ratings and hits, and as a result, they essentially launched his win. So the press’s current hysterical reactions and doomsday proclamations of everything Trump – whom they helped put into office – is nothing but a clanging gong of unhinged dishonesty grating on the last nerve of this couple. With regard to the mainstream media, their view is: You made him, now own it. No backsies, no re-dos, so just shut-up.
I couldn’t agree with them more. I loathed the mainstream media, before the election, and even more so after. Their dishonesty and complicity with the Democratic party, their refusal to ensure that newsrooms have equal representation of varying political views (which should not matter, but undeniably does), and sheer arrogance reveals jut how unable they are to see the world through any other lens than a very-narrowly defined one of liberalism. Thus after decades of this partisan bias, it’s no wonder that we are now here: polarized and frustrated as one side seeks its revenge against the powerful entity that is the American press. An entity which has long-mocked, dismissed and sneered at a large swath of the population. A populace now counting on President Trump to exact a long-sought after revenge. And with this thirst for a comeuppance, there comes a willingness to lower the bar of reasonable standards and look the other way at dishonest and unethical behavior from their champion. The end now justifies the means. On the side of the press, the still-smoldering anger over the devastating election loss, an election that they believe was their “owed” win, has turned to an hysterical, over-the-top reaction of hit jobs and Fake News reports. That the election was lost to someone like Trump still cannot be believed. This inability to accept reality is also similar to the press’s continuing inability to grasp that their long-exposed collective biases have rendered them mostly irrelevant, save for a few pocketed regions of liberalism.
As readers here already know, I have not been a Trump supporter. I don’t see any reason to re-hash the basis for my concerns, but suffice it to say, that post-election, my concerns and fears about the president haven’t changed.
With that, I want to point you to an excellent article addressing the simple fact that it is very possible – and I am proof of this, as is the liberal couple with whom I conversed – that one can dislike equally both President Trump and the American press. Those are not mutually exclusive positions. This is not a binary choice that we have to make: either reject Trump or reject the press, either support Trump or support the press. Says who?
NRO’s Kevin D. Williamson offers thoughts on this, to which I heartily concur:
…Every Republican president is “the most extreme ever,” or so Democrats and their media friends insist. (“We do always say that,” one Democratic friend acknowledged. “And it is always true.” Well . . . )
In this corner, the American Press; in the opposite corner, the American President. The time has come for choosing sides — or so do many of our friends on the left and in the media (there is some crossover in that group) insist, as do more than a few of our friends on the right.
On Friday, I was scolded by Joe Hagan of New York magazine (he must have taken a break from the vital service he is offering to the republic at the moment, composing a biography of Jann Wenner) for daring to criticize my media colleagues in the age of Trump, “since you are supposedly a journalist.” It is, he insisted, “as if you, as a conservative, can’t see objective reality along with somebody you assume is a political opposite.” No, it is as if the American news media is predictably biased and incompetent, and would be writing almost precisely what it is writing about Donald Trump if the election had been won by Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, or Pat Sajak. …
It is possible, if you are not mentally crippled, to hold your mind two non-exclusive ideas: Donald J. Trump stinks, and the press stinks. Trump’s spat with the press is a bloodless Iran–Iraq war, and I myself am cheering for (metaphorical) casualties. If you find yourself only able to focus on which party stinks worse, then you have adopted the pre-kindergarten “binary choice” rhetoric of the campaign, in which both Trump and Clinton supporters insisted that we must ignore the obvious character defects, financial shenanigans, lies, and foolishness of A or B on the theory that B or A is so much worse that we simply cannot acknowledge any shortcomings on the other side.
Those of us who have not entirely surrendered our neocortices to one cable-news tribe or the other are perfectly capable of criticizing Trump and criticizing the media. Of course the American media is terrible. Everybody knows this. Everybody who follows the public debate about guns, taxes, or abortion knows this. Dean Baquet, the executive editor of the New York Times, knows this, which is why he sheepishly acknowledged that the so-called Newspaper of Record and its editors “don’t get religion.” And that is just a little bit of what they don’t get. Other senior editors at major media outlets know this, too. The people who run the Washington Post know this. The reflexive Democratic affiliation of most of the major media is a simple fact of life that you’d have to be foolish or dishonest to deny[.]
The tragedy of all this is that, yeah, we really could use an effective, active, and credible press right now. We have an active one five days out of the week, an effective one five days out of the month, and a credible one . . . not that often. My criticisms of Trump do not go so far as those who believe that he is a budding fascist dictator on the verge of building concentration camps, but if you really did believe that, wouldn’t you wish, at least a little, that the media hadn’t been exactly as hysterical when faced with the bland, anodyne visage of Mitt Romney? Or John McCain? You want to be taken seriously now after insisting that Dick Cheney was the new American Gestapo?
Williams goes on to point out that unfortunately, everyone’s view of a credible source differs greatly. It may be Maddow or Chris Hayes one side of the aisle, and Limbaugh or Hannity on the other side (I’m spit balling here, because honestly, I don’t even know about the right anymore…). Regardless, to my mind, the American people have fought too long and hard to settle for this current lot in life:
We deserve a better press, and a better president, too. If you are the sort of partisan who cannot entertain the possibility that both of these things may be true at the same time, then you ought to consider the possibility that you are one of the reasons why we do not have a better press or a better president.
We need to keep fighting. For both.
(Cross-posted at The Jury Talks Back.)