Media postsThursday July 12, 2018
Wherever Trump is Pointing...
Can he do even one thing right?
Here's a tweet from a Wall Street Journal reporter on Pres. Trump's recent trip to Europe and visit with NATO leaders:
Trump arrived 30 minutes late to today’s NATO summit, missed his scheduled meetings with at least two world leaders, prompted the secretary general to call an emergency session, held an impromptu 35-minute news conference, and is now leaving for the airport go fly to London.— Rebecca Ballhaus (@rebeccaballhaus) July 12, 2018
Embarrassing, stupid, rude. He also said that Germany was “a captive of Russia,” which is even more embarrassing, stupid and rude—not to mention a form of projection. Trump is the more likely captive of Russia. One hopes someday the truth will out.
So how does the New York Times sum up yet another buffoonish day in the life of this American president? As if it's Angela Merkel's fault. From last night:
This is from the news source that the GOP constantly howls is too “liberal.”
Note to the New York Times: Your headlines reveal your seeming reluctance to publicly stand up to Mr. Trump.
Note to all members of the legitimate media: Wherever Trump is pointing, the real story is most likely in the exact opposite direction.
NPR's Accountability Problem
Friday morning, I listened to NPR's Steve Inskeep interview Sue Mi Terry, an expert on Korea, about Mike Pompeo's trip to North Korea. This is the gist:
- Nothing substantive came out of the Singapore summit
- Pompeo needs something substantive
- The current administration timeline toward denuclearization is unrealistic
Guess how often Pres. Trump's name comes up in this interview? Once. And it's in the passive voice. At the top of the segment, Inskeep says:
A U.S. official compares North Korea's denuclearization to going on a diet. To make progress, the official says, you first have to climb on a scale. In other words, North Korea must first clarify exactly what its nuclear program has so the U.S. can track its removal later. North Korea agreed to do none of that in the vague statement approved after its president met President Trump last month.
It's as if Trump is a vague bystander in all of this. It's as if the vague statement wasn't the direct result of his insane incompetence. Remember: “I don't have to study”? Remember: “I‘ll know immediately”? And remember this?
Just landed - a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office. There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 13, 2018
Less than a month ago, our president essentially said “Problem solved.” Now NPR is doing a report on how the problem hasn’t begun to be solved ... and they don't even mention that? How much less can NPR hold Trump accountable for his words and actions?
5 Shot Dead at The Capital
This happened yesterday.
They‘re starting to kill us now. Wasn’t bad enough to take away careers, to keep pay stagnant, to deny opportunity, to demand more for less. Now they‘re just starting to kill us.
It was a crazy person with a grudge and a shotgun but the tone the president sets matters, and we know what tone Donald J. Trump has set from the get-go. Look at the list of insulting tweets he’s issued that the New York Times have gathered into one spot; look at all of the vituperation under “Mainstream media.” Look at ABC, CNN, CBS, The New York Times.
Fuckin' A, America. You know what's wrong. How many times do I have to tell you that shit is brown?
The Media's Absurd Dance with Donald J. Trump
“Trump has earned the presumption that everything he says on the topic of the Russia investigation is offered in bad faith.”
Paul Waldman, a writer for the Washington Post, The Week and the American Prospect, has cut to the chase in his latest Post column. It's entitled “Time to stop chasing Trump's lies down the rabbit hole” and it's required reading for everyone in the legit news media. Particularly you, “Morning Edition.”
Waldman sums up the absurd dance between the legit media and the 45th president of the United States:
It goes like this: President Trump makes a ridiculous accusation that almost everyone immediately understands to be false. Then we in the media, because it's the president, treat that accusation as though it's something that has to be taken seriously. Then governmental resources are mustered to deal with the accusation. Then Republicans try to twist the mobilization of those resources to give them the answer they‘re seeking. But because it’s all based on a lie, they fail once Democrats force some measure of truth to be revealed.
Worst of all, we‘re going to end up doing it again.
Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly run through some of the iterations of this maddening pattern. Barack Obama tapped my phones! The Obama administration illegally “unmasked” Americans caught up in surveillance of Russian targets! The Democrats colluded with Russia! The whole Russia investigation happened because of the Steele dossier!
No matter what ludicrous charge Trump makes, the entire political system reacts as though it might be true. If tomorrow the president said that “Robert Mueller” never existed and the person claiming to be him is actually Nancy Pelosi in elaborate makeup, we’d all find ourselves debating whether Mueller is a real person while House Republicans angrily demand that he produce a DNA sample.
The latest example is the repeated charge Trump has made that the Obama administration put a “spy” in his campaign to undermine his campaign. Waldman breaks this down, too:
In this latest case, we learned that in 2016, the FBI opened a counterintelligence investigation when it discovered that people associated with the Russian government had made contact with Trump campaign officials. The bureau went about its investigation in the most circumspect way possible: Instead of marching agents into Trump headquarters to interview people on the campaign, they used an experienced informant who quietly reached out to those officials to see what the nature of the Russian contacts was. Then they kept the results of their investigation quiet until after the election so as not to affect the outcome of the race.
Yet Trump took those facts and twisted them around to claim that the bureau, on the direction of the Obama White House, planted a spy in his campaign in order to help Hillary Clinton. This preposterous lie was dutifully repeated by Fox News and talk radio, ramping up pressure to the point where Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein felt it necessary to ask the department’s inspector general to take a look. Then the Trump White House instructed the Justice Department to brief two Republican committee chairs, including shameless Trump lickspittle Rep. Devin Nunes, on the department’s use of that informant. It was only later that they agreed to hold a second meeting to give the same information to the “Gang of 8,” the bipartisan group of congressional leaders who are regularly briefed on intelligence matters.
I like Waldman's solution, too:
At this point, Trump has earned the presumption that everything he says on the topic of the Russia investigation is offered in bad faith and is almost certainly false, until proved otherwise. So we should treat his statements the way we do press releases from the North Korean state news agency. They may be newsworthy in that they show what the regime would like people to believe, but we don't assume that they have any relationship to actual facts.
Here's the thing: Even after Trump, we‘ll still have the above absurd pattern, because we’ll still have Fox News and the current heads of the Republican party, who rely more and more on lies to justify the awful things they do. But yes, no one is better at it, and more dangerous to this country and to democracy, than Donald J. Trump.
Tweet of the Day
When one political party loses its mind and the other doesn’t it is not your responsibility to be “even handed” or to pretend not to see what is happening. We should not split the difference as a country and become half-crazy.— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) May 23, 2018