Monday March 19, 2018
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Trump vs The MediaRalph E. Stone Salem-News.com
Mistrust of science and critical thinking in this country is a growing problem... one that a snake oil salesman knows and panders to.
(SAN FRANCISCO) - Low Energy Jeb [Bush], Little Marco [Rubio], Lyin' Ted [Cruz], pathological Ben [Carson], and Crooked Hillary [Clinton] were all quite effective labels used by Donald Trump on his march to the White House.
With the destruction of 16 primary challengers and a well-known political figure in his rear-view mirror, Trump has now zeroed in on his old opponent, the media. Why? Because the media is out to get him. Or maybe they are just fact checking.
During the primaries and general election, Trump's assault on the media was quite successful. He ran a media campaign directly against the media, helping himself to the copious media attention available to a TV star while disparaging journalists at every podium and venue.
Now much of the media has turned on Trump. He still gets lots of coverage, but that coverage is overwhelmingly negative.
Is the media winning? A February 11, Gallup poll found that just 40% of Americans approve of President Trump's job as president so far, compared to 55% who say they disapprove.
Obviously, a majority of Americans do not believe what Trump said at his recent press conference, "This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine." Fine-tuned indeed!
Trump is not letting up on the media. He's called reporters “among the most dishonest human beings on earth.” He's called out individual reporters for alleged bias. He even intimated that the media was purposely covering up terrorist attacks.
For example, here's what Trump said at U.S. Central Command in Florida:
"You’ve seen what happened in Paris, and Nice. All over Europe, it’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. And in many cases the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that."
He didn't offer any explanation or proof.
He also falsely accused journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd and said that up to 1.5 million people had attended his inauguration, a claim that photographs disproved.
Recently, he blasted the U.S. intelligence agencies again, tweeting:
"Information is being illegally given to the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost by the intelligence community (NSA and FBI?). Just like Russia."
The New York Times and the Washington Post crimes were that they both had reported on the contacts between a Russian diplomat and Michael Flynn. Isn't that what the media does?
On February 17, 2017, he tweeted,
"The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!"
In addition to fabrications, untruths, and lies, we can now add "alternative facts" and "fake news" to our lexicon.
"Alternative facts" is a phrase used by U.S. Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway during a Meet the Press interview on January 22, 2017, in which she defended White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's false statement about the attendance at Trump's inauguration as President of the U.S.
Fake or bogus news is nothing new. Now bogus stories can reach more people more quickly via social media than what viral emails could accomplish in years past.
As Trump tweeted:
"The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred. @MSNBC & @CNN are unwatchable. @foxandfriends is great!"
Unfortunately, the mistrust of science and critical thinking in this country is a growing problem. Trump like a snake oil salesman knows this and panders to this mistrust. If we are not careful, we will listen to what Trump says and forget to watch what he does.
The danger, of course, is that the less credulous will view all media as biased or fake and Trump's outrageous statements will be received with less skepticism than they deserve.
I see a continuing battle between Trump and the media throughout his presidency. I'm rooting for the media.
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