President Donald Trump’s inauguration Friday was a time of historic transition. It was not just the transfer of power from Washington back to the citizens, as explained by the 45th president. It also marked the transfer of power from the news media to Trump.
And journalists weren’t happy about it.
Trump did what no politician in the modern era had. He had taken on the most-powerful interest group in America – the media – and won. He celebrated his victory as only Trump could – tweeting from both the @potus account and his own. He now has more than 35 million followers between the two, about one-and-a-half times the viewers of the three network evening news shows combined.
The media acted defeated but not vanquished, calling the inaugural speech “Hitlerian” for daring to use the term “America First.” A viral video of a protester screaming as Trump was announced the new president could well have been almost any major network staffer.
The day was filled with similar screams of pain. Journalists who had spent the last 12 weeks of the campaign throwing both the kitchen sink and the whole house at Trump remained stunned he had bested them. They still haven’t learned that turning up speakers to 11 doesn’t make them any louder.
That didn’t stop them from continuing the barrage of Nazi comparisons, allegations of racism and overwhelming hate. Almost every outlet fixated on two other words of Trump’s speech: “American carnage.” Journalists didn’t quite grasp its meaning from their ivory towers, but they knew they didn’t like it.
NBC’s Chuck Todd said the speech was "shockingly divisive for an inaugural," and "unnecessarily divisive.” ABC’s Terry Moran complained its “overtones” were “anti-Semitic.” (ABC apparently forgot about Trump’s Jewish family and grandchildren.) CBS anchor Scott Pelley cautioned that the speech reflected, “A philosophy from the early days of the republic which found its 21st Century voice.”
CBS even asked if Trump channeled “a Batman villain in his inauguration speech.” The network actually compared the speech to one given by “Dark Knight” bad guy Bane.
All three major networks also hid the political affiliation of those in the “violent protest.” (Hint: Not conservative.) News outlets called them “people,” “protesters,” “demonstrators,” and “vandals” who attacked police, vandalized buildings and burned cars. Never once were they called rioters even though they were rioting. It’s the same downgrading networks do when they call terrorists “militants.”
The rest of the traditional media took their digs as well. Washington Post Pulitzer Prize winning writer Gene Weingarten called the new president “Messianic” and “A schmendrick who thinks he is the second coming.” Of course, Weingarten had already complained about the prayers as “More Jesusing.” Apparently, Weingarten missed that the service also included a rabbi’s prayer – the first time for that since 1985.
Nineteen minutes after Trump took the oath, the Post also filed a story about impeachment proceedings. “The campaign to impeach President Trump has begun,” readers were told, as two far-left groups continued the long media march to discredit Trump.
The Post’s northern competition was no different. The New York Times also feared the “America First” wording. “With Echoes of the ’30s, Trump Resurrects a Hard-Line Vision of ‘America First,’” it wrote.
Both the Times and the Post obsessed over how Trump staff had already changed the White House website to delete previous climate change information. Throughout the day, journalists seemed shocked that Trump was actually delivering first a speech and then actions that reflected his campaign rhetoric.
Politico referred to the “gilded Oval Office,” like Trump had magically made it swankier just sitting there for a few minutes. Washingtonian magazine tweeted a picture of a crowd of photographers surrounding a trashcan fire with a typical attack: “Grasping for Metaphor, Reporters Flock to Burning DC Garbage Can.” But hey, there’s no media bias to see here, folks.
#Altleft outlets were more obvious, but not by much.
MSNBC was reliably insane, led by Chris “After The Thrill Is Gone” Matthews. So much so that even The Daily Beast filed Matthews’ “Hitlerian” comment under “HYSTERIA.”
Matthews compared the Trumps to Russia’s former royal family the Romanovs, who were killed in the communist revolution. He joked Trump could have his son-in-law executed, since he couldn’t fire him. Just like Mussolini. Even host Rachel Maddow was outraged by that. She said the speech was, “militant and it was dark."
Slate went full Nazi, complete with umlaut in its headline: “America Fürst.” Jamelle Bouie, the site’s chief political correspondent, warned Trump envisioned America as “a blemish-free people besieged by foreign and hostile forces.” Slate also vowed to hold Trump and his administration “accountable,” but that was just an advertisement for a premium service at $35 a year.
Fusion (We’re the “voice of the resistance.”) broke the scandal of the designer that Melania Trump had used. Fusion filed a 10-word story under the headline, “We finally found out who had the nerve to dress Melania Trump.” Just so they could bash Ralph Lauren.
Hollywood celebrities avoided that kind of criticism with openly anti-Trump statements. Left Coast stars delivered their typical shock and awful comments. Actor/director and famous “Meathead” Rob Reiner accused Trump of “treason.” Entertainers told fans to set back their clocks – actress Jessica Chastain said 100 years and musician Brandon Williams 300. Director Joss Whedon warned “Tomorrow the devil’s clown car opens and millions will suffer.”
Even some establishment conservatives weren’t happy with Trump. Bill Kristol tweeted: “I'll be unembarrassedly old-fashioned here: It is profoundly depressing and vulgar to hear an American president proclaim ‘America First.’” And George Will called the speech, “the most dreadful inaugural address in history.”
But journalists admitted that Trump spoke to his supporters and it was reflected in pro-Trump sites. The Drudge Report headlined in patriotic blue and red: “AMERICA AGAIN! TRUMP SWORN IN 'POWER BACK TO PEOPLE.'” And Breitbart, which the major media now target on a regular basis, had two big headlines: “IT BEGINS: PRESIDENT TRUMP” and “45 THUMPS ESTABLISHMENT ELITE IN FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS.” The accuracy is undeniable, but it’s fair to say only conservative outlets viewed that as a good thing.
Radio host and Fox News contributor Tammy Bruce celebrated one quote from the speech that journalists seemed to want to miss. “When You Open Your Heart to Patriotism, There Is No Room for Prejudice,” said Trump. She summed up what she called the president’s “genuine understanding of the conservative ideal” with one word. “Bravo.”
Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.