The mainstream media’s reaction to President Trump’s first State of the Union address serves as a microcosm of his first year in office, with triggered liberals expressing outrage disguised as analysis on a non-stop basis from pre-speech coverage through Wednesday’s morning shows.
Democrats didn’t do themselves any favors by sitting on their hands when Trump appealed for unity and declining to applaud things like economic gains and calls to honor veterans. However, Democratic lawmakers attending the speech weren’t the only people to illustrate how low their party will go when given a chance to mock Trump or discredit his rhetoric. Pundits and commenters from an assortment of news organizations were out to prove they can be equally outrageous.
Liberal media members began disrespecting Trump as he stood at the podium before he even uttered a word. NBC News’ Savannah Guthrie and Tom Brokaw felt it was appropriate to remind viewers of the Russian probe as Trump was beginning his speech – literally talking over the president at one point.
MSNBC’s pre-speech coverage included Rachael Maddow and Brian Williams giggling over a protester who gave Trump’s motorcade a “one-fingered salute” and many outlets fixated on Melania Trump traveling to the Capitol building in a separate vehicle from her husband.
CBS News’ Gayle King may have provided the most honest moment of the night when she said, “Many of the Democrats, at many times, looked like they had bitten a couple of lemons, even when he was saying things most people would agree with.”
MSNBC’s Joy Reid was on a combative Twitter rampage throughout the evening, accusing Trump of leading a “culture war,” but one tweet she sent essentially denounced church, family, policy, the national anthem and even the military.
“Church ... family ... police ... military ... the national anthem ... Trump trying to call on all the tropes of 1950s-era nationalism. The goal of this speech appears to be to force the normalization of Trump on the terms of the bygone era his supporters are nostalgic for,” Reid wrote.
She also retweeted a message that mocked one of Trump’s most quotable moments from his first address to Congress: “’Americans are dreamers too,’ is the new ‘All lives matter.’”
Not to be outdone, CNN’s Jim Acosta tweeted his own take on Trump’s memorable line.
“Of course Americans are dreamers. But Dreamers think of themselves as Americans because they've been living here since they were children, brought to the U.S. through no fault of their own,” Acosta wrote.
What some may call an attempt to unify the nation, MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace called a “deep and almost, sort of, sad obsession with being liked.”
CNN's Van Jones, a former Obama adviser, compared Trump’s speech to “sweet-tasting candy with poison in it.” Jones then claimed that Trump “deliberately” implied that “DREAMers are gang members.”
The CBS News panel didn’t exactly praise Trump’s speech. John Dickerson said he “was a cheerleader of his own policies” and “totaled up all the wins that he gives himself, sometimes bending the truth a little bit,” while Norah O’Donnell said “this reality TV president was trying to create a new reality.”
ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, who was an advisor to Bill Clinton, pointed out that speech was a “long one” but The Hill media columnist Joe Concha pointed out that Clinton’s final State of the Union was actually eight minutes longer.
“I'm gonna go curl up in the fetal position for a few hours,” she wrote. “And then get up and get back to resisting!”
Liberals were so outraged by Trump’s speech that the Washington Post apparently was forced to change its front page headline when a tweet previewing “A call for bipartisanship” resulted in an onslaught of criticism. The paper scrapped that headline and went with “A ‘new American moment’” when angry media members ranging from Nate Silver to Oliver Willis attacked the paper’s initial cover.
Some media outlets even criticized Trump for clapping when it came time to honor veterans and heroes in attendance.
The mainstream media wasn’t finished trashing the speech when bedtime rolled around on Tuesday night, as Wednesday’s morning shows were packed with much of the same.
MSNBC’s “Morning Joe's” Mika Brzezinski lampooned Trump as a “great dictator” and frequent guest Mike Barnicle said there was a “level of disbelief” in everything that came out of Trump’s mouth.
“He’s the principal divisive figure in this nation right now,” Barnicle said.
At least one anti-Trump media member took the high road, as ESPN’s Jemele Hill decided it wasn’t a good idea for her to tweet during the State of the Union. “Tonight ain’t the night for me to be on Twitter. I’m out,” she wrote.