This past week was a great example. It began with CNN worrying that fears of Russian collusion had seeped into the “bloodstream” of American politics after President Trump’s Helsinki press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
CNN’s Reliable Sources newsletter described the situation ominously: “When historians look back on the Trump presidency, they'll say that last week was the moment something changed – when uncomfortable Q's about Russia moved into the mainstream in a whole new way.” (The boldface type was CNN’s.)
By week’s end, President Trump was crowing about how the U.S. gross domestic product grew at an annualized rate of 4.1 percent in the second quarter of this year – the highest growth rate in four years.
President Trump also made progress in averting a trade war with the European Union, watched as the Trump-hating New York Daily News laid off half its staff, and joined with the families of American servicemen honoring the return of what North Korea said were the remains of 55 of our Korean War dead.
And that Helsinki Finish the media had in mind? Let shocked MSNBC reporter Kasie Hunt explain: “The president’s approval rating is ticking up, not down. A brand-new poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal conducted before and after the Helsinki summit shows the president approval rating at 45 percent. That is up 1 point from June. Among Republicans, that number is 88 percent, the highest ever his entire presidency.”
Instead of President Trump being beaten, the desperate press flailed as it found itself once more pushing stories that didn’t resonate with the American public.
One Los Angeles-based anchor called President Trump “the worst ruler in history,” skipping supervillains from Hitler and Stalin to Mao and Mussolini. (They’re ones the media ordinarily compare to Trump. Team “Morning Joe” linked him to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. CNN and MSNBC joined in the dictator fiction.)
The New York Times even ran an article critical of American Media Inc., the publisher of the National Enquirer, tied to its dealings with President Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen. The Times alleged the company “at times acted more as a political supporter than as a news organization, according to people briefed on the investigation.” So, pretty much every day at The Times.
There was more bad news for the media with the announcement of layoffs at The New York Daily News. The newspaper was a constant critic of the president, known for anti-Trump illustrations on its cover that pleased the hardcore left. It once even called the head of the National Rifle Association a terrorist. That “business model” failed. Staff learned that their team was “cut in half and that its editor in chief was out of a job.”
In addition, liberal Salon mocked liberal MSNBC, noting MSNBC had produced 455 segments about porn star Stormy Daniels in a year. It’s a rough week for the left when Salon and MSNBC are at war over media integrity.
2. Defending Journalism … Sometimes: Reporters have every right to ask questions of the president. The White House press corps has taken that to extremes, with several CNN staffers having confrontations. (See: Amendment, First.)
This past week, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins ran afoul of the Trump administration for her questions. Collins was upset that “I was blocked from attending an open press event here at the White House, because the White House did not like the questions I posed to President Trump.” The news media lined up behind her and that gave many in the chance to air their grievances against the president.
Daily Beast Politics Editor Sam Stein complained how he had been at Huffington Post during the presidential campaign and that his outlet had been banned by the Trump campaign. “And at that point in time, the press should have taken upon itself to form some sort of collective pact to say, ‘If you do this, you will be punished in this way, this way, or this way.’”
Of course journalists aren’t always consistent on what upsets them about press freedom. President Obama’s 2008 team kicked reporters off the campaign plane, simply because their news outlets had endorsed his GOP rival Sen. John McCain. There was no outcry.
Even Collins, who used to work for The Daily Caller, received different treatment when the press thought she was part of their conservative competition.
CNN’s White House Correspondent Jim Acosta whined specifically about the Caller when Collins was its representative. "Should we get Sinclair and the Daily Caller to move up to the front? If they're gonna go first anyway, it might make things easier," he said.
The media put up quite a regular stink about who Trump called on. The only thing that has changed is the outlet Collins represents. Gosh, I wonder why.
3. Actual Good News: The media have pressed President Trump hard on the economy, which has always been his ace in the hole. This past week, he and the nation got good news on that front. Even The New York Times headlined the good news: “Economy Hits a High Note, and Trump Takes a Bow.”
You’d almost never know the paper hated Trump so much. ”Tax cuts and federal spending are adding fuel to the already strong economy, putting the United States on a pace for its best year of growth in well over a decade,” the Times continued.
Then came the naysayers. NBC “Meet the Press” moderator Chuck Todd was worried about President Trump’s reaction and “that it felt over-hyped in how he was talking about the economy.”
There was more upbeat financial news as President Trump and the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker agreed to work toward “zero tariffs,” which is what Trump wanted all along. The broadcast networks depicted the president as caving in to prevent a trade war. The press then found a new way to the president in response – flash cards.
Here’s The Wall Street Journal report: “Mr. Juncker flipped through more than a dozen colorful cue cards with simplified explainers.” That metastasized into something ugly.
Other outlets used the nugget to treat Trump like an infant: “Juncker’s secret weapon in trade talks with Trump: color-coded flash cards,” headlined MarketWatch. The Independent went with: “Juncker used ‘brightly coloured, simple flashcards’ to explain trade to Trump during meeting.”
4. #CBSToo: Reporter Ronan Farrow continues to target major media figures accused of sexual misconduct. This time it’s the head of CBS Les Moonves. Here’s the New Yorker headline: “Six women accuse the C.E.O. of harassment and intimidation, and dozens more describe abuse at his company.”
Farrow explained that “Moonves has become a prominent voice in Hollywood’s #MeToo movement.” Then he elaborated on the alleged misconduct experienced by the women, adding, “All said that he (Moonves) became cold or hostile after they rejected his advances, and that they believed their careers suffered as a result.”
Farrow went on to detail how the alleged sexual misconduct invaded the news division, even “60 Minutes.” He wrote: “Thirty current and former employees of CBS told me that such behavior extended from Moonves to important parts of the corporation, including CBS News and ‘60 Minutes,’ one of the network’s most esteemed programs.”
The allegations are disturbing, but this is a must-read.