There’s a post-Thanksgiving buffet of possible topics, from the Senate scramble over tax reform to just who’s running the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau to whether Sarah Sanders actually baked a pecan pie. (Really. That became a thing after correspondent April Ryan challenged the authenticity of said pie on Twitter. Seriously.)
But let’s start with the president of the United States slamming the media for the umpteenth time: This is no longer a feud or a battle, but a permanent feature of the Trump tenure.
Trump now says all the networks, with one notable exception, are unfair to him, and yesterday he took to Twitter:
“We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrupt and/or distorted in its political coverage of your favorite President (me). They are all bad. Winner to receive the FAKE NEWS TROPHY!”
I always say the president has every right to hit back at what he views as bad journalism. But I think the constant drumbeat of “fake news”—not about particular stories but entire networks—is losing its punch.
Trump’s most ardent supporters will cheer, but the other networks do stories that are legitimate--and Fox News does many of those same stories—even if some of them don’t please the White House. This doesn’t mean they’re not overly negative, sometimes biased, and occasionally inaccurate, but just branding everything “fake” has become more like a mantra than a specific complaint. So no trophy is needed.
But this and other recent tweets show Trump has been stewing about his coverage.
Easier to understand is his blast at MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” which had a little flap over talking about turkey on a show pretaped before Thanksgiving: “The good news is that their ratings are terrible, nobody cares!”
Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski regularly rip the president in harsh terms, and it’s personal for Trump because they were once friends. But if nobody cares because of ratings, why does he care? (“Morning Joe” has beaten CNN in total viewers for more than two years but “New Day” is recently winning the key demo.)
Perhaps most troubling was this Trumpian slam at his least favorite network:
“@FoxNews is MUCH more important in the United States than CNN, but outside of the U.S., CNN International is still a major source of (Fake) news, and they represent our Nation to the WORLD very poorly. The outside world does not see the truth from them!”
The network responded: “It's not CNN's job to represent the U.S. to the world. That's yours. Our job is to report the news. #FactsFirst”
This is an outgrowth of Trump having watched CNN International on his Asia trip. And for those who haven’t seen it, the international channel has a more sober tone than CNN here and features far more world news.
A number of journalists say Trump is sending a signal to other countries that could jeopardize CNN foreign correspondents who must operate in hostile territory.
I truly hope that’s not the case, and that Trump was just expressing his usual frustration with all things CNN.
Trump knows when he tweets these things that the media will go haywire, which means that he’s driving their agenda. But he may be approaching the point of diminishing returns.