More pointless press handwringing on Trump

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On the roster: More pointless press handwringing on Trump - Trump’s first international move: Goading China - The list for the country’s top diplomat continues to grow - Audible: Hope is the thing with feathers - Hey, you can’t say Kanye doesn’t need help

It’s bad to be hated. It’s awful to be wrong. But the worst is to be irrelevant.

And that’s the thing that really has American journalism in a crisis right now. It wasn’t the profession’s failures in covering Donald Trump’s election but rather that the profession doesn’t matter nearly as much as its members believed.

Despite the deep enmity between Trump and the press, they agreed throughout the campaign at least on the importance of the media. While Hillary Clinton tried to work around the media, Trump worked through it. As much as reporters didn’t like being called “disgusting” or “liars,” Trump was, if anything, exaggerating the influence of the media establishment.

Part of the media hand-wringing over Trump’s win and how to cover him now is rooted in a bid to claim relevance. Journalists blaming themselves for Trump’s win is a way for them to say they still matter, even as our culture places less and less value on their work.

Now, did a slack-jawed, unblinking gaze on all of Trump’s activities help him with the presidency? Of course. In the age beyond federally-regulated broadcast television, should journalists be more zealous about the concept of “equal time?” For sure.

But it’s beyond daft to argue that somehow responsible journalists should be intentionally ignoring the actions or statements of a candidate or now, more insanely, the president elect.

It has been suggested, for instance, that Trump is seeking to distract reporters by his efforts to blow up the 37-year status quo with China. He’s not tweeting about banning flag burning here. Trump is actually remaking Sino-U.S. relations. Just because he’s doing it on Twitter doesn’t mean that it’s not really happening.

Trump has, and still does, thrive on distraction. His ability to create media sensations has been integral to his success.

But that will change as Trump needs to hold attention for his initiatives. An ambitious 100-day agenda means keeping the heat on reticent lawmakers by engaging voters. Distractions, like ethics finagling, personal conflicts, etc., would hurt, not help, Trump’s effort to set himself up for success.

And when there are actual policies to be debated instead of just narratives to massage, it’s all the more challenging.

An election is about one goal. An administration is about dozens of objectives. Reporters ought to concern themselves with what the president-elect is doing, not belatedly learning and misapplying the lessons of the campaign.

Journalism is about to get a lot more relevant. Let’s hope its practitioners remember how to do it.

“The distance of the United States from the powerful nations of the world gives them the same happy security. A dangerous establishment can never be necessary or plausible, so long as they continue a united people.” – Alexander HamiltonFederalist No. 22

Smithsonian: “The holy animal of Mongolia is big-headed and stocky, like a pudgy foal that overgrew in odd places. Its body is the color of a stirred cappuccino, but the legs are dark, as if dressed in stockings. Its muzzle is white, its mane black and bristly, erect as a fresh-cut mohawk. A matching line runs like a racing stripe all the way down the horse’s back… Mongolia’s last group of takhi [the term Mongols call these horses] was spotted around 1969. Then, as far as anyone could tell, the creature ceased to exist in the wild. Mongolians who were born and reared in the 1970s and 1980s knew the takhi only through stories and pictures. It took another 20 years for conservation and breeding programs to become effective and for the horse to show signs that it might survive. By 1990, the population had reached nearly a thousand, with 961 P-horses living in over 129 institutions in 33 countries on four continents—enough to try reintroducing the takhi to the wild.”

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AP: “Donald Trump’s unprecedented phone conversation with Taiwan’s president and tweets criticizing China point to the possibility of major friction between the world’s two largest economies. Trump’s talk with Tsai Ing-wen diverged sharply from U.S. practice since Washington switched diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing in 1979. Especially noteworthy were his direct reference to Tsai as ‘president’ and to U.S. arms sales to Taiwan — a practice that particularly infuriates Beijing. That could dampen Chinese expectations that his election would benefit China through a less confrontational approach and reduced attention to the Asia Pacific region, where China sees itself as eventually supplanting the U.S. as the dominant power.”

Won’t back down - Fox News: “President-elect Donald Trump defended his call to the Taiwanese president in a series of tweets Sunday, a breach of diplomatic protocol as the U.S. shifted recognition from Taiwan to China nearly 40 years ago. ‘Did China ask us if it was OK to carry out a number of actions such as build up disputed islands in the South China Sea or take economic measures hurtful to the United States.”

Former Gen. David Petraeus made his case as a possible pick for President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of state on Sunday amid reports that the list for the country’s top diplomat has expanded yet again.

Petraeus, who said he does not vote so he did not cast a ballot for Trump, would need either a presidential pardon or approval from his probation officer to leave North Carolina and serve in government as he is still on probation.

Trump aide Kellyanne Conway said last week that the list of contenders was down to four finalists, but said Sunday said to reporters at Trump Tower, “He continues to talk to different people. I think you’ve all seen the list before that already existed. I think there’ll be additional interviews with other candidates.”

Those newly added candidates include 2012 Republican presidential contender Jon Huntsman as well as retired Adm. James G. Stavridis, who was mentioned as a possible Clinton running mate over the summer, and Rex WTillerson, the CEO of ExxonMobil. Both Stavridis and Tillerson are reportedly meeting with Trump sometime this week to discuss the position, reports Politico.

Another rumored contender for the spot is Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif., a former Reagan speechwriter, who was reportedly asked if he’d be interested in the number two spot at the State Department under Mitt Romney, but the California representative said he could not work for someone who didn’t support Trump during the campaign. Rohrabacher’s pro-Putin stance is considered a liability for his potential confirmation, though.

These new additions join the growing list that includes: Former UN Ambassador and Fox News Contributor John Bolton, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sens. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.

AP: “North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory conceded the governor’s race Monday, clearing the way for Democrat Roy Cooper to be declared the winner nearly four weeks after Election Day. The win by Cooper, the state's outgoing attorney general, gives Democrats an important consolation prize after a disappointing election across the country. However, Republicans retain super majorities in both legislative chambers…McCrory, who became the first sitting North Carolina governor to lose a re-election bid, was weighed down by a series of divisive laws he signed, including House Bill 2.”

Detroit News: “A federal judge has ordered Michigan election officials to begin a massive hand recount of 4.8 million ballots cast in the presidential election at noon Monday. U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a ruling just after midnight Monday in favor of Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein, who sought to let election officials bypass a two-business-day waiting period that would have delayed start of the recount until Wednesday morning. Goldsmith’s order said the recount ‘shall commence and must continue until further order of this court.’ … The deadline to finalize the vote total for the Electoral College is Dec. 13 and federal election law requires a period of ‘safe harbor’ for presidential electors before the presidency is finalized on Dec. 19.”

Making their case in Pennsylvania - AP: “A federal lawsuit filed in Philadelphia called for a recount and a forensic examination of the aging electronic voting machines used in most Pennsylvania counties, saying both are necessary to determine whether the election results were manipulated by hackers. Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein is spearheading a recount effort…”

[Votes are still being recounted in Wisconsin, but as WaPo points out, the most interesting part of the recount may be seeing whether people or computers count better.]

The Hill: The president-elect’s daughter, who reportedly wants to make global warming one of her signature issues, will meet with [former Vice President Al Gore] at Trump Tower in Manhattan, according to transition spokesman Jason Miller. The former vice president will not be meeting with the president-elect, Miller said in a conference call with reporters on Monday morning. He would not elaborate on the contents of the meeting. Ivanka has close ties to influential Democrats, and she has supported causes traditionally more dear to the left than to conservatives, including pushing her father to support child care and paid family leave policies.

Also on the Ivanka beat:
--Sitting in on dad’s meeting with the Japanese prime minister while making a deal in the country raises questions of conflicts of interest again - WashEx

--But the GOP is betting that Americans don’t care about Trump’s overlapping interests - Politico

--Mulling move to D.C. - NY Post

“We’ve talked about the Constitution, Article 1 on the Constitution, the separation of powers. He feels very strongly, actually, that under President Obama’s watch, he stripped a lot of power away from the Constitution, away from the legislative branch of government, and we wanna reset the balance of power so that people and the Constitution are rightfully restored.” – House Speaker Paul Ryan in an interview with CBS News.

It’s back to square one for the DNC as frontrunner Keith Ellison falters - WaPo

It’s official: Trump taps retired surgeon Ben Carson to lead Housing and Urban Development –
Fox News

Ryan: ObamaCare will be GOP’s first priority - The Hill

Payback time: Trump backs challenger to Ohio GOP party head - Columbus Dispatch

Dems could delay Trump cabinet picks to dampen momentum - Politico

Italian prime minister resigns in wake of referendum failure pushed by populist movement - Sky News

Man duped by Internet hoax arrested after firing weapon in D.C. pizza shop at the center of the anti-Clinton urban legend - USA Today

But… Incoming national security adviser’s son continues to push pizza store conspiracy - Mediaite

Among those scheduled to meet with President-elect Trump today:

--Debra Wong Yang, a former U.S. attorney from California, is reportedly being eyed for a top spot at the Justice Department.

--North Dakota’s Rep. Kevin Cramer, the state’s sole House representative, is a contender for Trump’s energy secretary. Cramer pledged to fight the government’s recent decision to halt the final stages of the Dakota Access Pipeline.

--Trump is also meeting with two South Carolinians today: Rep. Mick Mulvaney, rumored to be in “serious contention” for director of Office of Budget and Management, and Catherine Templeton, who ran the state’s environmental agency under Gov. Nikki Haley. The appointments of Mulvaney and Templeton, who are both considered strong potential gubernatorial candidates in 2018, would clear the field of substantial challengers to South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, an avid Trump supporter and foe of Haley who will succeed her if she is confirmed as UN ambassador by the Senate, and run for his first full term in 2018.

“Not only Halftime Report but the entire website often links to WSJ articles, they are always subscriber content!  Nothing more frustrating than getting 250 words into Karl Rove’s editorial clicking on the link and finding out it is subscriber content and you can only see the first 100 words.” – David Whitney, Vero Beach, Fla.

[Ed. note: We know, we know! And I’m sorry for those inconveniences. The WSJ is America’s best newspaper, though. And sometimes we think that a story is just too important to exclude. We try to keep these instances to a minimum, though. And we will consider reviving a long-ago policy of disclaiming paywalled content.]

“Chris, I love the critics, those high priests of principles, for their take of the Carrier deal.  A $77 million annual payroll, not to mention the lives of 1,100 employees and their families, was preserved with $700,000 per year in tax rebates.  Of course, we should never let perspective get in the way of principle.  The 1,100 subscribers the Indianapolis Star will likely lose for their principled stand is a small price to pay.” – Bill Zebedee, Medford, Ore.

[Ed. note: As you’ve suggested, it will be hard for many conservatives to come to terms with the idea of a Republican engaging in this kind of central planning for the economy. That’s not because of specific aspects of the deal but rather because they oppose the idea of the interventions themselves and their unintended consequences. Conservatives have had the whip hand in the Republican Party for so long that they may have forgotten that the reason governments intervene so often is that it tends to be quite popular. The years to come will likely be a trying time for ideologues across the spectrum.]

Share your color commentary: Email us at HALFTIMEREPORT@FOXNEWS.COM and please make sure to include your name and hometown.

[Watch Fox: A new 15-part series looking at the issues facing Trump’s administration starting with what the GOP have said is the first item on the agenda: repealing and replacing ObamaCare. The series begins tonight on “Special Report with Bret Baier” at 6 p.m. ET]

SB Nation: “The NFL is allowing players a one-week amnesty to wear custom cleats to raise awareness for charities that are important to them. Philadelphia Eagles receiver Dorial Green-Beckham has a curious one. There’s no doubt that these Yeezy cleats are fire, but [Kanye West’s] clothing line is not a charity and the ‘Yeezy Foundation’ does not exist at all. So basically Green-Beckham just wanted an excuse to wear Yeezys, which is fine — but don’t pretend it’s a charity, man.”

Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News. Sally Persons contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.