Is the American media finally realizing it’s been rigging this election for Donald Trump by giving him a leg up over Hillary Clinton? I ask because a major event that happened yesterday appears to have forced an admission of errors and guilt by members of the mainstream media.
Let’s have the background. Yesterday, Trump invited members of the media to his new hotel in Washington, D.C., for a statement about whether or not President Barack Obama was an American citizen. Trump had questioned the president’s birthplace for nearly eight years. Just under 20 hours earlier, he’d hinted to Robert Costa of the Washington Post that he was not ready to back down from the notion that the president was born outside of America. So, was Trump about to reinforce that position at the press conference? That must have been the question the journalists asked themselves as they packed their bags and laptops and cameras and raced down to the venue where he was also billed to honor a group of veterans.
Trump spoke about his new hotel, had the veterans endorse him one after another, and then, finally, this: Trump read a four-paragraph statement that lasted about 27 seconds in which he declared President Obama was born in the USA. Then Trump left without taking any questions from the journalists who would have liked to know what suddenly happened to warrant such a dramatic change of mind. What sort of religion had he suddenly found about Obama’s American citizenship? But the reality television star entertained no such moment. He was gone, leaving the journalists standing there looking stupid and lamenting afterwards they’d been played for suckers.
From them, Trump had extracted nearly an hour of free promotion for his new hotel, for his candidacy and the fact that with the birtherism issue finally resolved by him — for so Trump thought — he would now have more African-American votes for his presidential ambition.
“We got played again by the Trump campaign, which is what they do,” said John King, national correspondent for CNN. “It’s time for TV news to stop playing the stooge for Donald Trump,” said Margaret Sullivan of the Post.
Complaints by the public — including this blog, about how the media is putting its thumb on the scale for Trump by holding him to a much lower standard than Clinton is held to — have been very strident for a long time now. It’s all been about the money. Trump coverage generates great ratings and endless clicks, a fact attested to last year by Les Moonves, CBS chief executive officer when he said Trump’s run for the White House “may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS.”
Three weeks ago, Clinton had almost locked Trump out of the race, but eager to bring him back in to get a horserace, the media, led by the AP and the New York Times, dredged up stories about the Clinton Foundation, which has been doing excellent charitable work all over the globe, and about the so-called email scandal that had already been over-litigated, and which also didn’t amount to much in the first place.
The notion that about half this country now sees Trump as “presidential” is, to me, grossly incomprehensible and altogether terrifying. But it is solely a creation of the mainstream media desperate for profit. Watching the cable news and reading the major newspapers since yesterday, one gets the impression that many of its journalists have not only been riled by Trump’s legerdemain, but are now also mortified by their own bad judgement. And now that they seem to realize their errors, now that many of them are expressing guilt, will they course-correct going forward, or will the sick predilection for money and Trump-inspired excitement goad them and their masters back into their acknowledged stupidities?