Media are no match for Trump

Millions of people worldwide are watching President Donald Trump's frequent press conferences on the global pandemic. (Better ratings than the Bachelor and maybe even better than Monday Night Football!)

There are two striking things about these press conferences. The first is what they reveal about the media, and the second is what they show about Mr. Trump.

On the first point, the interactions between the president and the press show that the craven, absurdly biased, anti-Trump, pro-China media corps still have not changed their approach, despite an ongoing global crisis and their repeated efforts to cause him to fail.

The media corps have doubled and tripled down on their attacks against the Trump administration. There is no spirit of unity that pervaded the post-9/11 atmosphere. No coming together of national interest in the face of a modern-day plague.

A new strain of biased reporting has emerged: "Live TV enables the President to lie to Americans about Covid-19," says the Washington Post. Add to that a new mutation of lazy coverage: "Save time: Assume Trump is inept and lying."

This is no surprise from the newspaper that publishes a rolling catalogue of so-called "lies" supposedly told by the president. "President Trump made 16,241 false or misleading claims in his first three years"! A fictional number, but more manageable than tabulating the false or misleading claims of the Washington Post or the general phenomenon of "opinion journalism pretending to some sort of heightened objectivity," as James Taranto has repeatedly said.

On and on it goes. The New York Times: "Google gives cover to Trump's lies." The Atlantic: "Trump's blatant coronavirus lies." The Daily Beast: "Trump's coronavirus lies are an infection. This is the only cure" (suggesting "doses of truth").

Here's another representative headline: "Broadcasting Trump's Coronavirus Briefings Live Is a Danger to Public Health." A new twist? Not even close. This one is as old as his time in office: "President Donald Trump Is a Threat to Public Health," claimed the Harvard Public Health Review in 2017. "The first task of the doctor is political," said the laughably un-medical argument. "The struggle against disease must begin with a war against bad government." (Nothing about undercooked bat meat.)

And, while corporate media attack Mr. Trump and brand him a liar, they uncritically republish Chinese communist propaganda in a manner reminiscent of Pravda's dissemination of USSR disinformation.

Lacking professional skepticism, and despite early evidence that the Chinese government covered up the catastrophe as it unfolded in Wuhan unimpeded while brave Chinese health experts risked their lives to spread the truth, the China-credulous media continue to parrot the Chinese government's official reports. Some of the US media's coverage even praised the Chinese government for "helping Italy" in its fight against the virus.

With all of these forces arrayed against the president, a fair-minded observer might wonder if this is a fair fight. It's not.

Which leads me to my second observation about the press conferences. Mr. Trump is winning.

The colloquies between Mr. Trump and media showcase his mastery of the press conference format and, let's face it, complete dominance over his adversaries known as White House media correspondents. The press conferences succeed so well that Mr. Trump's adversaries in the media even want to stop live broadcasting and straight-news reporting during a pandemic.

Once again Mr. Trump is disrupting the media narrative. Even with his campaign rallies cancelled and most Americans unable to engage in their regular daily lives, the president's disruptive ability as a communicator harken back to his 2016 presidential campaign, when virtually all forces of the mainstream media were unable to stop the steam-locomotive power of the Trump Train.

The press briefings are yet another medium in which Mr. Trump can speak directly and unfiltered to voters. Viewers who tune in and watch the briefings live can see firsthand Mr. Trump's mastery of the process. Media mendacity cannot stop him. Even with journalists' misleading snippets and their spliced-together fragments designed to deceive or isolate words from context, the president continues to win.

When a reporter tried to ambush Mr. Trump with a selectively misleading quote from an earlier press conference, the president forced the reporter to admit on live television that he had omitted the sentences in which Mr. Trump praised his team and the Army Corps of Engineers.

As a Bloomberg reporter readied an attempt at a gotcha question, Mr. Trump asked, "How's Michael doing? Good?" as the audience chuckled.

In a defining moment, and my own personal favorite, another reporter asked, "How many deaths are acceptable?" to which the president immediately responded, "How many deaths are acceptable to me? None. Okay? None, if that's your question."

To this gotcha question designed to elicit a gaffe, the president delivered a knockout punch. No deaths are acceptable. Pure and simple. The media continue to try to trip up the president during these press briefings. Having repeatedly failed, they now want to shut down live coverage.

The pandemic has not changed the mainstream media's war against Mr. Trump. As much as they try to leverage our current crisis to debilitate the president, their efforts continue to backfire.

~ Gayle Trotter
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