The word "trust" now surfaces repeatedly in discussions of the media and the politics (and politicians) of the United States. In actuality, it's a lack of trust. Victor Davis Hansen, a historian and classicist, comments on all of this:
The classical idea of a divine Nemesis (“reckoning” or “downfall”) that brings unforeseen retribution for hubris (insolence and arrogance) was a recognition that there are certain laws of the universe that operated independently of human concerns.For those of us who populate the center or right of center, trust in our leadership, the administration that they lead, and the media who reports on that leadership began to erode during the past administration. With the near hysterical reaction to the new president, trust continues to erode.
Call Nemesis a goddess. But it was also simply an empirical observation about collective and predictable human behavior: Excess invites unexpected correction.
Something like hubris incurring Nemesis is now following the frenzied progressive effort to nullify the Trump presidency.
“Fake news” was a term the Left invented to describe the ancient practice of propaganda (updated in the Internet age to drive Web traffic). They applied it to the supposed Russian habit of planting international news stories to affect Western elections, and in particular Donald Trump’s campaign for the presidency and his tendencies to exaggerate and massage the truth. But once the term caught on in our faddish age, who were the more appropriate media fakers? Fake news now serves as a sort of linguistic canary to remind the public that it is customarily saturated with a lethal gas of media disinformation.
Thus “fake news” seemed a proper if belated summation and clarification of years of liberal bias in the media that were supposed to be our custodian of the truth. Were NBC anchor Brian Williams’s fantasies fake news? Were Dan Rather’s “fake but accurate” Rathergate memos? How about the party line circulated in JournoList or the Washington and New York reporters who colluded to massage the news to favor the Clinton campaign, as revealed in the Podesta WikiLeaks trove? Was jailing a video maker part of an Obama-administration fake-news attempt to blame Benghazi deaths on a spontaneous riot? Was the Iran Deal’s “echo chamber,” about which Ben Rhodes later bragged, the epitome of fake news?
Of course, #NeverTrumpers on both the Left and the Right argue that all of this is precipitated by Donald Trump, His outrageous tweets are almost always imprecise, often muddled, sometimes unsubstantiated, and predictably juvenile and/or outrageous. That's legitimate criticism. Trump is not a good archetype for President of the United States.
But what the #NeverTrumpers refuse to recognize is that at their core, Trump's crazy tweets often have elements of truth. Hansen continues:
The media and the anti-Trump Republicans decried Trump’s reckless and juvenile antics as unbefitting a president. Perhaps, but they may have forgotten Trump’s animal cunning and instincts: Each time Trump impulsively raises controversial issues in sloppy fashion — some illegal aliens harm American citizens as they enjoy sanctuary-city status, NATO European partners welch on their promised defense contributions, Sweden is a powder-keg of unvetted and unassimilated immigrants from the war-torn Middle East — the news cycle follows and confirms the essence of Trump’s otherwise rash warnings. We are learning that Trump is inexact and clumsy but often prescient; his opponents, usually deliberate and precise but disingenuous.Trump's opponents expect the public to trust them and accept their sometimes unhinged criticism of Trump. But here's the thing—in the weeks following one outrageous Trump tweet or comment or another, the news cycle often proves Trump right on the essence and his opponent's are proven wrong. So who does one trust?
Finally, on the latest allegations of wiretapping, Hanson writes:
“Obama officials have written contorted denials that by their very Byzantine wording suggest there is some truth to the thrust of Trump’s accusations. . . . At best, the public is learning that intelligence agencies and the Obama Justice Department deliberately monitored Trump’s campaign effort (and leaked its findings), acts that fit a larger pattern of seeking to oppose his 2016 campaign.”Because Trump is so egregiously imprecise, it's easy for his enemies to narrowly interpret his words and react with outrage. They do it all the time.
Did Trump actually mean that Barack Obama personally ordered a wire tap on Trump's personal phone, maybe even set the tap himself? Of course not! What he tried to express in his signature crude and sloppy style, I think, is that surveillance was requested by some government agency at the request of some Obama administration entity against some elements of the Trump campaign. The anti-Trump leaks that sunk Trump's national security advisor already bear that out.
If the media was trustworthy and non-partisan (it is not), the question they would ask: Was surveillance requested by some government agency at the request of some Obama administration entity against some elements of the Trump campaign? My guess is that the ant-Trump trained hamsters really doesn't want an answer to that question because they fear what the answer might be.