The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

The Media and Trump

The media and Trump. It's an overworked topic, for sure, but it continues to fascinate. Trump is the first president in my lifetime who is willing to battle the media directly, call them names, impugn their integrity and otherwise demonize them for their obvious bias and overwhelmingly negative coverage of his administration. Although Trump's hyperbolic comments are undoubtedly unpresidential, any objective observation of the media's behavior over the past two years indicates that his sometimes outrageous condemnation of the media has significant grains of truth in it.

But what about the media? John Kass provides one of the best examinations of their attitude I've read recently:
... what is bothersome isn’t that reporters and many pundits don’t understand Trump. I really don’t know who does understand him. He wasn’t my choice for president.

But what concerns me are his voters, our countrymen and women. That’s half of our nation. And what bothers me is that I really don’t think many in journalism want to understand them.

Shame them? Yes. Understand them? No.

But Trump’s voters know what put him in the White House. It wasn’t merely that Hillary Clinton was a lousy candidate. It was that Trump voters detested the crowd that backed her, loathed them; and those voters in turn were viewed as something to be stepped on, to be ridiculed for heresy.

By not wanting to understand them, I worry that journalism blinds itself to something very real, critical and, in the long term, dangerous in our nation: A simmering resentment against the establishment in much of red state America.

And it’s not going away even if Trump goes away.

What’s clear from the anti-Trump punditry is that Trump supporters are still detested; the working class, the suburbanites in high-tax blue states; the families in rural America, all painted with a broad brush and dismissed regularly by the pundit class as hateful, xenophobic and worse.

Because they think their country needs borders and that illegal immigration should have been stopped years ago? Because they like tax cuts? Because they like working after being without work for years?

Or, is it that for eight years, as they were hurting, they watched a love affair between Obama and the media?

They read the papers. They watch TV. They hear the late-night talk show comedians mocking them. They read pundits who ridicule them. They understand shame all too well. Cultural elites may have given up on old-fashioned concepts like honor. But shame? Shame is a useful lash.

Think back on the ridicule that Hillary Clinton, the establishment Democrat of 2016, heaped on Trump voters when she called them “deplorables.”
As I have noted in many posts, a significant component of the support that Donald Trump continues to get is not necessarily pro-Trump, the man. If that's the case, what are the components of his support? Why tens of millions cringe at Trump the man, but still support Trump the president.

First, unlike his predecessor, he accomplishes stuff—fast. And that stuff translates into direct and obvious benefits, not for the so-called elites (who always benefit anyway) but for "deplorables." After all, despite Democrats' protestations, people (including minorities*) do have more money in their pockets and a choice of better jobs. They do have a president who eschews political correctness and (for all his faults) speaks in a refreshingly blunt and direct manner. They do have a man who is political, but he is not a typical politician.

Second, his international stance, often crazy and disjointed, does project strength. Yeah, I know, the coastal elites are far too nuanced to think that strength comes from anything but an urbane understanding of "the issues" and a measured response to provocation and threat. That's not Trump. The NoKos and Iran threaten us ... Trump threatens right back. No nuance there, and half the country nods and smiles.

Third, the ginned up Mueller probe (a.k.a. "witch hunt") is an attempt to undermine Trump's legitimacy. Half the country understands that Russian trolls, hacking, and other mischief are concerns, but they did not appreciably affect the outcome of the 2016 election. They understand that outrageous claims that Trump colluded with the Russkies are nonsense. "Where's the beef" has been replaced with "Where's the evidence?"

Fourth, the media is so biased and so anti-Trump that they have destroyed their own credibility. When everything is an "outrage," when every action "threatens our democracy," when every tweet is "obstruction," then none are. The media has turned up the volume to 11, but half the country have turned off the device.

The bottom line is this—half of the country supports Trump because their support represents a giant F.U. to the elites in politics, the media, entertainment, the arts, and the commentariat who despise Trump. As Kass points out, even with all his flaws (and they are many) half the country voted for Trump and still support him. He writes:
Why? Because they loathed the other side more. They loathed the establishment. They loathed the media. And their reservations about Trump were washed away by the [elites'] laughter following Clinton’s “deplorables” line.
People react to contempt viscerally. And they react to condescension in just about the same way. They resent being called "racist" or "xenophobic" when they know they are not those things. They see the hypocrisy when one side advocates confrontation and implicitly condones violent resistence (when's the last time you heard a Democrat criticize, much less condemn, the advocacy of anti-Trump violence) while at the same time criticizing "deplorables" for reacting to such threats or actions. They are pissed, but not unhinged. They are angry, but not violent. Their best response is the giant F.U.

That's what we're seeing, and the media either doesn't care or doesn't have a clue.


* If you were to believe the media, you'd be certain that Latinos would be 100 percent against Trump, given his position that our southern border must be protected, that illegal immigrants must be prosecuted or deported when they enter the country illegally, and that open borders are a very bad idea. From today's Washington Times:
Are Hispanics shifting their allegiances to President Trump?

A recent Harvard/Harris poll recorded a 10-point spike in Hispanic support for Mr. Trump. It hasn’t received much attention from the mainstream media, which is heavily invested in its portrait of the president as an unrepentant — and unpopular — “nativist.”

Coming in the midst of the nationwide controversy over children and families at the U.S.-Mexico border, it suggests that Hispanics may not be the entrenched liberal voting constituency that Democrats so often imagine.

And consider Florida’s hotly-contested Senate race. Republican Gov. Rick Scott is besting his Democratic opponent among Hispanics, according to a Mason-Dixon poll. Historically, a large and aging Cuban-American exile community has given Republicans a decided partisan edge in the Sunshine State.
Interesting. #Walkaway

UPDATE (8/3/2018):

Andrew Clavin addresses the recent spate of media types who whine about Trump's unrelenting attacks on them. He uses Jim Accosta of CNN as the poster child for the whiners:
Jim Acosta has the sadz. The untalented little man who rudely shouts unimportant questions at important people while in the employ of the ninth most trusted name in news out of ten, got heckled at a Trump rally in Tampa, Florida. Sad panda. The hecklers chanted "CNN sucks," which, okay, is true, but they were none too polite about it.

Acosta didn't like it. He reported, "Honestly, it felt like we weren’t in America anymore."

... New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger says he told Trump his anti-press rhetoric could lead to violence. But the media's anti-Trump rhetoric already has led to violence: public officials rat-packed and bullied, Trump supporters harassed, White House spokes-lady Sarah Sanders having to live under guard. And yet when Sanders pointed this out to Look-At-Me-I'm-Jim Acosta, Acosta stormed out of the room. Hell, if he doesn't want to hear the truth, he could just stay home and watch CNN.