In the movie “Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery,” Dr. Evil’s son, Scott, finds himself exasperated at his dad’s relentless urging to take over the evil family business: “I was thinking; I like animals. Maybe I’d be a vet,” Scott offers.
“An evil vet?” Dr. Evil replies.
“No! Maybe, like, work in a petting zoo.”
If your analysis of the president starts by comparing him to Hitler, it’s hard to ratchet up the outrage any higher.
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“An evil petting zoo?”
President Trump’s detractors seem to see the same evil in everything he does, no matter how benign it is or how silly it makes them look.
When the White House changes hands, for instance, the previous administration’s appointees traditionally resign and all WhiteHouse.gov content is archived. That is standard — unless the new administration belongs to Donald Trump.
Then we get breathless headlines about evil resignations and evil content archival: “Moments after Donald Trump became president, the White House’s LGBT rights page disappeared,” CBS shrieked. “Head of D.C. National Guard to be removed from post in middle of inauguration,” The Washington Post blared.
That’s right: The Washington Post and CBS News, along with far too many other ostensibly mainstream media outlets, think Trump went out of his way to turn the normal transition of power into an evil transition of power.
We’re surprised they haven’t complained that Trump heartlessly kicked the Obama family out of the White House like a Dickens novel slumlord.
However, it’s progressively gotten even sillier since then. Having gotten some traction with their accusations that Melania Trump plagiarized a speech last year, Trump’s critics have taken to throwing ever-more desperate accusations of plagiarism at him.
His inauguration speech, we’ve been told, was plagiarized from the movie “Avatar.” Or was that “Bee Movie”? Or “The Dark Knight Rises”? And didn’t anyone notice Trump’s oath of office was, word for word, the same one Obama used?
Trump was also accused of plagiarizing his inauguration cake. No, really. We’re not sure how one plagiarizes a cake, but they have accused him of it anyhow.
The fact-checking website Snopes quickly stepped in and did what the media should have done: They spent five minutes checking the movie scripts and discovered no plagiarism took place. But let’s be fair — the trauma of Trump winning the election still hasn’t worn off, so it must have just slipped their minds.
After running out of plagiarism stories to panic over, the media did a 180 and had another conniption because — better sit down for this — Trump fixed a misspelled word on Twitter. Seems Twitter doesn’t have an edit function, so to fix a typo, one has to delete the tweet altogether and repost it.
This sparked an interesting discussion about how technology can get ahead of the law, and whether social media should be included in the legal definition of presidential records.
The same media pundits who spent the last year begging Twitter to delete Trump’s Twitter account suddenly bemoaned Trump fixing his own typo. Trump’s first act upon assuming office, they bellowed, was to violate 1978’s Presidential Records Act, which they seem to think was enacted to preserve the sanctity of Twitter.
Bill and Hillary Clinton’s shredder maintenance guy must have gotten a big pass on that precedent.
After a week of pearl-clutching and fainting-couch-falling, when Trump’s immigration orders finally gave the media something solid to chew on, they found themselves in a quandary: They’d run out of hyperbole.
Oh, they tried: “Trump just deported all 11 million undocumented workers,” a typical op-ed screamed. Or 8 million, or 9 million, depending who you ask. (Reality check: The convoys of container ships, semis, and planes you’re not seeing leave the country means this may be a wee bit overstated.) They’re not even pretending to actually read the orders, put them in context for their audience, or analyze the motivation behind the orders — all of which would constitute a more traditional understanding of journalism.
All these histrionics are backfiring, though. They’ve already turned it up to 11, and there’s no 12. If your “analysis” of the new president starts by comparing him to Hitler, it’s hard to ratchet up the outrage any higher.
But they can’t back down, either. They’re caught between a furious leftist base of perpetual protesters on one side, and on the other a president who refuses to play by their old rules. President Trump made his distrust of the mainstream media crystal-clear from the first day of his campaign. Rather than any attempt to mend fences, though, the media doubled down on their sneering contempt — and now they’re reduced to sputtering, impotent rage as Trump sidesteps them entirely with nothing more than a Twitter account.
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In 2003, conservative syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer coined the term “Bush Derangement” to describe similar behavior against then-President George W. Bush. “Derangement” is too mild a word to describe all this. Trumpoplexy, maybe?
We do hope things calm down soon before we start losing a lot of media folks to heart attacks and strokes.
Greg Hartman is a regular LifeZette contributor on pop culture, celebrity antics, and politics.