“Unprecedented” has become one of those terms the national news media have grossly overused in their nearly endless negative coverage of President Donald Trump. This week, however, it is accurate — not as it applies to the president, but rather to the media themselves.
Scores of newspapers have agreed to make a preplanned attack on the White House Thursday under the guise of ‘coordinated response,’ all using the same talking points. It’s certainly unprecedented in my lifetime to see groupthink take over more than 100 newspapers all at once.
The issue is the president’s ongoing war with the press and his recent comments referring to “fake news” as the “enemy of the people.” I agree with their anger and resentment at being labeled as such, but aren’t these papers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Detroit Free Press, underscoring exactly what is wrong with the institution in the first place?
I mean, reciting chapter and verse from the very same anti-Trump hymnal and regurgitating nearly identical talking points underscores one of the very criticisms people have of the media today, which is that they care only about destroying Trump, no matter what it takes.
Remember, these are many of the same papers that targeted Sinclair Broadcasting because that company sent talking points to its local affiliates to read concerning its news guidelines to ensure balanced coverage of stories and for dealing with ‘fake news.’
During its coverage of that story, The Washington Post described Sinclair as ‘the most insidious force in local news.’ But this week it will join more than 100 other papers in a mass display of groupthink, and strangely will not believe it hypocritical at all.
Is the press the enemy of the people? Maybe not, but having scores of newspapers duplicate nearly identical talking points for all isn’t exactly making you a champion of the people, either. Where is this ‘independent press’ anyway? Many of these same papers have been the worst offenders when it comes to publishing straight-up gossip and trying to pass it off as actual news.
From day one, most of these papers have attacked the president with reckless abandon. The emphasis is on the word reckless — and abandoning journalistic principles. Let’s not forget how, in the first few hours of Donald Trump’s very first day, the Associated Press put out a story that Trump had removed the statue of Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. from the Oval Office.
The story went viral. Every major news outlet picked up the story. It was false. The problem is that headlines are all on the front page, and retractions are always buried in the back, along with people’s reputations.
Many in the media have simply sold their souls in pursuit of Trump. They believe there is some kind of salvation awaiting them if they can just destroy him. They don’t even bother with any pretense about objectivity. They are doing the right thing; just ask them.
The same media literally dedicated thousands of hours covering the poorly written, barely sourced gossip rag penned by Michael Wolff, “Fire and Fury.” The tawdry piece of trash was the focus of countless articles and television segments.
Wolff was running around, freely giving interviews to just about anyone. The major papers and networks couldn’t get enough of his vague, sordid but mostly unsubstantiated and fanciful claims.
“I mean, reciting chapter and verse from the very same anti-Trump hymnal and regurgitating nearly identical talking points underscores one of the very criticisms people have of the media today.”
It wasn’t until Wolfe made the appalling suggestion, live on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” that Trump was sleeping with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley that he was finally tossed out, by Mika Brzezinski. But, again, the damage was done.
In fairness, I’m not sure if I were Brzezinski I’d apologize; after all, Trump has been brutal to her and her co-host fiancé Joe Scarborough in many of his ill-tempered tweets. But, again, don’t forget the vicious track record of the free press ever since it became clear Trump was going to win the presidency.
It used to be, “Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.” Today it’s “Trump is fair game but leave us alone.”
Basic fairness means zero to much of the media now. But keep in mind: If they can single out the president, they can come after you, too.
You would be well-advised to remember that if you are among those cheering when groupthink and herd mentality take over the minds and bodies of otherwise rational reporters.
Steve Gruber is a regionally syndicated talk-radio host based in Northern Michigan. Find out more at stevegruber.com.
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