The transition of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from businessman to resident of the White House has been downright smooth compared to the media’s adjustment to the new post-election reality.
Many members of the mainstream press have not been coping well.
“The reason the micro-group of neo-Nazis got attention is the media. It’s not the Right. This is an active attempt by CNN and others to paint all conservatives as anti-Semites. It’s disgusting.”
Many appear downright frazzled and are swinging at Trump blindly. The spectacle threatens to undermine the media even further in the eyes of the American public — if that’s even possible.
What’s truly amazing is the things happening right now in the media are not products of partisan imagination. In the past two days, one of Trump’s aides was accused on a major news network of using a racial slur without even a shred of proof.
But another journalist — one of the top movers-and-shakers in the industry — has been asked to resign because he intimated there should be violence.
On Tuesday, Politico’s editor, Michael Hirsh, resigned after publishing the two home addresses of Richard B. Spencer, an Alt-Right leader.
Spencer is an unsympathetic figure. He is a white supremacist and founder of the National Policy Institute, which promotes white heritage as superior to others.
Still, for an editor of a major journalistic publication to print his address, while later suggesting attacking him with baseball bats, is beyond the pale.
Hirsh was on a kick before his suggestion about Spencer. He suggested Trump’s Jewish son-in-law has no pull with Trump. Earlier, Hirsh tweeted, “If Jared Kushner has so much pull with his father-in-law, then why can’t he get him to forcefully disavow neo-Nazis?”
Hirsh has since deleted his Twitter account.
Such threats are not acceptable, says Dan Gainor, vice president of Business and Culture at the Media Research Center, a conservative watchdog.
“There’s been a huge uptick in what are genuine threats, not jokes,” Gainor told LifeZette on Wednesday. “Calling for someone to be injured and then doxxing them is flat-out terrifying.”
(Doxing, or doxxing, is when people use public records and then post personal information about a subject, with malice.)
So the attempt to tie Trump with extreme figures on the Right is off to a shaky start. Yet ever since Trump named Stephen K. Bannon as his senior adviser, many in the media have not been able to hide their contempt, their desperation, and their loathing.
Bannon was the executive chairman of Breitbart News, a conservative news outlet founded by the late Andrew Breitbart. Breitbart News is loathed by the Left and the mainstream media. With Bannon’s appointment, the media kicked off what it must have thought would be a successful smear job on Trump. It so far has not worked out that way.
On Tuesday, CNN contributor Charles Kaiser went on a vicious tirade against Trump and his appointees. Kaiser shocked CNN host Brooke Baldwin when he said Bannon used the “N-word” — using the word himself live on the air with no proof whatsoever that Bannon ever used the slur.
Kaiser later apologized for the outburst, and admitted he was wrong about attributing the word to Bannon.
But what really got the media's attention was a small meeting in Washington of some of the worst players involved in actual advocacy of white supremacy, including Spencer. The media attention given to these people surprised the conservative media watchdog.
"The reason the micro-group of neo-Nazis got attention is the media. It's not the Right," said Gainor. "This is an active attempt by CNN and others to paint all conservatives as anti-Semites. It's disgusting."
To discuss the Alt-Right and neo-Nazis, CNN engaged in a panel discussion on Monday night.
It was Jake Tapper's show, but Tapper was out of town for vacation. So, too, was common sense. The "chyron," or subtitle, that CNN staff let hover at the bottom of the screen while guests spoke read: "Alt-right founder questions if Jews are people."
Tapper was furious. He let it be known that no matter what the subject material, that chyron was inappropriate. He is right.
"I'm off today but that chyron is unacceptable and I immediately called my staff to convey that," Tapper tweeted.
"The media have come unglued," says Gainor.
But as the media spin this tale of Trump's fearful rise, Trump's transition goes on. Trump is relatively untouched by the media's fetish with a handful of oddballs who think they are part of some larger movement. The media happily obliges these few, hopeful to smear Trump.
It's a real contrast to how the predominantly liberal media treated Democrat Barack Obama as he neared his swearing-in, in November 2008.
Then, liberal Tom Friedman of The New York Times said: "If I had my druthers right now, we would convene a special session of Congress, amend the Constitution and move up the inauguration from Jan. 20, (2009), to Thanksgiving Day. Just get me a Supreme Court justice and a Bible, and let's swear in Barack Obama right now — by choice — with the same haste we did — by necessity — with L.B.J. in the back of Air Force One."
Today, the media risks more than just credibility in their Trump hysteria. The media risks hurting and dividing the American people. And they are risking giving credibility to a few who must not get it.