It started with this Trumpier-than-usual tweet this morning:
Another false story, this time in the Failing @nytimes, that I watch 4-8 hours of television a day - Wrong! Also, I seldom, if ever, watch CNN or MSNBC, both of which I consider Fake News. I never watch Don Lemon, who I once called the “dumbest man on television!” Bad Reporting.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2017
“The fact that he has an opinion about Don Lemon has always struck me as conclusive proof he watches too much tv,” notes Ramesh Ponnuru. Seriously, it’s like having an opinion on Erin Burnett. Who watches so much CNN primetime that they have a “take” on a formulaic rando host?
The president does, I guess. He has a “Super Tivo” to record cable news, you know.
But I digress. The commentariat spends much of its time nowadays navel-gazing about how the media can rebuild goodwill among Americans who’ve lost faith in it. One suggestion: For starters, for the love of Mike, stop the endless cycle of self-pity and grandiosity. When reporters aren’t busy telling you how heroic their industry is, they’re busy telling you how mean the president is to them, although he’s only mean to them because he’s threatened by their heroic crusade for truth and free speech, which in turn makes his disrespect so much more tragic and hurtful since you would expect the president of all people to stand up for the First Amendment, but at least our heroic media is standing up for it, and on and on we go!
CNN statement on Trump insulting Don Lemon: "In a world where bullies torment kids on social media to devastating effect on a regular basis with insults and name calling, it is sad to see our president engaging in the very same behavior himself. Leaders should lead by example."— Jeremy Barr (@jeremymbarr) December 11, 2017
This is an international news organization implicitly comparing itself to the little kid whose video about bullying went viral because the president called one of their anchors dumb. I realize that any public venom from Trump towards a journalist is destined to make their life miserable for a bit as his more excitable fans resort to all manner of verbal abuse towards that person, but the “soldiers for truth”/”bullied child” duality is hard to maintain. Is CNN cowed by Trump or isn’t it? If yes, drop the hero shtick. If no, then he’s not a very effective bully.Trump was elected because he, unlike any Republican president since Reagan, will stand up to the press.
And the must-read Glenn Greenwald essay: The U.S. Media Suffered Its Most Humiliating Debacle in Ages and Now Refuses All Transparency Over What Happened
. . . No matter your views on those political controversies, no matter how much you hate Trump or regard Russia as a grave villain and threat to our cherished democracy and freedoms, it has to be acknowledged that when the U.S. media is spewing constant false news about all of this, that, too, is a grave threat to our democracy and cherished freedom.
So numerous are the false stories about Russia and Trump over the last year that I literally cannot list them all. Just consider the ones from the last week alone, as enumerated by the New York Times yesterday in its news report on CNN’s embarrassment:
. . .
Let’s just remind ourselves of how many times major media outlets have made humiliating, breathtaking errors on the Trump-Russia story, always in the same direction, toward the same political goals. Here is just a sample of incredibly inflammatory claims that traveled all over the internet before having to be corrected, walked back, or retracted — often long after the initial false claims spread, and where the corrections receive only a tiny fraction of the attention with which the initial false stories are lavished:
That really is just a small sample. . .
- Russia hacked into the U.S. electric grid to deprive Americans of heat during winter (Wash Post)
- An anonymous group (PropOrNot) documented how major U.S. political sites are Kremlin agents (Wash Post)
- WikiLeaks has a long, documented relationship with Putin (Guardian)
- A secret server between Trump and a Russian bank has been discovered (Slate)
- RT hacked C-SPAN and caused disruption in its broadcast (Fortune)
- Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app (Crowdstrike)
- Russians attempted to hack elections systems in 21 states (multiple news outlets, echoing Homeland Security)
- Links have been found between Trump ally Anthony Scaramucci and a Russian investment fund under investigation (CNN)