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Outsiders vs. Insiders: Trump’s Fake News awards a wake-up call to biased American media

“[Trump's] like tenacious sometimes and says stuff off the cuff, like we do. Like real Americans do. We're not perfect. I'm tired of suave, I'm tired of polished, I'm tired of the teleprompter. I am, I want my country back,” answered retired mother of four and Trump voter Anna Para of Youngstown, Ohio in answer to a question from a CNN personality about why she continues to support President Donald Trump after his first year in office.

Para’s words aren’t something we hear much these days in the media as journalists and pundits would much rather paint a very dark and negative portrait of how the president is being received “out there” among the Trump in meetingpeople. But when you ask the voters themselves if they’re happy with Trump you get straight and positive descriptions of the job he’s doing.

Ian Schwartz of Real Clear politics reported on the show where Para spoke, “Trump supporters speak with CNN's Martin Savidge about their thoughts on the President's progress and performance a year into office. The panel included two white males, a black woman, a white woman and a black male from Youngstown, Ohio. They range from pastor to student to machine worker.

“All panelists agreed that immigration was a huge issue to them.”

This fairly non-descript depiction of the CNN segment in Schwartz’s article is followed by a transcript of the conversation where every person present – yes, including the two minority voters – sang the praises of the president and his job performance. The video doesn’t lie – these people actually like and respect Trump (well worth viewing if you have the time).

CNN didn’t elaborate on how long they had to search to find people to actually go on camera and say positive things about Trump but the views of these “common” folk in the Buckeye State don’t differ markedly from the impressions I’ve gathered in casual conversations from the last year. Generally speaking, people who voted for Trump are happy with his work and those who didn’t still can’t stomach him. Most Republican-leaning doubters are at least willing to concede Trump’s administration has done a lot of good things though they’re unable to get past the chief executive’s combative personality and quirks.

Fair enough. Trump the president suffers from the same skepticism Trump the candidate faced all those months ago. In the earliest days of the 2016 campaign it seemed as though people didn’t take Trump seriously but now that he’s been president for a year it’s hard to make the same argument. These days even Trump’s foes take him seriously but his enemies haven’t warmed to him – at all.

It’s odd how so many Americans aren’t able to disconnect the man from the office; perhaps never before has a president’s personal characteristics been so inseparably tied to his job performance. Just about every objective measure of the economy is looking very positive and unemployment is at or near record lows for all – including black and Hispanic workers.

It would be easy to blame the media’s negativity for Trump’s inability to raise his approval ratings since the vast majority of coverage has been decidedly hostile to the president. L. Brent Bozell and Tim Graham reported at CNS News last week, “Journalists often talk about President Trump's ‘war on the media’ and can't possibly discuss the media's war on President Trump. When the president attacks the media, that's an attack on democracy. When the media undermine the president, that's the full flowering of democracy.

“Removing the statements made by Trump and other politicians, 90 percent of evening-news Trump evaluations were negative, and only 10 percent were positive. (Neutral statements were not counted.) There were only three months in 2017 during which the negative coverage dipped below 90 percent. For instance, it was 85 percent negative in December, when Trump succeeded in getting his tax-cut bill passed.”

The media was never kind to a Republican president but the treatment extended to Donald Trump seems to be of a different nature when compared to GOP chief executives of the recent past. Whereas journalists portrayed Ronald Reagan as a dangerous but amiable dunce, George H.W. Bush as an aloof and out-of-touch elitist and George W. Bush as an intellectual lightweight and slave of Karl Rove, Trump stirs up a totally distinct kind of contempt among the reporting class.

As recent weeks have amply demonstrated media members are not only asserting Trump’s not smart or tuned-in enough to do the day-to-day job, they’re also making the case he’s mentally unstable, and, for lack of a better way to put it, crazy. Perhaps because of this unrelenting electronic harangue polls show voters don’t believe Trump is the “stable genius” he claimed to be in a tweet a couple weeks back.

Just exactly what the media means by “unstable” has never been fully elucidated. During the 2016 campaign, for example, Crooked Hillary Clinton argued Trump couldn’t be trusted with America’s nuclear codes because he was too often distracted by his social media habit at 3 o’clock in the morning. But aside from some rather harshly worded tweets and second-hand hearsay reports of his language (“sh—hole”) in meetings, there’s been no evidence of “instability” or health issues in public.

Trump didn’t make a fool of himself in the international arena during his several lengthy trips abroad; he didn’t personally horde the eggs at the White House Easter Egg Roll; his media-covered meetings with congressional leaders have all been civil and photo worthy and his public appearances with foreign ambassadors visiting the White House have been dignified if not mundane. On camera Trump is the master of ceremonies – and he does it well.

“Stable” is the word. The truth is, unlike his predecessor, Trump has made himself and his subordinates available on a regular basis to the media. Trump the showman appears to crave the national attention and he’s used it to effectively convey his message. The media delights in covering all things Trump, an obsession they can’t seem to shake no matter how hard they attempt to do otherwise. Not even the “Oprah for 2020” talk a couple weeks ago distracted them for long.

And Trump’s enemies still claim he’s attacking the “free and independent” media itself rather than what they’re reporting. That’s hardly the case; Trump doesn’t go after news outlets he feels are giving him a fair shake – even if they’re critical at times. Granted there are few that choose to submerge their ideological prejudices but Trump doesn’t seem to mind being evaluated by elements of the conservative media when he’s strayed from the limited government path.

Ann Coulter has hit Trump hard over his alleged broken campaign promises and we don’t see the president calling her “fake news,” do we?

Needless to say the die-hard Republican establishment doesn’t approve of Trump’s non-stop running battle with the media. Last week featured Arizona Senator Jeff Flake’s most recent senate floor Trump-bash and fellow Grand Canyon State Senator John McCain even took to the op-ed page in the Washington Post to hate on the president and defend the Fourth Estate.

McCain wrote, “Unfortunately, the Trump administration’s attitude toward [other countries’ anti-media] behavior has been inconsistent at best and hypocritical at worst. While administration officials often condemn violence against reporters abroad, Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets. This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit. The phrase ‘fake news’ — granted legitimacy by an American president — is being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny and mislead citizens. [The Committee to Protect Journalists] documented 21 cases in 2017 in which journalists were jailed on ‘fake news’ charges.

“Trump’s attempts to undermine the free press also make it more difficult to hold repressive governments accountable. For decades, dissidents and human rights advocates have relied on independent investigations into government corruption to further their fight for freedom. But constant cries of ‘fake news’ undercut this type of reporting and strip activists of one of their most powerful tools of dissent.”

Nonsense; in other words McCain’s suggesting since Trump badgers the American news media for its obvious bias and fakeness other world leaders will feel similarly empowered to treat their own reporters in a contemptuous manner. As though Kim Jong-un needs an additional excuse to torture someone or throw them into a hard labor camp.

McCain’s anti-Trump blather isn’t too far removed from the oft-repeated contention little kids will begin blurting out “sh—hole countries” in the classroom just because the media believed ultra-liberal Senator Dick Durbin’s claim that Trump used the word. Maybe these folks should use the recent tax cuts to start-up a new company manufacturing plastic Trump action figures that utter all sorts of media-reported obscenities at the pull of a string.

They can even file their business as a charity and donate the proceeds to the defense funds of all the jailed journalists in the United States (zero, right?). As a bonus, they can deduct profits from their taxes.

It’s a little strange how the same media that claims Trump is mentally unfit and borderline senile at age 71 doesn’t question the rationality or musings of the 81 year-old (and sick with potentially terminal brain cancer) McCain. It shouldn’t be forgotten how cold and unfeeling the media was towards the Arizona senator during his own presidential run against Obama in 2008. Those “free” journalists painted McCain as foul tempered curmudgeon who was likely psychologically crippled from his years in Vietnamese captivity; they openly contemplated whether a man who spent six years being tortured and housed in solitary confinement could be trusted with the nuclear arsenal?

Then they questioned McCain’s ability to reason for picking Sarah Palin as his running mate. Only an unbalanced dolt would do such a thing, right?

And the media (at least the New York Times) published unsubstantiated stories based on rumor, circumstantial evidence and conjecture about McCain’s purported extra-marital affair with a lobbyist. This was about as “fake” as news gets yet McCain is now the de facto champion defender of the same media.

People like Jeff Flake and John McCain imply Trump is a media-hating would-be dictator because the president protests objectively false reporting. Not so; at times Trump has suggested there should be legal repercussions for lies advanced in news stories (a.k.a. libel) yet never has Trump even hinted he would do away with the free press.

Trump isn’t Joseph Stalin. There’s no Gulag waiting beyond the Blue Ridge for reporters who say things critical to the administration. In his “Fake News Awards” announced last week Trump also praised “many great reporters;” the people will be the judge on who’s in the right on this one.

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Fake News Awards

I thought Trump's "Fake News Awards" were much too kind towards the reputation
of the media. Their systematic avoidance and cover up of the Benghazi scandal, the Clinton server story, the "Pay for play" with the Clinton Foundation and, the story of all stories, that Hillary was inevitable and could not possibly lose. That last one was probably their undoing, as the only one to believe it was Clinton herself that resulted in her phoning in her campaign efforts and losing the "Great Enchilada" to a glorified reality TV star!