As anyone who’s been following American politics can attest, the last six months (and then some) have featured a running battle between Donald Trump and the mainstream media, the majority of which is aligned with the Democrats and globalists against the president. Despite vicious articles, hit pieces and op-eds, the press hasn’t been able to inflict a sustained amount of damage on Trump, with the exception of the current investigation being led by special counsel Robert Mueller into potential obstruction of justice charges related to Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Nevertheless, the unbridled hostility that the president has experienced at the hands of the media is unprecedented for a new commander-in-chief, and so far, Trump has pushed back by calling out CNN, NBC and other main stream media outlets as “fake news,” turning their label for social media stories supposedly favoring Republicans before the election around 180 degrees. And of course, Trump has been fully justified in applying this label. Just recently, CNN had to retract a story about Trump ally and financier Anthony Scaramucci having ties to Russia when it was discovered the story hadn’t been adequately vetted before it ran on CNN’s website (a broadcast version of the story never aired).
However, when it came out that the story wasn’t true, Scaramucci threatened to sue the network for $100 million, forcing the broadcaster to issue an embarrassing retraction and lay off three staffers related to the brouhaha. The incident was a huge black eye for CNN, which has already suffered from the loss of much of its former reputation for accuracy since the network began blatantly attacking Trump.
Following this recent debacle, conservative filmmaker James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas released undercover videos of CNN employees talking about how the network’s stories on Russia have been mostly cooked up for the sake of ratings (with CNN frequent contributor Van Jones calling them a big “nothing burger”).
CNN producers admitted on-camera that much of the agenda for attacking Trump specifically via the Russian angle came directly from the top of their organization, namely from CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker. This tarred the already under-fire Zucker further in the eyes of AT&T, the communications giant that’s been in discussions to buy CNN parent company Time Warner since last October. In fact, rumor has it that Zucker may very well be out of a job if the AT&T acquisition takes place. Whether that will change CNN’s perspective on the president or their slant on news stories (and their complete fabrication of them) remains to be seen.
But President Trump hasn’t taken CNN’s criticisms lying down. His response in the past has been to call out the network’s reporters at the White House, including correspondent Jim Acosta, to label CNN “fake news” or “very fake news” in front of the gathered press. Acosta was ordered to sit at the back of the press pack like a punished fifth-grader at a June news conference, and there have been other press events where CNN has been banned from receiving briefings from the White House entirely.
Via his Twitter postings, the president has taken pains to identify CNN’s lies and shameless bias. The network “has finally been exposed as #FakeNews and garbage journalism”, tweeted Trump. On July 2, the president tweeted a video clip taken from 2007 when he was a performer at the WWE Wrestlemania 28 event, with the CNN logo replacing the head of his opponent (who happened to have been his friend and WWE owner Vince McMahon).
The posting of this clip enraged liberal pundits and commentators, with the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP) claiming that it “glorified violence against members of the media” (of course, the violence shown toward Trump supporters at various campaign rallies and demonstrations wasn’t discussed).
The White House defended the particular tweet in question, with Homeland Security Advisor Tom Bossert saying, “I do think that [the president] has been beaten up in a way on cable platforms that he has a right to respond to.” On CNN, host Alisyn Camerota attempted to add commentary to her network’s reaction to Trump’s latest tweet, but her guest, Republican Congressman Scott Taylor of Virginia, laughed it off and told her, “I think you guys are getting played… I think every time he does this, you overreact, and by ‘you guys’ I mean the media in general… you play right into his hands.”
Taylor is right; CNN hasn’t been the only news network to feel the heat of President Trump’s wrath in reaction to its vitriol. Network MSNBC has also been the target of direct counterattacks by Trump for the assassination of his character by hosts “Morning” Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski on the channel’s “Morning Joe” show. Even though former Congressman Scarborough is ostensibly a Republican and a conservative, both he and Brzezinski have attacked Trump off and on since prior to the president’s inauguration, and Trump has clearly had enough of their act.
Recently, it came out that Scarborough and Brzezinski have been conducting an off-camera romance. It’s said that the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid accelerated the pair’s going public with their affair and their associated divorces from their respective spouses by threatening to publish an article about the story. Scarborough and Brzezinski claimed that Trump had requested an on-air apology for criticism of him from both of them in return for his using his influence over Enquirer publisher David Pecker to withhold a front-page exposé on the couple. The story ultimately ran in June.
Trump son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner insists that Scarborough had called him to discuss this very issue. In the meantime, Scarborough tweeted that he had texts and emails of conversations from Trump administration figures (including the president) discussing the matter, but so far, he’s refused to release them. For its part, the National Enquirer stated via editor Dylan Howard, “We have no knowledge of any discussions between the White House and Joe and Mika about our story and absolutely no involvement in those discussions.”
“Crazy Joe Scarborough and dumb-as-a-rock Mika are not bad people, but their low-rated show is dominated by their NBC bosses. Too bad!” wrote President Trump on Twitter. “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low-I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to [Trump estate] Mar-a-Lago three nights in a row around New Year’s Eve and insisted on joining me? She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
Needless to say, this back-and-forth has turned what until recently was a low-level conflict with both MSNBC and CNN into a full-scale battle between Trump and the media (and MSNBC and CNN are not the only guilty parties). Former political strategist Dick Morris, who writes for the National Enquirer from time to time, said that it was his opinion that Scarborough’s and Brzezinski’s criticism of the president was evidence that “the media itself [is] becoming President Trump’s political opponent.”
Fortunately for conservatives, most Americans surveyed say that their distrust in the mainstream media is at an all-time low and that the appellation “fake news” now applies mostly to the media’s stories, rather than anything dodgy showing up on social media or supposedly planted by “Russians.”
Therefore, it’s likely that many Americans take a positive view of President Trump’s tweets and his specific identification of culprits in the press for their bad behavior. Still, both MSNBC and CNN (among many other media outlets) have had a field day with all this tweeting. More than one commentator (including several on Fox) have made the valid point that this public feuding is overshadowing real political news of consequence, to the detriment of the Trump administration. Republican Representative Don Bacon of Nebraska told Fox’s Neil Cavuto that he hopes the president lightens up on his social media activity simply for the sake of allowing government to function more effectively.
Bacon is, of course, correct; while the president may be in the right to fight back against his negative press coverage, it would probably benefit him and the country, in general, to tone down his disapproval of the media and focus more on legislative matters at hand. Presidents in the past with thicker skins have been able to ignore browbeating by news editors and reporters and have come away the better for it.