The press rushes to call Trump a post-election hypocrite
Not faithful to campaign pledges
The press portrait of Donald Trump as a deceitful, misogynist poser has now added this permutation: Trump as post-election hypocrite. Its naiveté is sweeping.
For starters, check The Washington Post:
"President-elect Donald Trump and key advisers in recent days have backed away from some of the most sweeping pledges that the Republican candidate made on the campaign trail, suggesting that his administration may not deliver on promises that were important to his most fervent supporters." (The Washington Post)
The new air of "hedging," says the paper, is found right in front of our eyes: his post-election declaration that he might well keep intact some elements of Obamacare; bosom buds Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich saying they might not ask Mexico to pay for a wall or even look to build one posthaste; hedging on appointing a special prosecutor to go after Hillary Clinton; and Republican former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers dismissing as "campaign talk" the notion of re-instituting waterboarding on suspected terrorists.
Yes, there could now be a sense of betrayal for "his most fervid supporters," The Post suggests (one wonders if it would use the same phrase about Clinton backers).
Did many people really, truly believe Mexico would actually pay for a wall?
As for as saying he'd want to keep the Obamacare protection against denial of insurance for pre-existing conditions, it's not news. He said it back in February, guys. (Forbes) But it didn't stop the portrayal of his engaging in some intellectually dishonest about-face.
And did anybody believe he'd reinstitute waterboarding, which is illegal?
You could have taken the same set of pronouncements and portrayed Trump as pragmatist, now setting aside campaign rhetoric and being willing to wheel and deal.
Conversely, it would have been simple to similarly deride a victorious Clinton as hypocritical, and betraying supporters, after undoubted post-election admissions. Among the many: there wouldn't have been the money or political will in Congress (or state legislatures) to eliminate college tuition for in-state students at public colleges whose families earn less than $125,000 a year.
Boffo ratings for "SNL"
"'Saturday Night Live’s' first show following the 2016 election was more introspective than comedic; more thoughtful than satirical. It was also the show’s highest rated this season." (Adweek) And my take on why Kate McKinnon's stark opening — austerely singing Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" as Hillary Clinton — is an inadvertent reminder of media self-flagellation now running amok. (Poynter)
Koppel in West Virginia (albeit a bit late)
CBS' "Sunday Morning" was smart and interesting yesterday and included Ted Koppel in McDowell County, West Virginia, assessing the pro-Trump vote there. It was a fine piece but also indicative of one press failing: the tendency to have covered the candidates rather more than the country. We may have known more about the inside of Trump's plane than what was playing out in coal country (which had less to do with god, guns and LGBT Americans than it had to do with jobs).
Yes, yes, there were great efforts, including a series from Washington Post's David Maraniss, "Looking for America." But now you have post-mortems arising out of a shock that would not have been so shocking if people had spent time where, for example, that big rural Trump vote came from.
Next time editors might send great journalists — and not-so-great ones, if your newsroom can't afford many — to places like McDowell County long before the actual vote. For every 30 minutes spent airing live Trump speeches, imagine if they'd spent 10 minutes talking to voters. I know, I know, lousy ratings, lower ad rates, less "shareholder value."
And, there used to be a labor beat on many papers, though virtually never in TV. They were people who covered organized labor (that means unions) and issues related to the non-union sector. It was never a high-prestige beat but it was a daily window onto worlds that often escape a sheltered press.
By the time I'd left for soccer in Skokie, Illinois yesterday morning, the new humility-filled President-elect had sent out three tweets gratuitously attacking The New York Times, including "Wow, the @nytimes is losing thousands of subscribers because of their very poor and highly inaccurate coverage of the 'Trump phenomena.'" (Poynter)
It was thus so reassuring saying that the solemnity and majesty of the presidency will prompt him to ditch his tweets. Wait, ah, no, he said the opposite on "60 Minutes." Yes. "I’m not saying I love it, but it does get the word out."
John Oliver on the press and Trump
On his HBO show last night, John Oliver was heavy on the press, or "how a system that is supposed to catch a serial liar failed." ("Last Week Tonight") He bashed CNN for running too many Trump speeches in their entirety; diminished media corrections, saying "There is no longer a consensus on what a fact is"; noted the "cesspool of nonsense" on Facebook; and urged viewer donations and support for quality profit-making media and nonprofits such as ProPublica.
Cutler, Trump and Clinton
Shortly after the awful Chicago Bears lost to the arguably worse Tampa Bay Buccaneers, The Chicago Tribune's David Haugh linked the depressing campaign with a depressing Sunday for the Bears, especially quarterback Jay Cutler:
"Days after making national headlines by declaring himself a Donald Trump supporter, Cutler's play was deplorable. You might say Cutler made Bears opponents feel great again with familiar poor judgment. Only Hillary Clinton suffered a more disappointing performance in Florida this month." (Chicago Tribune)
Great political flicks
Democratic U.S Rep. Steve Israel of New York, a smart and funny guy (his political satire, "The Global War on Morris" is very good) who's decided to split Congress, will exhibit his inner Roger Ebert on Tuesday. He'll be guest programmer on Turner Classic Movies.
He's picked three political movies and a comedy. First he's got "The Candidate" with Robert Redford (1972), what he believes is "the most authentic view of campaigning I've ever seen in a movie"; Frank Capra's "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" (1939); and Franklin J. Schaffner's "The Best Man" (1964), offering a "classic moral quandary" in choosing between principles and winning. Finally, he's chosen "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House" (1948), his "safe movie, my retreat...so simple and beautiful."
Political journalists surely know the Redford and Capra offerings, probably not Schaffner's. You might check out Israel with journalist host Ben Mankiewicz.
AT&T-Time Warner deal
"Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election might be big trouble for AT&T’s attempt to buy Time Warner, and it could even threaten Comcast’s 5-year-old acquisition of NBCUniversal." (ArsTechnica)
"Why Trump might not block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, after all." (The Washington Post)
Charting paid media
The Washington Post's Jim Tankersley notes something revealing about Clinton campaign tactics when it came to TV ads:
"...In the closing weeks of the presidential race, Hillary Clinton's campaign — and the outside groups that supported it — aired more television advertisements in Omaha than in the states of Michigan and Wisconsin combined. The Omaha ads were in pursuit of a single electoral vote in a Nebraska congressional district, which Clinton did not ultimately win, and also bled into households in Iowa, which also she did not win. Michigan and Wisconsin add up to 26 electoral votes; she appears not to have won them, either." (The Washington Post)
The local angle
"How a Trump presidency could affect life in Maine" is the headline in the Bangor Daily News. The good news: the wacko Republican governor, Paul LePage (the guy who committed to not talk to the media), was an early Trump backer and his daughter worked for Trump. The bad? There's a lot.
"Maine receives the 12th-most federal funding of any state, according to a recent analysis by WalletHub.com. Maine receives far more federal funding than it returns in the form of tax revenue, especially the more rural 2nd District, which is ironic considering all the Trump supporters there. Simple math says deep cuts to federal programs such as winter fuel assistance and weatherization could hit Maine hard."
The morning babble
After the nearest supermoon since 1948 (yes, amazing) was far above, the initial Trump picks dominated CNN's "New Day." The story, said Chris Cuomo, is Steve Bannon, who "runs Breitbart, an attack site for the alt right." It showed headlines from Breitbart, including "BIRTH CONTROL: MAKES WOMEN UNATTRACTIVE AND CRAZY," while The New York Times offers, "Breitbart, Reveling in Trump’s Election, Gains a Voice in His White House." (The New York Times)
"Fox & Friends" derided the anti-Trump protesters and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio underscoring the city's plan to fight deportations. Steve Doocy says the mayor's "making New York a criminal alien magnet." Brian Kilmeade suggested the same with Chicago and Mayor Rahm Emanuel amid the latter's avowal that his would remain a so-called sanctuary city.
MSNBC's "Morning Joe" discussed "showmanship vs. stability," with Mika Brzezinski alluding to being on the phone all weekend with unidentified "hysterical" people, including Republicans. Then there was Joe Scarborough, who's morphed from Trump courtesan to Trump critic and, now, Trump anthropologist. "Nobody in the media learned their lesson, nobody. They're doing it again. You paint a swastika on his forehead, you call him a Nazi, you're going to set expectations so low, he's going to beat you again."
I heard from people miffed with the Oval Office photo many media used of two grim-looking individuals meeting for the first time. And there were the 1,000 stories speculating on what was said during the 90 minutes. But I hadn't heard this:
"Politics aside, the video has people talking for a different reason: everyone’s pointing out how loud and obnoxious the press photographers’ DSLRs are." That would refer to digital single-lens reflex cameras (DSLRs).
Comments on YouTube include:
“Am i the only f*ing one that couldn’t hear st because of the picture sounds?!!”
“I wonder how the hell Obama put up with those obnoxious camera noises for 8 years.” (PetaPixel)
"Face the Nation" noted the imminent departure of 52-year CBS News stalwart Bill Plante. It was nice but could have been even longer (I'm not neutral as a friend and admirer). His has been an amazing career, in part a throwback to when the major broadcast networks spent serious coin covering stories everywhere — and the viewing public seemed to have greater interest in stories covered most everywhere. (Face the Nation)
Youth will be served, for sure. But the media's (and rest of corporate America's) growing ageism in employment practices comes at a price, certainly in journalism. Lots of stories can lack historical and cultural context. The public loses with exits of guys and gals who know that "unprecedented" remarks aren't unprecedented, or that a bumpy White House transition, and remarks out of sync with campaign rhetoric, ain't anything new.
It's why guys like Plante are to be treasured even in the rabid chase for younger consumer.