The press plays armchair psychologist to President Obama
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Rank amateur psychology runs amok.
"Obama in a state of denial about Trump, as Democrats work through the stages of grief," writes The Washington Post.
Chimes in The Daily Mail: "Obama in denial: Trump fans had a blind desire for 'change' and voters 'don't always know what they're looking for' — despite 16-month campaign against his policies."
Fox News offered a planetary exclusive with New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins: "Rep. Collins: Obama 'in denial' about why Democrats lost." And there's Bloomberg: "Democratic Blame Game: Is Obama in Denial?"
The Post is the most detailed in its diagnosis: "Barack Obama has deluded himself with the misguided hope that Donald Trump will not even try to follow through on many of his biggest campaign promises. He is consoling himself with the hope that, if he does, the new president will be measured, self-restrained and respectful of custom. That he will 'study … deeply' and 'look at the facts.' That logic and reason, not emotion or ideology, will drive him above all else."
It cites the theory that "the lame-duck president has convinced himself that Republicans probably won’t go through" with ditching Obamacare, the Iran nuke deal or Paris climate accord. It then asks rhetorically, "Is Obama really that naive? Probably not. He is just wallowing in a state of denial and has resorted to wishful thinking as a coping mechanism."
As Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler used to say on "Weekend Update," “Really?!”
Obama is doing what he has to do politically. He can't declare, even if he feels so privately, that the world is going to go to hell in a handbasket with Trump. His self-restraint is rather impressive.
Even if you buy into Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' five stages of grief — it's actually five stages of grief of someone who himself is dying — Obama (were he dying) seems to have rapidly climbed from denial to anger to bargaining to depression to acceptance. That's where the guy's at in less than a week.
"The president is doing his best to encourage Trump to act responsibly," says George Edwards III, an eminent presidential analyst at Texas A&M University.
"Because the president-elect know so little about public policy, his views are likely to be more fluid than those who have dealt with issues for years or even decades. He is also going to come into contact with a wider range of views than during the campaign. We should not paint him into a corner, nor should we insist on rigidity."
And, as a top Obama aide said to me last evening, what's the purpose of trashing Trump in public? You don't need the imagination of George Lucas, J.J. Abrams or J.K. Rowling to figure what's he saying in private.
The next time you hear the press talk about Obama in denial, check the sources for the amateur, post-election Sigmund Freuds.
How did mainstream media miss this?
"Saying the new effort would help them make critical inroads with low-income rural voters following a stunning election loss last week, the Democratic National Committee announced the launch of a new Hamilton-inspired web series Tuesday starring Lena Dunham intended to connect with working-class Americans and address their most pressing concerns." (The Onion)
Reuters tweeted out the news first, then came Bloomberg: "Snap Inc., the parent company of Snapchat, has filed confidentially for an initial public offering, according to people familiar with the matter."
The Wall Street Journal followed: "Snap Inc. has confidentially filed paperwork for an initial public offering, a major step forward in plans for what would be one of the highest-profile share debuts in recent years."
Recode then came with, "Snap, the company previously known as Snapchat, has privately filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission for an IPO, according to sources with knowledge of the company’s plans."
Reuters' attribution was "sources familiar with the situation said." Whatever. It looks like founder Evan Spiegel and some others folks are going to get very rich. The Journal suggests a valuation between $20 billion and $25 billion.
Trump's "digital guru" speaks!
Brad Parscale, a San Antonio digital consultant for the Trump campaign who resembles a "Duck Dynasty" cast member, told Megyn Kelly that he predicted internally the Friday before the election that Trump would get 305 electoral votes. (Fox) He saw some big upsets in certain states but conceded some results surprised him, like winning Wisconsin.
In a previous interview, he disclosed that the campaign sent his firm $90 million, in part for what he deemed placing important digital ads. (Wired)
The morning babble
"Fox & Friends" focused on "Who's Hired?" and detailed those who'd gone in and out of Trump Tower in Manhattan during the day. They included U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions, Sen. Ted Cruz, Lt. Gen. Keith Kellogg, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Tommy Hilfiger, Peter Thiel and Marla Maples.
Hilfiger for a new job as West Wing haberdasher? Well, he does have an office in the building, so that might explain the spotting. Maples, the second Mrs. Trump? It was unclear.
CNN's "New Day" got somewhat lost in the transition weeds, too, explaining a pink slip to Chris Christie and a connection between son-in-law Jared Kushner and Mike Pence. Co-host Chris Cuomo finds it predictable that Kushner, serving as axe man, is being "trash talked."
"Who genuinely has his ear? asked MSNBC "Morning Joe"s Willie Geist. As for Rudy Giuliani, "He ran for president and he sucked," said Joe Scarborough. As for his openly lobbying to be Secretary of State, "Who is Rudy Giuliani to tell Donald Trump what he is not going to do?" Mark Halperin says nobody around Trump has argued for a pick other than Giuliani or neocon John Bolton, which he deems a big mistake so far.
Oh, Mika Brzezinski read aloud The New York Times, which follows tales elsewhere about potential conflicts of interest for him. It notes that in 2006 Giuliani made 124 speeches, for as much as $200,000 apiece, and earned $11.4 million from them. He at times "made extravagant demands" for the type of private plane to transport them. Scarborough, who appeared a blank slate about several stories on Giuliani's muckraking with Qatar, Iranian opposition groups and Russian firms, said he'd be "the most crooked Secretary of State ever."
There was also some tsk-tsking from D.C. insider David Ignatius of The Washington Post. What's "striking to people in Washington," presumably including Ignatius, is "that it really looks as if Trump and his team did not expect to win. They were not ready. They are scrambling like crazy." Tsk, tsk, Donald.
All politics is local
The Crested Butte, Colorado News reports that Democrat Jonathan Houck, who was re-elected a Gunnison County commissioner, assesses the potential Trump impact thus: "Who will be his secretary of the Interior? How will decisions from Washington impact the management of public lands? What will it mean for oil and gas leases? What will it mean for the Gunnison sage-grouse?"
Calling Chuck Todd, calling Chuck Todd. If you've got a minute on "Meet the Press" Sunday, what will it mean for the sage-grouse?
All sports is local
From the Arizona Republic: "You don't see a blocked extra point returned for a 2-point conversion often. It happened Sunday. Former Arizona Wildcats standout Will Parks accomplished the feat for the Denver Broncos in a 25-23 Week 10 win over the Saints." (Arizona Republic)
Rudy's conflicts (cont.)
The Huffington Post: "Rudy Giuliani’s Conflicts Of Interest Would Place Donald Trump In A Bind." The Hill: "Conflict-of-interest questions dog Giuliani." Politico: "Giuliani took money from Qatar, Venezuela, Iranian exiles."
As Politico expands, "Rudy Giuliani's paid consulting for foreign governments would present conflicts of interest as the nation's top diplomat that would make the Clinton Foundation look trifling."
If you want to talk journalism...
The Poynter Institute is starting a Slack Team, namely an instant messaging community to discuss media, meet interesting guests, take courses and maybe throw out a startup idea to make us all rich (ah, probably not) or create instant new business models to save local newspapers (well, maybe, just maybe).
What about a right-leaning cable news channel whose prime-time hosts push their very own books?! Oh, we've got one already. Whatever.
Seriously, folks, you can sign up here for this membership program (it starts at 50 bucks a year). If you see John Oliver on the street, get him aboard, too. Maybe he can pimp this when his HBO show returns early next year.
Breaking up on social media
"Breaking up on social media is not so hard to do," according to The Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn, a trailblazer as a blogger and adroit social media hand. He’s tired of all the venom coming his way.
"Social media, with its remote and sometimes faceless access, encourages sanctimony, superficiality and humbug. Not depth. Not understanding."
"So no. I don't want or need your predictable naysaying and rude potshots in a part of my life that's supposed to be fun and interesting."
"I would say it's nothing personal, but, of course, it's intensely personal."
"Maybe it's you. Maybe it's me. But we're done here." (Chicago Tribune)
Reporters, take note of Plato, please
Writing on a fun blog for political science mavens, Sam Goldman of George Washington University informs:
"Some scholars are skeptical that Trump can be described as a fascist, arguing instead that he represents populism. But fascism and populism are not the only concepts that might help us understand Trump. The concept of 'tyranny' — and how it was understood by the philosophers of ancient Greece — is particularly helpful." (Monkey Cage)
Cut to the chase: "But, Plato argued, wise men and good citizens should refuse to collaborate with rulers who flout law and justice."
Dumb and dumber
The Chicago Bears are in the midst of a disastrous season that got worse with word Alshon Jeffery, a star receiver, was suspended by the NFL for use of performance-enhancing drugs. Per usual, the athlete claims that he took "a recommended supplement" without any ill motive; in this case to reduce inflammation.
I was listening to sports radio ridicule Jeffery, a host claiming the player's stupidity was underscored by his union having a handy app so members can check the legality of substances. Given the bumpy quality of sports journalism, I wondered if this was true. But the host was correct. It's an app that lets one put in the ingredients and see if they are approved. (NFL) Pretty easy.
The more things change
Christi Parsons, White House correspondent for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, was the print pool reporter at a state dinner in Athens last night featuring President Obama. In 1999, I served the same role for a state dinner there for President Clinton — with surely one difference (well, two, given the anti-U.S. demonstrations and tear gas in nearby streets).
Two college chums, both Greek politicians (in fact, rivals), saw me on a riser to which I was relegated outside the ballroom. They beckoned me inside. We chatted until Clinton and the First Lady entered in very formal fashion, surrounded by Secret Service. As I was then ushered out, Hillary Clinton did a double take and wondered, "Jim, how did you get inside?'
"Clout," I replied.