The press as enemy
Over 200 newspapers across the country are together running editorials on the same day decrying President Trump’s attacks on the press. In so doing, these news outlets are confirming in the minds of many that they do coordinate efforts to attack the president. They play into the president’s hands and he will use these editorials as further proof they are out to get him.
The truth is the American press is not the enemy of the people, but is its own worst enemy. The press corps in the United States exudes a sense of entitlement. Only a few years ago, a reporter at a prominent outlet declared the freedom of the press belonged only to reporters. Just last week, CNN ran an opinion piece comparing reporters asking the President questions with soldiers laying down their lives in defense of the country.
The president can attack the press so savagely because the American press corps currently has popularity ratings hovering somewhere beneath the piece of toilet paper stuck to your shoe. Instead of trying to get stories right, the press is trying to be first. Instead of trying to understand and account honestly for both sides, the press is more and more playing to the left’s political prejudices.
Consider last week. The phrase “fake news” has entered the American lexicon and is something routinely said by everyday Americans and the President himself. The Newseum, a pretentious shrine to an undeserving press, started selling a shirt with “Fake News” written on it. The very same press corps decrying the president’s bullying tactics against them bullied the Newseum until it stopped selling the shirt. The press’ own lack of self-awareness would make an amoeba blush.
In the past two weeks, police arrested a man in New York for sending threatening voicemail messages to Republican U.S. Representatives Steve Scalise and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Another man was arrested for making a credible threat against Republican Rep. Chris Smith. According to Becket Adams of the Washington Examiner, “the lion’s share of news coverage since July 27 has gone to discussing the White House’s ongoing fights with media.”
Likewise, this past week, law enforcement raided a compound in New Mexico and found what appears to be an Islamic radical training children to become school shooters. The media has, again, spent far more time talking about itself and the President. Then there is the Chinese spy who worked for Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein for a decade. The news broke in a California newspaper and a week after the story broke the national newspapers that will run editorials against the president’s attacks had not even reported on this significant story.
In the 2016 campaign, President Trump and the press fed on each other. Media tracking firm mediaQuant reported that Trump received over $5 billion in free press coverage, outpacing all other candidates in the primaries and general election. The New York Times saw 300,000 new digital subscriptions in the first quarter of 2017 and almost that many in the last quarter of 2016. The Times reports its subscriptions have only just started slowing. The same is true for other news outlets as well.
On a daily basis, the news media focuses on stoking the outrage machine against the president at the expense of other news. They often get the stories wrong. Remember the president’s campaign receiving advanced notice of Wikileaks releasing emails belonging to Hillary Clinton and John Podesta? CNN, CBS News and others reported it. It turns out they were wrong.
The press is not the enemy of the American people. But they are their own worst enemy. They are increasingly insular, live in leftwing bubbles, and are prone to lash out at criticism. They also, thanks to this editorial coordination, have given new ammunition to the president.
Erick Erickson is a nationally syndicated columnist.