The Media vs. Trump
Michael Massing is right: It was wrong for The New York Times to allow gratuitous “opinionizing” in a June 23 news article saying President Trump “slinked away” from a clash with LeBron James “the way a bully does when faced with unexpected resistance” [“Journalism in the Age of Trump,” Aug. 13/20]. That should have been edited out. Bad Times. But beyond that, Massing’s criticisms of how the press and others are too gosh-darn hard on the president strike me as ridiculous.
The opinion pages of the Times and The Washington Post are dominated by anti-Trump voices, even among the conservatives? Oh, boo-hoo. The late-night comics all make fun of the guy, reinforcing his supporters’ belief that “the media are monolithically and hopelessly arrayed against him”? Say it ain’t so! Even when Trump does something good, like tamp down the inflamed tensions with North Korea he helped create, the media are still critical, pointing out that he used the dictatorship’s terminology in calling US military exercises a “provocation”? Won’t somebody please think of the children?
It is not the media’s job to praise the president—any president. And yes, it is fair to take note when Trump embraces the perspective of murderous tyrants. Trump is, objectively, a pathological liar, way-past-the-borderline sociopath, and terrible president. Reporting that makes this clear will withstand even the most rigorous fact-checking.
A president who dubs the press “the enemy of the people” and leads the harassment of reporters at his rallies does not deserve to be treated with kid gloves, or even with respect. US media outlets will not regain the trust of the American people—or deserve it—unless they are willing to stand up for themselves while shining an unrelenting bright light on the unmitigated disaster that is the Trump presidency. Massing is on a fool’s errand to insist that this singularly unbalanced president be treated with balance.
Managing Editor, The Progressive
Michael Massing opines that the “Trump effect” is pushing aside many other urgent stories and that the right-wing populist wave needs to be dissected, not merely decried. Good grief! I was born under FDR and have never seen anyone like the “divisive, xenophobic, mendacious, and volatile” Trump (to borrow Massing’s words) anywhere, let alone in the White House! The right has dreamt up “Trump Derangement Syndrome” to belittle people like me. Do I have to listen to a so-called liberal join in?