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Donald Trump’s Death Struggle With the Press

Alerting the press that he would deal with the birther issue at the opening of his new hotel, the Donald, after treating them to an hour of tributes to himself from Medal of Honor recipients, delivered.

“Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it. … President Barack Obama was born in the United States. Period.”

The press went orbital.

“Trump Gives Up a Lie But Refuses to Repent” howled the headline over the lead story in the New York Times.

Its editorial called Donald Trump a “reckless, cynical bully” spreading political poison in an “absurdist presidential campaign,” adding that Trump is the “ultimate mountebank” using a “Big Lie” that “made him the darling of the wing nuts and racists” and “nativist hallucinators.”

You get the drift.

While Trump’s depiction of the birther controversy was … inexact … there was truth in it. Obama’s campaign did charge the Clinton campaign with drawing press attention to that photo of Obama in traditional Somali garb. Apparently, Sid Blumenthal did push a McClatchy bureau chief to search for Obama’s birth records in Kenya.

Tim Kaine was wailing on Sunday about how “painful” Trump’s birtherism has been to African-Americans. And Democrats and the media are pledging not to let it go, but to exploit Trump’s attempt to “delegitimize” Obama’s presidency.

These are crocodile tears. Obama gave the game away Saturday night. At the Black Caucus’s annual gala, says the Washington Post, a “beaming” Obama “gleefully” had the attendees rolling in “laughter” over Trump’s concession. “With just 124 days to go,” mocked Obama, “we got that thing resolved.”

Many news organizations will go along with the game. For many appear to be all in on Clinton’s depiction of half of Trump’s supporters as a “basket of deplorables” who are “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic … haters.”

Yet one wonders. Do the major media understand that in their determination, bordering on desperation, to kill Trump, they are killing their credibility? And as they are losing credibility they are losing the country.

According to a new Gallup poll, distrust of the press has hit an all-time high. Half the nation’s Democrats still trust the media, but only one in three independents and one in seven Republicans, 14 percent, believe the media are truthful, honest, and fair.

When, early in his presidency, Obama jokingly referred to the White House Correspondents Association dinner as his political base, Americans now believe he was not exaggerating the case.

And the more the media vent their detestation of Trump, the more Trump’s supporters revel in their discomfort. “We love him most of all for the enemies he has made,” said backers of Grover Cleveland in 1884. Trump’s folks feel that way about the national press.

America’s media seem utterly lacking in introspection. Do they understand why so many people hate them so? Do they care? Are they so smugly self-righteous and self-regarding they cannot see?

Take the birther issue again. According to a January HuffPost/YouGov poll, an astonishing 53 percent of all Republicans, 30 percent of all independents, and even 10 percent of Democrats still believe Barack Obama was born outside the USA.

What does this say about the persuasiveness of the press?

Indeed, what does it say about the idea that universal suffrage is the best way to determine the leadership of a republic?

In 2016, America faces serious issues—a rising deficit and escalating debt, the explosion of entitlements, the resurgence of Russian power, Chinese military expansionism in the South and East China seas, North Korea’s development of nuclear missiles, and Afghanistan.

Now consider the issues that have transfixed the media this election season:

The birther issue, David Duke, the KKK, a Mexican-American judge, Black Lives Matter, white cops, the “Muslim ban,” the Battle Flag, the “alt-right,” the national anthem, Trump’s refusals to recant his blasphemies against the dogmas of political correctness, or to “apologize.”

What does the continual elevation of such issues, and the acrimony attendant to them, tell us?

America is bitterly and irreparably divided over race, ideology, faith, history, and culture, and Trump’s half of the nation rejects the modernist gospel that America’s diversity and multiculturalism are her greatest treasures.

To the contrary, Trump’s half wants secure borders, “extreme vetting” of immigrants, especially from the Mideast, and foreign and trade policies marked by an “Americanism” that seems to be an antonym for globalism.

They want America to be “great again,” and they believe she was once, and is not now.

No matter who wins in November, America is going to face a divide unseen in decades. If Donald Trump wins, he will confront a resident media more hateful than that which confronted Richard Nixon in 1968.

If Hillary Clinton wins, she will come to office distrusted and disbelieved by most of her countrymen, half of whom she has maligned either as “deplorables” or pitiful souls in need of empathy.

Not for half a century has the idea of “one nation under God, indivisible,” seemed so distant.

Patrick J. Buchanan is a founding editor of The American Conservative and the author of book The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose From Defeat to Create the New Majority [1].

15 Comments (Open | Close)

15 Comments To "Donald Trump’s Death Struggle With the Press"

#1 Comment By Janice Barrett On September 20, 2016 @ 7:38 am

Here is an article that looks at the interesting demographics of the Americans that are supporting Donald Trump:

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Mr. Trump’s supporters are just as angry with the Republican insiders as Bernie Sanders supporters felt about the Democratic Party leadership.

#2 Comment By Kurt Gayle On September 20, 2016 @ 8:55 am

On August 2nd in an op-ed piece in the Los Angeles Times Justin Raimondo called attention to the point that Pat Buchanan is making: “To fight Trump, journalists have dispensed with objectivity”:

“Why are the rules of journalism being rewritten this election year?…This transparent bias is a national phenomenon, infecting both print and television media to such an extent that it has become almost impossible to separate coverage of the Trump campaign from attempts to tear it down. The media has long been accused of having a liberal slant, but in this cycle journalists seem to have cast themselves as defenders of the republic against what they see as a major threat, and in playing this role they’ve lost the ability to assess events rationally. Any objective observer of the news media’s treatment of Trump can certainly conclude that reporters are taking a side in this election…The irony is that the media’s Trump bashing may wind up having the exact opposite of its intended effect.”

Five days later (August 7th) the New York Times in-house Mediator Jim Rutenberg conceded that media was anti-Trump, but tried to justify this bias: “Trump Is Testing the Norms of Objectivity in Journalism”:

“If you’re a working journalist and you believe that Donald J. Trump is a demagogue playing to the nation’s worst racist and nationalistic tendencies…you have to throw out the textbook American journalism has been using for the better part of the past half-century, if not longer, and approach it in a way you’ve never approached anything in your career. If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional. That’s uncomfortable and uncharted territory for every mainstream, non-opinion journalist I’ve ever known, and by normal standards, untenable. But the question that everyone is grappling with is: Do normal standards apply? And if they don’t, what should take their place? Covering Mr. Trump as an abnormal and potentially dangerous candidate is more than just a shock to the journalistic system. It threatens to throw the advantage to his news conference-averse opponent, Hillary Clinton…The candidate and his supporters are reprising longstanding accusations of liberal bias. ‘The media is trying to take Donald Trump out…’A lot of core Trump supporters certainly view it that way. That will only serve to worsen their already dim view of the news media…”

#3 Comment By SteveM On September 20, 2016 @ 9:40 am

Re: “America is bitterly and irreparably divided over race, ideology, faith, history, and culture”

Yeah, and those are divisions that are consciously amplified by the Crony Elites using the sclerotic MSM as their lapdog mouthpiece.

The reason? Diversions away from the issues that 99% America recognizes as being systemically busted. I.e., health care costs out of control. Higher education costs out of control. Warfare costs out of control. Invasive Security State costs out of control. Middle class imploding. A tax code that is pathologically busted. State and local governments essentially bankrupt with unpayable pension obligations.

Instead of addressing those existentially ominous issues, what do we hear instead from the Elite and the MSM? How Melania Trump made her way into the United States. Football players who sit for the National Anthem (Who cares what they do?), granting men in dresses access to women’s facilities.

It’s all a big con. While the Crony Elites generate the mindless froth, they continue to line their pockets. “Pay no attention to those oily men behind the curtain…”

BTW, here is an excellent essay by Philip Giraldi that incisively connects the dots of the “Deep State” pulling the levers.

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#4 Comment By Joe On September 20, 2016 @ 10:49 am

When will Trump reveal to the American public what his investigators found in Hawaii. Trump couldn’t “believe what they’re finding.”

#5 Comment By Karel On September 20, 2016 @ 12:14 pm

I have boycotted the propaganda media for years, totally discredited, biased reporting. Now, with the support of Bush 41 voting for the world-class crook, I am done with the “conservative republicans”, they are all the same elitists. Pat is right, we are, and will be, Balkanized for a long time to come.

#6 Comment By Kurt Gayle On September 20, 2016 @ 12:29 pm

Not only do mainstream journalists show consistent anti-Trump bias.

Many “conservative” journalists do as well.

And not only those “conservative” National-Review-type journalists who believe that globalization, immigration, and foreign military interventions are somehow conservative tenets.

Many other “conservative” journalists seem unable to accept the simple truth that a Hillary Clinton presidency would be an unmitigated disaster for the United States and therefore – Donald Trump’s warts, gaffes, and policy errors notwithstanding – we as conservatives have no reasonable alternative to supporting Trump’s election.

This is not to say that conservative journalists should stop taking Donald to the woodshed over areas of policy with which they disagree. We and candidate Trump need to hear principled criticism.

But there are “conservatives” who – to look at just one flagrant example at TAC — between January 1st and June wrote 107 anti-Trump columns, but only 7 about Hillary at all, and only two or three of those critical.

That’s not conservative journalism. That’s called getting the resume ready for the next mainstream media job interview.

#7 Comment By Joe the Plutocrat On September 20, 2016 @ 1:30 pm

“Do the major media understand that in their determination, bordering on desperation, to kill Trump, they are killing their credibility?” how ironic? others, in their desperation to venerate Trump are wagering their credibility? the media is not “killing” Trump. while much of Trump’s “toxic” rhetoric and behavior has the potential to kill him, like chemotherapy, he is willing to assume the risk, as he sees a potential reward. but seriously, the bigger irony is “where does the Donald Trump Foundation end and Donald Trump the “really rich” “successful businessman” brand begin? let’s cut to the chase. America is and for the most part always has been a Plutocracy. Trump, like most “successful businessmen” who were staked with a multimillion dollar inheritance, is an autocrat. there is no question in my mind he thinks his “success” in business will make him a successful POTUS. what concerns me is the portion of the American electorate who would risk a Trump presidency for the reward of a “anyone but Hillary” presidency. seriously, credibility left town when Trump announced his candidacy

#8 Comment By John S On September 20, 2016 @ 1:47 pm

Nobody loses credibility in attacking the buffoon Trump.

#9 Comment By Michelle On September 20, 2016 @ 1:50 pm

Oh please. The media have given Trump far more press than any other candidate in this election. His reality TV show approach to campaigning is perfect for a mainstream media that revels in sensationalism at the expense of in-depth, intelligent reporting. At least they actually called Trump out on his ridiculous birther lies. Most of the outrageous stuff he says is simply presented without question.

Trump has the media to thank for his rise. He’s played them well.

#10 Comment By Ken Zaretzke On September 20, 2016 @ 6:50 pm

Lest anyone think conservatives are exaggerating about media bias, consider my one-time experience as a letter-to-the-editor writer. The newspaper was the Seattle Times, the subject was “marriage equality,” and the year was 2012, months before a statewide referendum on the issue. The newspaper twisted my words around in the most transparently biased and editorially unjustified way. A sensible point suddenly became an idiotic or clueless point by a benighted opponent of “marriage equality.”

The media are as biased as can be, journalistic professional ethics be damned.

#11 Comment By kalendjay On September 20, 2016 @ 7:46 pm

Patrick, I hope your next essay will deal with the next progression of anti-establishment anger. That is, anger against The Rich, who have pushed around our lives. Haven’t you noticed?

The money to pay for the relentless assault on conservative values must come from somewhere, and it doesn’t really come from the sales of blinds and wrinkle cream on commercials. It comes from wealthy media owners.

Just as The Establishment has pushed fairy tales about free enterprise, free trade, and open borders, they are desperate to attack Thomas Piketty and whatever obscure economist attacks — OMG! — the unequal distribution of wealth!

But as they say, if money is your problem, you haven’t got a problem. The problem is what the Maher-Colbert coalition thinks it can buy with it.

And my how Tim Cooke, Bill Gates, Marc Zuckerberg, and Peter Thiel have risen to such heights as to oil my biceps!The only opinions that matter these days seem to come from the Rich. And what fast friends they seem to be on morality — for the rest of us.

#12 Comment By Jay L On September 20, 2016 @ 10:22 pm

When people believe in fairy tales is it any wonder that they don’t trust the press which daily reports things that they don’t believe. reality is a bitch.
Politicians have for decades kicked the can down the road on major issues and problems and we are now very close to the end of the road. All these years the voters have been told that other issues are more important and that the real issues are just something we will deal with later. Trust me I know. Just vote for me and everything will turn out just wonderful. You don’t need to worry I will fix it. We don’t need to talk about issues when my opponent is stupid or ugly or looks different from you and a best will raise your taxes. I can do wonders without any taxes and can build the greatest military ever make using only fairy dust.

So most people are glad to continue living in the fairy tale until their job disappears or some other disaster happens to them. But if you are poor or unlucky its your fault you were either lazy or an immigrant took your job.
And everyone else lived happily ever after and didn’t need to think about all those nasty issues.

#13 Comment By Dean Esmay ن​ (@deanesmay) On September 21, 2016 @ 8:16 am

As uncomfortable as I have been with Trump, his declaration of war against the mainstream media and the fact that he’s gaining anyway is a sign that the controlled media is losing its grip.

#14 Comment By Stephen Gould On September 22, 2016 @ 5:23 pm

If the media were intelligently against Trump, he’d have been sunk long before now – and quite rightly so. But much of their coverage has been more along the lines of “look what this wacko has said this time”.

At least now the WaPo has started doing creditable research into Trump, but he’s not yet faced the kind of scrutiny HRC has faced.

At least one conservative friend of mine complained bitterly about how the MSM were letting Trump off the hook during the primaries – though he seems to have forgotten that judging by his pro-Trump FB posts. (Were I a village Trump, I would have said at the time, “many many people have called me to let me know how unhappy they are”, etc. etc.)

WRT Trump in particular, people – particularly his supporters – appear to judge biased coverage by numbers. If Trump utters 5 major lies in a speech, and HRC one (the ratio is far higher than 5:1, btw), they will accuse the press of bias if only 3 are reported and criticised, because HRC is only being criticised for 1.

The real problem is that Trump is so mendacious and dishonest that accurate coverage appears biased.

#15 Comment By bacon On September 23, 2016 @ 5:02 am

Mr. Buchanan, I and everyone I know who knows who you are categorize you as a well paid member of the media and a man with a curiously lingering affection for Nixon, who most remember as a paranoid drunk in the months preceding his resignation. You’re not exactly an outsider here.

In re the birther business, I say a major political party in a country with as much lingering racism as exists in the US that can’t prevent the election twice of a black Moslem Kenyan doesn’t have much going for it.