The New York Times has has called Donald Trump a liar, and they’re not alone. This is a big deal. Gail Collins in her new column asks of the events that got us to this point, “How did we get to this place, people?” It is a conundrum to be sure. Not what Trump did, but that the mainstream media helped him do it.
As Newsweek‘s Kurt Eichenwald said in a tweet, “In 8th yr of a Democrat’s presidency, the Republican nominee announces to the press that the president was born in USA. Are we in a movie?”
It seems like it. But movies are better scripted. More believable. There is an internal coherence to movies lacking in the opportunistic Trump campaign. And there is no doubt that the mainstream media stuck its collective head up its nether regions when Trump announced his con, or rather his candidacy (they are indistinguishable), and steadfastly refused to remove it.
What do I mean? Let Paul Krugman describe this state of affairs:
All along he has treated the news media with contempt, and been rewarded with obsequious deference — his lies sugar-coated, described as “disputed” or “stretching the truth,” while every aspect of his opponent’s life is described as “raising questions” and “casting shadows”, despite lack of evidence that she did anything wrong.
For example, fellow rich guy Mark Cuban is pushing for an interview with Trump, and Eichenwald says much as he appreciates that move, “it makes my heart bleed to know he had to take over reporters’ roles.”
Speaking of cable news people, The Washington Post‘s Greg Sargent tweeted,
Donald Trump once again urinates on the cable nets, and once again they hold out cups to catch the precious fluids.
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) September 16, 2016
And Eichenwald added his disdain of TV reporters:
I truly believe Trump could stand up at a press conference, do nothing but jingle his keys, & TV reporters would spend 7 days analyzing it.
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) September 17, 2016
Some journalists, like Sargent, Eichenwald and CNN’s Brian Stelter have realized this and begun to push back. But is it enough, and is it too late? Sargent isn’t hopeful, if his analysis of yesterday’s events are any judge:
After carefully considering today's events & pondering the collective response to them, I've figured out what it all means.
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) September 16, 2016
On the other hand, when did we ever see the media speak of its own this way before? Or of Trump?
And Krugman, who suggested this morning that “The Matt Lauer debacle may have helped bring things into focus,” references AP and The New York Times, which was forced by Trump’s antics to come out and actually call Donald Trump a liar of long standing. As Krugman says, “I suspect Donald Trump is feeling a bit sandbagged right now.”
Trump may well wake up to a different reality today, one he also responsible for, even if it is the opposite of the one he has worked so hard to create. You want hope? The Atlantic‘s James Fallows put it nicely:
“End of days: even Fox is blasting Trump on birtherism right now.”
Or, as Mother Jones’ David Corn put it, “Maybe Donald Trump shouldn’t try to shoot anyone on Fifth Avenue tonight.”
Donald Trump is trying to play the hero in all this, but the mainstream media, for a change, is not letting him get away with it.
The Washington Post made Trump’s dishonesty a headline, “Trump admits Obama born in U.S. but falsely blames Clinton for starting rumors,” and The Boston Globe reported of Trump’s “falsely accusing rival Hillary Clinton of spawning the so-called birther controversy in 2008.”
Gail Collins nails it when she Hillary’s biggest problem is that “the public thinks she’s dishonest” when, in fact,
“What we have here is a candidate for president of the United States who makes stuff up all the time, but is either incapable of realizing that he’s telling a lie, or constitutionally unable to take blame for being untruthful.”
The mainstream media has to accept blame for this Trump’s distortion of reality. The evidence now is that the mainstream media is waking up to the truth. Not every reporter is still eager to hold a cup out to catch Trump’s fluid, and the question Krugman asks is, “will this last, and if it does, has the turn come soon enough?”
We won’t know until it happens, but he asks a question we will all no doubt be asking, and that is, “just imagine how different this election would look if we’d had this kind of simple, factual, truly balanced (as opposed to both-sides-do-it) reporting all along.”
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.