This is what America has gotten itself into. It is being reported that President-elect Trump raged at NBC News because they showed photographs of his multiple chins during their campaign coverage.
NPR reported, “Trump lit out after Zucker, criticizing his former business partner (Zucker was head of NBC during Trump’s Apprentice franchise on the network) for CNN. He turned then to NBC, saying it was the worst, criticizing its reporters, and saying it could not even come up with a flattering picture to broadcast. His complaint: the network’s photographs showed him with multiple chins. NBC President Deborah Turness replied that wasn’t true – NBC right now is using a photograph that shows Trump in very flattering way, she said. Trump also criticized a reporter who he said was in the room who had moderated a debate but who he had been told was very upset when Clinton lost. Presumably that was a reference to ABC’s Martha Raddatz or NBC’s Lester Holt.”
There is a ton of spin surrounding this meeting, but the basic fact is that Donald Trump used the meeting to criticize the press. Trump continues to believe, quite possibly correctly, that if he complains enough, he will continue to get positive coverage.
This is not how the Fourth Estate/Executive Branch dynamic is supposed to work, but we are talking about a president-elect who appears to be so shallow that he complained to a television network about the fact that his double chins were shown.
The complaints that Trump is voicing about the press coverage echo those heard in countries with authoritarian regimes where the press is expected to only portray the country’s leader as perfect and strong.
Trump’s gripes may seem petty, but they reveal what he thinks the press/president relationship should be. The DC press consistently complained about limitations to access over the past eight years, but the Obama years may end up looking like a paradise of press freedom in comparison to what Trump is expecting.
It can’t be said often enough. In a meeting where the president-elect was supposed to be working on his future relationship with media, Trump complained about his double chins being shown on television.
Journalists better prepare for a fight, because if the Trump standard for press freedom is only coverage that makes him look good, the First Amendment will be under assault.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association