The MSM Still Thinks it Will Have Time to Cover Trump’s Policies Once He’s in Office

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CNN’s Brian Stelter asks whether it is time for a media “pause” after a “saturating” and “overwhelming” campaign season. This has become a question because rather than slow down post-election, the media cycle has “sped up even faster this month covering all things Trump.”

The reason: Trump’s unceasing twitter rants.

And then Stelter asks an ironic question, really, coming from the mainstream media, which completely ignored policies in order to focus on Trump’s statements:

“Is there too much focus on Trump the man, too little on his views and policies. Do his inflammatory tweets serve as a distraction?”

The answer would be yes and yes. However, Stelter addressed this question to his panel on Reliable Sources: former Time editor and Aspen Institute president Walter Isaacson, Vox’s Ezra Klein, and National Review Online’s Charles Cook, and their answers were illuminating, and expose the fact that having been played by Trump, they still do not understand who or what they are dealing with.

And that is a bad thing for all Americans, as the Fourth Estate is supposed to be a watchdog and not a lapdog, to the powerful.

Isaacson argued that Trump’s tweets are newsworthy, and he is right about that, and in saying that yes, the media should cover them. But then two things happened.

First, he then he told Stelter that “we’re gonna have a lot of time once he gets into office to start covering his policies.”

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And second, Stelter for some reason let this pass.

By the time Isaacson gets around to covering Trump’s policies, those policies may have excluded people like Isaacson from the White House.

And if the mainstream media had spent even a little time talking about his policies pre-election, we might not be, as Isaacson lamented, “wringing our hands” as November rolls into January.

Letting things pass unremarked makes you a propagandist, not a journalist.

Ezra Klein, on the other hand, admitted that the media was wrong not to focus on Trump’s policies:

“Look, I think we do need to do a better job covering Trump’s policies. I think that we made a mistake as an industry during the campaign. I think People tended to…take him seriously but not literally.”

Klein warned that we need to believe Trump “means what he says” and that “he will do what he says.”

Well, yes and no.

Trump did say he would drain the swamp. He is aiming for unprecedented levels of corruption instead. He also said he’d throw Hillary Clinton in jail. Now he says the Clintons are “good people.”

Yes, the media should have paid attention to Trump’s policies, and the problem all along was a lack of analysis, a lack of focus (from fake scandals about Clinton to real scandals about Trump), and a media willing to normalize, then as now, Trump’s shadier associations with foreign governments and with extremists on the right.

Klein worried that if we don’t start taking Trump seriously we will continue to be led around by his tweets and keep letting him off the hook. Letting him off the hook is kinda/sorta what Stelter did next by claiming Trump “moderated” some of his positions this week when all most of us saw was a man more out of control than ever.

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Charles Cooke explained that position changes are not surprising since “throughout the campaign, he put forward more than one position on almost every topic.” Cooke called him schizophrenic, both before and after the election.

To that point, Klein questioned whether Trump had moderated any positions at all since he tries to be seem more sympathetic during interviews. As Klein pointed out,

“So far, in the places where the rubber meets the road, which is appointments, we have not seen a softening. We have not seen him release new policy papers…he often says a lot of different things in interviews but overall the thrust of his policies has tended to remain pretty consistent.”

Trump, as president-elect and no doubt as president, presents many unique challenges. We live in an age of social media and we have in Trump a president who prefers social media to all other venues. He has not held a press conference since July 27.

Certainly, it would be difficult to argue that with a man like Trump, who lies 9 out of every 10 times he opens his mouth, whatever the venue, that journalists can decide which utterance deserves attention and which does not.

Unfortunately, whatever the media does now, however, they chose to respond to Trump, it will be a case of too little too late. The time to have asked questions, to have demanded answers, and to have put the spotlight on Trump’s policies was before the election.

Hillary Clinton presented very thorough and well-thought-out policy positions, and they were ignored in favor of baseless attacks not only by Trump but a mainstream media more interested in making a buck off his coverage than in discovering the truth.

What we’re seeing here from this panel is a failure to see the forest for the trees. It is not how Trump says things, but what he says, that is the problem. He is lying almost non-stop. Only belatedly did the media start to pay attention to these lies, preferring instead to play their false equivalency storyline until Rome had burned to ashes.

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The mainstream media fails to grasp even now that a threat from Trump is a threat in whatever form it is delivered. It could be argued the media does not need a break now as they already took one during the campaign when they should have been protecting our liberties.

The fact is, the mainstream media failed spectacularly with Trump and they haven’t learned a single thing from it.

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