As The Plum Line‘s Greg Sargent says, “Conservative victimization routine is so tiresome.” Raise your hand if you agree. And it isn’t just the sense of persecution but that it’s all because we reject their blatantly false claims.
Even some conservatives have grown tired of Trump’s whining specifically, like Chuck Todd when having Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts” inflicted on him, or Fox News’ Chris Wallace when Reince Priebus said Trump had the larger crowd and “We’re not gonna sit around and take it.”
Wallace, no stranger to slinging lies himself, actually acted like a journalist and when Priebus insisted “there was” Wallace shot back with “There wasn’t,” and said, “You know what? Let’s put up the picture again.”
Trump not only claimed a bigger crowd than Obama but better inauguration ratings too:
Wow, television ratings just out: 31 million people watched the Inauguration, 11 million more than the very good ratings from 4 years ago!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2017
Of course, he only compared himself to Obama’s 2013 ratings, not his first (as The Hollywood Reporter tells us, “Second-term festivities, quite predictably, never have as much appeal as the first go around”) and for very good reason:
There are no "alternative facts." pic.twitter.com/Q7JB1dZnAx
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 22, 2017
That is the number that really mattered, not 2013, just as it is the 2009 photos that matter when we speak of Trump’s inauguration.
In the wake of Sean Spicer’s bizarre statement yesterday on crowd size, Margaret Sullivan observed that “the traditional way of reporting on a president is dead. And Trump’s press secretary killed it.” No longer able to rely on statements from the White House, other means must be found:
White House press briefings are “access journalism,” in which official statements — achieved by closeness to the source — are taken at face value and breathlessly reported as news. And that is over. Dead.
Spicer’s statement should be seen for what it is: Remarks made over the casket at the funeral of access journalism.
As Jessica Huseman of ProPublica put it: “Journalists aren’t going to get answers from Spicer. We are going to get answers by digging. By getting our hands dirty. So let’s all do that.”
And by and large, that is how the media has reacted to Trump’s whining about crowd size and it is most definitely not what Trump wants the media to do: dig.
As Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert points out, negative attention is not always good attention:
Trump aides not very bright; by bitching abt crowd size they made made sure TV news plastered screens w/ MORE pics of protesters. (viai CNN) pic.twitter.com/ClXuu4oMsk
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) January 23, 2017
CNN’s Jim Acosta tweeted photos of workers installing coverings on the grass for Obama’s 2013 inauguration Spicer said in his statement didn’t exist, and another contradicting Spicer’s claims about the use of magnetometers somehow obscuring crowd size, when in fact, the Secret Service says no magnetometers were used.
This kind of thing can be expected to happen when you declare war on the press, and on CNN and Jim Acosta, in particular, (remember, Acosta was the guy Trump did not allow to ask a question) at his first press conference as president.
The New York Times even used the word “false” in their headline: “With False Claims, Trump Hits Media on Crowd Turnout.” Trump, of course, would like that to read “With Alternative Facts.” Not happening.
Trump wants to delegitimize the press, to press his “alternate facts” as a replacement for actual facts and to bully the media into accepting this, a not unreasonable expectation given how well he has managed the media so far, but he seems to have miscalculated just how much bullying they are willing to take.
He can attempt to throw Sean Spicer under the bus and has, but the media understood immediately what was taking place and who had put those words in Spicer’s mouth. That damage is done.
Sullivan wrote that “Some journalists, afterward, sounded stunned at what had transpired” and that such a reaction was “understandable” but the press should not have been surprised. If they had reported honestly about Donald Trump in the first place, they would have understood this was the logical next step of his war on the press.
They ignored Trump’s totalitarianism in favor of treating him with kid gloves and obediently attacking Hillary Clinton. It is to be hoped their’s are no longer eyes wide stupid, but wide open, seeing Trump’s lies as the authoritarian propaganda that it is.
Matthew Yglesias of Vox puts it like this:
“The genius of defining ‘the media’ as your administration’s political adversary is ‘the media’ won’t fight back. Don’t fall for it.” Trump did fall for it, and he paid for doing so this weekend.
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.