Jay Rosen, Press Think, September 17, 2017
Most every journalist who covers Trump knows of these things:Comments:
1. He isn't good at anything a president has to do. From the simplest, like pretending to help out in flood relief, to the hardest: making the call when all alternatives are bad. (We're told he can be charming one-on-one. So maybe that's his one skill.)
2. He doesn't know anything about the issues with which he must cope. Nor does this seem to bother him.
3. He doesn't care to learn. It's not like he's getting better at the job, or scrambling to fill gaps in his knowledge.
4. He has no views about public policy. Just a few brute prejudices, like if Obama did it, it was dumb. I do not say he lacks beliefs — and white supremacy may be one — but he has no positions. His political sky is blank. No stars to steer by.
5. Nothing he says can be trusted.
6. His "model" of leadership is the humiliation of others— and threat of same. No analyst unfamiliar with narcissistic personality types can hope to make sense of his actions in office.
It's not like items 1-6 have been kept secret. Journalists tell us about them all the time. Their code requires that. Simultaneously, however, they are called by their code to respect the voters' choice, as well as the American presidency, of which they see themselves a vital part, as well as the beat, the job of White House reporting. The two parts of the code are in conflict.
If nothing the president says can be trusted, reporting what the president says becomes absurd. You can still do it, but it's hard to respect what you are doing. If the president doesn't know anything, the solemnity of the presidency becomes a joke. That's painful. If they can, people flee that kind of pain. In political journalism there is enough room for interpretive maneuver to do just that.
This is "normalization." This is what "tonight he became president" is about. This is why he's called "transactional," why a turn to bipartisanship is right now being test-marketed by headline writers. This is why "deal-making" is said to be afoot when there is barely any evidence of a deal.
What they have to report brings ruin to what they have to respect. So they occasionally revise it into something they can respect: at least a little.
Tweet today from David Fahrenthold: "It's not just Mar-a-Lago. Across @realdonaldtrump's biz, he is losing longtime event clients wary of his politics."
Why does he use the neutral term "wary of his politics" to describe why Mar-a-Lago clients canceled their events. Many of the cancellations were accompanied by explanations which made clear that these people weren't "wary" at all; they were disgusted and repulsed. So why did Fahrenthold use "wary"? Probably for the reasons in this article, including the habitual "respect" narrative journalists are trained to use when writing about the presidency. Journalists have to learn quickly how to stop doing that and to reprogram themselves to stop normalizing this president.
It's like they're waiting/looking for a construction/real estate guy to pivot into a heart surgeon. He can't and won't be who and what he is not. It's delusional/fantasy thinking for anyone to believe or hope otherwise and all who do contribute to sinking the ship and giving away the farm.
But all of these character traits were on display during the campaign – in fact, people who have had to deal with Trump have known these things about him for decades. The MSM could have made more of a point to cover that during the campaign ... Until the MSM comes to terms with its role in getting Trump elected, acknowledges how and why it bought into the Russian propaganda, and – above all – reforms how it covers political news, the MSM really can't be trusted.
The MSM will never do that. Trump made the MSM money, and continues to make money for them. He's made careers. The conservative infotainment industry hitched their star early to Trump, and every network and newspaper followed ...
The election was treated as celebrity journalism and a celebrity feud from the start. I'd argue that the 2000 election was treated the same way. ... How many stories were there about "Who is Hillary Clinton?" "Who is Donald Trump?" that informed readers and voters about their most basic accomplishments and history?
As George Will said a couple of months back on MSNBC, and I paraphrase, "Trump does not only not know what he doesn't know, he doesn't know what is to know something."