I know, you dislike the media. By “media” I mean the diverse conglomeration of people who bring you the news and profit by it, slightly. You don’t have to apologize. Almost everybody dislikes the media to some degree. Even I have my head-scratching moments.
You probably don’t “hate” the media, but dislike, yes. My father the lawyer used to tell me it gave him some comfort to know his son belonged to the only profession ranked lower in public esteem than his own. It made him feel a little better. So, dislike us. I am not offended.
Donald Trump naturally dislikes the media, too. In fact, for him it is fair to say hate is not too strong a term. He threw a massive televised tantrum Tuesday, lobbing names at reporters covering his campaign, emotions brought on because The Washington Post checked up on his bragged-on contributions to veterans. Apparently Trump is ready and willing to mention the millions contributed to veterans, while the veterans receive the contributions only after the media asks if Trump kept his promise.
“Instead of being like, ‘Thank you very much, Mr. Trump,' or ‘Trump did a good job,' everyone said: ‘Who got it? Who got it? Who got it?' “ Trump said. “And you make me look very bad. I have never received such bad publicity for doing a good job.”
He pointed to an ABC reporter and called him a “sleaze” and added, “And the people know the stories are false. I’m gonna continue to attack the press. Look, I find the press to be extremely dishonest. I find the political press to be unbelievably dishonest, I will say that.”
We in the media need not kid ourselves. Trump didn’t lose a single vote with this rant. There are plenty of people who agree with him. He’s been media bashing for months, to wild cheers from his adoring crowds, because they hate the media, too. Or they think they do. Or their mild dislike can be fanned into hatred easily enough. Sleaze all around.
I don’t really care what Trump says. This is just part of his technique, rooting out the disliked, the feared and the hated and taking sides. You hate them, and so do I, he says. Let’s all hate together. There are many targets of convenience. Next week he'll move on to somebody else.
I am frankly relieved. Had Trump expressed appreciation I would be losing sleep. The press in its proper role makes braggart politicians uncomfortable with simple scrutiny. Do they do what they say? Do they keep promises? Do they do good, or harm? What are their successes, and failures? Scrutiny makes Trump unhappy. A lack of praise he finds irritating. As long as he is irritated and unhappy, I’m more comfortable.
To generalize, many presidents or presidential candidates have not been big fans of the press. None were so blunt as Trump, but superficial politeness often failed to disguise distrust. Roosevelt, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Clinton, Bush and Bush all had their famous moments. Nixon of course had his enemies list. Reagan charmed strategically. Most were smart enough not to pick fights they knew they would lose. Trump can hate if he likes.
All the while the press, or the media, was doing its job, mostly, and we should give some thanks that politicians do not appreciate it. Sure, the media can be annoying, and there is sometimes bias evident, but our liberty would be in grave danger without those people.
I don’t think Hillary likes us either. Good.
Columnist Tracy Warner can be reached at (509) 665-1163 or firstname.lastname@example.org.