Washington’s cabal of political reporters were filled with self-righteous indignation this week after Donald Trump ripped into them Tuesday morning.
Clearly irritated from the moment he began taking questions, Trump appeared to take great pleasure in refuting oft-repeated claims that there was something fishy about his efforts to raise money for vets.
From the moment Trump skipped a January debate to hold a separate fundraiser for the nation’s war veterans, dozens of stories have been written and broadcast questioning the integrity of the charitable effort. On Tuesday, Trump slowly read out a long list of charities and the exact amount each one had received, his disdain for the press obvious even before he began making pointed comments about them.
“You’re a sleaze,” he told one ABC reporter in the pool. To a CNN reporter, he said sarcastically: “You’re a real beauty.”
He labeled the majority of the political press “unbelievable dishonest” and said they “should be ashamed of themselves.”
If their reaction is anything to go by, they aren’t.
Instead, they have retreated into their collective corner, treating Trump’s tirade as a declaration of war. What they don’t seem to understand is that the war began long ago. And that they started it.
“Any American political candidate who attacks the press for doing its job is campaigning in the wrong country,” said Thomas Burr, the president of the National Press Club.
How lofty. How idealistic.
If the press was “doing its job,” Trump would have nothing to complain about. Either the stories would have been different or Trump’s deceit would have been exposed for the world to see. But that didn’t happen. Trump proved that his operation was legitimate, transparent, legal, and (most importantly) had the kind of real-world, positive impact that few political reporters could ever hope to achieve. In doing so, he provided stinging evidence to back up his central claim: Namely, that the media has been irresponsibly biased in their coverage of his campaign.
For the press to deny this reality…well, it shows you just how opaque their bubble really is. They don’t see themselves as conniving liberals, manipulating the public in a systematic effort to elect Democrats. They see themselves as warriors for truth. The problem isn’t that they’re bad people; the problem is that they are so caught up in the echo chamber that they no longer realize that much of what they consider “truth” is, in fact, just an opinion.
Speaking of delusion, take a look at the press release from the Pro-Hillary super PAC Correct the Record:
“Trump’s failure to face even the tiniest amount of media scrutiny about his supposed support for America’s veterans exposes just how unqualified he is to be our country’s commander in chief.”
This quote was printed in the New York Times story on Trump’s press conference. If the article was being written objectively, the writer’s next sentence would almost have to include a comment on the irony of holding HILLARY CLINTON OF ALL PEOPLE up as an example of how to face media scrutiny.
But they didn’t mention it. They simply used it as a segue to their conclusion, which insinuated that Trump was too arrogant to submit to criticism. Which, in turn, insinuates that Correct the Record’s criticism is valid.
This is how media bias works. It doesn’t bash you over the head. It is subtle, cautious, and extremely tricky. It survives by hiding under a veneer of objectivity that’s usually just glossy enough to withstand scrutiny (which it is rarely subjected to, anyway). The one thing it can’t survive is the spotlight of attention. Because once you see the illusion, you can’t unsee it.
Trump provided that spotlight this week.
And the rats are running scared.