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The Media Can’t Recover Legitimacy Until It Stops Being Baited By Trump’s Empty Threats

The legitimate arguments the media make about the president’s treatment of them is overshadowed by their unhinged overreaction to the tweets and the jabs.


Anyone who values this country’s founding principles cherishes a free press, which is a pillar of our democracy. If our government takes actions to undermine the free press in any way, that would be un-American. Obviously, the key phrase is “if our government takes actions.”

The media had another meltdown this week after President Trump tweeted the following: “The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?”

The president was referring to a study conducted by the Media Research Center that found 90 percent of the network evening news programs gave negative coverage of this administration while only 9 percent of their coverage was positive between January and April. These numbers aren’t at all surprising, and neither was the media’s reaction to Trump’s tweet.

The White House Press Corps pounced on Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, with ABC News’ Cecilia Vega arguing that Trump’s tweet and advocating for a free press “don’t go together.”

MSNBC’s Steve Benen insisted “this isn’t how leaders of a free society are supposed to operate.” Playboy reporter Brian Karem cried from a soapbox on CNN, telling the president to “shut up and take his medicine.” And of course the White House Correspondents Association issued another yawn of a statement to rebuke the president.

Trump’s ongoing war with the media is toxic on both sides. Specifically with this tweet, he implied that every negative story that’s reported about his administration is “fake,” which is not true, and even Trump supporters should acknowledge that the truth matters whether it helps or hurts this president. From the mounting shadiness of Michael Cohen to the spending of Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, these controversies shouldn’t automatically be dismissed simply because the mainstream media reported them.

However, the legitimate arguments the media make about the president’s treatment of them is overshadowed by their unhinged overreaction to the tweets and the jabs. Trump has made these attacks against them for years now both as a candidate and as the commander in chief. Over and over again, Trump has branded numerous outlets as “fake news,” floated the idea of tightening libel laws, and, yes, suggested pulling press credentials. But to borrow a phrase from candidate Trump, he’s “all talk, no action.”

Aside from the hostile rhetoric, Trump hasn’t taken any action against the press. Folks in the mainstream media see themselves as holier than thou and assume they’re above criticism. Many refuse to acknowledge their inherent bias that favors Democrats and liberals, something that’s grown more and more undeniable for years and the American people have noticed.

Trump was the first GOP candidate to successfully weaponize media bias. He allowed their animosity towards him to aid his campaign. To this day, however, the media refuses to diagnose its own problems, which only benefits Trump.

What’s so astonishing about the media’s constant panic about this president was how silent they were about his predecessor’s abuses. Perhaps it’s selective amnesia, but President Obama was the one whose Department of Justice seized phone records from The Associated Press, targeted Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “co-conspirator,” and hacked the computer of CBS reporter Sharyl Attkisson. Obama wasn’t “all talk, no action.” Quite the contrary.

Obama never made such broad attacks against the mainstream media—mostly because they overwhelmingly treated him with kid gloves—yet he was the president who corrupted the DOJ against them. There’s a glaring double standard between their complicity in Obama’s actions and treatment of Trump’s non-actions today.

Trump’s constant smearing of the media isn’t healthy. That being said, the media’s constant knee-jerk reactions are also unhealthy. Trump’s most recent tweet was nothing more than another empty threat that’s solely meant to fire up the base. If the media wants to prevail in their battle against the president, they have to take a breath.