If you thought the corporate media’s many embarrassing failures over the past four years covering President Trump might have chastened them or caused them to question their aggressive and inveterate dishonesty, well, think again.
All the political press seems to have learned from the Trump era is that incessantly attacking the president, even routinely lying about him and his administration, brings rich rewards — book deals, cable news contracts, speaking gigs, Twitter followers, compliments from George Takei, and in McKay Coppins’ case, an appearance on “The Daily Show.”
Coppins, a staff writer at The Atlantic known for writing about Mitt Romney, admits as much in a recent column that’s purportedly about the impending breakup of the anti-Trump “Resistance” and the media but is really about how his own negative coverage of Trump was widely-read and opened up many wonderful opportunities for him.
But plaudits aside, what are Coppins and his comrades in the corporate press going to do now that Trump is leaving office? This is truly a conundrum, Coppins tells us, because, again, his own coverage of Trump, in case you didn’t know, was widely-read.
To find out, Coppins asks some of the most deceitful and self-absorbed media hacks what their plans are for post-Trump coverage. It should not surprise you, dear reader, to learn that they don’t plan to cover the Biden administration with the same hysterical mendacity they applied to the Trump administration. They were quite honest about it with Coppins.
For example, CNN’s Jim Acosta, made famous — infamous, really — during Trump’s term by staging temper tantrums during White House press briefings, told Coppins, “I don’t think the press should be trying to whip up the Biden presidency and turn it into must-see TV in a contrived way.” Presumably, that means he doesn’t plan to grandstand during press briefings, violate rules of decorum, spout personal opinions as though they’re questions, interrupt and argue with the president, or belligerently refuse to give the mic back to White House staffers. When he did that in 2018, the White House pulled his press pass, and the media treated Acosta like a martyr.
Acosta told Coppins that Trump’s criticism of the press constituted a “nonstop national emergency,” so his antics and on-camera preening were justified. “If being at the White House is not an experience that might merit hazard pay,” he said, “then perhaps it is going to be approached differently.” Only a prima donna like Acosta would characterize working the White House beat as meriting “hazard pay” simply because he has to endure being called “fake news” by Trump — and rightly so.
But Acosta’s not alone in the partisan double standard he’ll bring to his post-Trump coverage of the White House. CNN’s “fact check” guy, Daniel Dale, told Coppins, “It will not be a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week job to fact-check Biden,” because, he explained, Biden doesn’t lie as often as Trump. One wonders how Dale knows this without, you know, fact-checking Biden, who actually has a remarkable penchant for lying, most recently lying over and over again about his knowledge of his son Hunter Biden’s corrupt overseas business deals.
No matter, because for Dale, fact-checking Trump was never about checking facts but about pushing an anti-Trump narrative. Dale was humiliated back in September after claiming Trump never received a “Bay of Pigs” award from a veterans group because no such award exists. In a clumsy bit of legerdemain, Dale tried to argue that Trump received an endorsement from the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association but not an award. The Trump campaign immediately corrected Dale by tweeting a photo of Trump accepting the award from the group, a hand-painted Brigade 2506 shield.
Here's the award. It's a hand-painted Brigade 2506 shield.
— Trump War Room (@TrumpWarRoom) September 13, 2020
But Dale doubled down on his “fact check,” insisting the shield was not an award, which prompted the Trump campaign to release a letter from the group clarifying that it is in fact an award:
It was with great satisfaction that we read President Donald J. Trump’s Twitter mentioning the event in which the Veterans Association-Brigade 2506 presented a recognition award, consisting of the emblem used by our patriots during the battle of the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Cuba, 1961.
The award was presented to President Trump for the purpose of recognizing his political and social platform, which is in line with the conservative beliefs of our organization and his objectives of ending totalitarian regimes, drug and human trafficking and human rights abuses in our hemisphere and beyond.
When it comes to Biden, we’ve already had a preview of how Dale plans to hold the president-elect to account. In August, Dale furiously argued that Biden was not proposing to ban assault rifles, only to be contradicted by Biden himself, who endorsed an assault weapons ban in September.
— Stephen L. Miller (@redsteeze) September 14, 2020
Coppins also spoke with Yamiche Alcindor of “PBS NewsHour,” a woke “reporter” with a long track record of partisan commentary and hostile, often silly questioning. Alcindor has had many embarrassing episodes covering the Trump administration, for which she has, no surprise, been lauded by her peers.
She once accused U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who is black, of racism. She tried — and failed — to fact check Trump’s claim that rioters burning down U.S. cities were anarchists, saying the president had “no evidence” despite mountains of evidence that many of the rioters were in fact anarchists. She even once asked Trump if being a “nationalist” meant that he supported “white nationalism,” a question Trump correctly dismissed as racist.
— CSPAN (@cspan) November 7, 2018
For Alcindor, this posture toward the Trump White House was entirely appropriate, she told Coppins, because, “When something is racist, we should just say it’s racist,” and, “When someone is lying, we should just say they’re lying.”
Perhaps the only journalist Coppins spoke to who answered with a shred of honesty and self-awareness was New York Magazine’s Olivia Nuzzi, who, like Coppins, has been rewarded for her biased coverage of the Trump campaign with a major book deal, TV appearances, and the approval of her equally biased peers. “There is kind of this temptation to satisfy the resistance with worldview-confirming reporting chum,” she said, adding that, “It didn’t really require any special bravery to report honestly and critically on Donald Trump.”
No, it sure didn’t. For that matter, it didn’t require any special bravery to report dishonestly and hyperbolically on Trump, either. But Nuzzi knows what she’s talking about. She admitted that constantly slamming Trump makes you popular in D.C. and that it won’t be the same covering Biden. “On a purely social level, I don’t know that reporting critically on Joe Biden will feel as safe for reporters,” she told Coppins. “You’re not going to get yass queen–ed to death.”
Reading through these responses, you can almost feel the sense of disappointment and ennui settling in. For Coppins and his fellow corporate media stars of the Resistance, the years ahead indeed look bleak. They might be widely-read right now — as Coppins is at pains to remind us — but how can they sustain their importance and prestige under Biden? How will they continue to be a big deal? How will they get book deals? And how on earth will Coppins ever get invited back on “The Daily Show”?
There’s really only one hope for these people: Trump in 2024.