The hate/hate relationship Donald John Trump has with the media has baffled me from the beginning of his presidency.
You see, the man ought to be thanking the media for the role they played in advancing his presidential candidacy. It hasn’t worked out that way. He has become the media’s Enemy No. 1. And how? Because he fired the first shot in the war.
The media’s making of a presidential candidacy became evident from the candidate’s first day on the campaign trail. He rode down that elevator at Trump Tower in June 2015 and a “love affair” was born.
Trump made outlandish statements from Day One. The media didn’t challenge him. The media seemed reluctant to call the candidate what he was: a liar.
When he announced his plan to ban Muslims from entering the country, he said he witnessed “thousands of Muslims cheering” the collapse of the Twin Towers; he didn’t witness any such thing. He said he lost “many friends” in the Twin Towers; he didn’t lose any friends.
Did the media challenge him in real time for the lies he told? No. They generally let them ride.
Prior to his running for the first public office he ever sought — the presidency — Trump loved the media exposure as long as it promoted his business ventures. He loved the media as well. He chummed around with media moguls.
Eventually, and it took a while, the media began to wise up to how the candidate was playing them. They started, um, doing their job.
It’s been said that the media should “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” That’s what they do. It’s part of their charge as professionals. Trump is among the more, uh, comfortable people in public life; he kept telling us how fabulously wealthy he is. And smart, too.
It’s gone downhill ever since. His election as president has turned the one-time media lover into a media hater. He labels the media as the “enemy of the American people.” His standard retort to anything he deems negative is to call it “fake news.” Trump commits the unconscionable act of singling out individual reporters and the news organizations they represent. He lies continually and the media keep calling him out.
It truly is an amazing turn of events. The president of the United States has declared war on the very institution he needs to inform the public of whatever message he wants to deliver.
Every single one of the president’s predecessors has experienced difficulty with the media during their time in the office Trump now occupies. They all understood something that Trump ignores: The media kept them accountable for their actions.
The media are doing now what they should have been doing from the very beginning of this guy’s campaign for the presidency.