Can The Mainstream Press Recover From Going All-In On Trump-- And Missing?
At best, Donald Trump has a postal-code standard when it comes to the truth. If he feels he’s in the neighbourhood of a fact, that’s usually good enough for the Bombastic One.
So, his (former) lawyer Michel Cohen being wiretapped became Trump being wiretapped. Or Kim Jong Un agreeing to free hostages in North Korea becomes peace in our time. There’s a grain of truth in there, but it’s mixed in with some hot air. Hyperbole is baked into any consideration of Trump truth.
Or, it should be. He has a low bar. Except that, in their mania to destroy POTUS 45, the media has decided to go low along with the president. This week’s exposure of CNN’s duplicity shows how that mania is destroying the media’s role as a mainstream broker of truth.
CNN reporters Carl Bernstein and Jim Sciutto (a former Obama administration lackey) reported that Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen was going to tell investigators that Trump lied about knowing beforehand about a meeting between alleged Kremlin operatives and his son, Donald Junior, during the 2016 election. The source was anonymous, and Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis was said to have refused comment.
The purported gotcha sent Trump Derangement sufferers into orbit for the umpteenth time. “This time we’ve got him!” said devotees of his demise. Other major news sources such as the Washington Post and New York Post picked up the story. The Hillary Clinton inaugural parade was back on.
Except none of it was true. Cohen said nothing like that had happened with Trump. The anonymous source was, in fact, Lanny Davis, who soon admitted he’d made up a whopper to keep Bernstein and the boys on speed dial. The other outlets quickly disavowed their big scoops.
But not CNN, which has fallen to a poor third in the cable-news ratings wars. They doubled down, saying they had other sources (although who might be a better source than Cohen or Davis is a mystery). They stood by their story that something nefarious must’ve happened because… Trump.
It soon became clear that the network was largely selling its integrity to protect the played-out reputation of Bernstein, he of Watergate fame, who’s been reduced to a man shouting at clouds of late. As of this writing, CNN is still trying to finesse the facts to avoid the inevitable moment when it has to admit defeat and, maybe, punish those who damaged what’s left go their reputation.
Were it an isolated incident one might shrug it off. But CNN has already had to fire prominent producers and reporters for other fake stories. (ABC had to dump reporter Brian Ross for similar reasons) And since Trump's win in November 2016, mainstream journalists have woven a cloak of deception, shoddy reporting and outright lies.
Such as the coordinated 2017 story featured on many left-wing publication and networks that Trump’s son was told in advance about the leak of DNC documents. Surprisingly all had a copy of the same memo showing a date— a date that later proved to have been deliberately altered to ensnare the leakers of it and the leak recipients. Oh, CNN was in on that blooper, too.
Let’s review a few more of the many highly advertised BLOCKBUSTERS hurled at the public to end the Trump era— but that ended up as popcorn farts. Often without any acknowledgement of error.
*Trump’s Golden Showers episode in Moscow (Buzzfeed)
*Former campaign advisor Carter Page being offered shares in an energy company in Moscow (NYT)
*Michael Cohen on a secret mission in Prague with Russian officials (McGlatchy)
*Another former Trump advisor, George Papadopoulos, wearing a wire to incriminate Trump and his inner circle (NBC, NYT)
*Trump having secret backchannel with Alfa Bank (NYT)
*Former advisor Michel Flynn testifying about campaign collusion and offering Russians a deal on sanctions (ABC)
*Secret meetings between former Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci and Russians (CNN)
*Trump/Deutsche Bank (WSJ/Bloomberg)
*Trump removing bust of Martin Luther King from Oval Office (Time)
*Collapse of stock market due to Trump economic policy (many)
*Trump small hands photo (The Observer)
We could go on, but you get the idea. Gaffes galore. Part of the fault, of course, lies with Trump’s wandering story lines about ex-lovers and business associates. While the MSM has had a very fungible standard on Hillary Clinton guilt or Obama malfeasance (his administration paid a record $375 K in fines for illegal election campaign finances), it has adopted a very exacting standard on Trump statements that he often stumbles over.
As Trump’s solid polling shows, these fulminations of the press bounce off his supporters. In fact, they seem to love it when the president outrages the prince and princesses of the press. The more heated the invective from Carl Bernstein or Jim Sciutto, the better they like it.
No wonder Trump’s personal polling remains rock solid despite the protestations of Bernstein and Sciutto and the rest of the DEMs impeachment tying squad and the pals in the GOP Never trump wagon. They believe that just one more egregious Trump failing will have to send his base scurrying back to their bosom.
As has been pointed out, Trump will be gone from the White House in two six years. But the media will remain in their tattered rags of credibility. They seem convinced today that it will all be worth breaking some journalistic eggs to get a Trump impeachment omelette.
The proof that meal will be in a very cold and distasteful eating.
Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy is the host of the podcast The Full Count with Bruce Dowbiggin on his website is Not The Public Broadcaster (http://www.notthepublicbroadcaster.com). He’s also a regular contributor to Sirius XM Canada Talks Ch. 167. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author whose new book Cap In Hand will be available this fall.