I previously was highly critical of President Donald Trump for his reposting a video from his appearance at a professional wrestling bout that was altered to look like he was beating down CNN. With the rising anger and attacks directed at the media, the posting was irresponsible and inflammatory. While I have criticized some in the media for open bias in its attacks on Trump, I have been alarmed by his attacks on the press. Undeterred, Trump again reposted an item this morning that featured a cartoon of CNN being hit by a train. Some people have said that this is outrageous after the car attack in Charlottesville. I think the objection should be directed at the pattern of images of press being beaten or run down by this President. The free press has helped guarantee civil liberties and good government in this country for over two hundred years. Unlike much of the world, we have an independent media that is a constant check on the abuses and corruptions of government. Trump’s open antagonism for the press is alarming and at times reckless.
The image on top of the cartoon explains the purpose for its reposting: “Fake news can’t stop the Trump train.” Trump feels obviously aggrieved by the coverage of his Administration. I agree with the media has been openly oppositional at times. While lionized for his confrontations at the White House, CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s interaction with the President this week was more of an advocate than a journalist — as was his confrontation with Stephen Miller. That is not to say that he did not have valid concerns, but the direct challenges and assertions from the media pool can dangerously blur the lines between commentary and coverage.
I get the cartoon. Trump is saying that he will plow through the bad media. However, presidents have to show a modicum of restraint. He has millions of followers that he is whipping up into a frenzy against the media. That can be a dangerous mix, particularly when you again isolate CNN for such images. Moreover, President Trump has consistently ignored his contribution to bad press. Although there is a clear bias in much of the reporting and increasing negative spin given stories, the press is generally covering valid stories and missteps. Referencing the possibility of a military intervention in Venezuela or Donald Trump Jr. willingly setting up a meeting purportedly to receive dirt from Russia were not missteps or machinations of the media. To use the cartoon theme, this first year has been a train wreck for this Administration and the cause has not been media coverage.