Esquire’s Pierce readily concedes that Ben Carson (“an elite neurosurgeon”) and Mike Pompeo (“graduated at the top of his class at West Point”) are smart guys. In a way, though, they’re also tragic figures, he suggests, since they’ve “had to tailor their politics and their public personae to cater to the anti-rational, theocratic, anti-intellectual Id of modern conservatism…This means that both Carson and Pompeo have long histories of saying and writing things that sound like transmissions coming through their molars from Planet X.”
Congressman John Lewis’s infamous interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd, smearing the president-elect as illegitimate, was the first segment aired on Meet the Press on Sunday. What’s apparent from the video is that not only did Lewis stick to his accusation, but Todd failed to push back at all. In one point he asked the congressman, “You're a man of action. You have been your whole life. You believe this president is not legitimate. What would you tell young folks, young activists to do?”
ABC had clearly picked sides in the fight between President-elect Donald Trump and Congressman John Lewis, who claimed Trump was an “illegitimate president,” during their Sunday morning programming. The network spent that time slamming Trump for his counterattack on the congressman, even tying it to Martin Luther King Jr. “You know, just five days before the inauguration and one day before MLK day,” noted Paula Faris on Good Morning America, “President-elect Donald J. Trump is doubling down in his war of words with the civil rights icon."
Things got messy on NBC’s Saturday Night Live as they demonstrated that BuzzFeed’s salacious claims of Russian blackmail were a hit piece against the President-elect. The show’s cold open was a recreation of Trump’s press conference from earlier in the week, with fake reporters asking ridiculous questions such as: “I would like to ask you about your big Russian pee pee party.” And it only went downhill from there as they took up Democratic Party talking points and targeted Kellyanne Conway’s looks.
There are predictable signs that after eight years of giving the problem inadequate attention and occasional ridicule, the business press has decided that federal budget deficits and the national debt are going to start to matter again. Gosh, I wonder why? The Associated Press's Christopher Rugaber was relatively subtle about it in a report on Uncle Sam's December and year-to-date budget deficits on Thursday. As would be expected, Paul Krugman wasn't subtle at all in his latest New York Times column.
Is it hasta la vista, baby, for the venerable White House daily briefing for the media? Way back there in 1955 James Hagerty, the press secretary for President Dwight Eisenhower, came to the conclusion that admitting television cameras to presidential press conferences Ike held in the Indian Treaty Room of the next-door to the White House Old Executive Office Building (now named for Eisenhower) was the future.
Critics from across the media spectrum have slammed BuzzFeed for publishing something they failed to corroborate, a 35-page dossier of smarmy allegations against Donald Trump that was assembled by a firm hired to do opposition research on the GOP candidate. But on CBS Saturday morning, Slate editor-in-chief Jacob Weisberg saluted BuzzFeed’s decision to disseminate the anti-Trump hit piece: “I’m glad BuzzFeed published it because I got to read it.”
ABC seemed to be holding out hope Thursday evening on World News Tonight that BuzzFeed’s salacious accusations against President-elect Donald Trump were true. “The Russians and Trump have angrily denounced the allegations as completely false, including the unverified claim that Trump was secretly recorded when he visited Moscow,” declared Brian Ross giving the impression that the president-elect was mistaken, “Trump says he knows better than to let that happen.”
Demonstrating the power of fake news to influence uninformed people, just-elected Democratic Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire brought up a thoroughly discredited Washington Post story at the Senate confirmation hearing for Former General John Kelly. President-Elect Donald Trump has nominated Kelly to be the nation's next head of the Department of Homeland Security. Hassan brought up the Post's story on a late-December "infrastructure" attack by "a hacking group connected with the Russian government" on a Vermont utility as if it was an established fact — which, of course, it's not.
Logic and proportion may be non-factors in media coverage of Donald Trump’s presidency, fears Lloyd Grove. In a Wednesday column, Grove opined that journalism “is in danger of passing through the looking glass, only to land in a menacing, topsy-turvy world, namely the White House Press Room…It’s likely to be [a] place where language will occasionally signify its opposite, and government spokespeople will declare, as Humpty Dumpty famously scolded Alice, ‘When I use a word, it means what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.’” The key to this process, indicated Grove, is the use of the term “fake news” as the “Trump administration’s rightwing-populist bludgeon to delegitimize the purveyors of real news.” Among Grove's expert witnesses: Dan Rather.
CNN's Jim Acosta and Brian Stelter blasted Donald Trump on Thursday's New Day over the President-Elect's treatment of the media at his Wednesday press conference. Acosta, who got in a face-off with Trump, expressed his "hope...that Donald Trump can get past this...'Clinton News Network, CNN sucks' mentality that we saw out on the campaign trail." Stelter bewailed how "the environment right now is so far from normal."
Unprecedented times bear unprecedented conflict, and the fog of conflict is often rife with rumor, speculation, and fake news. Such is the case in the denouement of Trump v. Univision, and it is important to unpack this story and separate the wheat from the chaff.