The media hastily have distanced themselves from their projections of street brawls and naked partisanship at the Salute to America event following a largely patriotic, unobjectionable July 4 speech by President Trump. Since TV news audiences are unlikely to hear talking heads acknowledge their numerous false predictions, here is a reminder of the worst of the bunch — ranging from the cynical to the absurd.
Watch: Worst of The Media's False Doomsday Predictions
The common line across broadcast and cable news alike was that President Trump would give something akin to a campaign rally speech. “You will hear criticism of his critics; you will hear a celebration of self in terms of how he sees his accomplishments,” declared New York Times White House correspondent and CNN analyst Maggie Haberman during July 3's New Day.
Later that day on ABC’s World News Tonight, correspondent Stephanie Ramos touted the possibility that Trump was “turning a traditionally non-partisan event into a Trump-focused campaign-style rally.” Meanwhile, MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell referred to the event as “Donald Trump’s campaign rally in Washington, paid for by the American taxpayer.”
News personalities also worried that the military parade had totalitarian undertones, taking the opportunity to compare the President to various authoritarian dictators for the ten millionth time. “The President’s vision bears a closer resemblance to the chest-thumping displays put on by authoritarian regimes,” spat MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on July 3’s Hardball.
Matthews also foresaw Trump supporters causing violence and chaos in the streets of D.C.:
A lot of people are gonna show up who are pro-Trump. They’re gonna have their Confederate flags flying and their license plates and all kinds of trouble making. There’ll be a lot of other people, they’re gonna meet like in a storm, and you’re gonna have a real conflict.
Perhaps the most absurd concerns about the event were voiced by Esquire writer Charlie Pierce, who appeared to worry that tanks would be falling into the Potomac. “The speech is gonna be dreadful, and there’s all kinds of catastrophes. They’re not sure if the bridges over the Potomac can handle the tanks,” Pierce pontificated on the July 2 All In. He also implied that some unspecified disaster might befall F-35 pilots during their scheduled flyover, citing “the inability to eject” from the plane “without beheading yourself.”
Undeterred by the President’s nonpartisan speech, the media have begun focusing on one of his verbal fumbles, wherein he referenced “airports” during the Revolutionary War, in their search for something wrong with the celebration. One wonders whether they’d have preferred for their predictions to come to fruition; they’d certainly have more ammunition to declare the event an abject failure that way.