In a late Friday post, the McClatchy news service freaked out over the revelation that Republicans and right-of-center strategists are gunning to make the 2018 midterm elections a referendum on liberal media bias, contrasted with the strategy of liberals and their media allies to focus on President Trump.
Written by reporters Alex Roarty and Lindsay Wise, the piece appeared as if the worst nightmares of CNN’s Dylan Byers will be coming to life:
Conservative radio hosts mock a physical assault on a reporter. A GOP governor blasts a reporter on Twitter as "a sick man." The president accuses the media of being an “enemy of the people.”
This is not run-of-the-mill Republican criticism of the press anymore. It is now a deliberate strategy to help GOP candidates win elections fueled by public hatred of reporters.
A party that traditionally has had a fraught relationship with the media has become outright hostile, led by a president who picks more fights with journalists than any GOP leader since Richard Nixon.
But interviews with Republican strategists and party leaders across the country reveal that what started as genuine anger at allegedly unfair coverage — or an effort to deflect criticism — is now an integral part of next year’s congressional campaigns.
What’s intriguing was that the piece appeared to paint the issue as having gained significance from out of nowhere, rather than having boiled over after decades of right-of-center politicians and voters feeling frustrated that their views were distorted, ignored, or maligned.
If anything, the conniptions and emotional meltdowns have gotten worse in the Trump era. CNN’s Jim Acosta’s daily rants in the White House Briefing Room or lectures at the Newseum that criticizing the media was un-American just scratch the surface, but provide just two personal examples in the last year.
Roarty and Wise continued on with their tone-deafness:
The hope, say these officials, is to convince Trump die-hards that these mid-term races are as much a referendum on the media as they are on President Trump. That means embracing conflict with local and national journalists, taking them on to show Republicans voters that they, just like the president, are battling a biased press corps out to destroy them.
The strategy certainly doesn’t mean literally fighting the media. The strategists interviewed say they don’t want their candidates imitating Republican candidate Greg Gianforte, who last month was charged with assaulting a reporter in Montana.
The pair also observed that “[t]he conservative base needed more of an enemy than the Democratic candidate to become engaged.” Hmm, perhaps it’s because of what many perceive to be a weak bench on the Democratic side and thus Republicans campaigning against the media? Just a thought.
Hilariously, the pair gave readers the very evidence they needed to see just how much credibility and influence their industry has:
And that anti-media approach is working among the Republican party’s most fervent supporters — the very voter bloc GOP candidates are eager to re-energize ahead of the 2018 elections. One May survey from Quinnipiac University found that 58 percent of voters disapprove of way the media covers Trump.
Opinions about the state of journalism are even worse. Last year, Gallup found confidence in mass media had dropped to 32 percent, the lowest in Gallup’s history of polling. And local media in many cities, once more popular than their national counterparts, have shrunk in size and influence, making them an easier target.
After a concluding thought that warned against the GOP overplaying their hand in with fighting the media, Roarty and Wise failed to grasp the notion that the media bias strategy was successfully waged throughout the 2016 election.
Whatever Acosta, NBC’s Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd, or Brian Williams may think, attacking the media did in fact work for the Trump campaign as he rode that anger to the White House.
Speaking of Todd, Mediaite flagged down his hysterical freak-out to the piece. Todd complained on Twitter on Monday morning that this strategy of fighting media bias was “[p]athetic and self defeating [sic].”
“I'm sorry for the smart GOP strategists that get talked into this garbage,” Todd added.