The other night I spent some time with Donald Trump. He had come to Cumberland Valley High School in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, a mere five or so miles up the road from my house.
The Trump rally was filled - completely - with thousands inside and outside thousands more waiting (in vain) to get in the door. Here’s what interested.
Never once - not once - did I hear Donald Trump mention the Khans, the now famous parents of a son killed in battle in Iraq. Even more to the point? In talking with many people in the audience before and after the rally, no one - say again not a single soul - mentioned the Khans. What I did hear from Trump was talk about jobs, trade, the economy, ISIS and more. Which was the talk from members of the audience when I spoke to many of them before and after the rally. They volunteered directly to me, conversation after another, their thoughts about ObamaCare, a sick child, jobs, trade ,pride in America, Hillary and so on.
And yet? Mysteriously when I returned home and turned on the television or checked on-line it seemed to be all-Khan all-the-time. As if Trump had spent the evening re-hashing the whole subject yet again. Which he had not.
In my conversation with Donald Trump himself he was upbeat, every bit as enthusiastic as his audience. Yet what was the media take on the Trump campaign this week? Here’s ABC’s Jon Karl:
“I am told that senior officials at the party are actively exploring what would happen if Trump dropped out. How to replace him on the ballot. They can’t force him out, he would have to go out voluntarily. And then it would be the 168 members of the RNC through a complicated process they would pick a new candidate.”
Over here at Politico was this headline:
Insiders to Trump: Drop out
'I’d rather take our chances with nearly anyone else than continue with this certain loser who will likely cost the Senate and much more,' said a New Hampshire Republican.
This media jewel began this way:
“Amid widespread chatter that Donald Trump could drop out of the presidential race before Election Day, Republican insiders in key battleground states have a message for The Donald: Get out.”
And over here at The Washington Post was this:
GOP reaches ‘new level of panic’ over Trump’s candidacy
“Turmoil in the Republican Party escalated Wednesday as party leaders, strategists and donors voiced increased alarm about the flailing state of Donald Trump’s candidacy and fears that the presidential nominee was damaging the party with an extraordinary week of self-inflicted mistakes, gratuitous attacks and missed opportunities.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus was described as “very frustrated” with and deeply disturbed by Trump’s behavior over the past week, having run out of excuses to make on the nominee’s behalf to donors and other party leaders, according to multiple people familiar with the events.
Meanwhile, Trump’s top campaign advisers are struggling once again to instill discipline in their candidate, who has spent recent days lurching from one controversy to another while seemingly skipping chances to go on the offensive against his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.
“A new level of panic hit the street,” said longtime operative Scott Reed, chief strategist for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “It’s time for a serious reset.”
Hours later Politico took note of the Trump announcement of his economic team - a team filled with seriously competent businessmen with considerable experience in making the American economy work. What did Politico say? This:
Trump unveils all-male economic advisory team
“Donald Trump's campaign on Friday announced more than a dozen members of the Republican nominee's all-male economic advisory team, including several prominent real-estate investors, hedge-fund managers and bankers.”
Then there was this from the Media Research Center:
CNN's 'New Day' Airs Nearly 200 Times More Coverage On Trump Controversies Than Iran
“CNN set aside nearly half of its air time on Wednesday's New Day to various recent controversies involving the Trump campaign — 1 hour, 24 minutes, and 18 seconds over three hours. By contrast, the program clearly didn't think much of the Wall Street Journal's Tuesday revelation that the Obama administration secretly airlifted $400 million in cash to Iran. John Berman gave a 27-second news brief to the report, but didn't mention that the payment was sent on "an unmarked cargo plane" New Day, therefore, devoted over 187 times more coverage to Trump than to the millions to Iran.”
(I need to do the required full disclosure that I am a CNN commentator and regularly appear identified correctly as a “Trump supporter.” Let me also say that I am not alone, with other Trump supporters regularly invited on all CNN shows to debate the issue of the moment, and others still who are conservatives although not necessarily Trump supporters.)
To the larger point.
Monday night at that Trump rally here in Pennsylvania, a rally I have described here in The American Spectator, Trump drew what was unarguably his most sustained applause when he said of his campaign:“the biggest problem is the media.” The audience erupted, applauding and cheering, with many turning - unasked by Trump - to the back of the room where the television cameras were perched on risers and booing repeatedly. Trump went on to say this:
These are among the most dishonest people you will ever, ever meet. These people — you know, I’ve had days where I have said, ‘Boy, this was a great day. I’ll look forward to seeing it tonight or tomorrow and it’s brutal.’ And I say, ‘What happened?’
We are going to punch through the media. We have to! The New York Times is totally dishonest. Totally dishonest. The Washington Post has been a little bit better lately but not good. By the way The New York Times, which is failing badly. I call it ‘The Failing New York Times.’ Every story that they write is a hit job. I could do the greatest thing in the history of the world. I could come up with a cure for the most horrible disease in the world and they give me a front-page horrible, horrible story. The New York Times is very dishonest but it will be out of business soon. I hope. It will be out of business. It will. Really dishonest reporters. Not all of them, but most of them.
There was more, with another attack on CNN.
But the point here is very simple. Out and abroad in the land there are millions of Americans who feel intensely that “the media” - fill in an outlet of your choice in print, TV, radio and now the Internet - are out there with the sole object of destroying Donald Trump. That the slightest misstep of Trump’s will be magnified and replayed over and over endlessly - while major events like the clear case of the Obama administration’s payment of $400 million in cash to ransom Iranian hostages are simply downplayed.
On Friday former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told Sean Hannity on Sean’s radio show that
real conservatives have to wake up and understand that 80-90 percent of the media are enemies and that the Left is in such an anti-Trump frenzy that the media has set out to destroy him. As if to confirm Gingrich’s point Hillary Clinton that same day gave a speech to the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists - in which she essentially made a bald appeal for the members of those groups to use their positions in the media to help her defeat Trump. I would add to this that any GOP nominee would have faced this situation, although it is indeed more intense now that Trump is the nominee.
And Trump, to his immense credit, not only gets what is happening but is unafraid to fight back, unlike Establishment Republicans. Two years ago I interviewed Trump about a possible presidential run, and we discussed the unhappiness of the base of the GOP with the way their candidates always seem to get rolled by the media. I asked Trump how he would handle the problem of fighting back. Trump responded this way:
Well, I see firsthand the dishonesty of the press, because probably nobody gets more press than I do. As an example, last week I was on a Fox program, and I very much lambasted Donald Sterling. And then at the very end I said: “On top of which, he has the girlfriend from hell.” And the haters and the very dishonest reporters who have their own agenda, they didn’t cover what I said about Donald Sterling. They only took the girlfriend from hell and they said, “Oh he’s not blaming Donald Sterling. He’s defending Donald Sterling. He’s blaming the girlfriend.”
The press is extremely dishonest. Much of it. Some of it I have great respect for, and they’re great people and honorable people. But there’s a large segment of the press that’s more dishonest than anybody I’ve seen in business or anywhere else. And the one thing you have to do is you have to inform the public. The public has to know about the dishonesty of the press because these are really bad people and they don’t tell the truth and have no intention of telling the truth. And I know who they are and I would expose them 100 percent. And I will be doing that. I mean, as I go down the line, I enjoy exposing people for being frauds and, you know, I would be definitely doing that. I think it’s important to know. Because a lot of the public, they think, oh, they read it in the newspaper, and therefore it must be true. Well many of the things you read in the newspaper are absolutely false and really disgustingly false.”
Donald Trump has never refrained from taking on the media in this campaign. The point now is that millions of his fellow Americans get the problem - and as I saw first hand the other night in a Pennsylvania high school gym, they have his back. They believe with Newt Gingrich that the Left is in such an anti-Trump frenzy that the media has set out to destroy him.
Which says that it won’t just be Hillary and the Obama era that are that the issues in this campaign, but rather the media itself in all its many forms.
Buckle in. It is a long way to November. And everything including the kitchen sink is coming in Trump’s direction courtesy of the media.