Put simply, the mainstream media are beside itself.
Among other reasons — many of them fairly standard like the shape of the economy — one the central reasons Donald J. Trump is president-elect is because he ran a very unconventional campaign. Time after time after time since he famously descended that Trump Tower escalator to announce his candidacy in June of 2015, one journalist after another predicted his political demise. And invariably the reason for this allegedly inevitable failure was because Trump had violated some supposed sacred convention of the political and media world.
Among them? Trump would lose for sure because:
He attacked war hero John McCain
He said Mexicans were crossing the border and committing crimes.
He wanted to ban Muslims.
He retweets absurd if not offensive material.
He offended Latinos.
He offended women.
He offended blacks.
He offended the Bushes
He was impulsive.
He didn’t use a Teleprompter.
He was a billionaire.
He had no ground game.
Google the phrase “Trump will lose because” and one finds — really! — over 44 million references.
Among others headlining this were :
New York magazine’s Jonathan Chait “because he’s crazy.”
Time magazine’s James Richardson “because Trump is no conventional candidate."
GQ’s Editor-in-Chief Jim Nelson because his campaign “is built on lies, self-inflation, and dark suggestion."
The Huffington Post writer William Astore “because he’s offered no compelling vision about why he should be president.”
The New Republic’s Scott Lemieux because “Donald Trump is a very poor general election candidate and a massive underdog to win the keys to the White House."
Politics USA’s Sean Colarossi insisted “Donald Trump Will Lose Because Of Donald Trump…”
Bloomberg’s Jonathan Bernstein insisted a Trump loss was coming because “something will still rapidly deflate his support.”
On and on the list of media naysayers goes, all of them wrong. Every…last…one ..of them. (And that doesn’t even count all the politicians. Jeb Bush’s lecture that Trump would never win because “you can’t insult your way to the presidency” was merely one of many dire predictions from the establishment political class in both parties that was egregiously wrong.)
But why were they all wrong? Answer: Because all of these people and more were and are so caught up in the supposedly rigid rules of political and Washington convention. You can’t, said the working if frequently unspoken theory, do the unconventional X and ever stand a prayer of getting nominated much less get elected..
Now comes the dawn of the Trump presidency. Already the media are agog at the idea that an unconventional presidency will follow an unconventional campaign. They have no idea beyond naysaying how to handle it, either.
The parade of potential cabinet picks into Trump Tower amazes them. (Actually, this approach to cabinet selections was done by President-elect Jimmy Carter, who had his potential cabinet picks trek to his home in Plains, Georgia, all parading past the media of the day.) The newest meme out there is that Trump has appointed — gasp! — three generals to his cabinet. Oh no! The not so subtle subtext: Here comes the military coup! And don’t forget the journalistic bug eyes when it comes to the Trump family. Son-in-law Jared Kushner on the White House staff? Daughter Ivanka wearing her own jewelry - and filling in as First Lady while Melania stays in New York for the completion of Baron’s school year? The Trump sons taking over Dad’s company!
The media spluttering is audible. Things like this just aren’t done!
The fact of the matter is that the American people turned out to support the man who broke the rules and happily took on the media itself. It could be Fox’s Megyn Kelly one day, Fox itself or CNN another day and on still another The New York Times or The Washington Post.
Whatever else lies ahead, Washington and the ever-vigilant mainstream media are bracing for the most unconventional president to hit town since Andrew Jackson mounted his white horse after being sworn in and rode it all the way down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.
Observing Jackson’s inaugural and the new president’s unconventional ways on inauguration day, the composer of the Star Bangled Banner national anthem, Francis Scott Key, pronounced the Jacksonian spectacle that drew a then unprecedented-crowd of 10,000 as “beautiful; it is sublime!”
It is safe to say that such superlatives will hardly be coming from today’s mainstream media about a Trump inauguration. To say the least, they can’t abide him. But however belatedly they are slowly — very slowly — beginning to realize the man they will be covering after noon on January 20th is prepared to break with convention. To do things no other president has done — and, to their vast irritation, having a great good time doing them in the process.