The Washington Post’s Philip Bump (full disclosure my former CNN colleague) is one of the first -- or maybe so far the only -- journalist at a mainstream media outlet to get what is seriously disquieting news for the mainstreamers. Here’s Phil’s headline:
Trump’s already largely won his war against the media
Phil begins his story this way:
The choice that President Trump asks America to make is a simple one and one that he’s demanded since he jumped into the presidential race. Who are you going to believe, he asks: An industry of people whose jobs depend on presenting factually accurate information about what’s happening in the world — or me?
And from the outset, we’ve seen how his supporters answer that question. They believe him.
Well, okay. Phil has something here but right off the bat he illustrates exactly -- and I do mean exactly -- the media’s problem.
Notice the way he describes the media? Like this: “An industry of people whose jobs depend on presenting factually accurate information about what’s happening in the world…”
Not to put too fine a point on this, but the exact reason for the media’s problem is precisely because millions of Americans believe the mainstream media (that would include, ahem, Phil’s own Washington Post) is not reporting“factually accurate information about what’s happening in the world..”
To the contrary, in two back-to-back presidencies -- the first of a far-left liberal Democratic Party president and the second of a populist/conservative Republican Party president -- the flat-out ideological bias of the mainstream media coverage was and is vividly in play. Which in turn has provided Trump with the easy pickings of low-hanging media bias fruit.
Examples of how liberal media bias works are, thankfully, well out there. It is the main focus 24/7 right here at NewsBusters and the Media Research Center to faithfully record those never-ending examples of liberal bias for the record, producing a figurative warehouse filled to the figurative roof of how this bias works.
Here’s but one example from the 2012 presidential election. The core of the story revolves around the then-famous leaked videotape of candidate Romney speaking at a supposedly closed meeting of donors. Romney, as reported here in the Post is captured on video and “tells a private audience of campaign donors that Obama backers will vote for the president ‘no matter what.’ Romney said that they account for ’47 percent’ of voters and he does not ‘worry about those people.’”
The video surfaced at the far-left Mother Jones site. Breitbart's Derek Hunter headlined his piece:
Textbook Example of Media Bias at the New York Times
And among other things he wrote this:
The New York Times was quick to report on the edited Mother Jones “secret” video of Mitt Romney speaking at a fundraiser back in May, and they were quick to do so in a straightforward way. Their original story has been wiped from their website and replaced with one dripping with left-wing spin to the point you’d think it was a press release from the Obama campaign.
Unfortunately for the Times, there are a lot of websites that republish their work the minute it’s posted. That means it lives forever, even after they’ve killed it.
Hunter goes on to illustrate exactly how the Times played the bias game with this story using several examples. Writes Hunter by way of examples:
The original piece contains this paragraph:
Romney told reporters Monday night that his remarks were “not elegantly stated” and were “spoken off the cuff.” But he says Obama’s approach is “attractive to people who are not paying taxes.”
In the new piece that paragraph reads like this:
Mr. Romney addressed the video, somewhat awkwardly, at a fund-raiser Monday night in Costa Mesa, Calif., summoning reporters with a few moments’ notice to walk through the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, which was filled with guests sipping drinks at tables elegantly draped in blue cloths.
See the game? The original version is Phil Bump’s belief on display - it is a “just the facts” report of what Romney said after the tape surfaced. But the re-written later version? As Hunter noted “the second one adds commentary designed to paint a picture of bumbling with “somewhat awkwardly” and of elitism with “guests sipping drinks at tables elegantly draped in blue cloths.”
Hunter provides two versions of another paragraph to illustrate.
The original, first version, went like this:
Jim Messina, Obama’s campaign manager, said in a statement Monday evening that it was “shocking” that Romney would “go behind closed doors” to describe nearly half of the country in such terms.
Another “just the facts” report. Then came the later version. That one read:
Mr. Romney, who has been under fire for releasing only two years of his tax returns, was quickly attacked by the Obama campaign. Jim Messina, Mr. Obama’s campaign manager, said in a statement Monday evening that it was ‘shocking’ that Mr. Romney would ‘go behind closed doors’ to describe nearly half of the country in such terms.
As Hunter would point out, suddenly the issue of Romney’s tax returns are injected into a story that had nothing to do with his tax returns. Hunter also correctly notes: “The only people ‘firing’ at Romney for his tax returns are on the payroll of the Obama campaign and ‘journalists’ who write things like this that read as if they’re padding their resume for a position in a second term.”
One could go on and on and on here and fill the Internet with these kind of examples, many of them which can be found right here in the NewsBusters archive. The important thing is to understand that none of this is new and in fact has been building for decades and decades. All the way back in 1952 then-Senator Richard Nixon, the vice-presidential running mate of GOP nominee Dwight Eisenhower, was astonished at the then-liberal New York Post’s deliberate misrepresentation of a fund Nixon had to finance his political travels instead of sticking taxpayers with the tab. There was nothing “secret” about this fund, yet the Post headlined “SECRET NIXON FUND”.
The story that accompanied the headline was, Nixon recalled later, “a clever example of the half-truth.” Unmentioned as this story was whipped up into a scandal frenzy was that Ike’s opponent, Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson, had a fund of his own for the same purpose.
Back there in 2014 I had the opportunity (writing in The American Spectator) to raise the question with Donald Trump of how to handle this kind of media bias if he ran for president. There was considerable feeling among the GOP base, as I well knew, that GOP presidential candidates like Romney and McCain and others never took the media head on. What would Donald Trump do if he were the GOP nominee, I asked? Here’s what he said - and it foreshadows exactly what now-President Trump has done as both candidate and sitting president:
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.
So here we are a full three years later. The President has done exactly what he told me he would do. He never flinches. Over and over in one medium or another and sometimes all at once he presses home his case that “The press is extremely dishonest. Much of it…. 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.” Now comes Phil Bump in The Washington Post to admit that, well, yes, Trump approach to the media has had a serious negative effect - on the media. He writes:
Among Trump supporters, Trump has already won his war on the media. After decades of declining public trust in the media (which helped him win that war), even many of those predisposed to dislike Trump seem to agree with one of his central arguments about the press: It acts unfairly. (Five percent of Democrats and 6 percent of black respondents trust Trump more than their favorite news outlet!)
As it were, Phil Bump is channeling the thoughts of Donald Trump as expressed to me three years ago.
The question now is: What does this mean?
My thought is that this will have a very serious impact on the course of the Trump White House. For eight years, the Obama White House had the mainstream media in their pocket. And when he left to be succeeded by Donald Trump the liberal media lost their collective mind. I noted back in February in this space, just the simple difference in the way Time magazine treated Obama and Trump after each was named Time’s “Person of the Year” in 2008 and 2016 respectively. The Obama coverage was almost hagiography, the Trump coverage dark, almost sinister.
At this point, the media has thrown everything up to and including the media version of the kitchen sink at Trump. He has, as he said he would, fought back - on Twitter, on television, at rallies and on and on. So now, to their amazement, its the media - not the President - that is losing. And they are beginning to realize it. The question is…
Will they do anything about it?