Jon Meacham: Trump Treatment of Media ‘Longest Abusive Relationship in American History’

Appearing on MSNBC Live With Craig Melvin Thursday afternoon, journalist and presidential historian Jon Meacham lamented that Donald Trump’s presidency was “nasty, brutish, and longer than we would like.” He went on to wail that press was giving the president too much attention and becoming a victim of “the longest abusive relationship in American history.”

Referring to the president’s immigration policy, anchor Craig Melvin began the exchange by fretting that Trump was “exploiting the culture wars in this country more so than any predecessor, any of his predecessors, at least during my lifetime.” The host reiterated: “Here’s a president that seems to every month or two, manages to find another battle in the culture wars to exploit.” Turning to Meacham, Melvin asked: “Why exploit the culture wars to the extent that he’s doing it?”

 

 

In reply, Meacham paraphrased 17th Century English political philosopher Thomas Hobbes:

This guy makes Thomas Hobbes look like a peacemaker. You know, Hobbes said that life, you know, in a state of nature, was nasty, brutish, and short. It turns out that the Trump era is nasty, brutish, and longer than we would like.

Moments later, the MSNBC contributor declared that “a president who did not traffic in caricatures, and as you say rightly, fight constant cultural battles, could ask for a moment of having a rational debate” on the immigration issue, but lectured that “Trump has to deal with the world he created.”

Meacham warned that “we’re in a particularly difficult political time, obviously, made exacerbated by the way Trump has weaponized almost everything in our national life.”  He then admonished his media colleagues: “And all of us are doing exactly what he wants, we’re sitting here talking about him and looking at him. You know, this is perhaps the longest abusive relationship in American history.”

The glaring irony of MSNBC worrying about a politician “exploiting the culture wars” and having “weaponized almost everything in our national life” was lost on Meacham and Melvin. The two journalists seemed to forget that the left-wing cable channel’s business model was exploiting cultural, racial, and political divisions.

Here is a transcript of the June 21 exchange:

1:39 PM ET

(...)

CRAIG MELVIN: Jon Meacham, President Trump last night, at one of these rallies, one of these campaign-style rallies, doing what the president tends to do, going off script. But one of the things that I found especially interesting, if you will, after the rally was over – and was reading online as well and there were some other folks who seemed to share this sentiment – this is a president who seems to be exploiting the culture wars in this country more so than any predecessor, any of his predecessors, at least during my lifetime.

And we’ve always had culture wars – abortion, gay rights. But here’s a president that seems to every month or two, manages to find another battle in the culture wars to exploit. Am I overstating that, Jon?

JON MEACHAM: No.

MELVIN: Or is this a president who has managed to – why – and I always hate putting guests in this position, but I’ll do it because you’re Jon Meacham – why? Why manage to exploit – why exploit the culture wars to the extent that he’s doing it?

MEACHAM: I’m happy to be put on that spot. Because that’s how he rose to power. This guy makes Thomas Hobbes look like a peacemaker. You know, Hobbes said that life, you know, in a state of nature, was nasty, brutish, and short. It turns out that the Trump era is nasty, brutish, and longer than we would like.

So I don’t think there’s any great mystery here. How did Donald Trump enter the heart of the hardcore right wing coming out of a very New York background? He did it by lying about Barack Obama and his birth certificate. He has trafficked in conspiracy theories, he’s trafficked in caricatures, he’s reaping the whirlwind of that right now.

Because there is a rational conversation to be had about what’s going on at the border. There are two different issues here, for what it’s worth, at least in the popular mind. There was the family separation and there is the zero tolerance policy. Those are – I know they’re related – but in the popular mind, as the issue was presented to the country over the last couple – ten days or so, they are different. The issue, the focus was on these children who were being victimized by a separation policy. And everyone, you know, I don’t know what the numbers were exactly, but we can agree that that was a terrible thing and a situation of the Trump administration’s creation.

Now the question about the border and asylum-granting is separate, or is different, anyway. And a different conversation. A president who did not traffic in caricatures, and as you say rightly, fight constant cultural battles, could ask for a moment of having a rational debate about that. But Trump has to deal with the world he created. He’s not a  – just – I can’t even believe I have to say this sentence out loud – to say that Donald Trump doesn’t really engage nuance is perhaps the greatest understatement one can imagine.

So I think that we’re in a particularly difficult political time, obviously, made exacerbated by the way Trump has weaponized almost everything in our national life. And so there’s – I think the reason he does it, if you ask for the reason – is because that’s what got him to this point, it’s what got him to that chair. And all of us are doing exactly what he wants, we’re sitting here talking about him and looking at him. You know, this is perhaps the longest abusive relationship in American history.

(...)

NB Daily Immigration Conservatives & Republicans MSNBC Video Craig Melvin Jon Meacham Donald Trump

Sponsored Links