Allen and VandeHei: 'The Media IS the Opposition Party'

February 16th, 2017 6:24 PM

During his press conference on Thursday, President Donald Trump stated: "The press is honestly out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control." He also criticized the Cable News Network since “the tone is such hatred,” but he likes the "honorable" Fox & Friends.

The top Republican official got some support from an unexpected source the same day when Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen, co-founders of the new Axios website and former members of the Politico site's staff, posted an article entitled: “The Media IS the Opposition Party.”

“President Trump claims traditional media represent a stronger, more effective opposition party than the Democrats,” the columnists began. “So far, he's undeniably correct.”

They continued:

This has only a little to do with the Democrats. They have no power in Congress, so no real oversight authority, and few high-profile voices since Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama exited the stage.

Rarely do you see Democrats shaping the conversation about President Trump.

Instead, the authors asserted: “It has a lot to do with the media, which was unambiguously anti-Trump during and after the presidential campaign, but is now legitimately hammering away on administration scandals and missteps.”

“A snarling press corps is turning ravenous,” they continued.

“The media -- often, but not always, with an assist from anti-Trump career government employees -- is the new U.S. Oversight Committee,” VandeHei and Allen stated.

To prove their assertion, the columnists noted:

The Washington Post exposed national security adviser Mike Flynn's deceptive statements about his Russian contacts, then kept up the drumbeat until he resigned shortly after the paper had posted another devastating story, this one revealing that the White House had been warned last month that he was vulnerable to blackmail.

In addition, “this week, the New York Times and CNN broke twin stories reporting Trump campaign aides were 'in constant contact' with Russians.”

The columnists also noted:

Some of the mainstream media's Trump anti-coverage once was stoked by ideology. Now, the tsunami is being fed by facts and revelations that cause many reporters to feel that their instincts have been vindicated.

And there is no incentive for reporters to calm down, take a breath, give Trump the benefit of the doubt. With Trump's frequent, gleeful attacks on the press, anyone seen as going soft on him looks like a chump.

“Journalists have responded by uniting in their opposition,” VandeHei and Allen added. “You see this with the sharing, applauding and echoing the critical coverage by their colleagues.”

The attacks have been “constant reminders to the public to subscribe to the New York Times, Washington Post and other outlets doing a lot of the Trump investigating,” they stated.

“These reminders are working, especially for the Times,” the columnists indicated. “In what the media website Poynter called a "Trump-bump subscription surge," the Times recorded record net quarterly growth or digital subscriptions at the end of last year, with the momentum continuing into this year.”

President Trump “gets very little positive coverage, and probably won't,” they continued before citing Rich Noyes, research director of the Media Research Center (the organization of which NewsBusters is a part), who found last year that 91 percent of the Trump coverage after the conventions was negative.

“The coverage certainly hasn't become any rosier since the inauguration, with the president's approval rating near 50 percent in a divided country,” VandeHei and Allen noted.

However, just like during the presidential campaign, “it isn't clear the media is winning the PR battle. Remember: the public has more distrust of media than Trump,” they stated.

“Two polls show Trump's favorable rating in high 40s, and a strong stock market and steady flow of companies bowing to the president on creating U.S. jobs could keep it there, absent even more serious revelations,” the Axios co-founders indicated.

“In the meantime, the White House 'game of thrones' is so intense that Trump can't even count on his allies,” they asserted. “Breitbart, despite its close ties to the administration, ran an article Tuesday reporting that Trump 'has been privately critical of Priebus in many settings.'"

“So Trump and senior strategist Steve Bannon are clearly right about the media being the opposition,” the authors added. “What was once a useful foil for Trump is becoming a real danger to his ability to control the national conversation -- and govern.”

Allen also referred to a column written by the Wall Street Journal's Dan Henninger: "Unless Team Trump gets back to the basics of the 2016 election, 1974 could return. ... [A] good question is whether they'll drain the swamp before the swamp swallows them.

Meanwhile, a recent poll again showed more people trust the president than the “mainstream media,” which at least in part explains their desperate attempts to bring down Trump and everyone associated with the Republican president.