(Rich Galen, Mullings) – The Press and the President have to quit whining about how badly each is treating the other.
If you leave out President Donald Trump’s rhetorically sticking his fingers in the eyes of his opponents and making up events like terrorist activities in Sweden; if you had awakened from the hour and 17 minute fever dream that was the press conference on Thursday; and, had he stuck to his vision for America, President Trump’s speech at the rally in Melbourne, Florida over the weekend would have been pretty good.
Mr. Trump needs an enemy. He doesn’t have the emotional strength to operate solely on his own talent. He has to constantly compare himself, his achievements, with others. And the comparison is always taunting, derisive, and hurtful.
The President needed to get back on stage, not metaphorically on the world stage, but actually walk up the steps of a platform in front of huge rally made up of 7-9,000 excited supporters, making his own case, with his own voice, in his own way.
I don’t know if this has been the worst first month in the history of the American Presidency or not. It might have been the worst first month in any government going back to Og forgetting to order the mouth of the cave to be closed at night leaving his tribe in danger of being eaten by a pride of Saber-Toothed Tigers.
Now that you’ve finished rolling your eyes and sighing dramatically, I know that Saber-Toothed Tigers were probably more closely related to possums than to Missy the Cat napping over there in the window, and thus would not have traveled in a “pride” like modern-day lions.
However, if they went extinct about 12,000 years ago, and so they did overlap with Og and his tribe.
Now to the press corps.
Donald Trump doesn’t like you. If you are going to take sticks and poke the bear day after day, please stop with the feigned outrage when the bear swats back. Quit acting like that guy crossing the bridge in the Edvard Munch painting.
Trump is far more used to fawning Page 6 coverage and adoring Time Magazine covers. He doesn’t need you to torpedo his press conference by pointing out that the 306 electoral votes he claimed to be the most since Ronald Reagan was wrong. He is unhappy to be told that the terrorist activity he claimed had occurred in Sweden the night before his rally, never happened. He is sick and tired of you getting inside information faster than he gets it.
I’m not opposed to any of those things – especially his prickliness about the leaks. But, EVERY President is prickly about leaks. Barack Obama had the FBI launch official investigations against reporters and, on at least one occasion, against the entire Associated Press.
Plugging leaks following the publication in the New York Times of the Pentagon Papers, caused the Nixon White House to establish a unit, known as “The Plumbers.” They broke into the Democratic National Committee HQ (should have let the Russians do it, but never mind), which was located in the Watergate complex which led to every subsequent scandal ending with the hyphenated word “gate” and the ubiquitous presence of Carl Bernstein to this very day.
And don’t pretend your coverage is balanced. It is not. I don’t remember, for instance, your being quite as taken with every utterance of Sen. John McCain in 2008 when he was running against Barack Obama as you are jotting down every twitch of a McCainian eyebrow when he’s talking about President Trump in 2017.
There is a Constitutional requirement that Congress make no law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press. The Constitution does not grant you the right to operate without being challenged.
The press is guilty of putting speed ahead of accuracy. The economics of the newsroom means there are fewer (if any) editors through which copy must pass before publication. A story that turns out to be false is not, by definition “fake news,” but issuing a correction because of a misspelled name is not the same as having to apologize because a basic fact was wrong.
Donald Trump accusing you of being the “dishonest media” is a long way from the way his buddy Vladimir Putin or our ally in Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan deal with reporters they don’t like.
Don’t compare one with the others. It’s just not true.
Donald Trump has the emotional control of a seven-year-old. The media acts like middle-schoolers at lunch time – each person trying to claim a place at the cool kids table.
Creative tension between the two is healthy for Democracy. Just quit whining about each other.
Mr. Galen is a veteran political strategist and communications consultant. He blogs at www.Mullings.com.