Trump takes on the ‘dishonest’ media...
Donald Trump’s post-election “reset” with the media got off to a combative start this week after the president-elect held a fiery summit with TV executives and news anchors at Trump Tower and dressed them down for their coverage of him—a meeting one participant described as a “disaster.” At the start of the sit-down with some 40 senior media figures, the president-elect turned to CNN chief Jeff Zucker and said, “I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar, and you should be ashamed,” a source told the New York Post. He then criticized NBC for publishing a photo of him with a double chin, before attacking stunned reporters one by one for their “dishonest” coverage. “It was like a f---ing firing squad,” the source said. Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway had a different view of the meeting, calling it “a very lively, spirited exchange.”
A day later, Trump took a more conciliatory tone with editors, columnists, and reporters at The New York Times, after beginning the meeting by complaining the paper had covered him “unfairly” during the campaign. “I think I have been treated very rough,” Trump said. But he said he had “tremendous respect” for the Times, and expressed hope that he could “turn around” its coverage of him. Asked about his commitment to the First Amendment’s free speech protections, Trump—who threatened to loosen libel laws and sue the Times during his campaign—replied: “I think you’ll be happy.”
What the columnists said
Let’s dispense with the fantasy that Trump would “be transformed into a statesman of poise and deliberation” after he won the election, said David Remnick in NewYorker.com. Trump has signaled that his war with the media will continue when he gets to the White House, and that he’ll use Twitter to lash out at any criticism. “The president-elect does not care who knows how unforgiving or vain or distracted he is. This is who he is, and this is who will be running the executive branch of the U.S. government for four years.”
Trump’s attacks on his critics are “genius— whether intentionally or not,” said Joshua Miller in The Boston Globe. By bypassing the traditional media and filling his Twitter feed with bluster and bombast, the president-elect has successfully “diverted attention from other, sometimes less flattering stories”—including his chaotic Cabinet search and concerns that his sprawling business empire is creating conflicts of interest.
But as president-elect, Trump’s “words matter,” said The Washington Post. During the campaign, it was easy to mock the attacks and threats of retaliation he leveled at journalists. Now that he’s about to become leader of the world’s most powerful democracy, “these complaints can no longer be dismissed as cranky late-night ramblings.” Worse, said Monika Bauerlein in MotherJones.com, Trump is declaring war on transparency at a time when Republicans have “unmitigated one-party control” over the federal government. “In the past, the Fourth Estate has been essential at moments like these.” Now, under attack from Trump and distrusted by the American public, “the press itself is among the institutions under strain.”