On Monday, President-Elect Trump held a meeting at Trump Tower with top members of the media. The New York Post reported:
Donald Trump scolded media big shots during an off-the-record Trump Tower sitdown on Monday, sources told The Post. “It was like a f–ing firing squad,” one source said of the encounter. “Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed,’ ” the source said. “The meeting was a total disaster. The TV execs and anchors went in there thinking they would be discussing the access they would get to the Trump administration, but instead they got a Trump-style dressing down,” the source added.
According to the Post, attendees included NBC’s Lester Holt and Chuck Todd, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, David Muir, and Martha Raddatz, Fox News’ Bill Shine, MSNBC’s Phil Griffin, and CNN’s Jeff Zucker and Erin Burnett.
Here, in no particular order, are some random thoughts.
1. The Media Deserve This. The media destroyed Mitt Romney in 2012 by turning him from an honorable family man and excellent businessperson into the scourge of the earth, searching far and wide for gay kids so he could practice his haircutting skills, hunting down dogs to strap to his car. The media then decided to treat Barack Obama with kid gloves for eight years, soft-pedalling his lies on everything from Obamacare to Benghazi. Then, finally, the media built up Donald Trump in the primaries, then attempted to tear him down in the general. They’ve earned every bit of scorn Trump can level at them.
2. Trump’s Going To Start Every Firefight He Can. The media didn’t leak this story to The Post. Trump’s people did. The Post was one of the friendliest publications in the country to Trump. And this bolsters Trump’s favorite case – that he’s a powerful godking willing to face down the scurrilous media and hammer them into the ground. Trump relishes this sort of fisticuffs. It’s why he singled out reporters during the campaign. It’s why he went to war with Hamilton and Saturday Night Live over the weekend. Trump understands that most of his voters are sick of watching the media monopoly, and they’re more than willing to countenance a president blasting away at the media if it means destroying that monopoly.
3. The Media Will Seek Revenge By Turning Up The Volume. The media don’t know how to handle a Republican who doesn’t seem to care about their adoration. Their solution thus far: turning up the volume to 11. But that’s not working. They’re treating every Trump tweet as apocalyptic, every Trump outrage as plumbing new depths of Dante’s Inferno. That only succeeds in making Trump look justified in slapping them with both hands, then poking them in the eyes like a member of the Three Stooges. The only way for the media to cover Trump properly would be to understate their case rather than trotting out Howard Dean to label Trump cabinet appointees “Nazis,” or covering Richard Spencer’s alt-right hatefest as an extension of Trumpworld.
4. This Isn’t Great News For Americans. Despite the delicious schadenfreude, this isn’t good news. Americans are best served when press of every stripe have access to information about our executive branch. Closing off access for political gain was bad when Obama did it, and it isn’t any better when Trump does it. Many conservatives can’t see past their chortling over the media shamefacedly shuffling from Trump Tower, tails between their legs. That’s understandable. But the presidency is still a government office, requiring more daylight, not less.