President Donald Trump lit up the airwaves again last week with a string of inappropriate, bizarre tweets mocking MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski and body slamming a CNN logo.
As outrageously undignified as Trump’s behavior is for a president, the national political media has also become insufferable in its incessant trolling of him. The news has become little more than updates on the media and its relationship with the president — which has only soured Americans’ view of both.
The national political media should question everything Trump does and follow leads where they go. But the news shouldn’t become the news.
A recent Axios poll found trust for mainstream media sources like CNN and The New York Times 7 points ahead of trust for the Trump administration. But an NBC/PBS Newshour/Marist poll found the exact opposite: trust for Trump at 37 percent ahead of trust for the media at just 30 percent. An April Morning Consult poll found very similar results: Trump leading in trustworthiness, as well as a national media “out of touch with everyday Americans.”
Such numbers should humble the media’s incessant quest to bring Trump down. But they haven’t.
Instead, the media — just as it did during the campaign last year — continues to ignore sentiments and stories that don’t align with its agenda on Trump. And this after it vowed to pay more attention to the middle of the country in the wake of its support for the new president.
That doesn’t mean Trump is right; it just means the media elites might be wrong.
We (and certainly other members of the media) should be able to question the behavior of the New York-D.C. media axis, since Americans increasingly are tarring all news media with the same dismissive brush, without it being an either/or proposition. In America’s heartland things aren’t quite as black and white.
With competition for ratings and social media followers, Americans aren’t taking the media’s narrative as truth the way they once did. In her brawl with Trump, for example, Brzezinski was a victim. The president bears responsibility to take the high road no matter what.
But Brzezinski and co-host Joe Scarborough had made themselves targets, “trolling” Trump big time, begging for an absurd response, which he offered. They had become somewhat singularly focused on Trump’s temperament and reported changes in his personal life since his inauguration, particularly on Twitter.
Hillary Clinton understood this dynamic best, tweeting nearly a year ago that, “A man you can bait with a tweet is not a man we can trust with nuclear weapons.”
The Clinton campaign spent all its time baiting Trump, only to lose. So why would the national political media elites find picking up the torch from the Clinton campaign to be a winning strategy?
Whether it’s the light, constant drip of prodding from Joe and Mika or the reckless behavior of Kathy Griffith “beheading” Trump, or sloppy reporting, Americans see through the amount of influence the political media is trying to exert.
Even routine, mundane events out of the Trump White House are sensationalized on news networks with countdown clocks and “breaking news” headlines.
This is the media’s blind spot. Many Americans don’t want a narrative forced down their throats. But it will take more than simply trolling the president for the national media to regain the trust of those it’s lost.