The historic shakeup of the Republican Party continues after voters in the GOP primaries rejected the establishment favorites and gave Donald Trump the nomination, which will be made official at the Republican National Convention in July.
George Will, the longtime conservative columnist who spent months belittling Trump and even suggested that convention delegates should ignore the voters, last week said he had left the Republican Party. Good move. Bill Kristol, Mitt Romney and others who have thrown temper tantrums over the voters’ choice should consider the same, if they can’t accept the results.
The reaction of many in the Republican establishment is not surprising. But of even more interest is the complete abandonment of even the pretense of journalistic integrity by most of the leading establishment media organizations in regard to coverage of Trump.
The Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today and all three of the formerly “major” news networks – NBC, CBS and ABC – as well as countless others have virtually dropped all efforts to at least appear unbiased and have made the denigration of Trump an open and unapologetic initiative. Their utter rejection of fairness and balance could not be more obvious if they were intentionally spoofing journalistic behavior.
Just do a Google search of presidential campaign coverage. You have to scroll through quite a few pages to find headlines that are even slightly fair or favorable to Trump.
Even the Associated Press, which long was the epitome of straight, down the middle of the road reporting, decided to jump on the bandwagon to “condemn” Trump for banning the Washington Post (and others from time to time) from covering his campaign events.
Keep in mind, Trump made the decision on the Post after the Post published this headline with an Internet story: “Donald Trump suggests President Obama was involved with Orlando shooting.” Basically admitting its own shark-jumping, about 90 minutes later the Post revised the headline to say, “Donald Trump seems to connect President Obama to Orlando shooting.” Not much better, and no more accurate.
In a statement blasting Trump for his decision on the Post, the AP said, “The Associated Press Media Editors joins other major news leadership organizations in condemning this affront to the democratic process and the very principles on which our nation was founded. We urge the Republican Party and its presumptive presidential nominee to abandon these sanctions and allow full access to all media outlets to protect the public’s right to know.”
It’s not a good idea to ban media even if you don’t like what they write, and no matter how unfair they may be. But believe it or not, Donald Trump is not the first candidate to retaliate against certain news organizations. The AP’s high-minded sentiments would be more sympathetic if they were applied equally.
In the waning days of the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama kicked three reporters off his plane for the duration of the campaign after their newspapers – the New York Post, Dallas Morning News and Washington Times – endorsed John McCain for president. Remember the outrage over that? No, you probably don’t.
More recently – in June 2015, as reported by the Boston Globe – the Hillary Clinton campaign “banned a representative from the national print pool from attending any of her events in New Hampshire, a development that will make coverage for her trip to New Hampshire spotty for some of the country’s largest print outlets.”
Remember the indignation expressed against Clinton across media outlets over that move? Remember the Associated Press Media Editors condemning Hillary? You can be forgiven if you missed it.
Hillary Clinton is, of course, the least accessible candidate for president in modern history. While her campaign may not be pulling press credentials, what good are press credentials if the candidate almost never talks to the media? By contrast, Donald Trump is probably the most accessible candidate in history. But Trump is the target.
It is still more likely than not that Donald Trump will be elected president. Why? Because we are going through a political earthquake, not just in the U.S., but globally as well, as evidenced by the “Brexit” vote in the United Kingdom a few days ago where the people went against the wishes of the establishment over issues that largely dovetail in the U.S. with the Trump campaign.
No matter who they show leading right now, polls in June or July or even August mean nothing for a vote taking place in November. But one consistent item on the question of “change” that is buried in virtually all the polls demonstrates why Trump has the upper hand.
A perfect example is a recent CBS poll of battleground states, where 51 percent described Clinton as being prepared to be president, while 38 percent said Trump was prepared. But 65 percent said Trump would bring change, with just 33 percent saying the same of Clinton.
This year, despite Hillary’s allies in the media, despite the GOP’s establishment wing, and despite Trump’s own penchant for self-inflicted wounds, the candidate of change will win, because people are in the mood for upheaval.
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.
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