Media Struggles to Malign Trump

By | 5/19/2016 2 comments
Mainstream media attempt smear

When CNN.com splashed the headline “Donald Trump's rough few days” on their website earlier this week, we were forced to do something of a double take. What rough few days? What had we missed? It’s our job to stay on top of the news – how could we have been so negligent?

But on closer inspection, the events that Executive Editor Rachel Smolkin found calamitous enough to warrant such a declamatory headline were nothing more than the usual gristmill fodder that appear in media outlets on a regular basis when it comes to Donald Trump.

The writer gushed of Trump’s need to “regain his footing after a tough few days” and how his “salacious past” had changed the narrative. So let's break it down:

John Miller:

First was mention of the “John Miller” story that the Washington Post had first reported on, in which Trump was accused of having posed as his own publicist under an assumed name in interviews with journalists.

Even if true, aside from the fact that the story was 25 years old, there was absolutely nothing inherently egregious about it. While it might have irked the media that some of their own had been duped or outwitted, to anyone else it had about as much shock value as a high school prank. Rather than feeling outrage, many might in fact have admired his ingenuity and resourcefulness when it came to handling the media and the shaping of his public persona.

Women:

Then there was the New York Times smear piece about his past conduct with women. “Crossing the Line: How Donald Trump Behaved With Women in Private” ran the scandalous headline, sounding considerably more National Enquirer than Pulitzer Prize-winning broadsheet.

The article has since been widely discredited, not least by the story’s first point of reference, former model Rowanne Brewer: “They spun it to where it appeared negative. I did not have a negative experience with Donald Trump. And I don't appreciate them making it look like that I was saying that it was a negative experience. Because it was not.”

In fact, despite the craven headline, there’s really nothing to the piece. A lot of hearsay and opinion – some positive, some negative – from women who Trump has crossed paths with during his lifetime, both in a personal capacity and in business. But buried in the article are also comments such as “Some women found him gracious and encouraging. He promoted several to the loftiest heights of his company, a daring move for a major real estate developer at the time,” and “In a rough-and-tumble industry thoroughly dominated by men, Mr. Trump’s office stood out for its diversity, recalled Alan Lapidus, an influential architect who designed the Trump Plaza casino in Atlantic City.”

So what did this hyped, exposé-sounding story ultimately prove? That Donald Trump is an alpha male/ladies man who likes beautiful women – and that probably doesn’t qualify as news to anyone at this point in time.

Why the Times expended so much time, effort and money on a provocative story that had so little new to say is difficult to fathom, for whatever it gained in print sales and online traffic came at a high cost to its credibility.

Tax:

And finally there was the matter of Trump’s refusal to release his tax returns.

While media pundits and others are busily tripping over themselves to point out that it’s a shocking break with tradition not to do so, with Mitt Romney describing it as “disqualifying” and suggesting the returns may contain a “bombshell,” the fact is most people simply do not care. They know he’s very wealthy, they know he makes a lot of money, and if he’s figured out ways to buck the system that’s only likely to make them love him all the more.

As Paul Manafort, Trump’s Campaign Chairman and Chief Strategist put it, “This is an issue the media is interested in. It's not an issue the rest of America is interested in, frankly.”

The upshot:

Not for the first time, the mainstream media are discovering just how hard it is to discredit the real estate tycoon-turned-presidential nominee. Holding him accountable to accepted norms and standards simply isn’t going to work. He is where he is today by upending the system not conforming to it, and if his critics insist on using the same old playbook they’ll be wasting their time – Trump threw it out the window a long time ago.

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2 comments:

  1. Hey Charlie, it looks like you're a real fan of making Drumpf Great Again. Four bankruptcies and serious charges of defrauding "Trump Univ." students are not enough to turn you off? He's so yuuugely sui generis that he can call his daughter Ivanka hot and express his desire to date her and you're still OK? Just keep him away from your female relatives, especially if they're a 10, if you catch my drift.

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  2. Hello Boris, and thank you for your comment. If you look through the site - not just at this one post - you'll also see plenty of articles in defense of Bernie Sanders when it's been deemed that he's been treated unfairly by the media or the Clinton/establishment spin machine. I'm not here to defend or promote any one candidate, rather I'm calling out the mainstream media whenever I see blatant manipulation of the facts or just plain bias. Again, thank you for your thoughts and for taking the time to read the article.

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