GLOVES OFF: America’s Future Depends on Brutally Honest Media Coverage of Trump’s Failures

The anxiety of the American people continues to grow as they witness more and more of their fellow citizens becoming ill and dying from COVID-19 (coronavirus). Medical experts are not predicting a peak until at least late April or early May. In the meantime, our families, friends, and neighbors can be seen suiting up in masks and gloves before daring to venture outside.

Donald Trump

However, it is now time for journalists to take the metaphorical gloves off. Historically there has been a protocol for the conduct of reporters who cover the president of the United States. They have generally complied with the rule that respect must be shown to the office, if not its current occupant.

Consequently, reporters are accustomed to behaving with a certain meekness when addressing the President. They ask their questions with deference and patiently await a reply. They resist any impulse to interrupt or correct the President if he wanders off topic or supplies a false answer. They lean toward overextending courtesy in order to avoid being seen as rude.

Unfortunately, Donald Trump requires a total rewriting of how the press interacts with the President. His innate paranoia and hostility toward the media that he repeatedly slanders in Stalinist terms as “the enemy of the people” poses unique challenges for covering him. For example, Trump often won’t allow a reporter to complete a question when he senses that it will be difficult for him to answer. And since it is the reporter’s job to be probing and even provocative, that happens with some frequency. The result is that Trump’s response often fails to address what the reporter was asking. And the reporter isn’t given an opportunity to complete the actual question or to ask a follow up.

This is a tactic that Trump uses to avoid scrutiny of his words, actions, and intentions. It is a bully’s tactic that relies on the victim being too submissive to object. And that is where the conduct of the press needs the most work. Without a more aggressive posture, Trump will simply roll over the press and escape any real accountability. This can be observed daily at the Coronavirus Task Force briefings that Trump has hijacked and is selfishly exploiting as de facto campaign events.

There is no compelling reason for Trump to attend these briefings since he has no relevant knowledge or experience to contribute. He upstages the doctors and scientists whose information is actually useful. Trump’s presence merely allows him to lie with abandon, brag about things he hasn’t done, and insult the press corps and his political foes. He even tracks the ratings of these briefings and vainly attributes any increase in viewership to himself. Which is preposterous since there are at least as many Trump opponents tuning in as supporters.

It’s time for the press to start fighting back. They need to insist that they be allowed to ask questions without being cut off. They need to demand that Trump give answers that are responsive to the question. If necessary, they need to interrupt his incoherent filibusters to drag him back to the topic of the question. And they need to confront him when he tells another obvious, provable lie. He may get away with that when he’s “interviewed” on Fox News (the only cable news network he isn’t afraid to appear on), but that should not be the standard anywhere else.

The press needs to make these adjustments, not for any partisan objective or to disparage the President. They need to do it because at this critical time in our nation’s history people’s lives are dependent on getting credible information and holding the powerful to account. Trump’s ego, belligerence, and pathological lying cannot be allowed to divert the media from its traditional role to shine a light on the darkness of self-serving and/or corrupt politicians. They must meet Trump’s rancor with renewed determination and devotion to the public that relies on them. In the language of the TV reality world that Trump ought to understand: “It’s time to stop being polite and start getting real!”

How Fox News Deceives and Controls Their Flock:
Fox Nation vs. Reality: The Fox News Cult of Ignorance.
Available now at Amazon.

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7 thoughts on “GLOVES OFF: America’s Future Depends on Brutally Honest Media Coverage of Trump’s Failures

  1. There is one other option: the next time trump wanders off so as to avoid answering a question or insults the inquisitors, ALL the reporters present should just quietly close their notebooks , stand up and leave. He will explode, but let him talk to the walls and listen to the crickets. This should also be done the next time he tries to give one of his helicopter motor press conferences. This would let him know that the press just wants honest answers, not the crap that his “fans” love so much to hear.

  2. Actually our survival may depend on our ability to completely ignore everything he says. Maybe covering every word he’s said or tweeted for the last four years wasn’t such a good idea.

  3. The idea that ALL reporters should just “shut it down” & leave is a great idea, on more than 1 level. But, it would need to be everyone doing it in solidarity. Of course, the pro-Trump plants in the room, like Fux & OANN, for example, would not participate. So what? If everyone else media did it as 1 large group, that’d be enuff. And on news that night, report what the real experts had to say & ignore the antics of the bratty child in the room totally. As if he was not even there. It must be done! Cuz’ this is NOT working for anyone butt Trump!
    The other reason it’s a very good idea is even simpler:
    Trump is “textbook”; nothing unique in his mentally dysfunctional traits. Textbook paranoid, anti-social, delusional, sociopath & he is poster child for Malignant Narcissist! Nice thing about that is he’s EZ to manipulate…to “play him”.
    NOTHING makes Malignant Narcissist go crazy more than BEING IGNORED! They cannot take that & will do anything for that attention. They need it more than air they breathe. USE his weakness against him. If he were to turn on TV & was NOT on news, he’d start flipping channels trying to find himself on it; if he couldn’t see/hear himself on multiple news shows, he’d get frantic & would literally, “flipout”! He’d be madder than a wet cat, especially if heard mention of briefing w/o him at all! Would throw a fit worse than any spoiled child (which he is). Once convinced that all the news doing same thing, he’d call newsheads to bitch about it ~ reporters would need to stay strong & bossman would need to let it go for few days, but then, either Trump wouldn’t have the briefings, or he’d alter his behavior to be back on TV news. Most likely, the latter. Definitely the latter, if they could hold out long enuff.
    Reporters would NEED support of viewers to convince boss that it’s right thing to do. And it is!

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