Me­dia and Mr. Pres­i­dent

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - VOICES - Mike Master­son Mike Master­son is a long­time Arkansas jour­nal­ist. Email him at mmas­ter­son@arkansason­line.com.

Ihave a ques­tion to­day, val­ued read­ers. De­spite the ob­vi­ous 24/7 drum­beat of Trump smear­ings and bash­ings by most ca­ble chan­nels, some in his own party, and a host of left­ist-ori­ented metropoli­tan news­pa­pers and tele­vi­sion sta­tions, do you feel the pres­i­dent’s base sup­port is ac­tu­ally go­ing stronger with each at­tack?

Pres­i­dent Trump tweeted last week that he be­lieves that’s ex­actly what’s been hap­pen­ing, de­spite polls con­tend­ing his pop­u­lar­ity hov­ers just over 30 per­cent. As ev­i­dence, he cites enor­mous cam­paign-era crowds who con­tinue to at­tend ev­ery speech he makes across hin­ter­land Amer­ica.

Po­lit­i­cal polling presents a prob­lem of its own mak­ing. Fol­low­ing the elec­tion where vir­tu­ally all na­tional polls pre­dicted a Clin­ton vic­tory, each in­stead was proven dead wrong. That was not only em­bar­rass­ing for the polling in­dus­try but has left tens of mil­lions of Amer­i­cans mis­trust­ful of their con­clu­sions much ever since.

The re­sult­ing cred­i­bil­ity gap doesn’t stop there; not by a long shot.

The Demo­crat Party and mass me­dia’s de­ci­sion to dog and de­mo­nize ev­ery step the 45th pres­i­dent takes with­out bal­anc­ing their uni­fied crit­i­cism with a smidgen of pos­i­tives fur­ther dam­ages their cred­i­bil­ity while po­lar­iz­ing Amer­i­cans ever deeper into op­pos­ing camps.

Painfully fre­netic “get Trump at all costs” at­tacks have been steadily am­pli­fy­ing since the elec­tion. And it’s a shame for my craft to watch so much hard-earned trust, but­tressed over decades of striv­ing for ob­jec­tiv­ity and fair play, be­ing squan­dered on re­lent­lessly push­ing one par­tic­u­lar po­lit­i­cal agenda at any cost.

I won­der how many, if any, lead­ers in the ma­jor na­tional me­dia re­al­ize and care just how sig­nif­i­cantly they have lost this valu­able trust mil­lions of Amer­i­cans once placed in them. Be­lieve me, ev­ery­one out here clearly sees what’s hap­pen­ing and so many con­sider the cal­cu­lated on­slaught dis­grace­ful and wrong.

Over my life­time, a mean-spir­ited, bi­ased ap­proach to re­port­ing never was taught as ac­cept­able prac­tice in jour­nal­ism schools. In fact, show­ing gross bi­ases through se­lec­tive re­port­ing, word choice, place­ment and slanted head­lines was con­sid­ered a hall­mark of the poor­est form of jour­nal­ism. That’s cer­tainly changed in re­cent years, hasn’t it?

The one-sided smear­ings have be­come so pre­dictable I won­der how many Amer­i­cans still be­lieve much of any­thing they read or hear in the na­tional press when it comes to the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

As a re­sult, much of the na­tional print and broad­cast me­dia have cho­sen to pit what shreds of pop­u­lar­ity they have re­main­ing against that of the pres­i­dent. And many be­lieve the pres­i­dent (who says he is work­ing and try­ing hard on be­half of the na­tion rather than sat­is­fy­ing an en­trenched po­lit­i­cal party) is win­ning any such con­test hands-down.

So much cred­i­bil­ity has been lost be­cause of this ob­ses­sive on­slaught on Trump and even his fam­ily, it will be dif­fi­cult if not im­pos­si­ble for mil­lions of Amer­i­cans to see the main­stream me­dia as lit­tle more than pro­tec­tion­ists and pro­pa­gan­dists for po­lit­i­cal fa­vorites. For me, end­less months of the “Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence and col­lu­sion” brouhaha is a good ex­am­ple.

Most peo­ple I talk to see it as noth­ing more than a po­lit­i­cally con­trived and cal­cu­lated con­tro­versy de­signed to dis­tract long-term from the se­ri­ous and press­ing prob­lems like the econ­omy, na­tional se­cu­rity, ter­ror­ism and il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

So many folks are flat fa­tigued from hear­ing about it, whether the al­le­ga­tions of meet­ings with Rus­sian of­fi­cials and hack­ing our com­put­ers are true or not. That sort of be­hindthe-scenes game has gone on with both sides for decades. Look at our own se­cu­rity agen­cies’ in­volve­ment in South Amer­i­can pol­i­tics and gov­ern­ments over the years.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing such al­leged in­ter­fer­ence that didn’t af­fect our elec­tions out­come is good. But it’s cer­tainly far from be­ing crit­i­cal con­sid­er­ing the im­me­di­ate pri­or­i­ties we’re face as a na­tion.

I know this much. Af­ter 46 years prac­tic­ing this craft in news­rooms across the coun­try, I’ve never wit­nessed any­thing even close to what we all are see­ing in the way the “news” is shaped and used as a weapon of pun­ish­ment to­day.

Is Don­ald J. Trump a flaw­less human be­ing? Is he the ideal pres­i­dent? Does he al­ways do what the me­dia and mem­bers of his own party think he should do? I’d say no to all those. I see him as an ac­com­plished busi­ness­man rather than a ca­reer politi­cian driven by a large ego (which pres­i­dent hasn’t been?) who ap­pears to be try­ing to im­prove life for Amer­i­cans rather than un­der­mine our sys­tems.

And I’m by no means say­ing his of­fi­cial ac­tions shouldn’t be scru­ti­nized. Sure he’s brash, ar­ro­gant, of­ten crude or in­ap­pro­pri­ate and im­pul­sively de­ci­sive in his ap­proach to the job. Yet he’s also far more shrewd than the me­dia gives him credit for be­ing. That’s one rea­son he takes to speak­ing di­rectly to Amer­i­cans through of­ten self-dam­ag­ing tweets, thereby avoid­ing the main­stream me­dia work­ing so fever­ishly to de­stroy him.

Like or de­spise the man, he is our na­tion’s elected pres­i­dent who ap­pears to avoid the good ol’ boy way of back-scratch­ing busi­ness in the mud pud­dle known as D.C. If you doubt that, pay at­ten­tion to those crowds he still draws each time he trav­els into the hin­ter­land Amer­ica to speak.

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