Trump, me­dia just can’t let the elec­tion go

The Sentinel-Record - - VIEWPOINTS - Micheal Ger­son Copy­right 2017, Wash­ing­ton Post Writ­ers group

SAN DIEGO — What’s the date to­day? Don’t ask the me­dia or the White House. Nei­ther of them has the fog­gi­est idea.

They’re both stuck in Novem­ber 2016. And cu­ri­ously, nei­ther wants to ad­mit it — even though they’re both quick to ac­cuse the other of be­ing need­lessly mired in the past and in­ex­pli­ca­bly in­tent on re­play­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

In a re­cent ex­am­ple, as part of his un­re­lent­ing cam­paign to cre­ate a hos­tile work en­vi­ron­ment for the na­tion’s chief law en­force­ment of­fi­cer, Pres­i­dent

Trump tweeted: “At­tor­ney

Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions has taken a VERY weak po­si­tion on

Hil­lary Clin­ton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) &

In­tel leak­ers!”

Un­be­liev­able. Do you know what’s re­ally weak?

Trump’s mem­ory. He’s the one who, as pres­i­dent-elect, took off the ta­ble the idea of pros­e­cut­ing Clin­ton — ei­ther for mis­han­dling clas­si­fied emails or al­legedly us­ing the Clin­ton Foun­da­tion and the State Depart­ment to shake down for­eign donors. Cut­ting off his op­tions was a dumb move for some­one who is al­ways telling us how smart he is.

Over the past week, much of broad­cast me­dia have ham­mered Trump for be­ing stuck in time, and ob­sess­ing too much over an elec­tion that oc­curred al­most nine months ago.

But th­ese talk­ing heads have no room to talk. They’re just as guilty of con­stantly re­vis­it­ing the 2016 elec­tion, if only to bet­ter un­der­stand what the heck hap­pened.

The rules to this game are quite sim­ple. If dwelling on the elec­tion makes you look good, or your op­po­nent look bad, then by all means do it. But if re­count­ing those events makes you look bad or your op­po­nent look good, then you want no part of it.

And so when Trump spent much of his first 100 days in of­fice brag­ging about his well-or­ches­trated vic­tory over Hil­lary Clin­ton, many in the me­dia yelled “foul.” How un­couth for the vic­tor to be such a poor win­ner, they said. The mes­sage to the pres­i­dent was clear: Fo­cus on the present and get on with gov­ern­ing.

There were also the ques­tions about whether the Trump cam­paign col­luded with Vladimir Putin and the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment to steal the elec­tion from Clin­ton. The ques­tions sprang from de­nial and dis­be­lief, as a me­dia that had lost touch with ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans re­fused to ac­cept that Trump had any­thing to sell that any­one would want to buy. And as the me­dia hounds searched for the Rus­sian Con­nec­tion, the Trump­is­tas cer­tainly did them­selves no fa­vors by con­tin­u­ing to act guilty even as they pro­claimed their in­no­cence.

And so when Don­ald Trump Jr. re­leased per­sonal emails about meet­ing with a Rus­sian lawyer in the fi­nal months of the cam­paign, the me­dia treated the story as a smok­ing gun. Some of them even saw it as vin­di­ca­tion of their claim that the badly run Clin­ton cam­paign may not have been so badly run af­ter all. In fact, for anal­y­sis on the story, CNN turned to one of its new­est con­trib­u­tors — Robby Mook, Clin­ton’s 2016 cam­paign man­ager. Ob­vi­ously, th­ese folks are not big on sub­tlety. Now who’s liv­ing in the past?

As this tacky te­len­ov­ela con­tin­ues, let’s be clear why the me­dia hate Trump so much. It’s not just par­ti­san bias; a Cen­ter for Pub­lic In­tegrity sur­vey in Oc­to­ber found that 96 per­cent of po­lit­i­cal do­na­tions from me­dia fig­ures in last year’s gen­eral elec­tion went to Clin­ton. And it’s not just fool­ish pride and the fact that, as I have noted, too many in the me­dia can’t get over the fact that they missed the big story of Trump’s vic­tory.

It’s also the fact that — con­sis­tent with the old adage that we de­spise most in oth­ers the char­ac­ter­is­tics we see in our­selves — Trump and broad­cast me­dia are the same an­i­mal.

Both have nar­cis­sis­tic in­stincts and take them­selves too se­ri­ously. Both love the sound of their own voice, and dis­miss op­pos­ing views. Both rel­ish go­ing on the at­tack, but have thin skins and take crit­i­cism per­son­ally. Both know how to make lots of money from shrewdly mar­ket­ing a brand. Both wor­ship at the al­tar of mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion and un­der­stand the power of mega soap­boxes to shape pub­lic opin­ion and ad­vance po­lit­i­cal agen­das.

And most of all, both Trump and the me­dia are hav­ing a tough time get­ting be­yond a dread­ful elec­tion that most Amer­i­cans would like to for­get.

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