|"The Country Election" by John Sartain, 1854 (The National Gallery of Art)
The blue banner reads, "The Will of the People the Supreme Law."
This is the interesting thing about Donald Trump's view of the media...
I take that back. There are enough interesting things about Donald Trump's view of the media to keep an army of historians and psychiatrists busy, and no doubt they are already hard at work, the poor devils...
This is one of the interesting things about Donald Trump's view of the media, the interesting thing that I want to talk about today: he doesn't believe what he's saying. Obviously, and I'll tell you why. If he sincerely thought that "the media is the enemy of the American people" who told "lies" and "FAKE NEWS," then why is he spending 77 minutes talking to them in a press conference Friday? Why let them in the White House at all? If he really wants to talk directly to the American people, banish the lot and let your Twitter finger do the talking.
The truth of course, is that Trump's condemnation of the media is really a condemnation of the facts that the media is reporting, on the chaos and incompetence of the Trump administration, how badly it has stumbled out of the blocks and is just lying there in the dust.
In a world where consistency mattered, Trump would be painting himself in a corner with the whole "FAKE NEWS" bit. Because what happens should he ever do anything right, and the media swoons over his skilled handling of a situation? What would he do then?
What he would do is break out in that smirky grin of his, shrug his shoulders, turn his palms to the sky and say, "Hey, they got one right for once!"
And his fans will guffaw and nod along with him and eat it up, as they always do. Which is why Trump says what he does about the media. It gives his supporters, always hot to pour scorn on somebody, a big pinata they can hit to their hearts' content. The media represents everything they dislike, they are told, and now they are given permission to dutifully kick it, not noticing that they are being trained to cover their ears and hum so as not to even hear, never mind perceive, the truth about their president.
We are entering a cruel, frightened era. Trump is a mean man who delights in making others seem small so he can tell himself he's big. The currency he offers is contempt, and his followers welcome the chance to accept it, ape his ways and spend freely. Seldom do I hear anything from a Trump supporter this isn't dripping with spite, with anger, with eyes-narrowed disdain. In that—and I've said this before—we shouldn't focus on Trump. We should focus on the people who have placed their bets on him and who will follow him, no matter what he says or does, who will ignore his misses as hits and his idiocy as sense. Those people were here when Trump showed up, and they''ll be here when he's gone. They viewed the eight years of Barack Obama as an unmitigated disaster, and they will view the eight years of Trump as the pinnacle of success. These are their glory days, whatever happens. They will not be denied the enjoyment of them, and if reality does not conform to their desires, they'll imagine a new reality that does, Trump will tell them it is so, and they will believe him. Nothing can change that.