I actually had dreams, nightmares really, about this theme as it rattled around in my head last night. It began with a planned post titled “The President vs. The Press,” but it dawned on me, as I was “lying awake with a dismal headache and repose was tabooed by anxiety,” that even that headline would fail to convey the important ethics story beneath. When I got up, too early, I grabbed my morning paper off the front walk to see if the New York Times had once again manufactured an attack piece on the President as its main story.
It had. This one was titled “For, $200,000, A Chance To Whisper in Trump’s Ear At Mar-a-Lago.” It is a special variety of fake news, the kind that the biased news media defenders deny is fake news, because it contains facts and is merely deceitful, misleading, hyped and given far more prominence than the facts deserve. But all that makes it fake, because it misleads readers, and is intended to. It’s on the front page, so this must be important, think the Times’ readers, forgetting, or ignoring, the fact that this very paper vowed to jettison journalistic ethics in October to make sure Donald Trump never won the Presidency. Now it is using its power and influence to prevent him from being President.
He called them on it last week, unleashing their fury. More on that later…
This wasn’t the worst of the endless trail of Times stories sowing distrust, but it was what greeted me this morning. The headline suggests that Trump is selling influence for cash—you know, like the Clinton Foundation, or like Bill did when he rented out the Lincoln bedroom to rich Hollywood donors. The story’s placement in the paper suggests this is crisis-worthy. But we knew all about all the components of this “crisis” before.
We knew Trump’s corporation (not Trump personally, which is intentionally blurred in the article) owns a lot of properties, including this one. We knew this created a conflict of interest, and that it would allow critics to claim self-dealing whenever they thought it would help smear the President, as with the ridiculous claim that the seven Muslim nations on his Middle East travel halt were chosen because he owned no hotels in any of them.
We knew that Trump had been spending weekends at the resort since he took office. Aside: The Times, cable news, and others are bashing him for that. Having made sure that Washington, D.C. is hostile territory, filled with marchers, protesters, people carrying signs insulting him and a population that voted 97% against him and wants him dead, the news media also wants him to be the Prisoner of the White House…all the better to kill him with stress and prompt the psychotic break they are sure is coming and that they can’t wait to occur. The President would be mad NOT to flee to his Palm Beach resort on weekends. I would. So would every hateful reporter, if they weren’t certain that The Golden Rule doesn’t apply to Donald Trump, like fairness and most other ethics principles.
We also have known for a month the private club had doubled its dues since the Inauguration. That was an obvious, if ruthless, business decision by the management. I doubt Trump had anything to do with that call, but then I’m rational and fair, unlike most on the left today. The club members are literally all mega-millionaires and billionaires, and $200,000 is not an unusually high figure for dues at top-line exclusive golf clubs. $200,000 sounds like a huge expenditure to the typical American reading the Times. It’s not, for these members.
Moreover, there are few memberships open, and almost all of the 500 current members predate Trump’s campaign:
“Membership lists reviewed by The New York Times show that the club’s nearly 500 paying members include dozens of real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives and others whose businesses could be affected by Mr. Trump’s policies. At least three club members are under consideration for an ambassadorship. Most of the 500 have had memberships predating Mr. Trump’s presidential campaign, and there are a limited number of memberships still available.”
You know, their businesses could have been affected by Mr. Trump’s policies whether they were members of the club or not. What’s the implication here, that the President is going to calibrate his policies to benefit duespayers? If these people were friends of the President (the news media has been telling us that he has no friends, but that was in a different set of hit pieces), he could meet with them, text with them, have a phone conversation with them any time he chose. Ah, winks the Times, but if they pay their $200,000, “the President himself could stop by your table for a quick chat”!
What a deal. Do the reporters and their editors really think that successful “real estate developers, Wall Street financiers, energy executives” and others are morons, or are they the morons? Or do they just count on their readers to be gullible fools?
My guess is the latter. Later in the article, the Times tries to bolster its innuendo that paying dues gives the idle rich a hook into the President with this:
“No one needs to have a long sit-down with Donald Trump,” said Robert Weissman, the president of Public Citizen, a nonpartisan watchdog group. “If you can whisper in his ear for 40 seconds, that can be decisive on your policy.”
You mean like “We have Melania in a trunk, and unless you lower our taxes, she’ll be fish food in the East River”? This is fantasy hyperbole, and fantasy hyperbole is disinformation. Meanwhile, Public Citizen is misrepresented by the Times as objective and neutral, and it is not. It may be non-partisan (the NAACP is also “non-partisan,” as is CREW, which somehow finds a way to annually fill 2/3 of its list of unethical Congress members with Republicans), but it is a 100% liberal consumer organization that is currently suing to block the President’s insane Executive Order requiring agencies to kill two regulations before they add one more to the 50,000 to 100,000 pages of new regulations published every year since 1977. I mean, can you imagine the gall of this guy? He’s Hitler, I tell you! Now, Obama, if there was ever a friend of democracy, it was him. Under his administration, the EPA (Public Citizen loves the EPA!) issued nearly 4000 regs all by itself, every one of which absolutely essential to public health and safety, I’m sure. Obama’s agencies issued over 22,000 regs in all, and 600+ major regulations, a record. One study indicated that the annual costs of Obama Administration rules was 100 billion dollars a year.
Public Citizen is suing to prevent any reduction in these rules.
Does basic journalism ethics require that published commentary from Public Citizen be flagged as coming from a progressive, anti-Trump entity that is part of “the resistance,” just like the New York Times? Of course it does. This story has little to do with journalism, however.
At the very end, we are finally told:
Historically, of course, American presidents have often been rich men with mansions, who sometimes conducted the people’s business in weekend haunts of the wealthy: the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, Me., for example, or the Kennedy family home in Hyannisport, Mass. President Dwight D. Eisenhower joined the elite Augusta National Golf Club before he was elected, frequently hanging out there with a group of affluent businessmen who became known as “the gang,” which included top executives from Coca-Cola and an oil company, an investment banker and a lawyer-financier-lobbyist.
But Mr. Trump’s weekend White House appears to be unprecedented in American history, as it is the first one with customers paying a company owned by the president, several historians said.“Mar-a-Lago represents a commercialization of the presidency that has few if any precedents in American history,” said Jon Meacham, a presidential historian and Andrew Jackson biographer. “Presidents have always spent time with the affluent,” he added. “But a club where people pay you as president to spend time in his company is new. It is kind of amazing.”
Poisoning the well. First, the news media is calling the resort the “weekend White House, because Trump has gone there three times. Three. Second, calling it “commercializing the Presidency” is outrageous. Renting the Lincoln bedroom was “commercializing the Presidency.” This is not. Meacham’s statement is a pure partisan smear, from a member of a profession that declared its opposition to Trump in a petition last year. ( Were any of those unnamed historians the Times refers to among the signatories? We can’t tell…because they are unnamed.) Members are not “paying” Trump “as President to spend time in his company.” They are paying for the club’s services. Unless every member is informed by the club when Trump will be visiting, and has guaranteed members that he would be there at certain times and places for four years, Meacham’s characterization is just plain false, and obviously so to anyone not addled by Trump hate and confirmation bias—like Democrats, journalists and Times readers.
The President’s son —who naturally cannot be believed or trusted because he is hellspawn and thus evil incarnate—told the Times that the entire premise of this “scoop” was biased.
“It assumes the worst of us and everyone, and that is unfair,” Eric Trump said.
Silly man. Nobody in the resistance cares what’s “unfair”! This is war on the President and democracy. The news media doesn’t care about fairness, nor about preserving a system that betrayed progressives by robbing them of power. The end justifies the means, and the desired end is to make everyone assume the worst about the President, so he cannot do the job the public elected him to do. That’s what the Democrats, progressives and the news media are determined to accomplish.
Gee, that was long, but I thought it might be. Hence the “I” in the headline. I’ll get into the details of why the President’s labeling the news media as the public;s enemy was fair, accurate and important in the next couple of posts.