The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part II: The Press Conference

press-conference

Based on the hysterical—yes, that’s a fair word—reaction from pundits and reporters to the President’s news conference last week, I assumed there had to be something that the transcript didn’t pick up, like he was wearing a Gooney bird on his head, or naked, or bit someone. MSNBC’s Chris Matthews called the President “manic” and compared him to Soviet spy Alger Hiss.  Brian Williams described it as an unhinged” press conference “brought to you by narcissism, thin-skinned chaos, and deeply personal grievances.” CBS This Morning’s  co-host Norah O’Donnell called the 77 minute affair “astonishing…an unprecedented display of accusations and exaggerations.” Fellow co-host Gayle King chimed in: “The President’s outburst of frustration left many observers bewildered.”

A response to the session that really was unhinged came from New York Times columnist David Brooks, who clarified for  me what the indignant political elite sound like when they have finally been backed into a corner, writing,

“Judging by his Thursday press conference, President Trump’s mental state is like a train that long ago left freewheeling and iconoclastic, has raced through indulgent, chaotic and unnerving, and is now careening past unhinged, unmoored and unglued.”

From this, Brooks concluded, disgracefully,

“This does not feel like a sustainable operation. On the other hand, I have trouble seeing exactly how this administration ends. Many of the institutions that would normally ease out or remove a failing president no longer exist.”

Damn elections! What does Brooks think he is talking about? Trump has accomplished many things he promised to do in less than a month; it is one of the most productive first 30 days any President has had in history. He has appointed an excellent Supreme Court Justice. The stock market is booming. When has any President been judged “failing” or been “eased out” after a month, or three, or six, or ever, absent criminal activity? Never. Brooks, like Democrats and the news media, are pronouncing the Trump Presidency dead because they don’t like him, his style, or what he wants to do. That does not justify writing as if he has done anything to justify removing him, except that this is the theme of the “resistance.”

Citing cherry-picked negative polls, like, say, the ones that said Trump had no chance of winning the election, Brooks then gives his blessing to undemocratic, insubordinate and seditious conduct to undermine an elected President:

“The Civil Service has a thousand ways to ignore or sit on any presidential order. The court system has given itself carte blanche to overturn any Trump initiative, even on the flimsiest legal grounds. The intelligence community has only just begun to undermine this president.”

A responsible newspaper doesn’t publish this.

Then I watched the whole conference.  I thought back to the first debate, which I thought Trump blew horribly. Charles Krauthammer sneered after the debate and said it was the end of Trump’s candidacy, and that everyone could see now that he was shallow, clownish, and unfit to lead. I agreed heartily.

Clearly, Charles and I missed something.

The Trump I saw in the press conference was exactly the same….better, perhaps. Journalists who see anything “unhinged” beyond how Trump, who is a direct, blunt, rhetorically juvenile communicator, campaigned were either intentionally trying to make the public see something more alarming (this is what I believe) or were deluding themselves. Michael Goodwin at The New York Post got it right, in his column, “Sorry, media — this press conference played very differently with Trump’s supporters.”

Amid feverish reports of chaos on his team and with Democrats fantasizing that Russia-gate is another Watergate, Trump took center stage to declare that reports of his demise are just more fake news. Far from dead, he was positively exuberant. His performance at a marathon press conference Thursday was a must-see-TV spectacle as he mixed serious policy talk with standup comedy and took repeated pleasure in whacking his favorite piñata, the “dishonest media.”…

Trump’s detractors immediately panned the show as madness, but they missed the method behind it and proved they still don’t understand his appeal. Facing his first crisis in the Oval Office, he was unbowed in demonstrating his bare-knuckle intention to fight back. He did it his way. Certainly no other president, and few politicians at any level in any time, would dare put on a show like that.In front of cameras, and using the assembled press corps as props, he conducted a televised revival meeting to remind his supporters that he is still the man they elected…

I’m not a Trump supporter, but I am a President of the United States supporter, and I was impressed. I thought, as I watched, “Now this is one advantage of being a narcissist.” The presumption of the news media, because nobody has ever done this at a press conference before, is that it is crazy and wrong to use one  to attack the press. Indeed, that’s the conventional wisdom. “Morning Joe” Scarborough, who didn’t have the stomach for Capital Hill politics and retired to MSNBC where he could safely take cheap shots at public servants who do, said, “He is trying to delegitimize the press that  has risen up over the past couple of weeks. And as I always say, don’t fight the press, the press always wins. Ask Richard Nixon. The press always wins!”

And reality star tycoons who talk about their penis size and mock veterans and the disabled always lose elections to anointed Democratic royalty. right Joe? Trump is President because he has defied conventional wisdom again and again. How often to you and your colleagues have to look like idiots before you learn something? The comparison is also misleading. Nixon was afraid of the press. Trump isn’t. Nixon radiated weakness and paranoia. Trump doesn’t  I always thought Nixon should have thrown Dan Rather, who was repeatedly disrespectful to him, out of the press corps, but he didn’t have the guts. Moreover, the public trusted the news media then. Theywere partisan and biased, but there were no alternatives,  the full perfidy of their bias hadn’t been exposed, and they hadn’t declined into the nakedly partisan mob of hacks journalism has become.

Why is it wrong to use a press conference to criticize journalists? Obama criticized Fox reporters, and I criticized him for it because he was punching down: backed loyally by the rest of the news media, which worked to elect him twice, Obama’s attacks (and those of staff like Valerie Jarrett )were petulant and a declaration that only fawning reporting was acceptable. Trump, however, has been subjected to a relentless onslaught of fearmongering, Nazi comparisons, ridicule, accusations of treason and insanity, personal denigration and daily pundit expositions about how somehow he needed to be removed from office. It would have been a betrayal of his duty to the office and the public if he had not taken affirmative and forceful action to fight an effort that is no less than an attempt to render him unable to lead. The strongest and most effective method, although the one presenting highest risk and courting the most criticism, is to use his office, its power and the bully pulpit to expose the news media for what it is, and delegitimize it before it delegitimatizes him.

Of course, journalism has delegitimatized itself, over many years. Ethics Alarms and before that, the Ethics Scoreboard has chronicled its near complete abandonment of professional ethics. The 2016 campaign was the nadir (so far) and Trump was the victim (after being a beneficiary), but in contrast to Nixon, the news media handed ammunition for its destruction to him.

Two weeks ago, I asked,

“Does any leader with integrity, courage and influence exist in either journalism or the political left to call out this escalating madness?”

The answer to that one is apparently no. In an earlier post (I can’t find it) I said that unless journalism took a hard and unwavering look at the depths to which it had fallen, and made immediate and rigorous efforts to rededicate itself to the principles of ethical journalism, the United States would no longer have a functioning news circulation system, just competing propaganda organs. Democracy can’t survive that. Thus for a President to confront the news media and tell it to shape up is absolutely responsible.

I would wish he could do it more clearly and articulately. I would wish he didn’t open himself up to cheap shots that undermined his mission as most journalists, even Chris Wallace and Shep Smith at Fox, circle the wagons. Here is what The Hill thought was one of the most significant statements in the presser:

“Trump falsely claimed that he had the biggest electoral victory since President Reagan. In fact, former Presidents Obama, Clinton and George H.W. Bush outpaced him.”

Stop the presses! Trump is sloppy with figures, history and his own accomplishments, and if you aren’t resigned to that by now, you’re pathetic.

Here were the exchanges that mattered:

1. Trump began his prepared assault with this…

Unfortunately, much of the media in Washington, D.C., along with New York, Los Angeles in particular, speaks not for the people, but for the special interests and for those profiting off a very, very obviously broken system. The press has become so dishonest that if we don’t talk about, we are doing a tremendous disservice to the American people. Tremendous disservice. We have to talk to find out what’s going on, because the press honestly is out of control. The level of dishonesty is out of control.

Verdict: True. Could have been said better…but true. And bravo to the President for saying it at all.

2. Trump referenced the  allegations that his campaign team had been in contact with Russian officials: The failing New York Times wrote a big, long front-page story yesterday. And it was very much discredited, as you know. It was — it’s a joke.”

Verdict: Not quite a joke, but a hyped, insubstantial story based on anonymous sources. Writes Althouse:

“I think the people at the NYT really believe they can bring Trump down. But can they? I think Trump has a big advantage in this fight. And yet, what is the fight and what constitutes winning? Trump kept saying “the failing New York Times.” For the NYT, winning may simply be getting and maintaining a monetizable readership. Trump doesn’t have to fall. All can win. Perhaps that is Trump’s art-of-the-deal game: We can all win. He said it at the press conference: “I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now.”

3.  Trump again referenced CNN, reminding the reporters that many Americans view them less favorably than even Congress:

I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred. I don’t watch it any more because it’s very good — he’s saying no. It’s okay, Jim [CNN’s Accosta] — it’s okay, Jim — you’ll have your chance. But I watch others too. You’re not the only one so don’t feel badly. But I think it should be straight. I think it should be — I think it would be frankly more interesting. I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now but I think that actually — I think that’d actually be better. People — I mean, you have a lower approval rate than Congress. I think that’s right.

Verdict: “Anger and hate” is absolutely fair. CNN has never featured a single second of hatred toward Obama, Clinton or any elected official that approaches the mouth-foaming fury of its anti-Trump contributors.

4.  The cold hard truth:

The public doesn’t believe you people anymore. Now, maybe I had something to do with that. I don’t know. But they don’t believe you. If you were straight and really told it like it is, as Howard Cosell used to say, right? Of course, he had some questions also. But if you were straight, I would be your biggest booster.

Verdict: Would he really, if the news media were straight? Well, since they are ethically obligated to be straight anyway, you  would think they would test that assertion.

5.  Trump had specific criticism for Don Lemon’s CNN show:

Well, you look at your show that goes on at 10 o’clock in the evening. You just take a look at that show. That is a constant hit. The panel is almost always exclusive anti-Trump. The good news is he doesn’t have good ratings. But the panel is almost exclusive anti-Trump. And the hatred and venom coming from his mouth; the hatred coming from other people on your networkThe public gets it, you know. Look, when I go to rallies, they turn around, they start screaming at CNN. They want to throw their placards at CNN.”

Verdict: True.

6. Then Trump predicted  the headlines for Friday morning:

“Tomorrow, they will say, “Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.” I’m not ranting and raving. I’m just telling you. You know, you’re dishonest people. But — but I’m not ranting and raving. I love this.”

And, of course, that is exactly what they said!

126 Comments

Filed under "bias makes you stupid", Character, Ethics Alarms Award Nominee, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Leadership, U.S. Society

126 responses to “The President Is Right About The Mainstream News Media, And It Can’t Handle The Truth, Part II: The Press Conference

  1. Chris

    I disagree with just about every line here, but this is the one that jumped out at me:

    Stop the presses! Trump is sloppy with figures, history and his own accomplishments, and if you aren’t resigned to that by now, you’re pathetic.

    I’ve noticed that this has been a theme in your coverage of the press and the Left’s reaction to Trump–that we should just “resign” ourselves to accepting his worst traits, and stop criticizing him for them.

    I won’t “resign” myself to accepting that the president is a pathological liar.

    I won’t “resign” myself to accepting that when called out on the lie, the president will blame others, saying “That’s the information I was given.”

    I won’t “resign” myself to the fact that the president is incapable of assessing the accuracy of information, of surrounding himself with people who will tell the truth, and of accepting information that does not stroke his ego.

    The size of his electoral victory doesn’t matter. What does matter is that the president will believe absolutely anything that makes him feel better about himself. There will come a time when this matters. President Bush believed the intelligence about WMDs in Iraq because he wanted to believe it. Trump’s tendency to believe the unbelievable is much stronger and more self-evident than Bush’s ever was, as shown by his love of conspiracy theories and theorists. Here is a president that does not give even the tiniest shit about the truth.

    Do you honestly think that doesn’t matter?

    • Wayne

      Chris, you are really making a fool of yourself. You seem to to have a patholical hatred of Trump, who admittedly was one of the worst candidates the Republicans could have fielded. But then again, he won the primaries and the election. Perhap you should consider moving to Canada or someplace else where’d you’d be happier.

      • Chris

        Respond to my points, then, Wayne. Do you think it doesn’t matter that we have a president incapable of telling reliable information apart from unreliable information?

        • Eternal optometrist

          I hope you were as vigilante with our lord and savior, Obama. Somehow i doubt it.

          • Chris

            Obama was not incapable of telling fact from reality, nor did he call the press the enemy of the people, so your comment is partisan drivel, EO.

            • Tippy Scales

              1. Other than “if you like your doctor, you can keep him?”

              2. You’re right that Obama did not call the press the enemy of the people. He did much worse; instead of hostile words, he took hostile action. His administration wiretapped the AP to see which sources were tipping them off; had the FBI harass reporters and threaten to throw them in jail; and jailed more media whistle blowers than any President before him.

              But, why worry about how terrible Obama was, and how the press allowed violations of the very freedoms they’re now saying are so utterly important to democracy. Trump is Hitler!

              Pfft.

              • Chris

                1. Yes, other than that. Obama told some whoppers. Trump tells a new lie every day.

                2. I’m not going to defend Obama’s actions here. They had no bearing on Trump’s.

            • E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

              Too many comments to see to whom I’m really replying, but whoever praised Obama for never going after the press is practicing revisionist history, and asking a question that has too obvious an answer.

              The press adored Obama. They covered for his mistakes. They made him a hero for his “good intentions,” whether or not he achieved a thing. They supported him at every opportunity, fawned over him daily, and this attitude followed on to Hillary. So what motivation would Obama have ever had to say a damned thing about a press machine that was so clearly biased in his direction? None. He benefited from their bias. A ridiculous comparison. Sorry.

      • He was, in fact, the worst candidate. But that doesn’t matter now.

    • Do I think obvious, silly, misstatements (that are NOT lies, as I have explained before) that have no effect other than to make the President look bad and give his enemies something to carp on matter? They don’t keep mattering, any more than every fart from someone who is chronically flatulent matters.

      Trump has kept his promises, and all his misstatements together don’t equal one of Obama’s calculated strategic lies, like “If you like your healthcare system…”

      Lying was never my biggest problem with Trump, because what he does isn’t usually lying.

      As for the post, it was carefully written, researched, and is exactly right. Anyone who doesn’t see the news medias conduct for what it is has deluded themselves. The evidence is flamingly bright, and undeniable.

      • Chris

        Fine, let’s say it wasn’t a “lie” because Trump doesn’t know how to tell truth from fiction.

        You don’t believe it matters that the president can’t tell the truth from fiction?

        • Joe Fowler

          Remember that time all those people incapable of telling truth from fiction became billionaires?

          That must be what happened to Trump.

          Like always framed by the left:

          ” Extreme on economic issues, extreme on the so-called social issues, he even has had an “extreme foreign-policy makeover,” according to The Atlantic.

          His views on immigration, MSNBC says, represent the Republican party “shrinking down to its most extreme elements.” One cable-news panelist insists he was the most extreme Republican presidential candidate ever.

          Paul Krugman laments that he has forsaken all serious policy thinking for “dangerous fantasy.”

          Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times is also alert to the “dangers” he presents, the “most dangerous of all” being his views on Iran, though Kristof also worries that he is too buddy-buddy with that awful, scheming Benjamin Netanyahu.

          Predictably, Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow dogpiled him for his perplexing relationship with Moscow. Vice calls him a “sociopath” and Maureen Dowd dismissed him as “an out-of-touch plutocrat” who keeps “his true nature . . . buried where we can’t see it,” a devious figure who is so awful deep down inside that he “must hide an essential part of who he is” from the public.

          President Mitt Romney sounds like he would have been a riot. Alas, his presidency never came to pass, thanks in no small part to the hysteria chronicled above. Every Republican president is “the most extreme ever,” or so Democrats and their media friends insist.”

          -by Kevin Williamson

          That was what they had to say about…Mitt Romney.Trump hits back, and his supporters love it. They don’t believe the press anymore. They think they’ve been lied to.

          How come, do you think?

          • Chris

            Remember that time all those people incapable of telling truth from fiction became billionaires?

            What a stupid comment. You’re saying you would respond to any falsehood from Trump by saying “Well, he’s a billionaire, so obviously he does know the difference between true and false!” Furthermore, Trump started out as a millionaire; any idiot can turn a million into a billion. Finally, you have no idea if Trump is really a billionaire.

            • Joe Fowler

              What a failure to respond intelligently, Chris. You’re saying that a person capable of what Trump has done is incapable of distinguishing reality from fantasy? Was your reality a Hillary landslide? As to any idiot turning a million into a billion, I presume you have $1000, let me know when you turn it into a million. Finally, yep, he’s a billionaire.
              Your cognitive dissonance is fun to watch, but you can get help, and should.
              Trump isn’t an idiot, or Hitler, or a Russian puppet. He’s a fiery populist with a set of policies you oppose, and he won the Presidency. Embrace that reality.

              • Chris

                What a failure to respond intelligently, Chris. You’re saying that a person capable of what Trump has done is incapable of distinguishing reality from fantasy?

                Yes, of course I am saying that.

                I’ll let tex explain which fallacy you’re engaging in by arguing otherwise, since he’s more knowledgeable on that sort of thing then I am.

                • Joe Fowler

                  Trump managing to win a heated and crowded primary race, and beating the Democratic candidate for the Presidency, while being almost entirely opposed by the media can not be construed as any sort of evidence that he has a grasp on reality? That’s what you’re going with?

                  • Chris

                    “He won, therefore he understands the truth!”

                    That’s what you’re going with?

                    • Joe Fowler

                      No, I’m going with:
                      Those who claim Trump is incapable of distinguishing reality from fantasy, as you have (above), have to formulate an explanation for how he managed to win the Presidency that allows for him to be detached from reality while doing so.

                    • Chris

                      You can read almost any Jack Marshall post about Trump leading up to the election and several after for an explanation of that.

                    • Joe Fowler

                      (No “reply” button available on your last post. Hence this as reply to: )
                      -You can read almost any Jack Marshall post about Trump leading up to the election and several after for an explanation of that.-
                      A vague (‘almost any’) Appeal to Authority, which on examination fails to support your case. However, I do respect Jack, so I will quote him here:
                      “oooh, that(‘s) disappointing, because Chris is completely detached from reality on thi(s).”

      • charlesgreen

        Jack, I’m totally with Chris on this one.

        The fact that Trump seems literally incapable of discerning the difference between lies and untruths is cause enough for worry.

        You say he’s kept his promises. Really? How are we doing on tariffs? The Muslim ban? Forcing China to depreciate? Moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Repeal and replace? Appointing a special prosecutor to lock up Hillary? (I will grant you that he’s cut some regulations – like oil companies having to report bribes and coal companies having to report pollution). Bets on Mexico paying for the wall? Bets on unemployed coal miners overcoming the low price of natural gas, or Google moving to Appalachia?

        The farce about him mis-quoting a bogus story on Fox about the Massacre at IKEA – after having exempted Fox from the meaningless insult of “fake news” – is an irony that surpasses SNL’s writers’ ability to mock.

        Of course I’d expect you to be to the right of Maureen Dowd and even Joe Scarborough on this one, but John McCain? Lindsay Graham?

        More seriously, I am re-reading a history of Germany in 1933-37, and it is quite sobering. The appeals to xenophobia; the charm of the “homeland,” blood and race; the gradual replacement of party roles by cronies, and the gradual integration of government by party (e.g. Bannon into the national security process); the sneering at institutions, the ‘educated’ – and above all, the free press.

        I recommend to anyone to go read a history, any history, of the early days of the Nazis. Here’s what Mein Kampf has to say about propaganda:

        –All propaganda must be popular and its intellectual level must be adjusted to the most limited intelligence among those it is addressed to.
        –Propaganda must be limited to a few simple themes and these must be represented again and again. Here, as in innumerable other cases, perseverance is the first and most important condition of success
        –Only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on the memory of the crowd.
        –The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses.
        –It is not the purpose of propaganda to create a series of alterations in sentiment with a view to pleasing these blasé gentry. Its chief function is to convince the masses, whose slowness of understanding needs to be given time in order that they may absorb information; and only constant repetition will finally succeed in imprinting an idea on the memory of the crowd.
        –The art of propaganda lies in understanding the emotional ideas of the great masses and finding, through a psychologically correct form, the way to the attention and thence to the heart of the broad masses.

        Who does that sound more to you like – Trump, or the mainstream media? It’s pretty damn obvious to me.

        And don’t blame me for using the H-word at this point: there’s a world of room between saying “Trump is Hitler” and “Trump is using some disturbing techniques that we’ve seen before, e.g. with Hitler (also Stalin, Mussolini).” Yes, we’re at that point, IMHO.

        You were dead wrong in your (very strongly) expressed opinion that neither Hillary nor Trump would ever get their respective parties’ nominations; I sincerely hope you come to be seen as equally wrong in your view that Trumpism is benign. He’s not alone, as Bannon knows well; he’s being cited approvingly by other intolerant right-wing nationalist parties in France, UK, Germany, and Russia. He’s a symptom: but he’s a cause, too.

        • charlesgreen

          Addendum: even Karl Rove thinks the “media is the enemy of the American people” is way over the top.

        • oooh, that disappointing, because Chris is completely detached from reality on thi.

          BUT first let’s get the record straight: I never said Hillary would be nominated. I said, repeatedly, that she would never be elected President. And I was right. Give me credit.

          1.” You say he’s kept his promises. Really? How are we doing on tariffs? The Muslim ban? Forcing China to depreciate? Moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem? Repeal and replace? Appointing a special prosecutor to lock up Hillary? (I will grant you that he’s cut some regulations – like oil companies having to report bribes and coal companies having to report pollution). Bets on Mexico paying for the wall? Bets on unemployed coal miners overcoming the low price of natural gas, or Google moving to Appalachia?”

          You know this is a silly paragraph, right? I said that he has been keeping his promises. He’s had a month, 30 days. He has kept more promises in a month than any President in my lifetime. This is exactly the kind of manufactured criticism that no other POTUS has had to endure, and he’s done it with constant attacks and protests.

          “mis-quoting a bogus story on Fox about the Massacre at IKEA – after having exempted Fox from the meaningless insult of “fake news” – is an irony that surpasses SNL’s writers’ ability to mock.”

          Misquoting, sloppy numbers, Sweden…as I told Chris, everyone but the press assumes that Trump is fudging all the time. Nobody takes these serious, and the media, and apparently you and Cris, have a cow. I’m trying to think of any substantive misstatement that matters. So he says he would have won the popular vote. So what? So he says without proof that there are a gazillion illegal voters. And? We know he does this, and he will continue to, so like the uncle who tells fish stories, we learn when to wink and when to care. I don’t like it, but until he tricks the country into say, accepting a massive health care overhaul on false pretenses, I’ll hold my fire.

          Of course I’d expect you to be to the right of Maureen Dowd and even Joe Scarborough on this one, but John McCain? Lindsay Graham?

          This isn’t right/left, except with the progressives like Chris who can’t see straight. I’ll deal with McCain later, but here’s a summary: he hates Trump, and is getting even. Bad of him. He’s also making a fool of himself. Telling an incompetent, biased press that it is incompetent and biased doesn’t endanger a free press: having an untrustworthy press does.

          Meanwhile, the Hitler junk sets off my hysteria alarms, as does the xenophobia slur. No evidence AT ALL supporting either. I could support a complete, permanent ban on all immigration from failed states and Iran until ISIS is under control. Plenty of other, safer populations to get legal immigration from. Either the so-called vetting is ungodly expensive, or it’s not happening: outside of vetting, each Syrian refugee costs the US over 65,000 buck to resettle. call me crazy, but I can think of a lot better domestic uses for that kind of money, and that’s not xenophobia talking.

          Meanwhile, what organized “propaganda” from the President are you talking about? Boasting isn’t propaganda. Puffery isn’t either. Nor is bravado. There is none. The last administration was the propaganda machine, but I guess that was good propaganda,

          • charlesgreen

            I stand corrected on your position re Hillary and election, not nomination. My bad.

          • Chris

            You know this is a silly paragraph, right? I said that he has been keeping his promises. He’s had a month, 30 days. He has kept more promises in a month than any President in my lifetime.

            Which ones, specifically?

            <o?Misquoting, sloppy numbers, Sweden…as I told Chris, everyone but the press assumes that Trump is fudging all the time. Nobody takes these serious, and the media, and apparently you and Cris, have a cow.

            Jack, this argument is incoherent.

            You are saying that the press should just assume that Trump is not telling the truth. At the same time, you are saying that it is wrong for the press to call out Trump for not telling the truth.

            So basically, the media should just ignore when Trump lies.

            How can you argue that this is an acceptable expectation, for either Trump or the press?

            I’m trying to think of any substantive misstatement that matters.

            Inventing an imaginary terrorist attack doesn’t matter, Jack?! Holy shit, how can you say that?

            Of course this matters. Trump and his staff use these imaginary attacks (Sweden, Bowling Green, Atlanta) to justify their extreme measures such as the travel ban. How can you say such lies don’t matter when they are being used to sell policy?

            So he says he would have won the popular vote. So what?

            I already explained this. A president who can’t tell fact from reality is dangerous. A president has to be able to make decisions based on reality. How can you think it doesn’t matter that Trump lacks this ability? How can you argue that we just need to accept this?

            So he says without proof that there are a gazillion illegal voters. And?

            And it will be used to support more unnecessary voter suppression laws.

            The president’s words matter, Jack. They have always mattered. Your assertion that they no longer matter because we have an idiot president who just says stuff, and we should all just accept that, is bullshit. There are plenty of people who still take Trump seriously. That’s how he got elected.

            This isn’t right/left, except with the progressives like Chris who can’t see straight. I’ll deal with McCain later, but here’s a summary: he hates Trump, and is getting even. Bad of him. He’s also making a fool of himself. Telling an incompetent, biased press that it is incompetent and biased doesn’t endanger a free press: having an untrustworthy press does.

            Except that’s not what Trump said, and you’re intentionally soft-pedaling it. He did not just say that the press is incompetent and biased. He said they are the “enemy of the people.” That is how the government describes terrorists and criminals, not flawed news agencies. McCain is entirely right that these are the words of a wanna-be dictator. It is those who are minimizing this who are making fools of themselves.

            Meanwhile, the Hitler junk sets off my hysteria alarms, as does the xenophobia slur. No evidence AT ALL supporting either.

            I will not address the Hitler stuff any more. But your claim that Trump is not xenophobic is your most ridiculous and indefensible stance, and your attempts to defend it in the past have been, frankly, absurd.

            When I asked you to tell me of an example of a law that you would see as anti-immigrant, you didn’t give me a single example, and instead said “any law that prevents lawful immigration.” When I pointed out that the travel ban of course does that, you argued “No, it doesn’t.” This led me to think that your formulation is meaningless; were you saying that since the law makes previously legal immigration illegal, it did not “prevent lawful immigration?”

            You then said that any law that was designed with the intent to prevent harm to our country could not possibly be called anti-immigrant, but anti-terror. When I pointed out that by this logic, literacy tests were “anti-ignorant voting,” not “anti-black,” you had no response.

            What you are saying is that as long as the government can come up with a justification for anti-immigrant laws–no matter how thin or obviously fear-based that justification is–it cannot be called anti-immigration.

            You have also made excuses for Trump’s repeated use of slurs and steroetypes to create fear of foreigners, such as his birther claims, his anti-Muslim attacks on the Khans, his blood libel that thousands of Muslims celebrated 9/11 in NJ, his remarks about Mexicans…

            This is all overwhelming evidence of Trump’s xenophobia, but you won’t see it because of your own biases.

            Meanwhile, what organized “propaganda” from the President are you talking about? Boasting isn’t propaganda.

            Making up terrorist attacks is propaganda.

            • Chris

              OK, I will address the Hitler stuff, because I just found an old Jack Marshall article where you called Trump’s blood libel about New Jersey Muslims a “Nazi lie,” and said someone should call him a Nazi to his face on TV:

              https://ethicsalarms.com/2015/12/01/trumps-new-jersey-muslims-9-11-celebration-lie-justifies-a-nazi-label/

              What’s changed since then? Trump has never taken back this Nazi lie, nor has he softened his overall stance on Muslims. I don’t see the word “xenophobic” in that article, but you did describe his views towards Muslims as hateful and prejudiced.

              Just because he’s president now doesn’t change that.

            • fattymoon

              Chris, I just want you to know I’m in your corner. I remain mute simply because I do no have the intelligence or the fortitude to ferret out, digest, and then intelligently regurgitate your well thought out rebuttals to Jack.

              Jack, I’m sorry, but I don’t think you see the forest for the trees. Like Chris, I believe I could pull out some fairly contradictory posts you made running up to the election. I don’t have the wil to do this because I like to flit here and there, sampling the zeitgeist. Believe me, I’m all over the place. Just downloaded the Trump app yesterday for some insight. Plenty to be had. God. Flag… have not seen anything disturbing (racist, homophobic etc… that may be due to the fact that before your post is approved it is moderated, like here) Here’s the app. https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/great-america/id1191599692?mt=8

              Until next time… go Chris go!

              • Chris

                Thanks, fattymoon, though I don’t necessarily see Jack and I as being in different “corners.”

                • Thanks, neither do I.

                  In “The Science of Good and Evil,” Michael Shermer wrote that the educated US culture agrees on what is ethical on about 97% of issues, and we spend out time debating the remaining 3%. That’s right. Those who can’t agree on the 97% can’t be argued with at all.

            • “You know this is a silly paragraph, right? I said that he has been keeping his promises. He’s had a month, 30 days. He has kept more promises in a month than any President in my lifetime.”

              Which ones, specifically?

              Jack’s already done that response to charles elsewhere.

              “You are saying that the press should just assume that Trump is not telling the truth. At the same time, you are saying that it is wrong for the press to call out Trump for not telling the truth.

              So basically, the media should just ignore when Trump lies.

              How can you argue that this is an acceptable expectation, for either Trump or the press?”

              I’m trying to think of any substantive misstatement that matters.

              “Inventing an imaginary terrorist attack doesn’t matter, Jack?! Holy shit, how can you say that?”

              Actually, I think this falls squarely into Jack’s expectation that we apply the Golden Rule and recognize that Trump is a terrible and awkward speaker, and therefore only call him out when it is clear that his intent is to lie. And Jack has explained Trump’s Sweden incoherence.

              “I already explained this. A president who can’t tell fact from reality is dangerous. A president has to be able to make decisions based on reality. How can you think it doesn’t matter that Trump lacks this ability? How can you argue that we just need to accept this?”

              You must’ve thougth Obama was pretty dangerous. That’s at least a positive development in your analytical abilities.

              “And it will be used to support more unnecessary voter suppression laws.”

              Voter suppression laws have been passed? This is a loaded assertion. Bad form. Try again.

              “The president’s words matter, Jack. They have always mattered. Your assertion that they no longer matter because we have an idiot president who just says stuff, and we should all just accept that, is bullshit. There are plenty of people who still take Trump seriously. That’s how he got elected.”

              It’s only a bare minimum of how he got elected. You’ve been enlightened on this before. He was MOSTLY elected because your people ran one of History’s most corrupt, most dishonest, least transparent, most machiavellian, least charismatic candidates ever. That you still haven’t accepted this is still a major problem in your worldview.

              “This isn’t right/left, except with the progressives like Chris who can’t see straight. I’ll deal with McCain later, but here’s a summary: he hates Trump, and is getting even. Bad of him. He’s also making a fool of himself. Telling an incompetent, biased press that it is incompetent and biased doesn’t endanger a free press: having an untrustworthy press does.”

              “Except that’s not what Trump said, and you’re intentionally soft-pedaling it. He did not just say that the press is incompetent and biased. He said they are the “enemy of the people.” That is how the government describes terrorists and criminals, not flawed news agencies. McCain is entirely right that these are the words of a wanna-be dictator. It is those who are minimizing this who are making fools of themselves.”

              JACK! You soft-pedal Trump! He’s not being fair towards the “flawed” (soft-pedalling adjective) Left Wing Media.

              Your thesis is somewhat undermined when you use the exact same rhetoric you allege Jack is doing…

              Stop that.

              • Chris

                tex, I’m gonna make it a rule that I will no longer reply to or even fully read any comment of yours which states any variation of “You’ve been enlightened on this before.” It’s a condescending, smug, and lazy tactic of yours, and I’m really sick of it.

                • It would be healthier for you to make it a rule that you will no longer push fallacious arguments when you’ve been corrected on them and that you will no longer push such arguments in a type of strategic gish-gallop.

                  “It’s a condescending, smug, and lazy tactic of yours, and I’m really sick of it.”

                  No Chris. It’s tiresome to constantly have to correct your errors after they have been made so plain for you to see.

                  I’m really sick of it. I hope we all feel better now.

                  • I’ll make it easy. I’ll just link to the arguments instead of using a variation of “you’re still wrong just like before” that “makes you sick”.

                    • Chris

                      You know what’s ironic, tex?

                      I used to see you do that whole “linking to old arguments” thing to a former commenter all the time. The arguments were typically about gay marriage, and your refutations of his anti-gay stance were incredibly convincing. It was one of the main reasons I came to respect you.

                      Now that you’re using the same tactics on me, I have to admit it doesn’t feel so great. Where before I saw you as concise and embodying a no-nonsense attitude toward debate, I now see you as condescending and smug.

                      I’ll have to think on this.

                    • Call it a type of rhetorical economics. There are certain topics, especially these last 3 weeks which have been heavily focused on the disproportionate and irrational Leftwing melt down.

                      Defenses of it really are *obviously* specious at best and dishonest at worst.

                      I get it though, I went through a temporary anomie last year watching the Republican Party ruin every opportunity to stop Trump and coalesce behind any one of a handful of other candidates. The last straw came with Cruz’s withdrawal. I was apoplectic for a time. Then I got back to my rational self and remembered our institutions still have strength and structure and got over it.

                      When I see repeated arguments that have been debunked, it gets tiring watching the same people push them like they are somehow substantive in spite of their solid dissection.

                      With the series of discussions arising from the post-Election meltdown of the Left, the arguments pushed by Left wing apologists have been especially obviously weak.

                      Again, call it rhetorical economics. No one has the time to re-dissect flawed arguments over and over again. But no one should sit by and pretend like the re-introduction as “new” arguments makes them somehow valid.

                      I’ve decided however just calling people out for repeated broken arguments isn’t sufficient, but I’m also not going to rehash the counter-arguments again. So the best compromise IS to link the previous discussions.

                      To be clear, I get the distinct notion that most left-wingers I discuss with roll around in a solid stench of smugness, though the edge has been taken off of that smugness a small amount given the incredible “post election stress disorder” many are suffering.

        • E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

          Your quotes from Mein Kampf match exactly what the liberal media have been doing since Obama’s first campaign and through Hillary’s unsuccessful one. Not news coverage but propaganda, pure and simple. Can you even remember the days when editorials were on the editorial pages and not covered as “news” on the front page? Opinion is not news, even if you agree with it.

          The mainstream media protected Obama and Hillary very, very well. Not Bush, of course. Why? Because they LIKED Obama and Hillary, and did not like Bush. This is responsible journalism? Absolutely not. The liberal media has been a propaganda machine for both, and against Trump. And if that doesn’t fit with the definition (Marx not Hitler, sorry) of agit/prop I don’t know what is.

          You don’t like Trump. Neither do I. But really, get over the fact that the American people spit in the eye of the Democratic machine — and the liberal media — and everything it stood for when they elected him. He didn’t get elected because of some vast propaganda machine helping him: he was elected in spite of, I repeat, in spite of, a vast propaganda machine working against him.

          The Hitlerian references are getting very old, and just plain stupid. It isn’t just bias that makes people stupid: it’s hatred, anger, envy, and just plain losing.

          And PS. I’ve read William Shirer’s excellent book — The Nightmare Years — twice. And your comparisons are just hysterics.

          • Greg

            Comparisons between Hitler and Trump are absurd, not to say insane. Mickey Kaus has the best comment that I’ve seen on the subject. http://www.kausfiles.com/2017/02/16/the-1934ists-ron-rosenbaum-edition. Mickey’s list of things that Hitler and Trump did BEFORE they were elected:

            HITLER:

            — Had attempted to violently overthrow the government (the Beer Hall Putsch of 1923)

            — Had “a death squad (“cell G”) that murdered political opponents”

            — Sent his private militia (precursor of the SS) to physically ransack the newsroom of the paper that opposed him

            — Planned a “‘final solution’ for Munich’s Jews.”

            TRUMP

            — Supported by some racist and anti-Semitic tweeters

            — Proposed, and then abandoned, a hold on travel to the US by Muslims.

            — Allegedly had a copy of Mein Kampf by his bed

            — Once ducked an invitation to “unequivocally condemn” David Duke.

            The list above is a list of things Hitler did before he took office in 1933 — the equivalent of Trump before January 20 of this year. Was boycotting the Iowa debate Trump’s Beer Hall Putsch?

            • charlesgreen

              Listing things that Hitler did and Trump didn’t does not disprove a list of things that Hitler did AND Trump did. In fact, it’s irrelevant to the original argument.

              For what it’s worth, I’ve avoided ever using the H word until these last two days, just because it’s so hyperbolic. Maybe it’s because in the last week I’ve actually been reading up on it, and the parallels are jumping out at me.

              Of course they’re not 100% mappable, not anywhere near it. But at what point do you get worried: 50% congruity? 20% congruity? 5% congruity?

              It does no harm to point out past dangers; if you don’t want to get hit by a train, it’s good practice to avoid playing on train tracks.

              • Chris

                The Nazis aren’t magic or a taboo; it was a creeping evil that corrupted a nation. The Big Lie is the H-bomb of divisive tactics; only those with naked lust for power and the willingness to break all rules of decency use it. That was Hitler; that was the Third Reich. You don’t mess around with this stuff: everyone thought Hitler was a wacko who couldn’t come to power either.

                The fact that the term is often badly used, wrongly used, unfairly used does not mean that it cannot and should not be used when it is appropriate. Trump appeals to the desperate, angry,bigoted, dumb segment of the populace that can’t bother to work at democracy and wants a demagogue strong man. One good step toward getting rid of him is to call him what he is—a crypto-Nazi. –Jack Marshall

      • Sometimes I wonder if maybe Trump is just three steps ahead of all of us, and every little lie about trivial things is actually calculated to play the left and the press into confirming all of his supporters’ beliefs about the left and the press. Every time the press has a collective aneurysm over something like the crowd size at the inauguration or Trump’s margin of victory, it animates Trumps’ supporters beliefs that the press is merely a propaganda organ for the left, because they immediately and instinctively draw parallels between the reactions of the press to important, intentional deceptions by the Obama administration and the Clinton campaign to the vitriol against Trump’s petty misstatements, further cementing the notion that the MSM simply cannot be trusted.

    • Baron von Cut-n-Paste

      I can’t speak for our host, but I don’t think people should stop criticizing him for so much as they should stop treating every single misstep as an emergent calamity. I’d say it’s worth it to keep a reminder that Trump’s statements are not particularly trustworthy, but honestly, if he announced that the oppressed group du jour was going to rounded up and executed, I don’t see that the media would be able to ratchet up their outrage any higher. They already went to DEFCON 1 over minor lies. The lack of perspective is tiring, eye-rolling, and undermines their credibility. The media’s hysteria is doing more to normalize Trump’s behavior than just about anything I can imagine.

      As to your refusal to “resign” yourself to Trump’s lies, I have to question it from a purely utilitarian perspective. I don’t see the perpetual outrage as accomplishing anything positive. Worse than that, and I will admit that my experiences might not be representative, but by my observations the strident outrage energizes Trump’s base and alienates moderates who dislike Trump but don’t see him as a harbinger of the Apocalypse.

      • Their problem is is they are acting just like school Ted bullies who have found the kid who gets easily flustered. They know this and are intentionally trying to evoke ranting and raving responses.

        This is worse than Caine mutiny whee the officers quietly undermined a shaky Captain’s leadership. No they are openly enticing him to lose it. So they can say “see, we told you so”.

        Now I eagerly await a local knee jerk to point out the analogy’s weaknesses in order to ignore the solid truths to this.

      • charlesgreen

        BvCP, I think you’re very right, to a point. I think the Dems are doing themselves a disservice by trying to stonewall every nominee, and grandstanding with all night senate talk sessions.

        Massive FaceBook sharings and outraged emails from MoveOn are pretty useless. I also don’t think hijacking town hall meetings will play well with the base.

        That said, he’s already shown himself to be plenty scary, IMHO. Nothing wrong with deliberately pursuing good reporting and legal challenges.

        In general, all the left is guilty of not having believed Trump in the first place. He’s said nothing he hasn’t said before, and much of what he’s doing he said he’d do (though he’s also done some things he said he wouldn’t).

        The truest words about Trump were spoken about the interview Don Jr. reportedly had with John Kasich, feeling him about about the VP slot. “Mr Trump would like you to manage domestic and foreign policy,” the story went. “And what would be president be in charge of?” asked Mr Kasich. “Making America great again,” came the answer.

        In other words, he never intended to be a CEO in the classic sense. He truly intends to spend 4 – 8 years running a reality TV nation show, with ideological minions forming policy.

        This, I submit, is scary. Very scary.

        • Baron von Cut-n-Paste

          I agree that Trump is a concern, and am depressingly certain that he will leave the country worse off four years down the line than it is now. With that said, I am far more concerned about the left’s reaction to Trump than I am about the man himself. Rather than oppose Trump within the system and weather out the storm, they seem determined to burn down the ship because they don’t like the captain.

          The media has decided their job is not to make sure that the public has enough information to have an informed opinion, but to decide people’s opinion for them. The left in general seems to have fully embraced an ends-justify-the-means mentality. Of particular concern is the blatant disregard for the institutions that have held this country together.

          What I find to be far more worrisome is the physical violence I being brought to bear against “Nazis”. Yes, the violence is thus far coming from a fringe minority, but the reaction of the mainstream has been of the form “Violence is bad, but…”. When combined with the tendency of left wingers to label everyone who disagrees with them a fascist Nazi, it becomes particularly disturbing.

          During the election season I made no attempt to conceal my disdain for either candidate. Now I have been called a fascist by people with whom I thought I had a good relationship for the crime of not voting for Hillary. Never mind that I didn’t vote for Trump either, I’m a fascist for not toeing the party line. If you will indulge my own histrionics for a moment, I have of late become worried about being lynched for a Nazi for refusing to march in lockstep with all “right thinking” people. In fairness, I highly doubt that this scenario will actually come to pass, but I am no longer will to dismiss it as a complete impossibility either.

          During the campaign season, I used to quip that the most damning indictment of Trump was that he made me hope for a Clinton presidency. The left’s offering is now starting to make The Donald, with all his personal flaws and terrible ideas, the preferable option.

          • “With that said, I am far more concerned about the left’s reaction to Trump than I am about the man himself. Rather than oppose Trump within the system and weather out the storm, they seem determined to burn down the ship because they don’t like the captain.”

            Bingo.

            It’s almost like some elements (or even most elements) in the Left really really really really WANT him to be totalitarian so they can back door their own totalitarian solutions as a response; if he proves he isn’t actually totalitarian, then bigod they’ll push him and tweak him and push him and tweak him until he does something that can trigger the label legitimately.

      • Chris

        As to your refusal to “resign” yourself to Trump’s lies, I have to question it from a purely utilitarian perspective. I don’t see the perpetual outrage as accomplishing anything positive.

        I disagree, Baron von Cut-n-Paste (though I love your handle). The immediate protests the day of the travel ban undoubtedly led to the swift legal decisions stalling it. That’s a positive accomplishment. I’d also count Trump’s falling approval rating as a positive accomplishment. His administration has been essentially strangled in its infancy, meaning he will not have the political capital to enact his destructive agenda.

        Finally, the whispers that the political will for impeachment is growing–on both sides of the aisle–represent a positive accomplishment. Trump is incapable of doing this job, and the shorter his presidency is, the better.

        • Baron von Cut-n-Paste

          Thanks for the complement on the handle. It’s a nickname given to a German Defense Minister who was forced to resign after it was discovered that he had plagiarized his doctoral thesis. I’d like to claim that I thought it was an especially appropriate handle for an ethics site, but I mainly just thought it was funny.

          I would call the protest of the travel ban “strategic and judicious” use of protest, and a good thing in general. That was a response to concrete action, not a nebulous protest of Trump’s general rhetoric. The thing is, the level of outrage in the coverage of the ban was no greater than that in the coverage of Trump’s misstatements of relatively irrelevant facts.

          I think you’re overestimating the effect on Trump’s political capital. He is not a career politician and is old enough that I doubt he would be seeking a post presidential career in politics regardless. I would hesitate to apply traditional political calculus to him. For that matter, he inherited an executive with a strong ability to impose its will unilaterally (this was totally a good thing under Obama).

          Finally I would be very hesitant to invoke impeachment. The whispers may well prove to be just that, whispers. If they are more, then impeachign Trump because we don’t like his policies will set a very dangerous precedent that could cripple American government for a generation, especially in this age of hyper-partisanship. It seems like it would be a short term gain coupled to a very long term cost.

          • charlesgreen

            by the way, totally agree w. your point about being wary of impeachment. It’s a nuclear option, and should be taken with AT LEAST more care than was giving re Clinton. Loose talk is just that. If this president is impeachable, it won’t be a hard call, it’ll be easy – no need to force it, let it come.

        • E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

          Impeachment? Really? For treason, high crimes and misdemeanors? And on both side of the aisle? You can’t impeach a president because you don”t like him. And any talk of impeachment at this point is moronic blather by a bunch of resentful, angry, envious losers. I don’t like Trump either, but there is such a thing as the US Constitution; Sorry, Chris you’ve lost it.l Check yourself in.

          • I have to agree that serious talk of impeachment is either the result of embarrassing estrangement from history and the Constitution, or signature significance for clinical hysteria.

            • Chris

              I’ve said before that I think it’s too early to actually impeach Trump, but that I have little doubt he will do something impeachable within his first year of office. The “whispers” as of now are just that. I think this is a positive development because it means that when the time comes to impeach, the will will be there.

              That said, as I understand it there is no actual legal definition of “high crimes and misdemeanors,” and the president does not necessarily have to be found breaking a law in order to be impeached.

              • No, it’s just wishful thinking. The US has never impeached a President, and the last party that tried it was killed in the next elections. The GOP is not going to impeach it’s own President short of Watergate level crimes. The reason you hear this is the echo chamber, and people who believe the Russia Hacked The Election narrative. Honest. I’m in DC. The impeachment talk is regarded as nutsy-kookoo, just like the idiotic 25th Amendment scenario.

      • Baron,

        Cool name. I wish I had thought of it.

        jvb

    • What disingenuous and self-righteous tripe.

      “I won’t “resign” myself to accepting that the president is a pathological liar.”

      No, but you did for Obama and were ready, willing and able to do for Hillary.

      “I won’t “resign” myself to accepting that when called out on the lie, the president will blame others, saying “That’s the information I was given.””

      No, but you did for Obama and were ready, willing and able to do for Hillary.

      “I won’t “resign” myself to the fact that the president is incapable of assessing the accuracy of information, of surrounding himself with people who will tell the truth, and of accepting information that does not stroke his ego.”

      No, but you did for Obama and were ready, willing and able to do for Hillary.

      Have you simply resigned yourself to knowing no one takes you seriously and so you’ll just spout whatever comes out in anger?

      • Joe Gagliardi

        Jack,

        I know Chris isn’t popular around these parts, but this level of ad hominem attack (by texagg) is unbecoming of such a terrific blog such as yours. I come here every day to help keep me centered (I will admit to being more aggrevated/concerned by Trump than the average poster here).

        I would argue that this tactic in this post- calling back to Obama’s presidency and presuming something about a theoretical Clinton presidency – is a classic straw man.

        We can do better and should strive to do so. Keep up the great work on the actual blog posts. Thank you for what you do.

        • Au contraire: Chris is very popular with the host, and not to give away a secret, but he’s likely to win the 2016 Commenter of the Year Award, in part because he doesn’t take things personally.

          It sometimes gets heated in here, and I generally deliver red cards via e-mail, off site.

          No, when the issue is news media double standards and bias, the kid gloves treatment of Obama for 8 years and the certain treatment of President Hillary is fair game.

        • I don’t think you know what an ad hominem is. Also, Chris has demonstrated solid double standards regarding his tolerance of perfidy on the left and intolerance of it regarding Trump. It isn’t a strawman.

          • Joe Gagliardi

            I’m very well aware of what ad hominem means. Outside of saying “you suck,” directly, the thinly veiled version that you used in your post and the one directed at me definitely apply.

            I understand taking someone’s leanings or history into account. However, changing the scenario of an argument, as you did with Obama and especially theoretical Clinton presidencies is the actual definition of straw man, as this has nothing to do with the point that was being made so refuting it in that manner is ultimately meaningless.

            • Insults aren’t ad hominems, but it’s easy to think they are as ad hominems are personal attacks on arguments, just a different sort of personal attack than a mere insult.

              I haven’t committed a strawman as I’m not attacking any argument or assertion Chris has made. I’m calling out his double standards, which he’s been proven on before. It may seem out of context but just consider this an extension of him having been called out before.

              • Chris

                I think it’s obvious that Trump’s relationship to the truth is much more tenuous than Obama’s and even Hillary’s. All politicians are liars, but Trump is something else entirely.

                You clearly disagree, tex, but that doesn’t make my argument a double standard.

        • “I will admit to being more aggrevated/concerned by Trump than the average poster here”

          I agree with this.

          Unfortunately the imbalanced and irrational reactions from the Left about every little thing make it harder and harder for the rational ones of us to actually oppose Trump where he needs to be opposed.

          • Joe Gagliardi

            100% agree with you here. That is one of the main reasons I visit this blog. You guys are tremendously intelligent as a community and it helps me to filter out my irrational thoughts.

          • Chris

            Unfortunately the imbalanced and irrational reactions from the Left about every little thing make it harder and harder for the rational ones of us to actually oppose Trump where he needs to be opposed

            What have you actually done to oppose Trump?

            Perhaps those of us you decry as “imbalanced and irrational” would take your advice on how to oppose Trump more seriously if we actually believed that you cared about opposing Trump.

            Otherwise, the advice just comes across as concern trolling.

            • What does “oppose” mean to you? It is rational to oppose policies. It is biased an unpatriotic to oppose the elected President as an elected official.

              • Chris

                Is it irrational to oppose behavior? Plenty of conservatives opposed Obama on issues other than policy. You opposed his public statements on Trayvon Martin and other issues, which were not exactly policies.

                As for the “unpatriotic” charge, I don’t buy it. I oppose Trump because I love my country, and think he’s doing damage to it. “Unpatriotic” was a silly charge when liberals leveled it against conservatives who opposed Obama, and it’s a silly charge here. It doesn’t have much meaning other than to shut down discourse.

                “Biased?” Sure, I’m biased against Trump. But I think I have good reasons for that. Of course, everyone thinks that of their own biases.

            • “What have you actually done to oppose Trump?”

              Pay attention to the year’s worth of discussions before the election before spouting this ignorant question.

              “Perhaps those of us you decry as “imbalanced and irrational” would take your advice on how to oppose Trump more seriously if we actually believed that you cared about opposing Trump.”

              I’m not sure how much more apparent all the commentary from the rational side of this can be: step one-

              Stop. Overreacting. To. Every. Tiny. Little. Thing. Trump. Does.

              That literally has been the blaring klaxon coming from those of us who have kept our heads level through all of this.

              We can’t be serious about opposing Trump without tacitly approving your side’s complete meltdown and adoption of conduct *far* more dangerous to our Republic than the conduct we need to oppose Trump on.

              I actually sense that this overreaction is designed.

              • Joe Fowler

                -I actually sense that this overreaction is designed.-
                It’s like they’re following a template…like this one!
                8. “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.” Keep trying new things to keep the opposition off balance. As the opposition masters one approach, hit them from the flank with something new.
                9. “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.
                10. “The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.” It is this unceasing pressure that results in the reactions from the opposition that are essential for the success of the campaign.

                By some guy named Alinsky.

        • Joe,

          I disagree that Chris is unpopular. I may not agree with some of his points or ideas, but I admire that he vigorously defends contrarians positions and won’t back down when confrontations gets (really) heated. He is articulate, well-written and forceful. He has made me rethink some of my positions because of the strength of his argument.

          jvb

          • Joe Gagliardi

            Looking back, what I should have said was “Chris isn’t the most popular guy around here lately.” Things have been more heated than usual, as to be expected with such a divisive figure as president. Overall this is one of the finest places for mature discourse I have come across anywhere on the internet.

            I will stop worrying about civility when it is well in hand and let the adults resume their conversation, now.

          • Chris

            Thank you, jvb.

            Because I don’t say it enough, this is one of my absolute favorite blogs, and the only one I go to with such a good balance of right and left views where everyone is for the most part respectful and intelligent.

            • Chris,

              I think your contrarian, opposing viewpoint is vital, even though sometimes it makes me cyber-crazy. It keeps the discussion interesting; otherwise, it would simply be Fox News supporters supporting Fox News, or MSNBC supporters supporting MSNBC.

              jvb

      • Isaac

        The Left has built up dangerously high levels of cognitive dissonance at this point, which is why now reports are coming in about them eschewing romance, missing work, and even getting physically sick. I’m serious.

        They spent a year insisting that Trump was evil, unelectable, and Hitler, but now it’s obvious that Trump, while a crazy old man, is not at all Hitler-like.

        And the Leftists themselves cannot continue acting as if a real Hitler occupied the White House, because they know it isn’t true. They want to go about their normal, happy lives, but can’t, because they invested heavily and publicly in the Trump-is-Hitler narrative. They NEED Trump to be Hitler. They need these fake news stories about him to be true, for their own validation as human beings. Their internal harmony depends on it. So they continue to pursue to use words like “chaos” “authoritarian” and “unprecedented” in regards to Trump, even as evidence mounts that those words are not valid, at least not to any degree more than they could be applied to previous Presidents.

        I really do feel sorry for them; because of the difficulty of snapping out of a case of cognitive dissonance this strong. The Left will continue to ignore evidence that Trump is not a mad despot, and soak up evidence that he is the devil incarnate. It’s not because they’re not intelligent; it’s because their psychological well-being requires it at this point. The longer Trump continues to not persecute them, the harder it is to maintain this. The only alternative way to restore mental consistency would be to personally own having been completely wrong about many, many things for a long, long time. That’s practically impossible (hence why very few people change their personal or religious philosophies after age 20.) People with press credentials are not immune.

      • E2 (nee Elizabeth I)

        Well put. Much better than my earlier rant. Kudos to you.

  2. Chris

    I mean, I watch CNN, it’s so much anger and hatred and just the hatred. I don’t watch it any more because it’s very good — he’s saying no. It’s okay, Jim [CNN’s Accosta] — it’s okay, Jim — you’ll have your chance. But I watch others too. You’re not the only one so don’t feel badly. But I think it should be straight. I think it should be — I think it would be frankly more interesting. I know how good everybody’s ratings are right now but I think that actually — I think that’d actually be better. People — I mean, you have a lower approval rate than Congress. I think that’s right.

    This isn’t right; while the approval of the media is at a record low, Congress still ranks lower.

    Also, is he speaking just to CNN, or “the media” as a whole? I know I read somewhere yesterday that specific mainstream networks had much higher individual approval ratings than “the media” as a whole, which makes sense. But I can’t seem to find that information anywhere at the moment.

  3. I don’t agree with the President on everything, but damn! that press conference was the best thing I have seen on television in years. I don’t remember which line it was but I literally laughed for ten seconds or more.

    Who deserves to be a target more than a bunch of lazy, intellectually-incestuous blow-hards who do not give a damn about the reason the first amendment exists yet use it to shield themselves from criticism? Trump should banish every one of those nincompoops and replace them with kindergarteners since it would improve the journalistic ability and integrity of the press corps at the press conferences. (Written with tongue in cheek… partiallly.)

  4. fattymoon

    Jack, I don’t plan to comment here anymore regarding Trump. There is so large a divide between us that I feel it best to sit back, read your blog, and wait and see what happens.

    Meanwhile… chess?

  5. Warren

    [Jack, you can delete the above two comments, since WordPress seems to be working for me properly now.]

  6. Isaac

    What’s “thin-skinned chaos?” Is Brian Williams playing bingo with the list of buzzwords that the DNC requested he use in every broadcast?

  7. Warren

    Submitted for comparison . . .

    1. Dispatch for the New York Times from Iraq (Feb 19, 2017) from Rukmini Callimachi, about the a renewed assault on behalf of the Iraqi government to drive ISIS out of Mosul, which has been using the city as a kind of stronghold for several years: https://nyti.ms/2kM0GaN

    2. An remarkable chronicle (and very entertaining!) by New Yorker contributor Sheelah Kolhatkar detailing what’s involved when a U.S. Attorney tries to prosecute a prominent hedge fund manager for insider trading — in this case, Steven Cohen, who was forced to close his company, S.A.C. Capital, which paid $1.2 billion in penalties. Link: http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/01/16/when-the-feds-went-after-the-hedge-fund-legend-steven-a-cohen

    3. A report by Carol Morello of the Washington Post from Germany, describing the visit the new Secretary of State’s diplomatic outreach to G-20 ministers, who responded favorably to his interest in restarting Syrian peace talks, which is apparently supposed to happen as early as next week (news to me, and very welcome news). Link here: https://wpo.st/qbpc2

    Is this fake news? I don’t mean to be cute or flip. I know that your post breaks down the President’s press conference and that his stance on the media relates most directly to political journalism. The problem is that blanket accusations by the President that “FAKE NEWS” is the “enemy of the people” will be read by citizens less informed than readers of Ethics Alarms as an assertion that all mainstream sources are not to be trusted. This is incredibly dangerous. It is also undeserved. You write that “journalism has delegitimatized itself, over many years.” Well, certainly some journalists have. But it serves no purpose to suggest that lack of legitimacy is so widespread as to be universal. I challenge anyone on this thread to read any of the above articles and tell me that they are fake news, or that the journalists who did the hard work of reporting them did so dishonestly.

    I know I am repeating myself, but: the President is one man, who is sloppy with language and given to falsehoods and the occasional outright lie. The “media” is everything from the Daily Caller to the New York Times, to cable news, to World Net Daily. And that’s another thing: The President seems to consume most of his news via television, and that’s fine. But there’s almost a category difference between the type of reporting found in the pages of the NY Times and what you would see at any time of the day on cable TV which has certain showbiz requirements it has to fulfill in order to pay the rent: the segments are short and superficial, the commentary is unscripted and, to that extent, glib; many presenters are chosen for their looks, et cetera.

    I am more than willing to concede media bias, left-wing hysteria, and the President’s prerogative to push back against these things from the bully pulpit. But I am surprised to find Trump’s imprecision creeping into Ethics Alarms. The headline for Jack’s post says “the president is right about the mainstream media.” If so, then it sounds like Jack agrees that the links I posted above — and reporting of that caliber, style, and tone — is fake. Can this be?

    • Isaac

      Dear America,
      We know that you are perfectly okay with a little mercury in your fish, or a little lead in your paint, or a small amount of rat poop in your pizza toppings. So we do not expect you to consider our reporting “bad” just because we decide to mix the occasional made-up story in with all the top-notch journalism we provide to you every day. Why must you dwell on the negative? -The Press

    • I don’t see the argument. The fact that the Times, or the Post. or CBS, is capable of accurate and competent reporting makes their biased President bashing and fearmongering 1) effective and credible to many 2) despicable. This means that the misleading pieces and anti-Trump hype ( as I explained in Part 1) isn’t accidental, but deliberate.. Gee, they do good sports reporting too. The Business reporting is excellent. But the bias still pervades the Times. In today’s Times review of books, one review began, “For those citizens who are thinking of expatriating…”

      Gee, why would anyone be thinking of expatriating? In a thousand ways, large and small, the news media is trying ti undermine—not criticize but undermine— the President.. THAT’S …NOT…ITS…JOB.

      • Warren

        Here’s why it matters and why the imprecision which the term “fake news” has acquired is lamentable and dangerous. Your response to my comment is infinitely more nuanced than the President taking to Twitter and denouncing all mainstream media as “fake news.” You admit that not everything these outlets publish is fake news, which is why, according to your argument, the fake news that *is* published by these outlets is all the more vexatious. I get it. But a large portion of the country does not. They hear the President inveigh against the media and decide that *nothing* the media prints is trustworthy, when, plainly, it is. This blog regularly cites substantive reporting from various media outlets — outlets which a large portion of the country will now shut their ears to because President Trump has told them to. This is dangerous.

    • charlesgreen

      Jack, you’re right that the consumer confidence data is in fact the highest it’s been since 2007.

      2007…hmmm….Gosh, how did that one work out?

  8. “Two random spinning wheels. An adjective wheel and a noun wheel.”

    That is a base of an interesting poem and indicates, I think, a weird postmodern territory in the Presidency. The ‘thin-skinned chaos’ is also a good line, but then it can be turned against The Media, and certainly against an hysterical public. In this sense we ourselves are a thin skin placed over a chaos. The chaos according to Hesiod was the first thing to exist, and Darkness and Night come from Chaos not the other way round.

    Think Chaoskampf and the ever-constant mythological battles of Heroes against chaos-monsters.

    Reading the reflections in these pages I feel lost (again). No one seems to really know *what is going on* but we seem to look for anchors, or guide-books, or Omens that will appear out of clouds accompanied by a Voice that will accurately explain. Charles turns to Mein Kamph and 1933-1939 where Bannon is Goebbles. But if Bannon had really read Julius Evola then anything is possible. 😉

    So, the image of a thin-skinned chaos, with chaos as uncertainty and overturned understanding, seems fitting. Is Chaos a purely destructive force and does it have any capacity to nourish? America enters a cold dense fog and the citizens huddletogether in echo chambers where blazing emotional fires are lit. Ooooh, watch the bizarre shadows dance on the cavern walls…. Am I seeing reality or am I projecting it on a screen?

    Thinking of Tex and his pursuit, I found an interesting book in our library: Fallacies by CL Hamblin. If I understand its premise it proposes not to so much examine what constitutes Truth and how it is better stated, but what constitutes fallacy. I have not gotten very far into it but found this:

    “Truth may have its norms, but error is infinite in its aberrations, and they cannot be digested in any classification.”

    If Truth is a narrow gate through which only a few will pass, as this seems to imply, it seemed to me to indicate that when one is outside of truth as a possibility there is no end to what errors one can get enmeshed in. How can this be applied to understanding the politics of our present?

    I do at times wonder if given the nearly Medieval strangeness of present events if it is not so that Chaos is inevitable and will prove to be a teacher. Like it or not strange things are billowing up from below, out of a repressed territory where so many things have been stuffed down into.

    America as Gloucester:

    “I have no way, and therefor want no eyes. I stumbled when I saw.”

    Out of the physical darkness and imagined light…

  9. Anonymous Coward

    http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/the-snake-show

    Admittedly, we the public are at partial fault for the media acting this way, we fall for it hook line and sinker. Bullshit detecting needs to be a required course in public schools.

    • Why do you suppose the Left leaning Education system might avoid teaching traditional civics and traditional logic and traditional critical thinking skills that might lead to questioning what the Left wing Media pushes as truth?

  10. Warren

    Jack, I want to go back to a point you make at the beginning of your post. You take issue with the widespread interpretation that the press conference was “unhinged.” Your point seems to be that because he was just as “unhinged” during the debates, the fact that he remains diffuse, blustery, and unsequential is no longer news. And that, moreover, since pundits like Krauthammer and bloggers like yourself thought that he lost the debates, the fact that he *won* the election should make us discount this interpretation of Trump’s manner. I disagree. While it may be true that the Trump we saw last week was the same Trump who goofed and bloviated on the debate stage, it is alarming and it *should* be alarming to see this behavior continue in the White House.

    So what if it isn’t “surprising,” given that we’ve known all along that Trump is an asshole? This is the presidency we’re talking about. And since a major part of the presidency is communication and persuasion — not to mention a capacity to remain focused on important issues and not get sidetracked by trivia and personal slights — I would argue that the most important takeaway from the press conference *is* that the President came off as: 1) listless and bored when he had to read from notes; 2) spiteful and petty in many of his answers; 3) easily sidetracked into issues of little importance; 4) barely capable of completing a sentence without interrupting himself with another non-sentence. You can’t convince me that the Julie Principle applies here. Trump’s conduct at the podium is a window into his conduct in private meetings with his cabinet, phone calls with world leaders, and conferences with legislators and private citizens. If this is the way he behaves, it is essential that the press take note of it. It may not be new for Trump, but it is certainly new for the presidency.

    • I’ve never said he was “unhinged.” His conduct and rhetoric is so off the charts from traditional acceptable public discourse that I found it ineffective and debasing—hence my “A Nation of Assholes” post. I thought it was nuts to talk like that while trying to win an election. Who was right? Now that kind of rhetoric is part of Presidential history, and no longer “unimaginable.” I don’t view that as a welcome development, but it is a development.

      • Chris

        But it isn’t a development we have to accept.

        • Warren

          Leave aside the question of whether we accept it or not. His behavior is so out of whack that it represents a clear and present danger to the orderly functioning of our government. The guy has no self-control and shows no sign of listening to wise counsel. Again, so what if this isn’t *new*? It’s *news* because it’s unprecedented and because it’s a huge problem.

          • It’s *news* because it’s unprecedented and because it’s a huge problem.

            1) The “unprecedented” is more of the vile “normal” talking point. It’s meaningless. All Presidents set precedents, goo and bad.

            2) “His behavior is so out of whack”—meaningless. That’s style, not substance. “that it represents a clear and present danger” A tern of art, and misused. That’s just partisan demogoguery, like calling him a Nazi. “to the orderly functioning of our government” Who says that the government functions in an orderly manner, or the most of the government relies on the President to function? Again, just empty attacks.

            “The guy has no self-control and shows no sign of listening to wise counsel.” Again, his life story suggest otherwise, and he seems in complete control at the press conference.

            This line is a loser, and also inherently unfair. The Democrats are not going to be able to claim that Trump is insane. Everyone recognizes this as the Soviet “if you don’t agree with Marx, you’re crazy” tactic, or, in the alternative, the “Hillary is brain damaged” tactic that Democrats and journalists condemned during the campaign, with a lot more evidence that the Trump-haters have now.

  11. Chris

    It isn’t irrelevant. Mutiny, aka impeachment, is an option on the table. It isn’t like there’s nothing we can do. There is something we can do. You just lack the will to do it.

    The charge of high crimes and misdemeanors covers allegations of misconduct peculiar to officials, such as perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming, and refusal to obey a lawful order.

    https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=high+crimes+and+misdemeanors

    • I would even be willing to notch up my interest in impeachment considerations by maybe by 5 or 10% if the rabid conduct of Left doesn’t lead me to conclude that a successful removal of Trump wouldn’t end with the rabid Left immediately setting its sights on Pence.

    • “The charge of high crimes and misdemeanors covers allegations of misconduct peculiar to officials, such as perjury of oath, abuse of authority, bribery, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, conduct unbecoming, and refusal to obey a lawful order.”

      It’s also heartening to see that you believe Obama should have been impeached, since this is the standard to apply.

      Man, you are making leaps and bounds towards objectivity.

      Or am I misreading you here?

      Oooooo….

      I bet I’m misreading you.

      • Abuse of authority, intimidation, misuse of assets, failure to supervise, dereliction of duty, and conduct unbecoming are so subjective that they will not sustain impeachment, The rest, yes.

        • All of those ultimately boil down to a handful of easy to make accusations, two of which:

          1) ANY partisan accusation, from the out of power party, any action seen to pursue the in-power party’s agenda can be misconstrued as any one of those subjective accusations.

          2) The Bureaucracy we’ve bequeathed to the executive branch combined with the myriad laws we’ve “compelled” it to enforce and the entangled web of programs we’ve constructed have created a situation so impossibly *intricate* AND *gigantic* that there is NO way any one sitting President ISN’T abusing authority, intimidating, misusing assets, failing to supervise, being derelict of duty, or engaging in conduct unbecoming of the office.

          It’s the same argument against the private citizen: there are so many laws and regulations you have to follow that you’ve probably broken a dozen of them before lunch and you never knew.

          All it takes is the laser focused activist to drum out any such instance and, bam, you’ve got an impeachable President.

          • Chris

            You raise a few excellent points here, tex. It would of course be naive to assume that the Left, after victoriously impeaching Trump, would simply settle for President Pence. This is why as much as I selfishly want Trump impeached now, I realize that we need an ironclad reason first. Even though I doubt we will see another president with Trump’s blend of incompetence, dishonesty and hatred any time soon, impeaching him for these qualities would set a dangerous precedent and make the threat of impeachment much more common, which would have an overall negative effect on any president’s ability to lead.

          • “It’s the same argument against the private citizen: there are so many laws and regulations you have to follow that you’ve probably broken a dozen of them before lunch and you never knew.”

            This doesn’t include breaking the speed limit on the way to work.

            You know you’re doing that.

            Don’t deny it.

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