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Trump’s war against the media

Donald Trump’s parents didn’t create Donald Trump, the media created Donald Trump:

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has declared war on the media and that’s a hard fact to ignore as journalists go about their business of covering the 2016 presidential election with both parties’ national conventions just a few weeks away.

Just one year ago most of us simply chuckled at the notion that Trump was considering another run for the White House. But that very notion caught the imagination of some in the media, especially the cable news networks, and they wouldn’t let it go. You have to admit, the guy comes up with some outrageous quote material.

The media made Trump’s run possible

No one will argue the fact that the abundant air time given Trump by TV news not only amounted to millions and possibly billions of dollars worth of free publicity, but also kept his name on the minds of the disenchanted and marginalized Republican voters to such a degree that the concept of Donald Trump as a serious contender became real enough to stir up unexpected support. The media coverage continued until it sparked serious consideration by voters and his momentum flared until he outlasted all other Republican candidates.

Biting the hand that created him

Even during this process Trump denounced the media. He claimed the media was unfair, biased, dishonest.

There was that jaw-dropping behavior Trump exhibited in the middle of a nationally televised debate on FOX News last summer when moderator Megyn Kelly asked him about his misogynistic comments about women, such as calling them “fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals.”

Trump tried to redirect the conversation before finally turning on Kelly: “What I say is what I say, and honestly, Megyn, if you don’t like it, I’m sorry. I’ve been very nice to you, although I could probably maybe not be based on the way you’ve treated me, but I wouldn’t do that.”

But he would do exactly that. Trump continued to attack Kelly during interviews and Tweets in the days to follow, and kept it up for months thereafter.

In November 2015, Trump mocked a New York Times reporter who is disabled. Trump jerked his own arms wildly during a rally in South Carolina as he mimicked Serge Kovaleski, who has a congenital joint condition.

There was that incident when then-Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields accused Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski of squeezing her arm and bruising it as he tried to separate her from the candidate, and a video of the incident emerged.

Trump regularly accuses the media of not showing his many supporters in the audience during his rallies one moment, then encourages the same supporters as they respond to hecklers who sneak into his rallies the next. “Throw them out, throw them the hell out!” he has shouted.

Trump has been up to his unprecedented habits of pointing to the media section at his rallies and claiming the media is dishonest. He even has had the nerve to single out individual reporters and begin his name calling: “You’re a real sleaze,” “a real beauty.”

This week, the Trump camp revoked all credentials for journalists from The Washington Post to Trump campaign events because the newspaper is “phony and dishonest,” Trump stated. Other media organizations barred from at least some Trump events include The New York Times, The Des Moines Register, BuzzFeed, The Huffington Post, Univision, Politico, The Daily Beast and Fusion. It appears that Trump’s version of Freedom of the Press means freedom is not extended to news organizations that ask him tough questions or investigate and attempt to verify the accuracy of his statements.

The media made Trump’s run possible and Trump needs the media. So, why would Donald Trump take such an outwardly hostile stand against the very entity that made his run for the Republican presidential nomination so successful? It’s popular to shoot the messenger, and Trump is a pro at stoking the anti-media sentiment. He’s just mouthing the popular grumblings of those who see themselves as the unwanted and forgotten victims of American society and seek revenge. Yes, the lunatic fringe now has a spokesman.

Why so much coverage?

Trump’s rhetoric and outrageous claims make for good drama, and they draw audiences waiting to see what this guy is going to do or say next. Readers and viewers equal advertising dollars. It may all pay off in a few weeks as the final run for the White House goes into full swing and the dollars for political advertising are spent.

Trump declares war on the media

It should be noted that Trump knows he draws TV viewers and has used this leverage by threatening not to attend scheduled debate broadcasts. Then he tries to negotiate with the host network.

Such was the case that led to Trump’s promise to donate money to veterans’ groups and a fateful press conference later. Early in the year Trump skipped a debate of Republican presidential candidates held by FOX News and instead held a fundraiser for veterans groups on Jan. 28. Afterward, Trump claimed he raised $6 million in one hour. Months later, the press still quizzed the Trump campaign about the whereabouts of the donated money, as well as the exact amount which, it turns out, was less than the $6 million claimed. This led to Trump’s donation press conference on May 31, which included, for all intents and purposes, Trump’s declaration of war against the media.

"I'm going to continue to attack the press.”

— Donald Trump

In the midst of his presentation, Trump suddenly fired off a series of accusations against the media. “The political press is among the most dishonest people that I’ve ever met!” he yelled.

"I'm going to continue to attack the press,” he said.

Threat to the First Amendment

There is a possibility Trump could win and become the next president. Hillary’s campaign could implode. There is that issue about using a personal e-mail to send classified information and whatnot. Stranger things have happened. Take the rise of Hitler for example. Who saw that coming?

Candidate Trump has stated that if elected he intends to loosen the libel laws so that journalists can be sued more easily. Of course this brings up the question as to whether or not he knows how laws are made. Maybe he thinks being president of the United States is like being a monarch.

Nevertheless, Trump’s intention is real and poses a threat to the freedom of the press. How would the media uncover injustice or reveal corruption; how would journalists protect the citizens if the laws would bind their hands?

On the other hand, what about slander laws? It’s truly amazing how Trump is allowed to continue his very public false and damaging statements against individuals — including reporters — and he does so with obvious intent to harm their reputations. No doubt a court of law would find malicious intent in his hateful words, and there is no shortage of witnesses and no lack of recorded evidence.

At the risk of sounding juvenile, it seems necessary to educate Mr. Trump about the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. The First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The protection and guarantee of freedom of the press is especially critical at this time, for this election. The importance of being able to inform the citizens in an objective manner, and with verified information prepared by professional journalists is more important than ever.

This brings us to the one-week suspension of SiriusXM satellite conservative radio talk show host Glenn Beck a few weeks back. Beck received the suspension because his bosses perceived a broadcast interview with author Brad Thor suggested an assassination of Donald Trump might be the only way to remove the candidate should he be elected president.

“With the feckless, spineless Congress we have, who will stand in the way of Donald Trump overstepping his constitutional authority as president?” Thor said during the show. “If Congress won’t remove him from office, what patriot will step up and do that if, if he oversteps his mandate as president, his constitution-mandated authority as president, I should say.”

… I don’t think there is a legal means available. I think it will be a terrible, terrible position the American people will be in to get Trump out of office, because you won’t be able to do it through Congress.”

These statements don’t necessarily suggest violence, but they bring up valid points that must be on the minds of many Americans, including professional journalists. Those who are leading the news organizations must be vigilant — especially during these days of political correctness — that they do not censor their own reporters. These concepts need to be part of the conversation.

How should the media cope with Trump?

How does the media remain objective despite all this hostility by a man running for president? The answer dwells in the process. We all know that the road to the presidency has an abundance of tricky turns and unexpected detours.

Beyond the fact that Trump coverage makes good copy, experienced journalists know a few new facts about Trump are sure to be revealed, as well as the inevitable foot-in-the mouth remarks that are certain to spew from The Donald’s mouth in the coming weeks.

Add these to the Trump University lawsuit, Trump’s insistence on calling a Federal judge a Mexican, calling out to his lone “African-American friend” at a rally, his suggested policy of not allowing Muslims to enter the country, his boast that he will build a wall between Mexico and the U.S. and make Mexico pay for it, and the notion that he will carpet bomb ISIS into submission, etc.

History will not be kind to those who support Trump, and most GOP representatives know this. With conservative Republicans in Congress already turning their backs on him and the GOP showing signs of splintering at this most critical moment, journalists simply need to continue their objective reporting and patiently observe the proverbial train wreck about to unfold.

Donald Trump is in a precarious situation. He faces the day when he will accept the presidential nomination for the Republican party, and he has no idea what to do. He is clueless about the disaster awaiting him when he faces Hillary Clinton in a nationally televised presidential debate. Trump’s debate tactics consist of name calling and avoidance. He’ll look more foolish than usual when forced to confront real issues and when pressed for real answers.

He has no realistic policies, no experience as an elected official nor as a diplomat. He has no idea of the responsibilities the presidency brings nor the depth of dedication the office requires. He is a bridge burner not a bridge builder. He doesn’t know how to build bipartisan coalitions and, if elected, Congress will eat him alive.

In other words, Donald Trump has been given more than enough rope to hang himself.

Resources for journalists:

Trump and Megyn Kelly:

Trump mocks disabled reporter:

Trump says he raised money for veterans:

Judge in Trump case:

Judge unseals documents:

“Sleaze” attack on reporter:

All out attack on the press:

Trump lashes out:

Trump threatens U.S. rule of law:

WSJ chief reminds reporters to be fair to Trump:

Inside the Trump U. playbooks:

What it’s like to cover Trump:

Media reaches a turning point covering Trump:

Glenn Beck suspended:

Trump denies Washington Post credentials:

Trump revokes credentials:

Trump revokes Post credentials:

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