We're all Donald Trump now: Just to offer a bit of perspective, the topic appears in today's New York Times at the bottom of page A16, the fifth page of the National section.
(Headline: "Trump Insists He Was Right About Hurricane Dorian Heading for Alabama.")
In the Washington Post, the topic appears at the bottom on page A10, consuming perhaps one-fifth of the page.
(Headline: "Trump displays what appears to be an altered map showing risk to Alabama.")
That's the weight these papers consigned to Donald J. Trump's weird remarks, with an apparently doctored map, about the path projected for Hurricane Dorian as of last Sunday morning.
We'll grant you that Trump's behavior yesterday did in fact seem to be weird. He seemed to be offering cover for an erroneous statement he made last Sunday about the projected path of the storm.
More specifically, he seemed to be using a doctored map to convey the (false) impression that he had been right all along. By normal standards, that would be extremely weird conduct, though it isn't that weird for Trump.
Flashback! All the way back in March 2016, Trump did something somewhat similar, when he was still a candidate. We're referring to his crackpot display of the Trump Steaks which actually weren't Trump Steaks.
Uh-oh! Trump Steaks had ceased to exist nine years before. Here's a bit of the background:
On March 3 of that year, Mitt Romney gave a speech in which he ridiculed Trump's acumen as a businessman. Along the way, Romney mentioned the fact that the specialty steaks had quickly rolled over and died.
As Tim Carman reported in the Washington Post, Romney "belittled the billionaire’s vaunted business acumen, specifically mentioning the failure of the prime Certified Angus Beef steaks that Trump had hawked for a New York minute in 2007 via QVC and the Sharper Image."
This performance by Romney seemed to wound the candidate's pride. In fact, Trump Steaks had ceased to exist in 2007, but the apparently crazy candidate behaved in the following manner:
CARMAN (3/23/16): Long thought to be extinct, like dinosaurs or the passenger pigeon, Trump Steaks are alive and well at some of the real estate mogul’s properties. So indicated the GOP front-runner at a news conference March 8, when Donald Trump pointed a finger at a gorgeous pile of vacuum-sealed meats and declared them “Trump Steaks.”The news conference was actually part of a victory party on the night of some primary wins. In an event that looked even weirder than it sounds, Trump delivered lengthy remarks as he stood beside a table piled high with slabs of juicy raw steak.
Journalists quickly discovered that those particular Trump Steaks were impostors. The beautifully marbled cuts actually had been bought from a reputable south Florida meat company for the members-only restaurant at Trump National Golf Club in Jupiter, Fla., where the news conference was held. Reporters could plainly see the Bush Brothers Provisions Co. logo printed on the packages.
Adding to the lunacy was the fact that the slabs of steak weren't "Trump Steaks" at all. As Carman noted, each plastic-bagged steak bore the name and logo of a local butcher shop. Ironically, the butcher shop where the steaks had been purchased bore the named "Bush Brothers."
The event was, and very much looked, stone-cold, bat-shit crazy. Trump's weird performance with the raw steaks constituted the first time we found ourselves wondering if he might be some version of "mentally ill." We raised the question for the first time at that point.
Back then, his vanity stung, the candidate posed with big piles of steaks which weren't Trump Steaks as a away to pretend that Trump Steaks still existed.
Yesterday, his vanity stung, the commander in chief posed with a doctored map, apparently as a way to pretend that he hadn't made an erroneous statement on Sunday. It was very weird behavior—but this man has been behaving in very strange ways for a very long time.
This morning, the episode was covered by the Post and the Times, but it was treated as a fairly run-of-the-mill event. Compare that to what happened last evening on cable.
On the Rachel Maddow Show, Maddow devoted the first 24 minutes of her program to the doctored map event, which has come to be known as Sharpiegate. She went on and on, then on and on, even suggesting that Trump could go to jail for what he had done.
"Per U.S. Code 2074," she informed us, saving us the trouble of having to look it up for ourselves.
Maddow also said that Trump could possibly go to jail for allegedly having lied about those two encouraging phone calls from China he said he received last week. As we've long noted, Maddow simply loves the thought of Others going to jail.
The Post and the Times gave Sharpiegate relatively minor play. Maddow devoted well over half her on-air minutes to it.
As always, she thrilled us with the idea that Those We Hate May End Up In Prison. At one point, about 12 minutes in, she helplessly told us this:
MADDOW (9/4/19): I mean, it's insane, but we don't have any way to make sense of this. Nothing like this has ever happened before.Needless to say, Maddow very much does have a way to attempt "to make sense of this." (And things like this have happened before.)
Should could do what journalists do when they try to make sense of things. She could interview competent specialists concerning the possible state of Trump's mental health and/or his cognitive capacity.
Presumably, Maddow hasn't done that because her owners have told her not to. She's paid millions of dollars to do what she'd told by her corporate superiors. We rubes aren't allowed to know how many millions she's paid..
The doctored map ruled large swaths of cable last night. The Post and the Times took a far more measured approach. All in all, that represents part of the difference between two different realms—"cable" and "news."
One last point:
The New York Times didn't waste its readers' time claiming that Trump's doctored map could constitute a crime. At the Post, Cappucci and Freedman did venture down this road.
"Who is Matthew Cappucci?" we barked at the analysts. Skillfully, they googled him up. His official Post bio, which is quite long, starts out exactly like this:
Matthew CappucciThe guy is two months out of college, but he's been helping the Post for years! Like Maddow, he thought you should know that using a doctored weather map just might be a crime.
Matthew Cappucci is a meteorologist for Capital Weather Gang. He earned a B.A. in atmospheric sciences from Harvard University in 2019, and has contributed to The Washington Post since he was 18.
Basically, we're all Trump now! The difference is, Trump's the guy who crashes around with all the nuclear codes.
Is something "wrong" with Donald J. Trump? There's no way for Maddow to say!