Part 3—Trump describes CNN: In Tuesday evening's trademark rant, Donald J. Trump made some familiar, crazy claims about the mainstream press corps.
For example, he returned to the old gong-show in which he pretends the TV networks are turning their cameras off because he's talking so tough. Presumably, he understands that this isn't true. But in the room, on a tribal home court, the old routine always sells.
In this morning's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof responds to Donald J. Trump. In truth, who needs people like Donald J. Trump with journos like Kristof around?
KRISTOF (8/24/17): Look, we in journalism deserve to have our feet held to the fire. We make mistakes all the time, and too often we are superficial, sensationalist, unfair, defensive or diverted by shiny objects. Critics are right that we in the national media are often out of touch with working-class America, and distressingly often, we are lap dogs instead of watchdogs.In fairness, Kristof proceeds to say this: "Yet for all our failings, journalism remains an indispensable constraint on power." But based upon that list of horribles, it sounds like we're paying a very steep price from that (alleged) "constraint on power.
Who needs people like Donald J. Trump with journos like Kristof around? In fairness, Kristof was trying to be an honest broke. But having said that, good lord!
According to Kristof, he and his colleagues "make mistakes all the time." They're "superficial, sensationalist, unfair, defensive [and] diverted by shiny objects."
Our upper-end journalists "are often out of touch with working-class America," Kristof says. "Distressingly often," our upper-end scribes "are lap dogs," the columnist says.
With analysts like Kristof around, who needs Dona;ld J. Trump? We'll only note that Kristof failed to mention one major point—he failed to mention the 24-year war his guild conducted, which in the end doomed Candidate Clinton sent Donald J. Trump to the White House.
(Kevin Drum aimed his pop gun at this war in this recent post. For more than a dozen years, we begged liberal journalists to tackle this problem; Drum would scream in pain about our tiresome hectoring. Now he's very very upset about the endpoint of the long and winding road which led to Clinton's defeat and thus to Trump's ascension.)
Kristof paints a remarkable portrait of the upper-end press. A different, more fantastical portrait appears in today's Washington Post.
This portrait is painted by the editors in their lead editorial. In hard-copy, their headline says this:
"What we wish Mr. Trump had said"
They too are responding to Donald J. Trump's Tuesday evening rant. In this case, though, the editors apparently dropped some extremely potent acid before composing their piece.
As the kids would say long ago, there seems to be some bad acid going around! Below, you see one of the things they wish the commander had said:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (8/24/17): “No president is ever happy with his press coverage, I know that. Reporters get things wrong. They’re not always fair. But you know what? They love their country, just like you and I do. We’re lucky to live in a country where you can watch CNN and Fox News and MSNBC. I recommend you listen to a lot of different points of view and then make up your own mind.”"We’re lucky to live in a country where you can watch CNN and Fox News and MSNBC?" Fondly do the editors wish that Donald J. Trump had said that!
"We’re lucky to live in a country where you can watch CNN?" Putting the ludicrous Fox and the deeply flawed MSNBC to the side, we ask an obvious question:
Have the editors actually watched this famous "news channel" lately? More specifically, have the editors tried to watch CNN in prime time?
We watched CNN for several hours last night. The work was embarrassing, excruciatingly bad. And that was before Don Lemon came on.
Anderson Cooper's two-hour broadcast was horrendous last night. Increasingly, Cooper's attempts to stage panel discussions look like some sort of burlesque routine from the early part of the 20th century.
Innstead of Home Come Da Judge, Cooper seems to be fronting Here Come Da Press Corps. As we watched his full two hours, we were forced to note an obvious fact. Even as he misled, misstated and crazily ranted on Tuesday night, Donald J. Trump came embarrassingly close to getting CNN right.
What did Trump say about CNN? Fairly early in his rant, he assailed the famous "news channel" as "so bad and so pathetic." It's hard to say that's wrong.
A bit later, he got more specific. As we watched Cooper and his baggy-pants gang staging their gong shows last night, we thought of the painfully accurate comments we highlight below:
TRUMP (8/22/17): Now they only choose, you know, like a half a sentence here or there, and then they just go on this long rampage, or they put on these real lightweights all around the table that nobody ever heard of and they all say what a bad guy I am."Alas, poor Yorick," Hamlet once said. Trump laments poor Lord.
But I mean, did you ever see anything—and then you wonder why CNN is doing relatively poorly in the ratings. Because they're putting like seven people all negative on Trump and they fired Jeffrey Lord, poor Jeffrey. Jeffrey Lord.
I guess he was getting a little bit fed up and he was probably fighting back a little too hard. They said, "We'd better get out of here. We better get him out."
Humorous elements to the side, Trump's comments were painfully accurate. On Tuesday night, the highly disordered Donald J. Trump managed to paint an accurate portrait of the ludicrous work which now prevails in prime time on this ridiculous channel.
Under the pressure of dealing with Trump, CNN has devolved into an acid-laced, parodic version of a real news channel. They do, in fact, rather frequently "choose like a half a sentence here or there," then "just go on this long rampage."
They do, in fact, "put on these real lightweights all around the table...and they all say what a bad guy" Trump is. They do "put like seven people all negative on Trump" on the air, conjoining them with a single Jeffrey Lord type.
The reliably ridiculous Lord was finally dumped this month. In the wake of his firing, CNN has been auditioning baggy-pants "Trump supporters" to serve as his successor.
Last night, Cooper was auditioning a fellow named Ed Martin. He interrupted and made absurd remarks all through the "panel segments," perhaps at the direction of the program's producers.
The ratio of pundits wasn't the hyperbolic seven-to-one Donald J. Trump described Tuesday night. But it came pretty darn close.
Counting Cooper, the ratio last night was five to one. The discussions were marked by incessant interruptions and general all-around inanity, with an unusual amount of racial and ethnic resentments thrown in.
("Back off, you creep," Ana Navarro told Martin at one point. For some trademark inanity, click here.)
The task of covering a disordered president has unmasked CNN. This challenge has taken Lemon beyond his range and his depth. In Cooper's case, it has highlighted an unfortunate fact: Cooper's one journalistic skill seems to involve speaking to someone who has just lost her home in a flood and asking her how she feels.
The four hours hosted by Cooper and Lemon were simply awful last night. Watching Cooper's panel discussions, we thought of Wilfred Owen.
In his most famous poem, Owen described the horror of marching along behind a wagon filled with the dying and dead of World War I. In the second half of the poem, he refers to one such dying man:
In all my dreams before my helpless sight,Possibly, CNN wasn't that bad, but it came fairly close. In our view, the Post shouldn't speak with such high zest about the joy of watching.
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,—
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.
According to the Washington Post, we're lucky ducks to have CNN—and MSNBC, and even the ludicrous Fox! Perhaps they meant "in principle." But speaking of the disordered Trump, we're going to tell you this:
We regard Donald J. Trump as deeply disordered. But even a broken cuckoo clock is right two times a day!
On Tuesday night, Donald J. Trump was scarily right about the goony corporate mess known as CNN. Donald J. Trump is a disordered mess, but so is CNN, where the ants are racing all about as a highly disordered commander in chief kicks their anthills down.
Still coming: That awful confession