According to a recent poll, nearly half the country’s registered voters think reporters sit at their computers all day and make up the wackiest stories they can about the president.
That’s not surprising. It really is hard to believe most of the things we hear about this administration.
When we think of U.S. presidents, we usually consider the greatness of a George Washington, an Abraham Lincoln or a Franklin Roosevelt. Or the gripping magnetism of a Ronald Reagan, a John F. Kennedy or a Barack Obama.
We think of men who have commanded the respect of the world by the mere mention of their name. We think of leaders who exhibited poise under pressure and who brought calm to our nation when we were in the depths of despair.
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America has never had a president so blatantly callous with his words and as self-centered in his actions as Donald Trump.
We cannot imagine Kennedy, in a speech to world leaders, calling Nikita Khrushchev “Rocket Man.” Imagine Alexander Haig being so turned off by Reagan’s lack of racial sensitivity that he said publicly that the president “speaks for himself” when it comes to values. But that’s the situation Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently found himself in.
Those of us in the media are just as shocked by some of this stuff as you are. We might not believe it either if we didn’t have the evidence right in front of us.
Trump has used the Politico/Morning Consult poll as proof that Americans are turning against the media, that he is winning the battle to determine who can be trusted and who cannot.
“46 percent of Americans think the Media is inventing stories about Trump & his Administration. It is actually much worse than this!” Trump tweeted last week.
While sheer disbelief that a president could be so clueless might explain why some people think the media are fabricating stories, for others, it could be more personal.
For some, it’s easier to think the media are making up stories than to face the possibility that Trump isn’t the best person for the job.
For some, it’s easier to think the media are making up stories than to face the possibility that Trump isn’t the best person for the job after all.
This poll wasn’t conducted the way most polls are. Rather than polling random samples of the population, the respondents were drawn from people who previously responded to online surveys, which have led some to question the results.
Almost everything he has said and done thus is to reaffirm to his base that he is the great president they thought he would be. In order to do that, he must discredit the media.
Many Americans believe Trump has made an embarrassing spectacle of the nation’s highest office since the day he took over. His preoccupation with crowd size at his inauguration was the first definitive sign that this would be no ordinary presidency.
But when Trump spent weeks presenting photographic evidence that his inaugural crowd was bigger than Barack Obama’s, he was putting his base on alert: You can either believe the media, or me.
He has fed us a steady diet of untruths, some of them so petty that they are ridiculous.
White House adviser Kellyanne Conway introduced the term “alternative facts.” That gave Trump’s core supportesr an explanation — or an excuse — for the ridiculous things they actually saw him do and heard him say on video.
Most people thought the term was ridiculous. But now it is obvious that Conway was onto something.
Ten months after taking office, Trump has created a nearly impenetrable cocoon of alternative facts, where he lives comfortably and regularly invites others in for a visit.
From this web of deception, he has sought to convince Americans that the media are at helm of a vast conspiracy to discredit him and turn his presidency into a mockery.
He has fed us a steady diet of untruths, some of them so petty that they are ridiculous. Sometimes the details change over time.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, for example, Trump said a mysterious Chicago cop had told him he could solve Chicago’s violence problem “in one week.” In July, Trump changed it to “a couple of days,” and now it’s “immediately.” Trump says he identified the officer to City Hall. The mayor’s office says that’s not true, though officials have made numerous requests.
While Trump might have been prepared for the onslaught of negative publicity during the presidential campaign, he apparently thought it would disappear after the election.
He was not prepared for the media to listen closely to every word that comes out of his mouth and to hold him accountable for everything he says.
Trump said as much in a recent interview with radio host Chris Plante.
“I thought after I won, the media would become much more stable and much more honest,” Trump said.
Americans should be thankful that the media have not backed down from seeking the truth. A free press is the only thing standing between a democracy and a dictatorship.
Contact Ms. Glanton at firstname.lastname@example.org.