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Double Standards in the War between White House and Media

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For all his vast power, the President of the United States—any president—is always at a structural disadvantage in a “war” with the media. The First Amendment protects press rights to criticize the government, and everyone expects such criticism. But if government—or the president, as head of government—strikes back by assailing media, there’s an uneasy hint of bullying or oppression.

President Trump isn’t exceptional in generating media hostility, but Barack Obama was exceptional in avoiding such scrutiny for eight years. What’s more, there’s a double standard on defining victory in battles between the administration and the press. CNN would celebrate if it ever won 20 percent of the available viewing audience, but presidential approval ratings of just 20 percent would undermine chances for legislative and re-election success.

A president can’t win by exclusively catering to his most enthusiastic base, but a cable news operation can’t lose if it solely rallies its hard-core fans.

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  1. Ty  •  Jul 5, 2017 at 9:30 pm

    I think Michael might be wrong on this. Today there was a massive flood of anti CNN bile that spread like wildfire with this talk of #CNNblacklisting

    It was push back against the hint that a CNN reporter that found out the identity of the creator of the Trump fighting CNN wrestling meme (and apparently some anti JEW propaganda as well) might be outed if his apology online was later found to not be sincere.

    Beyond that, go to google and type in the phrase "fake news"

    and notice that below that it will show CNN pop up. Trump is creating a narrative that his supporters are all too willing to buy into of mistrust of any media that does not supplicate itself to Trumps narrative of events and the world. Even if you consider this latest fluff with CNN a legitimate criticism, the larger project goes far beyond that. Non "Trusted" sources of news are not to be trusted. There was always a latent undercurrent of this on talk radio and conservative circles with the "mainstream media talk" as conservatives played the helpless victim while blanketing the talk radio airwaves from coast to coast, but now with the President himself jumping into the fray, the amplitude on attacks against the core legitimacy of non Pravda like media for Trump is increasing.

    Will that sway the moderates? It might, I have never seen this much activity and hostility against mainstream media outlets. I'm sure most of the conservative peanut gallery reading this will cheer, but I think it's a disaster.

    It's basically turning our media and our people into Russia like consumers of tribal propaganda. What is true news? Whatever is convenient and positive to Trump seems to be our.. Presidents (ack, I can still taste the bile) standard.

    And his supporters are all too eager to take it all in at face value, better that than the greater EVIL of admitting that liberals might be right on something, or worth allowing in power.

    It's dark times like these that I am comforted by stories like this. A Man that will convert no one from a "sport" that I stopped watching as a child because I grew out of it. There is a Wrestler who dubs himself "The Progressive Liberal" and his chosen state? Kentucky !!!!!! He plays the Heel well, and I feel my own sense of Trump supporter like satisfaction at having what I truly want to say let loose without filters. I can see the appeal.

  2. Rizzo  •  Jul 5, 2017 at 11:50 pm

    Tribalism? Like rain-man, you keep repeating the same irrelevant phrases.
    Perhaps you missed the 2016 election. Trump won 30 states, 304 electoral college votes, and 63 million voters cast their vote for him. His voters are spread all throughout the country.
    Libtard leftists, the majority of them are confined to 4-5 large metropolitan areas. That's it!
    Now really, which party is it, that displays all the hallmarks of tribalism.
    Please, I implore you, stop embarrassing yourself.

    • Ty  •  Jul 8, 2017 at 4:10 am

      I think the fact that evangelicals found it easier to get on board for Trump than it was for many liberals to get on board for Hillary shows that the right is more tribal. And having listened to a great deal of talk radio, I have a front row seat to your hatreds and screeds against the left and other liberal "atrocities" like wanting society to socialize the cost of care just like those banana republics like Germany and Sweden and France.

  3. Rizzo  •  Jul 8, 2017 at 8:23 am

    Please, please, please…. Give me an example of talk radio "hatred".
    Your example of "tribalism" is pathetic. How about this: I'm Hillary, I'm a woman. Vote for me because I'm a woman.
    We conservatives have LOVE… love of country, love of our American culture, love of our traditions.
    We especially love the fact that we are FAR SUPERIOR, to any crappy country you want to compare us to.

  4. rizzo1983  •  Jul 10, 2017 at 3:16 pm

    All conservative radio is an example of hate. Many of the successful radio talk show hosts spend Saturdays on their yachts in Florida barbecuing steaks and lobster with finest bottle champagne. They get up Sunday morning head to the most exclusive golf resorts in the country and enjoy the best wine plucked from the best wineries in the south of France then they head home probably through a salmon on the grill at their mansion. Those same hosts get up in the morning and tell you this country is going in the wrong direction . Liberals are blah blah…they say anything to rile you cons up while people like Rush earned 89 million last year of your emotions. Suckers!

    • Rizzo  •  Jul 11, 2017 at 4:44 pm

      Mr. rizzo 1983, what you've just typed is one of the most insanely idiotic things I have ever read. At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having read it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

  5. James Donahue  •  Jul 14, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    Mike I respect you, and to disagree with you I have to take pause. I sent you a note about C.S. Lewis's essay "What after piggery". Because Lewis's credentials for being a clear thinker, and he believed silence in the midst of a lying media is a shortcoming. If as many believe is true that Walter Cronkite , the most trusted man was a liar. And if he was a hero to North Vietnam , then he was an enemy to America. Or Hearst and Pulitzer creating a war, were enemies of the U.S. A free media is the friend of freedom, yet yellow journalism is only a friend to the scoundrel and the thug Pravda, for example. If the president was going after FCC licenses I would share your concern, yet to call them out in the marketplace of free ideas, does not trouble me. He was not my first choice, and he is not the orator Reagan or Obama were, yet you seem to have more problem with the core of the argument , more than the clumsiness. Thanks for your precious time Jim Donahue.

  6. Kpar  •  Jul 14, 2017 at 6:46 pm

    "…but Barack Obama was exceptional in avoiding such scrutiny for eight years…"

    And that, Michael, is the crux of the problem. The Mainstream News Media is anything but free and independent- it has devolved into the propaganda arm of the Democrat Party- a role it has assumed since the 1960 election. I am thoroughly enjoying the discomfiture of the "press" as they continue to lose influence and reader/viewership.

    That decline is well-deserved.

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