Donald Trump won the presidential election without much help from the traditional press. Of the 45 major newspapers in the country, only one — the Las Vegas Review-Journal , owned by casino magnate Sheldon Adelson — endorsed Trump. The New York Times and the Washington Post endorsed Clinton, and USA Today endorsed “not Trump.”
Trump vilified “the media,” especially the New York Times and the Washington Post during his campaign, and the next evening after he won, he dodged the press when he went out to dinner. He essentially said to the press corps, “you’re fired,” like he used to snarl to losing applicants on his NBC TV prime-time reality shows The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice.
The press was outraged that Trump didn’t play by what they thought were the rules. On Thursday, Nov.17, the Poynter website featured a story titled “Journalism organizations call on Trump to up hold traditions of White House coverage”:
Eighteen journalism associations penned an open letter to President-elect Donald Trump Wednesday that requests a full press pool, regular press conferences and a more responsive approach to fulfilling freedom of information act requests.
The letter, which calls Trump “the new leader of the free world” was signed by the American Society for News Editors, The National Press Club, Reporters Without Border and The Regional Reporters Association, among others. Committee to Protect Journalists, which also signed the letter, said in October that Trump threatened press freedoms.
Does the press really think Trump is going to snuggle up to them after they were so wrong in their predictions and after trashing him day in and day out during the campaign (not that he didn’t deserve some of it)?
In the Nov. 15 podcast of NPR’s Hidden Brain host Shankar Vedantam talks with historian Allan Lichtam who developed a 13-point model, which he calls “13 keys,” that he has used to predict correctly the last nine presidential elections, including predicting a Trump win. In the podcast Lichtam said the press didn’t get the story of the election right because the coverage was “lazy and misleading.” Lichtam said that “reporters didn’t have to get out of bed to write about the polls.” They didn’t get out of their urban enclaves and talk to Trump supporters, who the reporters must have thought were “deplorables.” After all, the majority of reporters (except most of those with Fox News and Brietbart News) are Democrats.
Lazy is a pretty good way to describe much of the press coverage of Trump. Many of the newspaper, magazine and online news reporters and TV hosts, like Megyn Kelly, are part of the elite, self-absorbed celebrity class. Walk though the newsroom of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Time, the New Yorker or The Atlantic and you’ll run into scads of graduates from the the top three journalism schools (Missouri, Northwestern and Columbia) and Ivy Leaguers. They are not deplorables.
Also, TV news outlets such as CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox News gave Trump lots of free attention. Trump is smart enough to know that to a politician, like to a startup, as quoted from Antonio Garcia Martinez best-selling new book, Chaos Monkeys, “media attention is like sex. There are two types: good … and better.” He certainly knew the old adage about publicity: “I don’t care what they say about me as long as they spell my name right.” And “Trump” is easy to spell.
Trump’s relationship with the press reminds me of the myth of Echo and Narcissus recently featured on the Daily Art app: “Punished by a goddess for her constant chatter, Echo was confined to repeating the words of others. Enamored with Narcissus… she tried to win his love using fragments of his own speech but he spurned her attention.” As we know, Narcissus saw his reflection in a river and fell in love with himself.
“It’s the same old story, a fight for love and glory…”