What’s Going On: The continuous lambasting of a president
Back in the 19th century, when the newspaper industry was comparatively in its toddler years, objectivity didn’t exist.
With each town served by multiple newspapers, even as many as a half dozen in a community the size of New Ulm, publications didn’t have a political leaning; they were outright propaganda machines.
Political platforms and speeches from the party of choice were printed in their entirety while the “opposition’s” equivalent was eviscerated not on the opinion page, but right on the front where today’s newspaper consumer expects and demands at least the attempt at impartiality.
In fact, some newspapers openly broadcasted their allegiance right in their name, some of which exist still today including the Waterbury-Republican American in Connecticut, or the Press Democrat in Santa Rosa, Calif., or the even more historical Quincy Herald-Whig in Illinois.
In today’s modern media environment though, while mainstream newspapers attempt to be objective, we see that partisan void filled by television news and more specifically, cable news stations.
Their “news” broadcasts are typically a mixture of reporting and opining, sometimes with little to no differentiation from where one ends and the other begins.
And obviously, for national broadcasts, there is never a bigger target for those commentaries than the president.
International relations are a prime target.
“Once again, he’s pandering to the worst regimes and thugs, and dictators,” the commentator states with no small hint of anger in her voice.
And of course, relations with Russia are of unprecedented importance.
“Mr. President, everyone is laughing at us. You’re like a schoolyard bully, no one’s afraid of you. Putin sure as hell isn’t.” Insert more anger here.
Obviously, domestic policy is right in their wheelhouse as well.
“The president’s budget that he gave today, all right, doesn’t cut any deficit. It increases the debt,” one commentator stated.
“For the man who said we have to get our deficit under control, he’s not doing it. He’s, maybe, he’s, it’s like, it’s like golf, Mr. President, and you play a lot of that,” another snarkily remarked.
And cable TV loves snarky … especially when it comes to the president. The snarkier the better.
“What’s wrong with this president? How dumb is he,” the audience is asked?
“He simply doesn’t like being mocked. Maybe he’s a little thin-skinned,” one commentator states while another says “I’ve been saying, Mr. President, put your pants on. Sit at the table. Man up.”
Like I said, the snarkier the better.
And since he is the president, his personal life is fair game, as it should be. But this network seems obsessed with one aspect of it: his leisure time.
“Now we’re going to vet the president. We’re going to talk about his vacation, his golfing.” Because that’s what I want from my news. An analysis of a president’s golfing.
“Two golf outings for the president cost $2.9 million. That alone is amazing.”
“He achieved that significant accomplishment, earlier today, while vacationing, in Florida, on your dime,” we are told. Well, at least he can multi-task. That’s worth a dime, right?
But if him golfing isn’t bad enough, his tweets certainly are.
“Should a president, the leader of the free world, be on a social network, tweeting? No,” we are told.
And why not?
“Once the president tweets it, then it becomes canon. Oh, that’s a fact, the president says it’s a fact.”
That wouldn’t be so terrible, except for the fact he apparently likes to bend the truth. Or just outright lie.
“This is a president now who’s demonstrated that he will lie to push through a program.”
He has also been chastised for criticizing his predecessor too much, obsessing over his coverage and not being transparent.
“What’s in those records you don’t want us to know about?”
But one of the most common criticisms of the president is simply his demeanor and ability, or as some would state, inability, to govern.
“He never makes any concessions. He always treats his opponents as though they’re enemies.”
“We have a president who can never admit he’s wrong. He’s so insecure and vain at the same time.”
“He doesn’t realize that the president has the power to set a tone and other people follow it.”
“What he’s really trying to do is to divide the country and to get his people to turn out to vote.”
“‘Skip the trash talk. It only diminishes the office of the president.”
“If you want to work with somebody, you don’t call them names.”
The most succinct of those comments though may be this one:
“This is a very quick and easy, cheap way to score political points, but it’s a terrible corrosive way for a President of the United States to govern a country.”
Amazingly, that last comment was spoken by none other than Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump. But she wasn’t speaking about him when she made that remark. Oh no, no. She likes her job too much for that.
In fact, none of those above listed comments were in reference to our current embattled president or made on some “enemy of the people” station such as CNN or MSNBC.
Every single one of them was stated on Fox News … about President Barack Obama.
Something to remember when someone states they can’t remember a president being criticized so fervently as President Trump.
Gregory Orear is the publisher of The Journal. His award-winning weekly column, “What’s Going On,” has been published in four newspapers in three states for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.