Friday, June 2, 2017

The Trump Score Card

Four-and-a-half months into his presidency, Donald Trump has been better than I thought he would be. He  has appointed Betsy De Vos to head the education department, and I believe that Gail Heriot still has a crack at the Office of Civil Rights post.  He has repudiated a climate change treaty that deserves rethinking on Constitutional grounds, as Seth Lipsky points out in his blog in yesterday’s New York Sun.  Moreover, the president still seems serious about regulatory reform.    However, as I point out on Mr. Lipsky’s blog, he has made his best contribution in the way he has rankled the press, baiting them into one absurd impeachment cry after another. 

I rarely watch TV news, but I work out in the Route 28 Gym in Woodstock, NY, and the local lefties inevitably have the TV tuned to MSNBC and Chris Matthews’s mug.  The stridency of his and the other announcers’ carping, caviling, and cussing about President Trump has turned what once could have been fairly called a biased press into one that is shrill and hyperbolic.  The silly Russian story is less serious than the racketeering in which Hillary Clinton engaged, but the MSNBC announcers harp on it and assume that their calls for impeachment will make a difference.   They are discrediting themselves and eliminating any hope for resuscitation of their profession.

Perhaps Trump has encouraged this by design—as someone on Facebook put it, he may have succeeded in goading the media to confusedly charge, much like a bullfighter waving the muleta or red flag at the bull.  If that's not so, the end result will still turn out well.

The press now behaves much like the parties to any social dementia, such as the Salem witch trials, the Negro Plot of 1741, the Red Scare during World War I, or the public reaction to Orson Welles's War of The Worlds.

MSNBC’s Matthews is like the farmer who waved his pitchfork at Welles’s flying saucer.  What we may be seeing is the discrediting of television news and the end of the mid-to-late 20th century's centralized, broadcast news system. If so, Mr. Trump will have done more than a little good on that score alone.

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