By now you probably have read the stories about how Trump called a meeting with the press, only to give them a dressing down. If you don’t care much—well, the press certainly does.
Just as an example, see this from David Remnick of the New Yorker:
The fantasy of the normalization of Donald Trump—the idea that a demagogic candidate would somehow be transformed into a statesman of poise and deliberation after his Election Day victory—should now be a distant memory, an illusion shattered.
First came the obsessive Twitter rants directed at “Hamilton” and “Saturday Night Live.” Then came Monday’s astonishing aria of invective and resentment aimed at the media, delivered in a conference room on the twenty-fifth floor of Trump Tower. In the presence of television executives and anchors, Trump whined about everything from NBC News reporter Katy Tur’s coverage of him to a photograph the news network has used that shows him with a double chin. Why didn’t they use “nicer” pictures?
For more than twenty minutes, Trump railed about “outrageous” and “dishonest” coverage…
This is where we are. The President-elect does not care who knows how unforgiving or vain or distracted he is. This is who he is, and this is who will be running the executive branch of the United States government for four years.
The over-all impression of the meeting from the attendees I spoke with was that Trump showed no signs of having been sobered or changed by his elevation to the country’s highest office. Rather, said one, “He is the same kind of blustering, bluffing blowhard as he was during the campaign.”
Another participant at the meeting said that Trump’s behavior was “totally inappropriate” and “fucking outrageous.” …
“I have to tell you, I am emotionally fucking pissed,” another participant said. “How can this not influence coverage? I am being totally honest with you. Toward the end of the campaign, it got to a point where I thought that the coverage was all about [Trump’s] flaws and problems. And that’s legit. But, I thought, O.K., let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. After the meeting today, though—and I am being human with you here—I think, Fuck him! I know I am being emotional about it. And I know I will get over it in a couple of days after Thanksgiving. But I really am offended. This was unprecedented. Outrageous!”
I keep waiting for the punch line.
Seriously, who sounds more like blustering blowhards, Trump or the quoted press (quoted by the sympathetic Remnick)? Who sounds more unforgiving, vain, and distracted, Trump or the quoted press? Who sounds more full of invective and resentment, Trump or the quoted press? Who sounds more outrageous and out of line (not to mention biased), Trump or the quoted press?
And who outside of the press thinks the press was fair to Trump after his nomination? It was pretty clear during his campaign that—after the first month or two of their unfavorable coverage didn’t hurt him, and it became apparent he wasn’t just a joke but had a chance for the nomination—that they were essentially fattening him up for the kill (in the metaphoric sense), promoting him till he was nominated and then portraying him unfavorably afterward so that their favored one, Hillary, could beat him.
It didn’t work out quite that way.
You wouldn’t put me in the category of “Trump fan,” and yet it’s clear to me that the press lies about him with some regularity. I’ve been chronicling press bias on a host of issues for many many years; it’s nothing new and nothing unexpected.
I think the more interesting question right now is why Trump called the meeting in the first place only to excoriate them during it. So I’ve prepared a little survey for you, with a choice of answers:
(1) He didn’t excoriate them; the press lied about how he behaved in order to smear him.
(2) He didn’t plan to criticize them so strongly, but he’s emotionally impulsive and lost control of himself.
(3) He purposely did it because he was angry with them, but thought they’d keep it off the record, as he’d requested of them.
(4) He purposely did it because he thought it would intimidate them into covering him more fairly in the future.
(5) He purposely did it and knew it would be leaked, because he wanted to play to the majority of Americans who happen to agree with him that the press is a bunch of no-good liars.
(6) He purposely did it and knew it would be leaked, because he figured it would cause the public to discount future bad press for Trump as a spiteful and retaliative backlash on the part of the press.
(7) He purposely did it and he knew that articles such as Remnick’s, quoting the over-the-top nearly-hysterical reaction of the press, would be written, and that those articles would end up reflecting poorly on the press. In other words, he set a trap for the press, and they fell right into it.
(8) None of the above.
You can choose more than one answer.
I know what I think, but I’ll tell you later.