How not to win a war.

Here is my message to the media, especially CNN, about President Trump’s declaration that he is at “war with the media”:  Stop obsessing about it and continue to do what you are supposed to do.  What you are supposed to do is to accurately and fairly report the news and present responsible commentary political commentary.  I.e., just do your job and stop complaining how hard Mr. Trump is making it for you.

Commentators from news organizations talking about the issue endlessly not only is tedious it also tends to convey the impression that the news organizations are insecure and defensive, as if there is something to the accusations by Mr. Trump and his cohorts that these news organizations have been biased against him.  Maybe they are just afraid.  In any event, most of the preoccupation on CNN with the issue probably has to do with filling time.  We know that gases expand to fill their containers, and the same principle applies to subject matters and news talk air time.

In this case, however, the media is naively falling into a trap set for them by Mr. Trump and his team, and will just end up proving his argument that he is the target of media bias, at least to those favorably disposed toward Mr. Trump.  Some outlets in particular have decided that the best defense is a good offense and go out of their way to find fault with everything that he says or does, and there is almost an anti-Trump hysterical tone to it.  Those outlets will have lost the battle if viewers or readers conclude that their reporting and commentary is reflexively anti-Trump.

Why don’t I watch Bill O’Reilly or Sean Hannity?  Answer:  Because they lack objectivity and have zero credibility.  For the same reason the networks and newspapers under assault by Mr. Trump should bend over backwards to maintain the appearance of objectivity.  The president wins this war if the credibility of all networks and newspapers (including Fox) is neutralized and the media in general is tuned out by the public.  That would leave Mr. Trump with the stage to himself.

It is pretty obvious that many reporters and commentators are uncomfortable having the tables turned on them by having someone question their motives and integrity.  To that I’d say suck it up, and that whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.  Welcome to the world in which you have to be able to take it as well as dish it out.

It dawned on me on how generally self-absorbed the major media organizations are when watching the coverage years ago of the death of a prominent news anchor, I forget which one.  You would have thought that a sitting president or pope had just died.  I understand professional courtesy and respect, but there also is such a thing as a bit of perspective and professional humility – get over yourselves.  I am on the side of the press in this war, so call this advice and counsel a bit of tough love.

The framers of the United States Constitution were so concerned about a president going rogue that they had to plan to deal with it, and that plan includes the first two amendments to the constitution.  I am not saying to reporters, columnist, and editorial writers that you should go out and arm yourselves as provided in the Second Amendment (at least not yet), but stick to the plan set forth in First Amendment, and trust that the freedom of the press will work as intended.

As a young lawyer I heard a lecture from a prominent trial lawyer from New York City.  One of the things that he said was that the most powerful themes for juries are the ones that jurors figure out for themselves.  Keep putting the facts in front of the public and eventually all members of the public willing to listen will conclude that our president is a dangerous narcissist and megalomaniac, and a pathological liar.

Stop trying to persuade your readers, viewers and listeners how important you are and how bad it is for you to be attacked by the president.  Don’t let Mr. Trump get under your skin.  He will have the edge as long you continue to whine and complain and are focused on yourselves.  Stop talking about the war and go out and win it.  I’m pulling for you.

January 27, 2017

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