Spot on. I remember reading “leaks” from anonymous WH Reporters calling Jim Acosta a showboat, etc. It used to anger me because he seemed like the only one not cowering to Trump’s BS.

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I think it is a mistake to understand this issue as just something Trump has done because that implies it will end with him. For decades the right has successfully manipulated the media with both bullying and seduction. The Bush administration were geniuses at this. From an article in the Nation about Bush’s successful war on the media:

“ Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of this war against the media has been the fact that members of the media have largely behaved as if it is just business as usual. In fact, much of the success of the effort derives from the cooperation, both implicit and explicit, of the press. No one, after all, forces local TV stations to run official propaganda videos in lieu of their own programming, or without identifying them as such, and no one forces CNN Newsource, among others, to distribute them.”

Remember how they planted the right wing operative Jeff Gannon in the press pool so Scott McClellan could turn to him to avoid uncomfortable questions? When it was revealed that Gannon was really Jeff Guckert, a male prostitute and right wing plant bloggers who uncovered the story and journalists who reported it were trashed by the WaPo’s media critic Howard Kurtz for investigating his private life. The National Press Club even invited Gannon to be an honored guest on a panel on blogging and journalistic credibility.


I will never forget watching Donald Rumsfeld’s disdainful treatments of journalists in this press conferences and their fawning treatment of him in return.

And while the Bush adminstration had media manipulation down to a science, Republicans had been bullying the press since Nixon. I am old enough to remember Spiro Agnew’s vicious attacks on the media, most penned by Pat Buchanan who is still on PBS McLaughlin Report.

This 2019 DesMoines Register article compares the treatment of the media by Trump and by Agnew. In a speech in DesMoines in 1969 Agnew accused the media of deciding in advance to oppose Nixon’s Vietnam War strategy, of being controlled by an East Coast elite that did not represent the views of the American people, etc. The Des Moines speech was not just the a spontaneous reaction to negative media coverage:

“It was calculated to, in Buchanan’s words, “terrify the networks” and to “discredit their reporting in the minds of millions.” Letters to the Register show the speech hit its mark. “Bravo for Mr. Agnew,” wrote a Bettendorf man, for example. “Far too long” the networks had reported “according to their whims and wishes.” The Nixon White House was delighted; the GOP had manufactured an effective, new weapon for its political arsenal.”


If the entire Trump family is swept up by an alien spaceship tomorrow this problem will not go with them.

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More of this please:

“Insisting there was no reason to call a pathological liar like Trump a "liar," the press worked overtime to normalize Trump's autocratic reign.” This seems to be accurate.

Thanks for your work!

You must have been wowed by the actual WH press briefing yesterday. So interesting.

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Nothing will likely change either. NY Times has an article titled "A Rush To Reverse Trump's Legacy". Legacy? What Legacy? And yes, it should be reversed! CNN, MSNBC, CBS, NBC, ABC, PBS, and many others aired the Inauguration Celebration last evening. But Fox News, what were they showing? Being a glutton for punishment I forced myself to flip to Fox News and there was Hannity railing on and on about how unremarkable Biden's speech was, how it will never be remembered as being historic. Listen Sean, after Trump an inauguration speech by Norm Crosby would have been historic (Oh, am I dating myself there?).

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Thank you for speaking the truth Eric. These last four years have made me dizzy with despair. The media treated Trump as just another politician rather than the inept lying scoundrel that he is. The fact that he was even elected speaks to the lack of critical thinking that exists in our population. I am hoping that schools begin teaching classes about how easy it is to manipulate the masses through our various communication platforms. How this guy duped millions is frightening. It must never happen again. Please keep doing what you do.

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Politico couldn't wait 24 hours to insult the new president, this morning with a headline referring to his "surprisingly effective" inaugural address. The writer may have intended some vague complimentary comparison with trump, but I never got past the header. I remember finishing a performance with our regional band to the applause of the audience, only to have the MC take the stage and comment, on our mic, "Well that was a peasant surprise." Thanks a lot. And by the way, stephen miller's tweets are not news anymore.

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Over and over, the White House press corps (and anyone unlucky enough to have to cover one of the rallies) let themselves be bullied and for the most part, didn't stand up against abuse on fellow journos. They let Trump paint them as the enemy, rather than representing everyday people not able to have the access to ask questions we need answers. Answering a question about Covid by trashing the reporter who asked should have been roundly fought back against -- every other reporter in that room should have repeated the question until a real answer was given. When I was a reporter I had competition and I loved scooping my competition, but at press conferences and public meetings we usually worked together to hold politicians accountable when they didn't answer questions that needed answering. It's staggering how much damage Trump has caused, but we can't stop fighting. Biden will hopefully treat the press fairly.

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Um ... the DC press corps brought knives to a gunfight? I think you mean butter knives.

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Note that the DC Press Corpse that laid down and died for Trump is now back to life in full attack mode against Joe!

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Adding on to Dan's comment below about POLITICO and thus continuing the pile-on on them — this morning's Playbook had the following lead-in:

"Democrats caught flat-footed by total control of Washington"

Oh, really..?!

They went on....

"The lack of preparation is now causing confusion among congressional Democrats about how they should exercise their newfound power in the critical early days of the administration."

And that's reporting that includes the likes of Ryan Lizza. I mean, already..?!? Softballing Trump but back to blaming the Dems on Day 1.

Or, perhaps, they've decided to retain Ben Shapiro as a sort of ghost editor?

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I could not agree more. I'm reminded of the places I used to work - prestigious advertising agencies and big clients of ours where the law of the land was to put up with verbal assaults from people who were powerful or 'creative' and worth a lot of money to their organizations. If someone is tied to a job because of other responsibilities like a family or a mortgage, it's part of the deal to put up with bosses who are mercurial and unfair. I would guess that in the press, it's part of the deal in order to get a scoop or a great photo or in Trump's case, an outrageous remark. i often cringed as I watched female reporters be told they 'never think' or 'what a stupid question' or what a 'nasty question'. It made me crazy partly because of the way he would cross boundaries by calling people by their first names or appear to 'know' them, when he was actually using that familiarity to abuse them in a more personal way. It's classic behavior for a predator/perpetrator. I felt and still do feel so angry at the parent companies who did not protect these reporters. No one set boundaries on their behalf. No one called him out for this kind of behavior but rather, soldiered on as if part of the job description. That should never, ever be part of a job. Giving so much attention to those press briefings was right in line with what Yuval Noah Harari describes in his book SAPIENS. We use language much more for gossip than we do for truth. I hope all of these media companies rethink their policies OR that reporters take a stand on acceptable behavior - scoop or no scoop.

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“Insisting there was no reason to call a pathological liar like Trump a "liar," the press worked overtime to normalize Trump's autocratic reign.” I'm totally open to that possibility, but for goodness sake, if you're making such a hyped statement and hope to persuade anyone not already in your choir, provide your poor reader with a scintilla of evidence, an example or two that would give us a clue what you have in mind.

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I've been convinced since 2016 that both the press and Republicans had exchanged their natural backbone for spines made of afraidium. One article from the Times isn't going to change that.

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Day one and Sam Stein of Politico is already accusing the Biden team of "spinning" when they say their predecessors did not have a plan to get the vaccine into arms. When Stein got called out on this, he offered a copy of the document, which was eleven pages of bullshit - not a plan. What really seemed to matter to him was to make sure we all knew that he'd been sitting in on calls where this "plan" was discussed. Perfect example of the problem with access journalism. Think Mr. Boehlert needs to run a reeducation camp for these idiots before we end up with another huge mess on our hands.

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Thanks Eric, this is a great observation.

The norms that were broken during the Trump Administration were not always from the Trump Administration.

I know, I know, it IS a story when reporters are assaulted (by one-time Trump campaign manager Cory Lewandowski, for instance), but I remember being admonished by my journalism teachers to never be the story itself.

The coverage of Trump's rallies (and why were they always covered live?) almost always featured a story about the attendees hurling abuse at the press, and then posing for selfies with them. It happened enough that it became a trope, and one could count on CNN to breathlessly tell us that it happened again.

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