Media Stars Agree to Off-The-Record Meeting with Trump, Break Agreement, Whine About Mistreatment

Then there’s the content of their complaints. Trump, apparently, was very mean to them. His tone was unpleasant and uncivil – hostile even. He did not treat the august press corps with the respect and admiration to which they are entitled. At least two of them ran to David Remnick to whine about how mean and critical Trump was. Remnick himself was outraged on their behalf, and conveyed this pitifully amusing anecdote:

Another participant at the meeting said that Trump’s behavior was “totally inappropriate” and “fucking outrageous.” The television people thought that they were being summoned to ask questions; Trump has not held a press conference since late July. Instead, they were subjected to a stream of insults and complaints—and not everyone absorbed it with pleasure.

“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!”

Where to begin with this? First, I’m really sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but yes: Donald Trump hates the U.S. media, as does the overwhelming majority of Americans. Even though every pampered star in that room is paid many millions of dollar a year and is flattered on a daily basis by teams of underlings, they are not actually entitled to respect and admiration, especially not from the powerful politicians they cover. The media was quite critical of Trump, and he hates them back. If they don’t want to be disliked by powerful politicians – if confronting hostility of this type traumatizes them this way and sends them running to David Remnick for therapy and comfort – then they should go find other work. Who cares if Trump is nice to Wolf Blitzer and Phil Griffin?

Second, the above-quoted journalist pronounced themselves so profoundly “offended,” crying: “This was unprecedented. Outrageous.” But in the next breath said this about the brutality they suffered: “I know I will get over it in a couple of days after Thanksgiving.” I have no doubt that’s true. Rather than doing their jobs and being adversarial to Trump, rather than responding to this sort of bullying with some dignity and return aggression, it is a very good bet that they will respond with greater submission (the way they all stayed passively in their assigned press pens during Trump rallies). The supreme religion of the U.S. press corps is reverence for power; the more Trump exhibits, the more submissive they will get. “I know I will get over it in a couple of days after Thanksgiving.” We believe you.

Third, after everything Trump has said – about immigrants, Muslims, women, etc. – this is what upsets these journalists: that he criticized them to their faces using a mean tone. Remnick writes that “Trump whined” in the meeting and showed how “vain” he is. That may be true, but the same is true of his anonymous friends for whose petty grievances he is crusading. There is much oppression in the world and many serious concerns as Trump heads to the Oval Office; how Trump speaks to Chuck Todd and Jeff Zucker is not on that list.

All presidents have the temptation and potential to abuse their power. That’s why the American founders were preoccupied with creating safeguards against that, and one of those was a free press. The homage these media stars were prepared to make inside Trump Tower, followed by their self-absorbed whimpering afterward, suggests that one should look elsewhere for such checks.

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