Donald Trump has been president of the United States for just over 5 months, and the mainstream media is still in perpetual outrage mode. One thing is clear: Don’t trust the initial reporting on anything.
Yesterday the Washington Post published a story about a 2016 meeting between Republicans Kevin McCarthy, Paul Ryan and others where they confirmed their belief that Rep. Dana Rohrabacker and then-candidate Trump are foreign agents on the payroll of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Wow. This is serious. Front page news. GOP leadership knew that their candidate was in the employ of Russia, and said and did nothing to prevent his nomination to the Republican ticket and eventually his election to the presidency.
Or maybe, the Washington Post is seriously mischaracterizing the conversation. Helpfully, the Post provided a transcript of the conversation they based their story upon.
Later last night, the Post published a follow-up piece where those dastardly Republicans claimed they were joking. The headline there: “Putin paid Trump? Republicans think McCarthy’s statement has to be a joke.”
Joke? Where might one get the idea that it might be a joke? Did the [Laughter] parts tip them off? All five of them?
Does the media deserve our trust?
For the record, the old admonition to never trust everything you read has always held true. But we’re currently in a media atmosphere where Donald Trump has caused too many in the Washington press corps, to put it in medical terms, lose their frickin’ minds. The normal skepticism that would greet most wild claims and conspiracy theories seem to go out the window when it involves something that might embarrass Trump or his administration.
So we get stories like this one last week that claimed in the wake of the firing of FBI Director James Comey, that Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein had threatened to quit after White House officials had identified him as being the prime mover behind the firing.
Less than 24 hours later, Rosenstein denied the story.
Who to believe
I’ve got no idea. I don’t trust initial reports on anything the media produces that casts something Trump has said in a bad light. I don’t trust any claims by the media that something Trump just did “has never been done before” or is “unprecedented”—the institutional memory of the 20-something gender studies majors that make up too much of the Washington press corps is, frankly, crap.
I don’t trust off-the-record sources who claim to know President Trump’s inmost thoughts—I don’t think anyone can really penetrate that world.
I don’t trust what is said by any spokesman standing behind any podium staffed by the executive branch, not just the White House, but the State Department, the Defense Department, etc. This is a newer development. Under previous administrations, you could at least have some faith that what you were being told was the administration’s official position on the topic at hand.
That’s not the case anymore with the Trump administration. The lack of communication between Trump and his spokespeople, and Trump’s inability to stick to a public relations plan.
Early in the Trump administration, I was suggesting people wait at least 4 hours before believing any media report. At this point, I’m extending it to 48 hours, at the minimum.