Sometimes the Lord works in mysterious ways, as the saying goes.
Take Donald Trump and his chief strategist, former alt-right ‘newsman’ Steve Bannon, for example.
They seem bent on discrediting such honourable institutions as the New York Times in what certainly appears to be a bid to rein in and manipulate the media and, no doubt, turn people to sources like right-wing Breitbart News — Bannon’s old haunt — and Fox News.
Trump was at it again today on Twitter:
Yes, this is what the president of the United States was doing with his morning cuppa on Saturday.
Sure. He’s right about the media getting it wrong with projections on the outcome of the election. He conveniently fails to mention that the media based their predictions on polls conducted by polling firms, but what the heck. This is the age of “alternative facts,” after all.
So, fair enough. The media got that wrong. But, honestly, who would have thought that a person who did everything he could — quite naturally — to show that he was unfit for office would actually win the top office in the land? “It boggles the mind,” says a modern-day Alice.
Speaking of voter fraud, Donald . . . Naw, he couldn’t have, could he? But I digress: this post is about his anti-media rants, not his voter fraud rants and his possible motivation for continuing to make them.
There’s no doubt that many in the U.S. saw mainstream coverage of Trump during the election campaign as biased. Mostly it wasn’t: it was simply a reflection of his campaign and the way he conducted himself. The fact that it bothers him so much speaks for both his thin skin and the fact that he is uncomfortable with his own reflection.
“Mirror, mirror, on the wall . . .”
I suppose you can’t blame Trump for thinking he is living in a fairy tale, and for being upset because the mainstream media mirror won’t lie like it did so often in Snow White — until one day it spoke the truth. So, like the Evil Queen in that fairy tale, Trump and Bannon seem intent on discrediting — and destroying — papers like the Times.
But it won’t happen. Trump and Bannon should have someone read Snow White to them at bedtime to see how fairy tales end . . .
Meanwhile, their attacks on the media are no doubt reminding people why they need a strong press that is not afraid to tell it like it is in the White House, i.e. to objectively show accurate reflections. Sure, print editions are going the way of vinyl records, but good newspapers will make a successful transition online and continue to hold governments accountable at every level. That alone is worth the online subscription price — which on a daily basis is probably less that the cost of a cup of coffee or a chocolate bar.
Newspapers like the New York Times are on the front line in the effort to hold Trump and Bannon and company accountable, and that is, no doubt, why the paper is the first thing on Trump’s mind when he wakes up in the morning. Trump and Bannon see mainstream media as “the chief opposition,” not the Russians or ISIS or anyone else.
Opposition to what?
That’s the question everyone who doesn’t read papers like the Times and the Washington Post should be asking. What is Trump so worried about? Why does he fear them so much? Why doesn’t he just shrug off their coverage and get on with the important work?
Trump will be the gift that keeps on giving for mainstream media, as long as he keeps ranting on Twitter and behaving like a jerk. Already, the Washington Post has gone on a hiring spree — yes, they are actually hiring more journalists, thanks to the new White House administration.
The media were lulled into a state of semi-unconsciousness during the Obama era. But now they have woken up and are rarin’ to go. This is going to be an exciting time for journalists, and some will distinguish themselves as excellent investigative reporters during the Trump era.
And the excitement should spin off to places like Canada as well, where we have a prime minister with a majority government whose selfie image in the Magic Mirror is growing more and more distorted. We need a strong media to keep him and his cronies on the straight and narrow — and you really can’t be trusting the taxpayer-funded CBC to be doing the job, can you?
Yes, many newspapers are struggling now, but we need them in a democratic society. Indeed, as a report in Canada said last week, the demise of newspapers threatens democracy. Which is something that would make Donald Trump and Steve Bannon very happy, no doubt.
Newspapers will rise to the occasion — and you should be part of the movement to keep governments in check by subscribing to online editions of newspapers in your town and at the national level. Because if you don’t help, you have no one to blame but yourself when the likes of Breitbart News and Fox News become your primary source of (mis)information, and elected officials run amok . . .
Subscribe now. Most papers can be read online for less than $10 a month — and the online editions have a lot more news and views in them than print editions do these days. And if you are relying on your google news feed for headlines, keep in mind that if newspapers die, their headlines won’t be in that feed any more. Google relies on newspapers, too: it is not a news entity unto itself.
Photo at top: The Evil Queen in front of a mirror in a 1916 illustration in Europe’s Fairy Book (Source: Wikipedia)