Donald Trump campaign against ‘crooked media’: What’s next?
NEW YORK– As a new week dawns, will Donald Trump continue to campaign against the nation’s news media as aggressively as he’s campaigning against Hillary Clinton?
Over the weekend he called CNN “disgusting,” said The New York Times is “going to hell” and said “I’m not running against crooked Hillary, I’m running against the crooked media.”
Most of his tweets on Saturday and Sunday were aimed at the journalists who cover him.
On Sunday afternoon he wrote, “It is not ‘freedom of the press’ when newspapers and others are allowed to say and write whatever they want even if it is completely false!”
In fact, it is.
These days, Trump, a creature of the media, hates what he is reading and seeing. He is losing to Clinton in state and national polls commissioned by news outlets. And he is being scrutinized on several different fronts simultaneously.
On Monday, The New York Times published an in-depth story about campaign manager Paul Manafort titled “Secret Ledger in Ukraine Lists Cash for Top Trump Aide.”
Manafort shot back: “Once again The New York Times has chosen to purposefully ignore facts and professional journalism to fit their political agenda, choosing to attack my character and reputation rather than present an honest report.”
Meanwhile, Trump has been attacking the messengers and telling his supporters not to believe the messages.
“If the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly and didn’t put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20%,” Trump tweeted on Sunday.
Politicians, particularly from the Republican party, frequently complain about media scrutiny and accuse journalists of being biased. But the ferocity of Trump’s attacks is unprecedented in modern American politics.
He is explicitly running against the news media, even while running a campaign that relies mostly on news coverage instead of paid ads to communicate with Americans.
“He’s turned to bite the hand that fed him,” former Time Inc. editor John Huey said on Sunday’s “Reliable Sources.”
Huey called Trump a “demagogue” and said journalists are his new scapegoat: “First it was the Mexicans, then it was the Muslims, now it’s you. It’s the media.”
Trump’s senior communications adviser Jason Miller said the media critiques are necessary.
“If there’s completely biased, ridiculous reporting that’s going on, then, look, we have to stand up and defend ourselves,” he said on “Reliable Sources.”
Later in the day, Trump national spokesperson Katrina Pierson said on “CNN Newsroom” that “the media has been writing the Trump campaign’s obituary for 424 days.”
Many Republican and Democratic analysts say they doubt that media-bashing is an effective strategy for persuading voters.
But Trump’s most vocal supporters are literally cheering for him to fight the media. His crowds at rallies regularly boo and jeer the journalists who cover the events.
“This really reflects, I think, the problem that Donald Trump is sort of mired in, which is that the 5,000, 10,000, even 20,000 people in front of him will be delighted by these comments. Nobody else really cares,” CNN political analyst Errol Louis said on “Inside Politics.”
“I think most people are sophisticated enough to realize that it’s not all the media’s fault,” Louis added. “It kind of wastes time, because here again, we’re still not hearing him talk about jobs or about trade.”
The conservative Wall Street Journal editorial board also chastised Trump, suggesting his focus on the media is misplaced.
In an editorial published on Monday morning, the paper said, “Trump is right that most of the media want him to lose, but then that was also true of George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. It’s true of every Republican presidential nominee. The difference is that Mr. Trump has made it so easy for the media and his opponents.”
And yet, on Saturday night, when Trump said The Times is “going to hell” and threatened to revoke the newspaper’s press credentials, the crowd applauded approvingly.
In a move that has troubled many press freedom advocates, the Trump campaign has denied press credentials to several prominent news outlets, including The Washington Post, Politico, and The Daily Beast.
This month Trump has started talking about adding The Times to the list.
“When they write dishonest stories, we should be a little bit tough,” he said Saturday.
When asked if Trump was serious about this, Miller said, “We’ll see.”
Separately, Trump’s running mate, Mike Pence, said on “Fox News Sunday” said a relaxing of the so-called blacklist is “an ongoing discussion in the campaign.”