How can the mainstream media stick it to the president? Don’t let them count the ways: They’ll lie about it.
On Friday, the same day that that the MSM suffered what Glenn Greenwald called its “most humiliating debacle in ages,” several New York Times veterans were busy cranking out their latest hit piece.
The crux of the article, titled “Inside Trump’s hour-by-hour battle for self-preservation,” comes in the third paragraph:
As he ends his first year in office, Mr. Trump is redefining what it means to be president. He sees the highest office in the land much as he did the night of his stunning victory over Hillary Clinton — as a prize he must fight to protect every waking moment, and Twitter is his Excalibur. Despite all his bluster, he views himself less as a titan dominating the world stage than a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously.
Hard to imagine a man constantly under siege by a 24-hour press that lavished non-stop praise on his predecessor feeling like a maligned outsider. Whether this is an accurate characterization of President Trump is hard to say anyway, since the Times’s source is “60 advisers, associates, friends and members of Congress.” (No doubt authors Maggie Haberman, Glenn Thrush, and Peter Baker thought the number alone should satisfy fair-minded readers that the description is accurate.)
One theme that runs throughout the 5,000-word essay is Trump’s TV-viewing habits:
Around 5:30 each morning, President Trump wakes and tunes into the television in the White House’s master bedroom. He flips to CNN for news, moves to “Fox & Friends” for comfort and messaging ideas, and sometimes watches MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” because, friends suspect, it fires him up for the day.
Energized, infuriated — often a gumbo of both — Mr. Trump grabs his iPhone. Sometimes he tweets while propped on his pillow, according to aides. Other times he tweets from the den next door, watching another television. Less frequently, he makes his way up the hall to the ornate Treaty Room, sometimes dressed for the day, sometimes still in night clothes, where he begins his official and unofficial calls.
Later comes this damning piece of evidence, buried for some reason in a photo cutline:
Mr. Trump spends at least four hours a day, and sometimes as much as twice that, in front of a television, sometimes with the volume muted, marinating in the no-holds-barred wars of cable news and eager to fire back.
But not only does the current president of the United States spend more hours watching TV than should sound plausible to seasoned journalists, given the rigors of the job. He lies about his viewing habits:
… [H]e is leery of being seen as tube-glued — a perception that reinforces the criticism that he is not taking the job seriously. On his recent trip to Asia, the president was told of a list of 51 fact-checking questions for this article, including one about his prodigious television watching habits. Instead of responding through an aide, he delivered a broadside on his viewing habits to befuddled reporters from other outlets on Air Force One heading to Vietnam.
“I do not watch much television,” he insisted. “I know they like to say — people that don’t know me — they like to say I watch television. People with fake sources — you know, fake reporters, fake sources. But I don’t get to watch much television, primarily because of documents. I’m reading documents a lot.”
Contrast this would-be gotcha moment with the media’s handling of TV viewer Barack Obama. From a July 2014 article in the liberal Telegraph:
Whatever you might think of Barack Obama’s qualities as President, there is little doubt that he is a man with good taste in television.
Obama, like presidents before him, needs a way to switch off from the demands of being Commander-in-Chief.
So how often did Obama “switch off”? Often enough that Culture Editor Martin Chilton was able to name Obama’s ten favorite shows.
The same New York Times that lambasted Trump as TV junkie struck a very different tone when addressing Obama’s small screen habits:
These days, when Mr. Obama retreats to the White House residence after a long day on the other end of the colonnade, he is working his way through the DVD box set of AMC’s ‘Breaking Bad’….
Friends say Mr. Obama is also keenly awaiting the new season of the Netflix show ‘House of Cards.’…
Mr. Obama is also a devotee of Showtime’s ‘Homeland.’…
And the list of heavies continues. Mr. Obama has told people he is a big fan of ‘Game of Thrones.’… He has raved about ‘Boardwalk Empire’ and the BBC’s ‘Downton Abbey.’… And he has worked his way through the DVDs of AMC’s smoldering ‘Mad Men’ series.
The article goes on to note that Obama was also a fan of “Real Housewives” and “Glee.”
That’s a lot of TV watching and none of it news, but never mind. The clear sense of the article is that despite the pomp and circumstance that are perks of the job, Obama is just another couch potato: an average Joe despite his high station.
Behold: double-standardism on steroids.