Ten Reasons the Media’s Freak-Out Over the Helsinki Debacle Isn’t Credible with Trump Voters
I am on record sharing the media’s overwhelming disdain for how President Donald Trump failed to stand up to Vladimir Putin in nearly every possible way during their now infamous Helsinki press conference. It must be now explained, however, why the media’s near universal freak-out over Trump sucking up to a tyrannical killer who hacked our 2016 election is not going to have nearly the impact that it should — nor would have had even just a few short years ago.
As a conservative, it has been quite fascinating to see liberal media icons and even prominent Democrats, talking passionately about the dangers of the Russian menace and speak glowingly of Ronald Reagan for how he forcefully took on, and essentially defeated, the old Soviet Union. Having been a Reagan fan since I was nine years old, the only other times I recall him getting such universal personal praise from these groups was when he was shot, and then again when he died.
Herein lies a significant part of why it is that this white-hot media firestorm condemning Trump, which would have easily melted massive amounts of support for any prior president in the modern era, is unlikely to do much damage to his political support. The bottom line is that the messengers here simply have very little credibility because, at least to Trump supporters, they seem to be hypocritically cherry-picking their positions based on what can be used to criticize Trump most dramatically at any given moment.
To be clear, this is not an entirely logical assessment, especially when many powerful Republicans and even some of the “conservative” media outlets most favorable to Trump have also condemned him for his Helsinki sellout. I am simply analyzing how the average Republican/Trump voter is likely reacting to all of this and how well the president and his media sycophants blaming this all on the “Fake News!” might play with them.
The reality is that, even though they are plowing with an illegitimate hoe, the field Trump and his allies are sowing is still extremely fertile due to years of the news media engaging in blatant malpractice when it came to the issues directly at issue here. With that in mind, here are the top ten reasons that Republicans have to distrust the media’s intensely critical coverage of Trump and Russia.
- The news media openly campaigned for Barack Obama in both 2008 and 2012 and kept their pom-poms out for almost his entire presidency. Seeing the media instantly transform from a sleeping lapdog, to a fierce pit-bull has not passed the smell test for most hardcore Republicans.
- When Obama was overheard telling a top Russian official in 2012 that he would have more “flexibility” after he won the coming election, the mainstream media acted as if it was no big deal.
- When Obama’s opponent Mitt Romney confronted him on being weak on Russia, which he called our primary geo-political threat, the Democratic Party and most of the news media openly mocked him.
- When Trump ran for the GOP presidential nomination, he was given over two billion dollars in free and largely glowing media coverage by many of the same outlets which now treat him like a “Manchurian Candidate” (here’s looking at you CNN and Morning Joe!).
- By the time Trump had won the GOP nomination, he had already made numerous pro-Putin statements over the years and yet the media never bothered to make his obvious affection for the Russian dictator a significant issue in that campaign (why risk killing your new cash cow prematurely?!).
- When Trump inexplicably hired Paul Manafort as his campaign chairman, and then was forced to fire him when his deep ties to Russia finally became a problem, the media gave it so little coverage that the vast majority of voters had no idea who he even was.
- When the platform at the Republican Convention was, suddenly and without explanation, altered to be far more pro-Russia, the news media yawned.
- When Michael Flynn, who had already dined in public with Putin and done work for Russian TV, became a major part of the Trump campaign, this was never mentioned and, even to this day, it would be shocking if even half the country even remotely knows who he is and why he got fired and convicted.
- On the day that the U.S. intelligence agencies first announced that they believed that Russia was engaged in an attack on our electoral process, the news media bypassed that news like a teenage boy ignoring the chunky girl at a party on his way to obsess over the hot chick (the release of the infamous Access Hollywood tape.)
- Since Trump has become president, the news media has done a poor job of not overreacting to whatever scandalous morsel they have been fed on any given day. The preeminent example of this was the ridiculous overreaction to the Michael Wolff book Fire and Fury, an event I still maintain actually helped Trump’s poll numbers, which have never again been as low as they were before that episode.
In a very real sense, in the eyes of Trump fans, even those who aren’t part of “Cult 45,” the mainstream news media has become the little boy who cried “Wolff,” and nothing bad they say about him is ever going to be fully believed again. As “deplorable” as Trump fans can often be, it would be a good idea if the news media at least understood that, at least in this realm, they actually have a valid point.
John Ziegler hosts a weekly podcast focusing on news media issuesand is documentary filmmaker. You can follow him on Twitter at @ZigManFreud or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
[Photo via Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images]
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.