Trump and the Media

Trump and the Media

Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.

Donald Trump replied today to media attacks on his charitable giving in general and gifts to American veterans groups in particular. His presentation once again was precisely the same drill which he has employed throughout the campaign when he has been attacked. Trump criticized the messengers.  He also made it clear that this type of adversarial relationship with the press which has followed him his entire life would continue for the rest of the campaign as well as in a future Trump White House. Responding to very strong and detailed Washington Post investigative journalism about Trump’s charitable giving, Trump attacked the reporters as well as those in the media who had lent credibility and credence to the Post’s analysis of Trump’s bragging about his generous giving. 

Trump sought to deny the report as well as the way the facts had been developed. He skewered the reporter as well as other supporting press and said explicitly that they ought to prepare for more of this in Trump White House. Showing once again his thin skin and his inability to deal with criticism, Trump sought to flat out embarrass the press by juggling explanations of what actually the facts are concerning Trump’s giving to veteran groups. Operating as if he can never err or be faulted, Trump persisted to pound the press; despite the fact that they clearly appeared to be doing their job.

The test ahead now is whether the media and especially the editors and publishers can sustain further investigation here and/or elsewhere for the balance of the campaign. If they fold as have many of Trump’s media critics and political opponents, the public will never truly find anything out about Trump’s businesses, previous political views, donations, etc. If the media leaves it all to the Clinton campaign—or even to Hillary’s apparent pit bull Elizabeth Warren—many of the facts may never emerge.   

While Trump’s minions will rally to his defense and attack the media as well, the independents and the wafflers may listen. The reporting and packaging must be totally seamless and error free. It must be scrupulous and extensive.  While the press has done its job fairly well in detailing Hillary’s foibles—especially with respect to her mis-use of Government emails—in chasing Clinton, the press has been dealing with a conventional candidate.  

Clinton knows it and ultimately Trump must learn that the press has a constructive job to do in American politics. It cannot be contained. Hopefully there are other reporters like Woodward and Bernstein’s who will be given their heading and support by other editors like Ben Bradlee.  

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