Editorial: Media manipulation?

Hysterical, hostile media ignoring improving conditions under Trump

The drum beat of great news has continued into the new year.

 

Apple Inc. this past week announced it would spend $30 billion on a new U.S. campus and other domestic operations in the next five years — and bring home the vast majority of $252 billion it has parked overseas, all thanks to the tax reform bill Republicans passed at the end of the year.

The 15.5 percent “repatriation” rate, down from 35 percent, encouraged the return of the capital, on which Apple will still pay $38 billion in taxes.

Meanwhile, jobless claims have plunged to their lowest levels since 1973 — and the stock market recently closed at 26,000 for the first time. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up around 40 percent since President Trump was elected.

Companies responded to the tax bill with year-end bonuses and pay raises, ahead of lower individual tax rates that will show up as bigger paychecks for most Americans next month.

And yet this drum beat of good news has been almost completely drowned out by a drum beat of negativity from the national media.

It’s measurable: News watchdog organization Media Research Center reports that in a recent three-month period, the utterings of reporters and nonpartisan sources on the Big Three broadcast networks’ evening news shows were negative toward the president a whopping 90 percent of the time.

It’s anecdotal, too: Even after the Washington press corps was treated to a nearly hour-long interrogation of Mr. Trump’s physician, in which the doctor reported he was in excellent health, the headline at CNN.com blared “The President is overweight and doesn’t exercise much …” And the network’s resident medical expert surmised, without an examination of the patient, that Mr. Trump suffers from heart disease and more.

Just contrast that with the media’s near-complete lack of interest in presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s health last year, even after repeated coughing fits, days away from the campaign and her collapse while being lifted into an SUV.

Little wonder why the White House assembled its own “Fake News Awards.”

We’re not sure a White House should be doing such a thing. There are better uses of a president’s time and energy — and stoking distrust of the media isn’t all that presidential.

Then again, distrust of the media doesn’t need stoking. And, indeed, the journalistic miscues and misdeeds on Trump’s list are inarguably misinformation debacles, hatched in a climate of pure hatred for this president. They include:

ABC falsely reported Trump had asked National Security Advisor Michael Flynn before the 2017 election to make contact with Russian officials; not true: it was during the transition to the presidency. The report caused a dip in the stock market, and reporter Brian Ross was suspended for a month.

CNN falsely reported that Donald Trump Jr. was given early access to anti-Clinton Wikileaks documents before they were released to the public. Not true.

A Washington Post reporter purposely sent out a photo meant to depict a sparsely attended Trump rally in Pensacola, Fla. Problem is, the photo was taken before the crowd had all arrived. The reporter apologized.

Trump’s No. 1 award went to New York Times economist Paul Krugman — a political partisan masquerading as a money man, who predicted after Trump’s election “the mother of all adverse effects” on the economy, and that the stock market would never recover.

Maybe not fake news — but certainly a world-class, historic blunder, born of fanatical political angst that has no business in fair, reasoned discourse, much less economics.

None of the above are matters of opinion; they are inconvenient truths for news media that have lost their way and much of their credibility.

We don’t agree with much of what Mr. Trump says and tweets, and we wish he’d rise above his New York streetfighter tendencies to be more presidential and focused. He often steps on his own good news.

That said, with their constant overreactions and their often personal vendettas against this president, the media are creating a climate of fear and dread that is wholly detached from reality and measurable data — which is that things in America have been getting better nearly every day since this man was elected.

It again reminds us of an old editorial cartoon in which a pollster asks a homeowner if he’s better off now than he was four years ago — and the resident replies, “Yes, and I’m not going to take it anymore!”

The media seem to be hoping Americans will feel that way all the way up to the November midterm elections. They seem intent on making sure of it.

If so, we risk punishing leaders who are increasingly getting it right on a number of fronts and making our lives and country better in the process.

Are we really that manipulable?

 

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