It’s been about two weeks since President Trump took to Twitter on a Saturday morning to accuse President Obama of “wiretapping” Trump Tower during the election. So far, no one has seen any evidence that proves his claim. Nearly every bipartisan committee on Capitol Hill has stated they haven’t found proof and both FBI Director James Comey and Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper have refuted Trump’s claim. And to this day, President Trump and his supporters have pointed to various news reports that they believe back up his accusation. But as he told Fox News’s Tucker Carlson the other night, we should expect some sort of revelation that vindicates him sometime in the next two weeks.
It’s also been about two weeks since the media started obsessing over this news story. Pundits on CNN and MSNBC are eviscerating Trump and the WH press corp has been hounding Press Secretary Sean Spicer with questions about it.
Does this all sound familiar? If you think this has happened before, then you’d be correct.
We’ve been through this cycle of Trump saying something outlandish and the media responds with knee-jerk reactions. It happened just days after the election when Trump said that “millions” of illegal votes prevented him from winning the popular vote (without evidence) and the media scorched him for it. And it happened the day after his inauguration after he claimed that he had the biggest crowd (even though it’s a fact that President Obama drew bigger crowds in ‘08 and ‘12) and the media scorched him for that as well.
But this over-the-top behavior by the media has been going on since Trump announced his candidacy in 2015. Instead of a wild accusation, it was a wild statement or something they see as a scandal. From his comments about illegal immigrants, his trashing of John McCain as a POW, his proposed Muslim Ban, the Access Hollywood video, the media would give them nonstop coverage for a couple of weeks until they come across another controversy. Ultimately, their hostile treatment towards Trump boosted his support enough to help him win the presidency.
However, now that he’s president, every word that comes from Trump matters. From his rallies to his tweets, the world takes everything Trump says seriously. So when he says something that is factually wrong or something that he can’t back up with evidence, he deserves to be called out by the media.
That said, the media needs to re-strategize as to how they cover Trump’s fabricated allegations.
For starters, self-proclaimed “objective” journalists need to stop injecting their views into their reporting. From CNN’s Jake Tapper, CBS’s Scott Pelley, to NBC’s Chuck Todd, anyone politically centered or center-right can pick up their animosity towards Trump no matter how subtle. Sometimes they don’t even try to hide it!
Secondly, they need to reprioritize what they cover and how much they cover it. Networks like CNN will dedicate countless hours to one or two Trump controversies at a time instead of addressing them with the countless other topics people around the world are talking about and the issues that affect everyday Americans. They treat every single Trump story like it’s the end of the world, it makes their coverage of the scandals during the Obama administration look like child’s play.
Finally, the media simply needs to be more fair. Partly why America’s trust in the media is at an all-time low is because there’s a clear bias that benefits Democrats and that is hostile to Republicans. Cable news networks in particular should look at Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier as an example to look up to. Not only does Baier report stories far more objectively than his competitors, his panel discussions are intellectually honest as they typically feature a somewhat rational Trump supporter, a former #NeverTrump conservative pundit, and a liberal.
It should be reiterated that every fabricated allegation that comes from President Trump deserves to be scrutinized appropriately. He shouldn’t be able to get away with saying anything without consequence. But if the media wants to really hold truth to power, they ought to rethink how they do so.