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Op-ed

Commentary: The media that cried 'wolf' is about to get surprised again

Turns out, the public gets used to hysteria pretty fast

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

If you watch most of the cable news channels, or read the websites associated with most major media outlets, you would be forgiven for thinking that the Trump administration was on the verge of ending.

Spoiler alert: it isn't.

At the time of writing this article, CNN.com alone has nine (count them, nine) stories about the impeachment "crisis" in the top left block of their website alone. MSNBC.com is even more captured by wall-to-wall impeachment bonanza: over twenty stories on their main splash page. And at NYtimes.com, literally everything that appears above the fold is about impeachment.

You can tell by the feeding frenzy that the media thinks they have another Watergate on their hands, and that this time they really have something that is going to finally topple the hated Trump from office before his four years (or maybe eight) are up.

I wonder if they notice that the public seems more or less unmoved by their efforts. The RealClearPolitics average of polls for Trump's approval rating has actually become more positive for the president since the news broke a little over a week ago. Even among polls that were taken with voter samples that were exclusively from mid-week, after the scandal coverage was in full swing, there was little or no change in Trump's approval rating.

The media is completely convinced that this scandal is the end of the Trump administration, while the public thus far seems to be reacting with a disinterested yawn.

I wonder when (or if) they are going to realize that their ability to lead the public around by the nose ended long ago. After decades of clearly agenda-driven coverage, America just doesn't trust the media to tell them what is or is not a big deal anymore. If this story had taken place back in 1972, Trump would indeed be in very serious trouble. By now, hordes of elected Republicans would be jumping on the impeachment bandwagon, afraid of universally negative coverage in the press.

But now, neither Trump nor any other elected Republican fears — or has reason to fear — negative coverage in the New York Times.

The reason for that is pretty simple: this same media has predicted the end of the Trump administration probably a dozen times before.

They predicted it would end during the initial staff shakeups that saw Sean Spicer and Reince Priebus hit the exits. They predicted it would end when Rex Tillerson and Gen. Mattis departed. They confidently predicted it would end when the Mueller report was released. At one point they even seriously suggested that Trump's cabinet was considering invoking the 27th Amendment to replace him due to his behavior on Twitter.

I've frankly lost count of the "Trump administration imploding" or "Trump administration unraveling" hot takes I've read over the last 3 years. And the public, it appears, has likewise gotten pretty sick of it as well.

Trump is Trump, his administration is what it is, and the American public seems to have more or less gotten used to both Trump, and the media's non-stop blaring criticism of him. At the end of the day, they're going to be content to judge him at the ballot box next November.

I don't really know what the final investigation into this Ukraine business is going to reveal. I would not be surprised if it found out that Biden was corrupt, and/or that Trump behaved improperly. Who knows; maybe there is a real wolf this time.

I bet a week from now they will be sitting around wondering, "Why isn't anyone listening to us? Don't they know how important we are?"

They only have themselves to blame.

One last thing…
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