The Media’s Hysteria Undermines Their Message

Courtesy of Krysten Newby via Flickr under CC License

We can all agree that there are valid criticisms of Donald Trump’s policies and antics. Unfortunately, the media is incapable of moderating their criticism — they constantly overplay their hand. Instead of calmly responding to Trump, they manufacture crisis and spread panic. Most Americans ignore the hysterical media because their predictions of catastrophe rarely materialize; they’re like the boy who cried wolf — no one is going to believe them when Trump does things he shouldn’t.

Look at when Trump fired his national security advisor Michael Flynn. There are legitimate questions here:

  1. Why did Trump fire Flynn?
  2. What exactly did Flynn do?
  3. Is there any information that the Trump administration is withholding?

Most people would like to know the answer to those questions, and the media could have asked them in a measured way. Instead, they responded in their usual hyperbolic manner. Chuck Todd classified it as “arguably the biggest presidential scandal involving a foreign government since Iran-Contra”. Thomas Friedman of the New York Times declared “we were attacked on Dec. 7, 1941, we were attacked on Sept. 11, 2001, and we were attacked on Nov. 8, 2016”, or in other words, the election of Donald Trump was an attack on the United States by the Russian government. Based off the available evidence, there is no case to be made that Flynn’s firing is one of the worst scandals in American history; Obama had scandals that were far worse and did not receive the same kind of hysterical coverage.

However, Flynn’s firing does raise questions that need to be answered. If the media were intelligent, they would argue that Trump’s desire to bury this issue indicates that information is being withheld, and consequently, the senate should investigate the matter to get the full story. That is a perfectly reasonable request, and one that I am in full support of. It is not reasonable, however, to jump to outrageous conclusions that are pure conjecture. The danger in hyperbolic reactions is it distracts from the real issue. Those three questions should be answered, but the Trump administration is able to pivot from those questions because the media responded irrationally. In other words, the Trump administration can evade the real issue because they can attack the media for being dishonest instead. When Trump should be on the defense, the media lets him launch a counter-attack.

Trump’s travel ban is another example of the media overplaying their hand. The executive order was quickly decried as a ‘muslim ban’, but the actual details did not reflect that label. It was an order that temporarily restricted travel from specific countries that are difficult or impossible to vet. In many cases, the coverage of the order would make you think that Trump ordered a ban on all Muslims entering the United States, but he did nothing of a sort. Once again, the media could have made reasonable criticisms of the executive order, but the temptation to scream fire in a crowded room was too compelling.

All this does is undermine their message. Every time they react to Trump unreasonably, they lose their credibility. Which is concerning, I want Trump to be held to account, and frankly, I don’t trust my fellow Republicans to self monitor. But I care more about the truth, and the media has spread a lot of falsehood since Trump’s inauguration. No one is going to believe them if they keep bending the truth to fit their narrative.

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