A Master of Squirrels: The President and the Press - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Master of Squirrels: The President and the Press

Michelle Malkin routinely used the analogy of squirrels to describe the Obama administration’s ability to distract the public’s attention from substantive actions it was taking by creating distractions. That administration was quite good at hiding the ball from the public.

But compared to Donald Trump, Barack Obama was a mere piker.

Malkin might say that Trump is a master of squirrels, because it seems like daily that the new president has set loose distractions the media has been powerless to avoid — and major would-be controversial actions he’s taking are going largely unreported by a hostile media.

Take, for example, the weekend’s controversy surrounding the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration. The president sent his press secretary Sean Spicer out on Saturday to spew outrage at bad media coverage of the throng at Friday’s event; specifically, photographs of the crowd on the Washington Mall laid side-by-side with analogous shots of the Obama inauguration in 2009 which made Trump look like less of a success. Spicer fired out at those media organs publishing such comparisons, alleging that the photographs from Friday were taken earlier than the time of Trump’s taking the oath of office and therefore were unfair.

And then Spicer went further, alleging that Trump’s inauguration audience was the largest in history between people watching it in person and eyes glued to a screen. This was probably a bit of overreach; Obama’s in-person crowd appeared to be larger than Trump’s, though not by remotely as much as CNN and other media entities were selling, and Nielsen says Obama’s 2009 inauguration had 37 million TV viewers, compared to 31 million for Trump’s inauguration. It is possible, given the rapid rise in popularity of online streaming media from 2009 to today, that there may have been an additional six million viewers of the inauguration Nielsen didn’t catch. That would make what Spicer said at least arguably correct, though one could say he missed the mark by aiming for such a grandiose claim when the real meat was the comparison between Trump’s actual crowds and the media’s claims.

Particularly given another falsehood Spicer complained about; namely, a fraudulent report by Time magazine that a bust of Martin Luther King had been removed from the Oval Office by the assumedly racist new president.

The objections weren’t baseless. Coverage of Trump by the Democratic media has been shockingly, if not surprisingly, biased since long before Election Day, and Spicer’s charge is clearly to show as much contempt for his tormentors as they show to his boss. Rightfully so.

But it’s all squirrels. The hacks covering Trump are as lazy as they are partisan, so feeding them clickbait such as manufactured controversies over inaugural crowds is a guaranteed way of keeping them occupied while things of real substance are done.

If that wasn’t obvious over the weekend it surely had to be by Monday, when Trump resuscitated one of his chestnuts from the days following the election. He claimed that were it not for 3-5 million illegal aliens the Democrats trucked to the polls in California and elsewhere he would have won the popular vote in November as well as the Electoral College vote, and the claim sent the Democratic media into convulsions of outrage over how “baseless” and “without evidence” Trump’s charge of voter fraud might be.

And while the ink-stained curs were scampering after squirrels on the White House lawn, Trump was inside signing executive orders of such magnitude as to thoroughly dismantle the Obama legacy.

Federal agencies must now “waive, defer, grant exemptions from, or delay” any portions of Obamacare creating financial burden on states, individuals or healthcare providers — which essentially guts Obama’s signature legislative achievement.

The Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines will now be built.

The federal government will no longer fund abortions performed in foreign countries.

America is withdrawing from the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty.

U.S. airstrikes severely wounded ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi and turned several of his advisers into scrambled egg while trapping ISIS forces on what is for them the wrong side of the Euphrates River in Mosul, in a rapid escalation of the fight against the jihadist network.

Ajit Pai, the foremost critic of Net Neutrality at the FCC, is its new chairman, meaning the free market now has a friendly majority in that body again.

Trump froze all federal government hiring “except for the military.”

Trump essentially shut down the EPA pending Scott Pruitt’s confirmation. He also muzzled the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

There is no longer any content in Spanish on the White House’s website.

The Centers For Disease Control’s planned Climate and Health Summit will not be happening.

And on, and on.

Any one of these actions would be regarded as a major policy shift on its own. Taken in concert, they represent a sea change in American government in half a week of Trump’s tenure. And yet while the media is in hysterics over the opening salvos of the new administration, it’s crowd sizes and illegal Mexicans in the polling booths that are occupying their time.

Here’s hoping Trump continues with the parade of squirrels, and let’s hope the media keeps chasing them. At this rate, he’ll have the country well on its way to recovery from the Obama malaise, and the enemies in the newsrooms will have hardly noticed his actual work.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and RVIVR.com, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at Amazon.com. He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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