Since President Trump was sworn in last January, the mainstream media has loved talking about themselves and their contentious relationship with him. Social media is filled with MSM personalities from competing outlets praising each other for childlike behavior towards the president. In an interview a few months ago, I referred to it as “massaging each other in virtue lotion.”
Alas, the tedious habit of paying attention to themselves hasn’t really led to self-awareness on their part. Perhaps at no time in history have so many been so clueless about how they are perceived outside of their own ranks.
NBC’s Steve Kornacki may be getting as close as anyone in the coastal bubbles ever will about this whole Trump/media thing. Not terribly close, I assure you, but this is a very relative thing.
Kornacki offered this in a recent post on NBCNews.com:
Hugh Hewitt, the venerable conservative radio host (and one of my MSNBC colleagues), got at this possibility in a recent tweetstorm. Essentially, he suggested that contempt for “elite media” is even wider and more intense than generally recognized — so much so that it binds Trump’s voters to him even as they grow frustrated with his presidential style.
It’s an argument I would have discounted in the past. Resentment toward the media has been a staple of populist conservatism for decades. I’m conditioned to treat it as an aspect of any given Republican’s core base of support — not a force that can be harnessed to defy the political laws of gravity as we understand them.
Notice he doesn’t address whether or not the resentment is deserved-I said he wasn’t getting too close-he treats it more like an unwarranted talking point.
Kornacki does begin to tiptoe towards awareness, however, by wondering whether media hysteria (he calls it “reaction”) might, in fact, be making everything worse:
More than we’ve seen in the past, popular culture took sides during the campaign, vehemently pushing back against Trump. It’s hardly new for celebrities to weigh in on behalf of Democrats; but with Trump, the entertainment world was sounding an urgent, existential alarm.
Again, Trump critics will say this was well-deserved; my question here is analytical: Did this kind of reaction from the media and popular culture widen the political divide into a chasm that was not just about Trump and politics but also media and culture?
He considers the possibility, but not in any real depth. Were he to simply say, “Maybe we are overreacting and making this worse,” to his colleagues as a warning, Kornacki would likely be dismissed, if not shunned outright. He admits to having more questions than answers.
That’s just because he is afraid of the answers he was flirting with. The media doesn’t hold sway over public opinion the way it did forty, or even fifteen, years ago.
The more important answer is that, yes, this misbegotten war he and his colleagues are waging against President Trump is making things worse for them.
And better for President Trump and his supporters.