Last week President Donald Trump’s recently appointed chief White House strategist caused a stir among the press corps. He telephoned the New York Times, and in what the Times reported as “blunt but calm tones” proclaimed, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while….” Yes, he said the media should be “embarrassed and humiliated.” The journalists’ reacted with what the Times called “alarm and defiance.”
Christiane Amanpour, the pulchritudinous CNN correspondent, captured the alarm of many journalists, when she responded on Twitter, “What country are we living in?” Well, perhaps I can be of help here. Ms. Amanpour, you are a citizen of the United Kingdom, being of British-Iranian heritage. Moreover, I have it on very good authority that you are living in London. So long as you obey the laws of the United Kingdom ,you should continue to thrive, and so long as your documents are in order, you can travel to our shores anytime. But I advise you to avoid maudlin outbursts, especially in the presence of President Trump and Mr. Bannon.
Incidentally, Mr. Bannon knows his way around politics and media in this country. He was, until August, the chief of Breitbart News, and before that, he was a naval officer and an executive at Goldman Sachs, and he did a stint in Hollywood. Now he is in politics, and looking back on the past few months he says, “the elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong.” He wonders why “the mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone.” So do I. The vast majority of political journalists might have awakened November 9 asking Ms. Amanpour’s question: What country are we living in?
For instance, the New York Times at some point in the election cycle beheld candidate Trump coming down the escalator at Trump Tower and joked, “Why he will win: We are stumped. And we really tried.” The newspaper was parroting the early insight of George Will who said on Fox News’ “Special Report,” “One dollar on Donald Trump in the hope that he will be tempted to run, be predictably shellacked, and we will be spared ever more these quadrennial charades of his.” And so it went, the entire establishment got it wrong.
Bring up the now-famous YouTube montage. On it we hear George Clooney: “There’s not going to be a President Donald Trump. That’s not going to happen”; Bernie Sanders: “Donald Trump will not become president”; Nancy Pelosi: “Donald Trump is not going to be president of the United States. Take it to the bank”; Barack Obama: “I continue to believe that Donald Trump will not be president”; Stephen Colbert: “You’re not going to be president”; Ron Reagan Jr.: “Donald Trump will never ever be president of the United States…he’s an absurdity”; Fareed Zakaria: “Donald Trump will lose the election”; Bob Beckel (presumably just back from rehab): “the race is over… this race is no longer a presidential race.” Finally, the contagion was not contained to the Democrats and to the never-Trump Republicans. In August, Politico, after strenuous polling, asseverated, “Republican insiders are more convinced than Democrats that Donald Trump is so far behind Hillary Clinton that he can’t win in November.”
I could go on, but let me leave it that. There has never been in the history of the United States a ruling class… no, strike that, a class of so-called sophisticates, so out of touch with the electorate. Now their political leaders are joining with the feminist marchers and their mama’s boys in weeping in public. Last week Mr. Bannon startled the whole class of so-called sophisticates by calling their press corps “the opposition party.” Well, it looks like an opposition party to me. They were almost unanimous in opposing Donald Trump and in flaunting certain values that they only occasionally maintain, such as fairness.
William McGurn at the Wall Street Journal is one of the handful of us who in the press corps are not guilty of being members of the opposition party. He in his column this week came up with evidence that even the Times has agreed with Mr. Bannon for saying, “The media here is the opposition party.” Back on August 8 McGurn found the Times writing, “If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional.” At the New York Times, do they ever tire of eating their words?