The scolds of the chattering class have spent the last few days rebuking Fox News for wondering aloud if a “coup in America” is underway. Such talk is “irresponsible,” say the Brian Stelters. According to their estimate, warning of a coup is more “inflammatory” than engaging in one. All these suddenly prim nincompoops appear on networks or host shows that regularly feature pols calling for Trump’s impeachment on the most trivial grounds, former “intelligence” officials who encourage insubordination if not insurrection, and pundits who insist that Trump’s cabinet and executive agencies defy him.
Much of the media’s energy is devoted to calling for a de facto coup. The premise of practically every story, from the travel ban to the most basic executive appointments, is that it is somehow “controversial” for a duly elected president to use the powers vested in the executive branch. Trump is apparently not to hire or fire anybody, should never tell executive agencies what to do, should take, not give, orders from diplomats and bureaucrats, should submit to all acts of judicial activism, must never criticize Congress, and should in general stop offering any opinions at all. All of this is deemed “unpresidential” and “scandalous” by the media.
It is comic the lengths to which the media will go to try to mau-mau a Republican president into passivity while seeking to maximize the power of unelected officials. The more undemocratic the figure (provided he is liberal), the more the media demands that his power go unchecked. The media loves bureaucrats, regulators, career diplomats, unelected judges, and other assorted “experts.” They wear the white hats in almost all of the media’s stories while elected officials wear the black ones. This week, for example, the New York Times decreed it a scandal of “censorship” that Trump is pulling the plug on propaganda at the Centers for Disease Control. The head of the executive branch controlling his own executive agencies is cast by the Times as sinister — a “continuing effort to mute, censor, and spy on employees in federal agencies whose words or views don’t sync with President Trump’s agenda.” How dare Trump not let unelected policy analysts treat the CDC like their own personal think tank — that’s the upshot of the complaint.
Or take the media’s endless stories about “crisis” at the State Department, which amount to nothing more than bureaucratic carping about a president who is setting priorities for an agency under his control. Obama abused his executive powers and the media cheered him on; Trump merely uses those same powers well within precedent and they call him “dictatorial.”
The media coverage of Trump’s first year has revolved around a blizzard of calls for Trump’s overthrow. MSNBC wouldn’t have any programming at all if it weren’t for that drive. The other week “Morning Joe” was demanding that Trump’s cabinet start drafting plans to kick him out of the presidency. “What’s the cabinet waiting for?” said Joe Scarborough. “Mike Pence, guess what? Republicans want you to be president… You know why? Because you’re stable.” But this week Scarborough professed shock at Fox News for “saying there’s a coup going on right now, which is one of the most extraordinarily irresponsible things I have heard a major network do.”
So, again, calling for a coup is responsible; reporting on one is not. The same media outlets castigating Fox News thought it wonderful when Obama’s CIA director John Brennan earlier this year argued that “executive officials should refuse to carry” out Trump’s lawful directives if they ever involve firing special counsel Robert Mueller. Brennan was explicitly endorsing a coup, but far from hurting his standing with the media, his call enhanced it. He was hailed for his high “patriotism.”
The same reporters tut-tutting Fox’s “coup” coverage are rooting for one. They desperately hope that Mueller finds something damning on Trump and are twisting themselves into pretzels to defend his biased investigative team, one of whose members was actively plotting with his mistress to stop Trump from occupying the White House.
And yet Brian Stelter at CNN, which serves as a 24/7 hotbed of anti-Trump propaganda, asks innocently why Fox is running “banners on screen that say: ‘A coup in America? Is it time to investigate the investigators?’” Stelter, who acts like he has never tuned into his own network, just can’t understand how Fox could entertain such a possibility. If anything, it is circumspect of Fox to treat the subject as a question. For the last year we have seen not a silent or subtle coup but a very loud and obvious one.