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Hasn't the Media Learned Anything from 2016?

Trump illustration with words.
The media continues to fall for Donald Trump's efforts to manipulate the news.

The news media is making the same mistakes it made in 2016 when every ignorant remark or potential scandal was supposed to mark the end of Donald Trump’s Quixotic quest for the White House.

He called Mexicans rapists, went to new lows with false claims about his opponents while insulting their spouses, and was even caught on tape confessing to sexual assault.

Each time, the media took to the airwaves, the internet, smoke signals and any other outlet to ring the death knell of his seemingly impossible run. Every hour was filled with “Breaking News” as they re-hashed, recycled and re-packaged the latest outrageous comment, action of alleged skeletons in his gold-plated closet.

The media obviously was ignoring the axiom, “Any publicity, even bad publicity, is a good thing.” Instead of torpedoing his campaign, it elevated it by giving him hour after hour of free publicity. And Trump was able to turn each potentially fatal blow into a fundraising opportunity.

Hasn't the media learned anything from 2016? Nope, they are doing it again.

The unearthing of recordings where Trump essentially admits he knows he isn’t allowed to share documents he acknowledges as classified negates his argument of being able to declassify documents with his mind. So, of course the media is all over this as it creates another feeding frenzy bound to guarantee Trump more free publicity as he launches yet another campaign to regain the job he claims he never lost in the first place.

Don’t they ever learn?

Where’s the Justice?

Another old saying is “Justice delayed is justice denied”. If there is anything Trump and his team of lawyers are experts at it is delaying justice. By using multiple delaying tactics such as multiple motions, requests for extensions, asking for a change of venue and even objecting to the presiding judge’s political views, they will do pretty much anything to throw a monkey wrench into the legal process.

With several prosecutors about to reach their decision as to whether to indict Trump or not, as a result of multiple criminal investigations, there is the typical cry of politically motivated probes aimed at interfering with the electoral process. Apparently, Republicans believe that, simply by declaring himself a candidate, he should have the same legal protections he enjoyed when he was in office.

With the repeated chants of “Lock her up!”, it’s obvious they don’t believe their opponents deserve the same treatment. In fact, it was James Comey’s October Surprise that resulted in many people making the decision to either vote for someone else or refrain from voting entirely. It didn’t matter that it, and other investigations into Clinton resulted in no charges.

If Clinton evaded prosecution, does that mean Trump could as well? There was the mere suspicion of wrongdoing by Clinton, but there is ample evidence for Trump’s conviction. That doesn’t mean it will happen. Those investigating Trump are also exploring the possibility of giving him a pass using a process called prosecutorial discretion.

It’s a means by which a district attorney, or other legal authority, can decide whether or not to indict someone. There are many reasons a prosecutor might choose this route. Spousal abuse, self-defense and many other reasons have been in not pursuing criminal charges.

In Trump’s case, it has been argued that not prosecuting him would be in the national interests, since his supporters have threatened violence if he is indicted on any of several crimes. It was the reason Gerald Ford gave for pardoning Nixon following Watergate, and it could be used to justify current circumstances.

If January 6th taught us anything, it’s that Trump supporters aren’t against using violent means to achieve their ends. But should the mere threat of violence be the reason for not pursuing justice? Besides, the excuse of “let the voters decide” didn’t prevent January; in fact, it caused it.

Prosecutors now have the hindsight of history to help in their decision. After all, Trump has already been criminally indicted on multiple crimes. He was also held civilly liable for sexual assault. Despite the threats of riots and other violence, it never materialized.

So, will he be held accountable? That remains to be seen. Fox News pundit Geraldo Rivera offered a unique solution. He suggested that President Biden pardon Trump in exchange for a pledge to never run again. It’s a laughable suggestion considering Trump is not one to stick to his promises, nor does it prevent him from backing a candidate he can easily manipulate, such as his son, Don Jr., from seeking office.

The country can have no peace until he is held accountable.

Roll the Tape

When the Access Hollywood tape was released, it had the media salivating. Reporters were scouring the internet for adjectives to be used in writing Trump’s political obituary. Station after station, with one notable exception, carried continuous coverage as if they were watching a slow-burning wildfire (or a low speed Bronco) while they reported on what they saw as the inevitable demise of a flash-in-the-pan would be politician.

And then came Wikileaks. Short-attention span theater permitted Trump to move on from a potentially fatal blow while explaining away his comments as “locker room talk”. Instead of destroying his political career, it emboldened him with a Teflon Don image while he fund-raised off the negative publicity.

The transcript of the so-called “perfect phone call” with the Ukrainian president that led to Trump’s first impeachment had some predicting that he, like Nixon, would resign rather than endure an embarrassing impeachment trial. Unlike Nixon, Trump enjoyed almost unanimous support from Congressional Republicans, so he felt safe in ignoring what he knew would be a sham trial.

The gavel-to-gavel coverage, along with Trump’s real-time Tweets, put him in the spotlight once again. Even though the outcome was predictable, many tuned in to watch the back-and-forth between the witnesses and Trump’s social media commentary.

While many Republican senators admitted that Trump had indeed committed offenses worthy of his removal from office, they resorted to citing the Mitch McConnell mantra that he used in denying President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, “Let the voters decide”.

As the horrific events of January 6th unfolded on live television, it was Trump’s absence that was more noticeable than his earlier appearance, where he and his supporters urged those present to engage in “trial by combat” as he encouraged them to march to the Capitol to force the assembled members to change the results to their desired candidate.

Despite reported pleas from those in Congress and in the White House to call for calm, Trump was uncharacteristically silent as he allegedly watched with glee at the sight of the desecration of the Capitol grounds. It was hours before he eventually released a well-rehearsed video extolling his followers to leave the area.

Of course, the media spent hours dissecting his speech. They parsed every word and phrase while analyzing his movements and body language. Once again it allowed Trump to turn lemon into lemonade as Republicans used this video to defend his actions while attempting to reframe the insurrection as a normal tourist visit.

Now, it has been uncovered that Trump had been taped, admitting that he did know that the documents he took from the White House were indeed classified. This negates his earlier claims as well as opening the possibility that he could be charged under the Espionage Act, which states someone is guilty of violating the law if they willingly share what they know is classified information.

It’s the same offense that former intelligence contractor Reality Winner was convicted of and sentenced to four years in prison.

So, as you can see, Donald Trump has been in the media almost daily since his chaotic departure from the White House. The media’s insatiable need to want to get the scoop on what they see as the latest “last straw” has resulted in an endless stream of free publicity.

And Trump continues to use these accusations as fundraising ploys despite the fact there is little evidence he is using these contributions for anything more than personal gain. And thanks to the media, the spigot is showing no sign of slowing down.

Will the media ever learn?

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