Last year, during the presidential campaign, I told Bill O’Reilly, then of Fox News, that things would not end well for Donald Trump, that even if he somehow won the election, given his erratic behavior, his would be a tumultuous presidency.
I didn’t need a crystal ball to figure that out. He acted more like a nasty kid in middle school than a man running for president. Marco Rubio was “little Marco.” Ted Cruz was “lyin’ Ted.” Jeb Bush was “low-energy Jeb,” Hillary Clinton was “crooked Hillary,” and Carly Fiorina had a face that didn’t belong in the White House.
Enough Americans didn’t care. Many of them hoped he’d rise to the occasion if he won. Besides, they had had enough of the old way and wanted someone brash to shake up the stodgy establishment.
But now that he’s president, Donald Trump isn’t exactly draining the swamp. If anything, the swamp is draining Donald Trump. He’s learning a lesson about how it was a bad idea to compare the intelligence community to Nazis and to bash powerful news organizations as fake news.
Every day there are embarrassing leaks that dominate the news and force the White House to explain the president’s side of the story — before the explanation changes and his people have to explain it all over again.
One day, the biggest story in the world is his firing of FBI chief James Comey. Then it’s a story about the president giving secret information about ISIS to the Russians in the Oval Office. A day later, it’s news that he asked Comey, when he was head of the FBI still, to back off the investigation of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Maybe it’s all a misunderstanding. Maybe he’s a victim of a smear campaign. Maybe. But in the eyes of a lot of Americans, Donald Trump no longer gets the benefit of the doubt. He has said too many things that turned out not to be true.
A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that only 39 percent of Americans approve of the job the president is doing. Not good!
But in spite of the low numbers, there are more than a few high-profile Americans who, even though they detest the president, ought to send him a case of champagne and a few dozen roses along with a thank-you note for all he’s done for them.
Who are these people? They’re liberals in the media — both the news and entertainment media — who are doing fabulously well thanks to none other than Donald J. Trump. These are people who would rather walk barefoot on broken glass than say something nice about the president. But they’ve discovered a very valuable secret: bashing him is not only satisfying and gets them plaudits from their liberal friends, it’s also good for business.
Stephen Colbert went from worst to first by bashing the president on his late night CBS comedy show. It started with a few jabs and when his ratings went up, the jabs became more frequent and harder hitting and recently included a vulgar rant against the president.
“The View’s” ratings are also soaring thanks at least in part to the frequent Trump bashing by the show’s liberal women who pose as political scientists.
MSNBC used to be a joke. Not anymore. Knocking the president all day long has been good for business there, too. According to recent ratings, MSNBC was the most-watched cable news network in weekday prime time in the advertiser-coveted 25-54 year old demo.
“Saturday Night Live” is having a spectacular year thanks to Alec Baldwin’s Trump and Melissa McCarthy’s Sean Spicer. As one story put it, “Donald Trump has referred to himself as a ratings machine, and judging from the recent viewership of ‘Saturday Night Live,’ he’s right.” Ratings for “SNL” this year have hit a 22-year high.
Business at the “failing New York Times,” as Trump likes to put it, is also doing quite well. Subscriptions have gone way up since Donald Trump was elected. Liberals love the constant barrage of Trump bashing on the editorial and op-ed pages — and on the front page, too.
The media elite may despise him, but they’re laughing all the way to the bank. Their numbers are up; his are down.
Now, with all the headlines about possible collusion with the Russians, and with Democrats yelling about obstruction of justice and impeachment, the president is being portrayed as either a Manchurian candidate or an undisciplined amateur who can’t keep his mouth shut.
If only he had been more concerned with getting things right and less with bragging about what a great job he’s doing; if only he had been more gracious and less vindictive to his enemies, both real and perceived, he might have more friends and more support in these times of trouble.
But then he wouldn’t be Donald Trump.
Bernard Goldberg, a nationally syndicated columnist, is a commentator for Fox News and a correspondent for HBO’s Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel.