No matter what he says, no matter what he does, no matter what he tweets — Donald Trump doesn’t surprise me anymore. Nothing he states as fact, no matter how demonstrably untrue, rattles me anymore. No amount of humiliation he publicly heaps on loyalists like Jeff Sessions, shocks me anymore. After six months of this president, I’m suffering from Trump fatigue. And I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.
But I’m also suffering from Trump-bashing fatigue, the nonstop drumbeat of negative news about the president; the crazy speculation about whether he’ll be impeached for high crimes including treason. This isn’t honest journalism. It’s wishful thinking.
If Donald Trump didn’t exist, the liberal pundits on MSNBC and CNN would have nothing to talk about. If he’s unhinged, as they so often tell us, then so are they. If you don’t believe me, just tune in to “Morning Joe” on MSNBC. It’s a three-hour orgy of unbridled mockery and hate aimed at the president. Or try Don Lemon on CNN, a supposed journalist who gives the word smug a bad name. Or those CNN panels loaded with liberals who detest the president and one lonely Trump supporter who serves as a convenient conservative prop.
And even when I agree with liberal journalists who point out the president’s defects, I find myself thinking that I don’t want to be on their team anymore. As much as I dislike President Trump’s demeanor, I dislike their demeanors at least as much. They’re smug. And if arrogance were a crime, they wouldn’t be on TV or writing op-eds; they’d be behind bars.
A Harvard study released this year showed that on CNN and NBC, 93 percent of the news about the president during his first 100 days in office had a negative tone. CBS wasn’t much better, with 91 percent negative news. At The New York Times, coverage had a negative tone 87 percent of the time.
Overall, the tone of the reporting at major news organizations in the survey showed only 20 percent of it was positive for the president — compared to Barack Obama’s 59 percent.
No surprise there. Journalists adored Obama just as much as they detest Trump.
This is not to suggest that President Trump hasn’t generated a lot of negative news. He clearly has. But such a massive truckload of negativity — even when the stories are accurate — is evidence of bias.
Let’s say someone wrote a series of stories about CNN and 93 percent of it had a negative tone. Or let’s say 93 percent of the stories about Barack Obama were negative. That wouldn’t be honest journalism. It would be a hit job.
And then there’s the double standard. Liberal journalists are outraged at the president’s shenanigans. OK, but where was the same outrage over Hillary Clinton’s and Susan Rice’s deceptions about Benghazi, where four Americans were slaughtered? Where was their outrage over the IRS scandal, where conservative nonprofits were targeted by a liberal middle manager (and who knows who else) who took the Fifth rather than testify before Congress?
And we’ll never know this with absolute certainty, but does anyone really think there’d be a liberal media feeding frenzy if Chelsea Clinton had met with a Russian lawyer that claimed to have dirt on Donald Trump? I can hear those liberal media pundits on TV now: Nothing happened at the meeting. She loves her mother and was just trying to help. Everybody wants opposition research.
It’s not good that Donald Trump too often has a long-distance relationship with the truth. And when the press points that out, it’s not “fake news” — it’s real, legitimate news.
But when so much of the hard news coverage and opinion journalism is overwhelmingly negative, and often laced with hatred for the president, this isn’t honest journalism — even when they get the facts right (which they don’t always do). It’s the ugly work of a lynch mob.
Bernard Goldberg, a nationally syndicated columnist, is a commentator for Fox News and a correspondent for HBO.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.