Trump vs. the media

Published 8:36 pm Saturday, February 18, 2017

President Trump hates the media and the media hates Trump. That’s the line we’re expected to believe. Half of that sentence might be true, but I have my doubts about a collective hatred from the media toward the president. There’s clearly some overcorrecting from the Left when it comes to coverage of Trump, but not hatred. On Friday, Trump said the media was the enemy of the American public.

The media stays in a constant uproar about Trump’s many false statements. And for good reason. Facts matter. Truth matters. That’s the basis of the entire journalism profession. But the approach many in the media are taking to criticize the president has been ineffective. We are drowning in a flood of “Trump is crazy” headlines. 

A typical day for the national media looks like this:

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1. Trump says he might do this horrible thing

2. Media reports on this horrible thing

3. Trump denies saying he might do this horrible thing

4. Media reports on Trump denying he might do this horrible thing

5. Media moves on to the next horrible thing

Before most of us get home from work at the end of the day, an entire news cycle about what Trump did or didn’t say has passed and the media has moved onto something else.

And that’s the problem with the media’s approach. Instead of thoughtful, accurate, in-depth reporting about the Trump administration and what it’s getting right and wrong, we get blaring headlines every hour with some new horrible thing. We don’t even have time to process what Trump is accused of saying or not saying before we’re hit with another breaking news alert about what the president posted on Twitter.

I’ve heard it compared to the way the Weather Channel handles storms, and I think it explains a lot of what’s going on. If every storm is the next Katrina, then we get somewhat numb to the warnings when it’s just a rainstorm. Overhyping the weather leads to a public that no longer pays attention to storm warnings.

The same goes for overhyping the news. I’m not suggesting that Trump hasn’t said and done things that aren’t deserving of a big headline. But every day? It’s to the point that when I turn on the TV, or look at Twitter, or read a national newspaper, I expect to see a “Trump did another horrible thing” headline and I know I’m not going to read the story. Because it feels like I read that story every day, and I’m tired of it.

I understand what’s happening from the media’s perspective, but there has to be some weighing of the importance of stories and some relevance assigned to them. If not, all the horrible thing headlines just drown each other out.

Case in point: On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the administration considered using the National Guard to round up illegal immigrants. Trump’s people say that was never the case, but the AP had a draft memo that staff at the Department of Homeland Security had put together. It’s in black and white. That’s a pretty big deal. But instead of focusing on this, the media couldn’t quit writing about the crazy things Trump said at a news conference Thursday.

Yes, he said some odd things, but he always says some odd things. And he criticized the media as always. That’s an everyday occurrence that we might as well get used to. It’s not every day that an administration considers turning the National Guard into a deportation force. There’s a difference in the importance of those stories but the more important one was washed out by all the attention his press conference got.

The national media is too distracted and it’s hurting our ability to get accurate, in-depth information. And so people turn a blind eye when the media actually does get it right and reports the truth, backed up with evidence. It’s why Trump’s supporters don’t trust the media and don’t trust the facts as presented.

I don’t blame the public or Trump. It’s up to the media to figure out a way to break through Trump’s noise to bring insightful, factual reporting to the masses. It won’t be easy, but the national media better figure it out quickly or America will further divide into separate tribes with separate facts and separate truths. That’s dangerous for all of us.

Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at