DW2It’s open season on Donald Trump. The American election has become like some old Loony Tunes cartoon in which the annual duck hunt opens with a turn of a sign followed, a fraction of a second later, by gun barrels popping out from every bush. The sky above Washington is suddenly filled with buckshot and Daffy Duck’s feathers.

If you’ve read any of your morning papers, you’ll think that Donald Trump has lost his mind. He might well have but, equally, he might not. We are in a strange place at the moment. There’s a narrative being driven by a media who are entirely hostile to Trump. It’s backed by the Democrats and many Republicans, as well as the US late night talk show circuit and the entirety of liberal America who have it in for Trump. The message has gone out that they must stop Trump and you might even argue they have good reason. From their point of view, Trump is a modern Elmer Fudd holding his shotgun backwards. Except for a shotgun, he’s holding America’s nuclear arsenal…

For the record: I do happen to think that Donald Trump is unsuited to the presidency, not least because it’s becoming quite obvious that he simply doesn’t want the job. Anybody who has ever been forced to apply for a job they don’t want will recognise the signs. ‘Do you like working with the public,’ a young version of myself was once asked. ‘Of course, I do,’ I replied, ‘as long as they don’t taunt me… I don’t like it when they taunt…’

Trump has looked like a candidate who wants to throw the election from the moment he began to think he might just win at the end of the Republican nomination process. Something odd happened and Trump’s rhetoric hardened, despite popular wisdom suggesting it would soften. Did he suddenly realise how the highest office of in the land might affect his golf swing? Rumours have circulated that potential VPs were being lured to Trump’s side by the chance of getting the keys to the Oval Office. It’s likely that a Trump victory would see Mike Pence become de facto President as Trump himself became the USA’s first Emperor.

Yet even if Trump is throwing it, losing it, or even potentially winning it, nothing excuses the media’s current bloodlust. They believe that nobody in their right mind would defend Trump so they have slipped into hunting mode, moving in packs, and driving their quarry to the edge of the cliff. It might be deservedly cruel and befitting the worst candidate to have made it to the last stages of an American election but the danger now is to the media itself.

Trump needs and deserves no defence. What I’m arguing is really a defence of journalism. Broad brushstrokes, comic flourishes, and character assassinations are all perfectly reasonable modes of political analysis so long as it doesn’t entail the entire Fourth Estate acting like a lynch mob. This past week Trump has either out-Trumped himself or been simply the same Trump we’ve seen over the course of the long Republican nomination process. It’s hard to know which. Too much of the current coverage feels like schoolyard bullying in which the object of the bullying seems almost deserving of the approbation of their peers. Of course, no bullying is justified but the worst bullying can sometimes feel like that. There’s always one unfortunate scapegoat, one standalone rebel who doesn’t follow the fashion of the rest and attract scorns because they have the strength of character to remain true to themselves.

Trump is a rebel, of sorts, and he obvious does things to attract criticism. His campaign is struggling and there’s every sign that it might fail long before November. Yet the media should be aware of how they move in for the kill, not least because they’re in danger of making Trump look like the victim.

To take one example from the past week. The mainstream media followed the lead of social media in reporting with particular glee the moment that Trump had a problem with a baby crying at one of his rallies. ‘What a baby!’ mocked MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Twitter. Rupert Cornwall in The Independent this morning said that Trump ‘even managed to pick a fight with a baby who was crying at one of his rallies’. Jonathan Freedland at The Guardian wrote a long piece about the encounter under the headline ‘Donald Trump’s treatment of a crying baby reveals his total lack of empathy’.

It’s easy to see why journalists slip into analysis mode, trying to elaborate mole hills until they become mountains. Yet perspective is important. Trump clearly tried to laugh off the baby’s crying, hoping the parent would read between the lines and take the child from the hall. (Incidentally: was I the only person to wonder what kind of parent takes a baby to a Trump rally?) When it became obvious that the child’s crying would continue to distract him, Trump became more forceful. Still trying to make a joke about it, he said ‘Actually I was only kidding. You can get the baby out of here.’ He followed this up with the ‘I think she believed me that I love having a baby crying while I’m speaking. That’s OK. People don’t understand.’

This was Trump being his unpolished self; attempting to mask his lack of sophistication and experience with humour. A more practised politician would have had the etiquette to deal with it but a more practised politician would have already surrounded themselves with people who recognise when their candidate is sending out distress signals and would have moved the baby before further trouble ensued.

But did Trump really offend mothers across America by calling out a crying baby? Did it offend them more than suggestions last week that Trump questioned why America couldn’t just nuke its enemies? If mothers really did feel so offended, then America might well have far bigger problems that Donald J. Trump.

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6 Comments on "Is The Media Now Bullying Trump?"

  1. Peter Kennedy | 5th August 2016 at 9:42 pm | Reply

    I have an alternative theory regarding recent events in the US Presidential Election. Hilary Clinton is following a rule first put forward by Napoleon, “never interrupt your enemy when they are making a mistake”.

  2. Good to see a contrary opinion even though I do not like Trump but I do not like Clinton either so if I had a vote I would be finding it a tough choice. I do agree that the media sense blood and are almost revelling in making him demonic. Even Tom Bradby who I love watching on ITV News sometimes is smirking as he reveals today’s Trump foot in mouth gaffe. It does give great soundbites and eye catching headlines and is good for Newspaper sales but are we going over the top
    I can see why some would think it’s over kill but you do wonder if he is playing up to the media and its some sort of cunning plan to be as outrageous as possible and get the Media to continually condemn him so that his supporters rally the wagons around him like Alex Ferguson used to do at Manchester United.
    Not that I am in any way comparing Trump to Fergie( he surely can’t be president for 26 years) but he is not stupid he must have a plan and may be the media are falling into his trap. So yes even those of us who dislike his politics must be wary of the monster we may help to create

    • That’s a good point about the smirking. I think it’s that general smirking that prompted me to write. Trump can use it to his advantage as he has in the past. I’ve said from the beginning that not treating Trump seriously makes him a serious candidate. I still worry about that. When they’re smirking, journalists aren’t making serious points and this election still needs serious points, directed to both candidates. And comparisons to Fergie are very valid. He was a master of psychology and used the media in ways that the media are still trying to figure out.

  3. I don’t think he wants the job – this has been fun for him but he has no attention span to sit for the ‘however many years a US President sits’ – this means that the actual politician, Pence, will be in the role within a year if Trump is elected… If Trump gets elected he gets to leave, and change US politics – maybe for the better given the ineffectiveness of presidents in their final year – if he loses he gets to claim fraud because that is what he seems to do. Change is afoot.

  4. It’s sad that Donald Trump is normalizing so many unsavory traits with his presidential push this season. He’s normalizing bigotry and xenophobia in the campaign arena, for instance. He’s also mainstreaming the manhandling of the press. reporter and having him physically ousted. But since last summer, this type of bullying behavior has become quite common, and the media’s response has become nearly mute. Indeed, Gabriel’s ejection was noted in the media but didn’t seem to set off any loud alarm.

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