Donald Trump’s weekend foray to the G-7 summit was a disaster on every level. Trump arrived late. He left early. He slumped in halfway through a meeting on safeguarding the rights of women, and he skipped the sessions on the environment and climate change completely. In the short period Trump was present, he pouted, shouted, and thwarted every effort to make any genuine progress on the issues most vital not just to the world economy, but to the world. In the end, the best the group of erstwhile allies could manage was a milquetoast lowest-common-denominator statement that fair trade was a good thing … without the least clue about how such a goal might be achieved in the face of Trump’s fundamental ignorance of international trade.
And then, after skipping out early, Trump called in from the plane to un-agree to even this attendance-award prize of a statement because one of the allied leaders had the temerity to say that he would not be bullied. Which Trump took to be a deadly insult, since bullying is all he knows—which he confirmed by flinging insults in his wake.
With this steaming mess behind him, Donald Trump flew off to Singapore to appear in another meeting. And the press did what it seems to do every day for Trump: N=not just give him a clean sheet, but a freshly-scrubbed pedestal.
The New York Times got in what has become its expected level of marble-polishing.
When President Trump declared that he did not really need to prepare for his legacy-defining meeting with North Korea’s leader, he drew sighs or snickers from veterans of past negotiations. But he had a point: In his own unorthodox way, Mr. Trump has been preparing for this encounter his entire adult life.
Yes. Trump has been breathing all his life, clearly qualifying him to both set environmental policy and to conduct pulmonary surgery. But if the Times’ regular lauding of Trump is especially frustrating, it’s certainly not unique. CNN jumped into the day reporting that “History beckons for Trump and Kim” and saying that the meeting in Singapore “represents an opening awaited for 70 years” without ever mentioning that the reason it has awaited was not because getting North Korea to the table was difficult. It hasn’t happened because every previous resident of the White House had reasons to believe that rewarding a despot for threats and violence was a bad idea.
Over the past year, the press hasn’t just normalized Trump—it has lionized him. It has turned “Trump being Trump” from an excuse into something to be lauded. After all, every day is the day Trump became president.
On the evening of the election, the Huffington Post removed negative statements about Trump, saying that he “deserved a chance.” They were still insisting that Trump deserved that chance on inauguration day, as if he came into office shorn of every racist statement, under-the-table deal, business failure, mob connection, hateful lie, and sexual assault that had defined his life.
It was just one outlet of many that insisted that Trump deserved something never awarded to any other politician or public figure: a do-over. An opportunity to demonstrate that they didn’t mean everything they had said for decades, and a free pass on being responsible for everything they had ever done.
That alone demonstrated an extraordinary willingness to normalize Trump. One all too similar to that demonstrated by Republican “Never Trump” leaders, who had pointed up Trump’s flaws … right up until the moment they removed the “Never” and simply became Trump followers. But Donald Trump’s pass hasn’t been a one time thing. It’s an every damn day thing—and sometimes an every hour thing.
Major media outlets continue to report the news of the moment, even when that news isn’t favorable to Trump. But the news of the moment is fleeting. This morning’s front page at the Times, and at CNN, are utterly lacking in any discussion of the latest indictment from Robert Mueller, the latest scandals associated with Scott Pruitt, or even the over 4,000 people dead in Puerto Rico—all of which would have dominated the news for cycle upon cycle in the past.
But a daily do-over requires that yesterday’s news remain just that. And major media outlets seem so caught up in following Trump’s flapping tie that they’d rather donate column inches to describing trivial events today instead of revisiting those lives wrecked by what happened 24 hours ago. They seem utterly incapable of finding the proper scope and scale for reporting on events of today as well as continuing to focus on events only just receding in the rear-view. Incapable … or uninterested.
After all, it’s just another day. Another day in which the ability to properly react to Trump is made ever more remote.
CNN host Fareed Zakaria says President Trump’s missile strike in Syria shows him displaying the same qualities as America’s past leaders.
“I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night,” he said Friday on CNN’s “New Day.” “I think this was actually a big moment.”