The dismal dawn of the Trump era begins with a mainstream media at war with itself. At the same time that some big news outlets are defiantly and publically calling out Trump’s lies, others are quietly slipping back into their more traditional roles as standard bearers for the status quo.
Like all big American businesses, the loyalties of the mainstream news media are not with the readers or even the subscribers, but with the shareholders of their parent companies. The corporate media is a profit driven enterprise, and staking out what are considered unpopular or antiestablishment positions is not a good business strategy. Trump, however, is still an enigma in the eyes of the press. Yes, he is president, but he lost the popular vote by nearly three million ballots and is intensely disliked by a lot of Americans. And he is obviously crazy.
But old habits are hard to break. The mainstream news media has been the lapdog of wealthy elites, America’s intelligence organizations and the military/industrial complex since the end of World War II, and you don’t just turn your back on your oldest supporters because there’s a lunatic in the White House.
Case in point. In a recent interview with ABC News anchor David Muir, Trump repeated a well-worn lie that two people were shot in Chicago while Obama was giving his farewell address on January 10. The political point of Trump’s lie is to underscore the out-of-control violence in Chicago and Obama’s failure to curb crime in his own hometown.
Two reporters from the Chicago Tribune investigated Trump’s claims and surprise, found they were not true. However, ABC News edited these false claims out of the televised interview and only included them in a written transcript on the ABC News website. For reasons that can only be guessed at, ABC essentially let Donald off the hook.
This is a tipping point for the American mainstream press. Will they have the courage to continue calling out the lies of Donald Trump and his administration or will they fall back into old patterns of cowering from the truth and covering up for the rich and powerful? Only time will tell.