Viewpoints

The elite media – self-absorbed but not self-aware

Riddle me this: How can the so-called elite media be so self-absorbed and still have so little self-awareness?

Today’s journalists too often make themselves the story. If a reporter gets arrested at a protest, he’ll be on the Sunday shows doing what he is not supposed to be doing: expressing his opinion.

Yet these same journalists are incapable of seeing themselves in the harsh light in which most Americans see them.

Not good. The media are supposed to tell everyday Americans what’s happening in the world and explain what it means to them. How can they do either if they haven’t the foggiest idea what’s going on and can no longer relate to their audience?

To top it off, the occupant of the White House has a knack for bringing out the worst in the Fourth Estate.

After President Donald Trump skipped the recent White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, one popular narrative was that Trump was wiping his feet on the First Amendment. But in their eagerness to be martyrs, journalists missed the real story: Trump’s attempts to brush back the media are usually in self-defense.

The president was smart to skip the party. After all, he was probably going to be the pinata. With a roomful of journalists piling on, the goal would have been to insult and humiliate him to his face.

Trump instead sought refuge in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he spoke to what he called “a much, much larger crowd and much better people.”

As if to prove his point, Politico reporters Josh Dawsey and Ian Kullgren took a snooty shot at the simple farm folk who gathered to hear Trump, noting in their article how “the faint smell of cow dung” filled the air.

It’s no secret that most of the media types in New York and Washington didn’t vote for Trump. Many still claim that they don’t understand why anyone would do such a thing. Some still chalk up Trump’s victory to nefarious influences such as racism or fear of cultural change.

Don’t they see that they’re acting like sore losers who are now actively trying to ensure the failure of a president they never supported in the first place?

All of which is ironic, given that the nation’s major media companies spent much of the last part of 2015 boosting Trump’s campaign by giving him more than $1 billion of free air time and kneecapping his main Republican rivals – Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Jeb Bush. In the end, the media bigwigs got the dream matchup they really wanted: Trump vs. Hillary Clinton. They cleaned up in terms of ad revenues and new subscriptions. Then the plan was to take out Trump, and elect Clinton. How did that work out, people?

When CNN President Jeff Zucker said during a recent interview for that blue-collar everyman broadcast, The New Yorker Radio Hour, that Fox News was “state-run TV,” I thought he was kidding.

Where was this concern for journalistic objectivity during the eight years of the Obama administration, or during the 19 months that Clinton ran for president, when many CNN personalities – including reporters and anchors who should play it straight – defended President Obama and Clinton against GOP criticism more times than not.

Remember how so many of them were so quick to shrug off Obama’s horrid record of deporting scores of illegal immigrants? Or the speed with which they concluded that Clinton did nothing wrong when she set up a private email server and then used it to transmit classified material?

Was that CNN acting as “state-run TV”?

Now that Trump is president, you can turn to just about any channel – absent Fox News – and hear reporters and anchors accusing Trump or other administration officials of outright lying or pursuing policies that will hurt people – or, in the case of the GOP health care bill, actually kill them.

During Sunday’s edition of ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” that bill was a main topic of conversation as five liberals – Stephanopoulos, center-right Republican strategist Matthew Dowd, NPR correspondent Cokie Roberts, journalist Roland Martin, and former Obama administration Treasury Department official Steven Rattner – all piled on the token conservative: GOP strategist Sara Fagen. And to think, liberals love to talk about fairness.

The media say they want to be transparent. Well, it worked. In the Trump era, most Americans can see right through them.

Ruben Navarrette can be contacted at ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

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