Cable news is an important component of any media critic’s work. The main organizations in this industry — MSNBC, CNN and Fox News — each have morning shows that often determine storylines for the day, thanks to their interviews with White House officials and the like. Because the medium routinely orchestrates volatile panel discussions, the resulting videos can preoccupy social media platforms. And the three networks are stocked with interesting personalities and shows that are always evolving.
There’s lots to talk about.
If you want to chat with a sharp observer of all this, just show up at the White House for a press conference with President Trump. Sure, Trump likes to rail against the “failing” New York Times and various other outlets. Yet nothing animates him quite like the TV outlets that fill his lonely hours at Trump Tower and, now, the White House. And he’s ready to talk about his findings. At today’s presidential press conference, Trump fielded a question from CNN correspondent Jim Acosta regarding the media. And the president started riffing: “I see tone, you know, the word ‘tone.’ The tone is such hatred. I’m really not a bad person, by the way. … I watched this morning a couple of the networks — and I have to say ‘Fox & Friends’ in the morning. They’re very honorable people. Not because they’re good because they hit me also when I do something wrong. But they have the most honest morning show. That’s all I can say. It’s the most honest.”
Though that claim won’t qualify as a lie — because it’s opinion — it’s all but unsupportable. “Fox & Friends,” please remember, is the show that allowed Trump in the primary campaign to claim that Sen. Ted Cruz’s father was somehow involved in the JFK assassination.
Back to Trump. He wouldn’t let up with his critique of cable news because he has watched so much of it. “The tone, Jim [Acosta] … The hatred, I mean sometimes … You look at your show that goes on at 10:00 p.m. in the evening. You just take a look at that show. That is a constant hit. The panel is almost always exclusive anti-Trump. The good news is he doesn’t have good ratings. But the panel is almost exclusive anti-Trump and the hatred and venom coming from his mouth. The hatred coming from other people on your network.”
This is commander in chief-meets-Mediaite. The host of that 10:00 p.m. hour on CNN is Don Lemon. He tweeted:
— Don Lemon (@donlemon) February 16, 2017
In what has to qualify as the longest unbidden presidential statement on the State of the Cable News Union, Trump continued:
“I watch it, I see it, I’m amazed by it. And I just think you’d be a lot better off, I honestly do — the public gets it; look when I go to rallies, they turn around, they start screaming at CNN; they want to throw their placards at CNN — I think you’d do much better by being different….Take a look at your shows in the morning and the evening. If a guest comes out and says something positive about me, it’s brutal. Now they’ll take this news conference…tomorrow they will say, ‘Donald Trump rants and raves at the press.’ ”
It is now clear that Trump wants the job of the Erik Wemple Blog. This is the material with which he feels most comfortable.