The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Trump cannot tolerate non-deferential media

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In Donald Trump’s view, anyone who criticizes him or merely fails to see things his way is “unfair” and out to get him. This is how narcissists behave. They are convinced that the only ones who fail to see their greatness, wisdom and virtue are inherently dumb or prejudiced. Those who do not behave as supplicants are inherently “stupid” or “losers” or guilty of “distorting” his words.

Judge Gonzalo Curiel doesn’t rule his way in the Trump University swindling case? He’s out to get Trump, biased because the judge is “Mexican.” (He’s not.) The Post runs a headline he doesn’t like and he lashes out, banning its reporters from the campaign. In a burst of crackpottery, he declares:

They have no journalistic integrity and write falsely about Mr. Trump. Mr. Trump does not mind a bad story, but it has to be honest. The fact is, The Washington Post is being used by the owners of Amazon as their political lobbyist so that they don’t have to pay taxes and don’t get sued for monopolistic tendencies that have led to the destruction of department stores and the retail industry.

Actually, Trump “minds” critical coverage very much. He denies reporters credentials from time to time, kicks them out of rallies, insults the media via Twitter, incites his crowds to hoot and holler at the press covering his events, and feuded with Megyn Kelly until the latter fell in line with the rest of Fox Non-News’s flattering coverage.

His conspiratorial accusations tend to attribute bias and dishonesty to his critics in what can only be seen as world-class projection. The judge is bigoted because of his ethnicity. The “owners of Amazon” are tax cheats and political manipulators. Hmm. Whom do these cartoon villains resemble?

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At any rate, consider how desperate for approbation he is and how fragile his feelings are that on a day when we are mourning some 50 dead Americans, he has to become the victim. (If not the victim, he is the hero, as when he congratulates himself for being “right” about terrorism.) Certainly if the preceding 24 hours had gone better — had he not hinted at the president’s purported Muslim sympathies, not behaved unpresidentially in his first “big event” moment since wrapping up the nomination, not flubbed a line in his speech accusing the Orlando killer of being born in Afghanistan and not seen Hillary Clinton steal his thunder with a full-throated condemnation of Islamic terrorism — he likely would not have thrown a temper tantrum when a headline didn’t strike his fancy.

When presented with a tragedy, one he is ill-equipped to address rationally and empathetically, he strikes out against his foes and feeds his insatiable need to pit Americans against one another. Imagine now if Trump actually held power and was responsible for analyzing events, formulating sane policy and addressing an atrocity.

It’s frightening to imagine and should remind Trump’s apologists that supporting someone with such low character and such an absence of basic knowledge (does the man ever read a book? a briefing paper?) is playing with fire. Trump has had months to learn some policy basics, but he is either too lazy or too arrogant to admit what he doesn’t know and seek expert advice. He’d rather fall back on his usual routine — bigotry, conspiracy-mongering, xenophobia, etc. — even at the risk of looking foolish.

Unfortunately, the free ride from the media he enjoyed in the primary season is ending. He now is on the receiving end of tough follow-up questions, critical coverage and some intense investigative reporting. It’s not going to let up. If this keeps up, the only ones allowed to travel with his campaign will be Sean Hannity and his cheerleaders at Breitbart.