The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Trump expects the cozy O’Reilly-Hannity treatment from the entire media

In the closing fortnight of his campaign, Donald Trump is focused almost entirely on justifying his impending loss. His attempt to paint the entire electoral system as “fixed” went over like a lead balloon. He still mouths the non sequiturs. Dead people are on the voting rolls! People are registered in more than one state! Even on the right, very few people are buying it. To the contrary, Trump’s claims of a rigged election seem to have coincided with the bottom dropping out of his polls.

He is therefore reduced to whining — and sending his advisers out to whine — about the media. The Post reports on his Florida campaign swing:

During a discussion with farmers at Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market in Boynton Beach, Fla., Trump devoted nearly half of his seven-minute public remarks to criticizing the news media.
“I believe we’re actually winning,” he said, speaking in a thatched-roof structure adorned with decorative gourds. He asserted that the majority of public opinion polls, which show [Hillary] Clinton leading nationally and in most battleground states, reflect the “crooked system, the rigged system I’ve been talking about since I entered the race.”
“What they do is they show these phony polls where they look at Democrats, and it’s heavily weighted with Democrats, and then they’ll put on a poll where we’re not winning, and everybody says, ‘Oh they’re not winning,’ ” he added.

This is, in a word, nuts. Even his campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, conceded Sunday on “Meet the Press” that her candidate is behind. That doesn’t stop her from complaining that her candidate gets negative coverage, though, while hinting that she is advising him to stick to issues. (The implicit message is that he is messing up and she is not.) Trump’s increasingly unhinged communications adviser, Jason Miller, devotes his time to attacking the media as well.

Uncovered: Bill O’Reilly’s code of journalistic ethics

What are the sins of the media? Replaying Trump’s own words from the “Access Hollywood” tape, from his Howard Stern appearances, from his own rallies. How dastardly! Pointing out that he is losing in virtually every poll? The nerve! Investigating his foundation’s finances and his business failures? Unfair!

Is Sean Hannity too friendly with Donald Trump? (Video: Peter Stevenson/The Washington Post)

Trump’s frustration with criticism is why he now will venture only into havens such as Bill O’Reilly’s show, where the host will happily serve him up softballs, attest to his honesty, sympathize about the media, ridicule critical coverage from real newspeople, make excuses for Trump’s incitement of violence, defend other outrageous statements and indulge his racism directed at Judge Gonzalo Curiel. No wonder the real media seems so hostile to Trumpkins, when they’ve gotten used to characters such as Sean Hannity, who thinks the National Enquirer is a reliable source.

It’s no fun being contradicted in real interviews when Trump falsely claims he was against the Iraq War from the start. Hannity and O’Reilly will attest that Trump was opposed to the war, making themselves into surrogates. Trump is used to getting an assist when he launches attacks against the Khans — or even a hand floating the idea that Khizr Khan was paid. Trump seeks, more than anything else, affirmation and slavish followership. No wonder Trump prefers to be “interviewed” by the same host who will cut commercials for Trump. Instead of sitting through adversarial interviews, he naturally would prefer to snuggle up to the host who never tires of boasting that he has known Trump for 30 years. Trump, the poor dear, must have become so comfy in these settings that he can no longer take the rough-and-tumble coverage of campaign coverage. At this point, he probably thinks anything harder than “Clinton is awful, right?” is unfair.

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Trump’s claim that the media doesn’t cover the Clinton scandals that he learns about from watching TV cable news is preposterous. We know about the conflicts of interest with the foundation, Clinton’s misuse of a private email server and her cagey answers about all of it, because the press covers these things. Instead of hiding out, Clinton has done interviews with actual news people who ask hard questions. Maybe that is why she was a superior debater — she has been tested in the cauldron of authentic media.

Want to save the Republican Party? Drain the right-wing media swamp.

We don’t overlook the possibility that Trump and his ilk don’t believe a word they are saying. Trump might very well be moving on to his next money-making, attention-grabbing scheme. And wouldn’t you know that discrediting the media is an integral part of his business plan. As Wired reported, Trump kicked off Trump TV on Monday on Facebook: “The show will be hosted by Boris Epshteyn, a senior adviser to the campaign, Tomi Lahren, a conservative commentator for Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze, and Cliff Sims, another Trump adviser.” (Epshteyn is also an investor in and cheerleader for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.) Out of the ashes of his rotten campaign, Trump simply moves on, as he does after any failed venture, to the next thing. In this case, he has used the free media (especially the nighttime Fox News lineup) to get his message out that the media is corrupt. (Got that?) We can imagine who he’d want to hire as “news” anchors.

Does any of this media kvetching have to do with the workers he is supposedly representing? The hordes of illegal immigrants who he imagines are pouring into the country? Of course not. Trump is always about Trump. Smearing the media is all about saving face  — and creating the next venture.