You don’t like the fact that Donald Trump won the election. I get it, believe me. You dislike him, bigly. To you, his occupying the White House is “sad!”
But here’s the deal. Every time you freak out about a non-story, or pump the most recent wild-eyed conspiracy, the only person you hurt is you. Your word loses credibility. Your assertions are unbelievable. You seem like a crank, not a reasonable actor.
Worse yet, you alienate potential allies. This administration has already set a number of disconcerting precedents, and the president appears to have something of an estranged relationship with the truth. Yet, every time there’s a chance that a bipartisan effort might coalesce to push back against the worst impulses coming out of the White House, someone in the media loses their mind and, like lemmings, many dutifully follow off the cliff. It makes it tough to build coalitions.
Take this most recent incident. Rachel Maddow made a huge splash on social media tonight by claiming she had Donald Trump’s tax returns. This was a big deal because Trump has refused to disclose these returns, despite longstanding custom that presidential candidates do so. In some quarters, there’s a persistent belief that something nefarious is lurking within the pages of Trump’s 1040’s, which is ostensibly why he refuses to disclose them.
So, when Maddow’s show aired live, she produced Trump’s tax returns – from 2005. The damning evidence hidden therein was that he paid nearly $40 million in taxes – enough to buy Bernie Sanders over 60 new summer homes.
Let me just speak in the first person. I am a right of center independent. I was a never trumper during the campaign season. I worry about a number of decisions this administration has made already, and I don’t expect that will change over time. But what I find more often worthy of condemnation is a hackish media and the shills therein, freaking out every time the President sneezes the wrong way. I want to be concerned about this President with you, but you make it very, very hard. Indeed, at times you manage the impossible by making Trump a sympathetic figure!
Stop doing that. It’s not hard. Focus on the facts. Land your blows cleanly. Don’t overstate, exaggerate, or dissemble. Don’t pump fake narratives just to scoop up ratings. Take some cues from newsmen like Chris Wallace and Bret Baier, two individuals who, in my opinion, still give the industry some semblance of credibility and integrity by asking fair but incisive questions, avoiding sensationalism, and demanding answers from the targets of their inquisitions, whether right, left, or anywhere in between.
Again, it’s really not that hard. So, for the love of God, stop.