In case it was not clear how Donald Trump feels about the media and how they feel about him one only need look at the exchange between CNN and Sean Spicer last week. CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta asked whether the Trump White House was “always going to tell truth?” Beyond the “where was this question when Obama was in office” it also confirmed why Trump and his supporters loathe the media.
Perhaps I should back up and add the media has a valuable role to play in America. The media should serve as a gatekeeper of news (sorting good and bad) and holding leaders accountable. But, over the last 20 years, the media has done nothing but turn into a partisan body that helps elitists force their views on America.
Donald Trump’s views on the media are two-fold. He loathes the media but he also knows he can use them (by attacking them). During the campaign he used them to get his message out, understanding that many of his supporters also loathe the media. Even after the election, and the media did a few perfunctory “we missed the mark” pieces they are right back at it marveling at how Trump can be such a dunderhead. But, even now, they continue to play into Trump’s hands and provide fodder for him and his supporters.
Secondly, the media is the personification of the coastal elitism that has tried to force its values on all of the nation. Those who value border security are portrayed as xenophobes, it is not okay to call a a terrorist a “Muslim Extremist” and not being okay with your daughter sharing a bathroom with a boy. The media loathes individuals who holds these views.
More broadly, Trump’s battles with the media (sure to continue his entire term) is a personification of the new culture wars that are gripping the country. Many of Trump’s supporters don’t care whether two men or two women can get married. They don’t want to have a debate over abortion. What they do care about is being called xenophobic for wanting to secure the border. They want secure jobs and the government to protect the nation (like it should).
Trump has signaled he will pursue this new culture war with great alacrity. He already has signed an Executive Order authorizing the building of a border wall, shown he is willing to pursue companies that seek to outsourcing jobs overseas and is not backing down from his ban on refugees from terrorist sponsoring states. Meanwhile, all these things in the media are being reported as if the loon is destroying the country.
But, in truth, it simply reflects the new culture war gripping America. Some traditional culture issues have faded like gay marriage. But new cultural issues, personified by nationalism, immigration, economic upheaval, cosmopolitanism have popped up. The on hold-out is abortion, though even that issue has moved somewhat.
Trump’s love-hate relationship with the media is Example A of this new cultural phenomena. In essence, Trump is Middle America pushing back against elitist ideals that are being forced on the nation.
Perhaps the ultimate irony of this is that Trump, a thrice-married, lewd billionaire, who was not elected as a culture warrior has become one. And, admittedly, Trump seems to be taking up the mantle quite well.