|I Tawt I Taw a Media Puddy Cat... I Did, I Did!|
The top-trending story of the last 24-hour news cycle has been Donald Trump's outrageously silly Tweet about flag-burning. Forget the water protectors of North Dakota waging the most important civil rights battle of this century. Forget the raging deadly wildfire in Tennessee, caused at least in part by man-made climate change. Forget even perhaps the scariest presidential cabinet of sadistic plutocrats in American history.
Forget everything you've heard about the mass media's group resolution to finally hold the president-elect's feet to the fire, in the wake of their gifting his successful campaign with an estimated $5 billion worth of free advertising. Forget the lessons-learned chagrin that the more prominent media stars expressed only last week, after an elite group of them agreed to an off-the-record meeting in Trump Tower. Their desired access to power predictably turned into yet another classic Trump ambush.
It's magic. Whenever Donald Trump's thumbs move across his electronic device and his 140 characters swirl down into the maelstrom of the psycho-sphere, the media drops everything. They Tweet and they re-Tweet, and they stop the presses, and they rapidly converge their usual panels of experts to express their outrage and shock and confusion.
Here's what had all the pundit panties in a twist on Tuesday:
I lost count how many times CNN anchors asked, hour after hour after hour, whether Trump has read the Constitution and whether he might, in fact, end up ordering flag-burners imprisoned or disenfranchised without due process. And well they probably should, because presidents already have the power to drone people to death, anywhere on earth, without charge or trial. The press has mostly failed to Tweet or otherwise report on the terrifying news that Barack Obama has just awesomely enhanced Trump's ability to kill people anywhere on earth by simply giving a thumbs-up to his private army of assassins.
As Trevor Timm writes in The Guardian,
In all the outrage about the unhinged things Donald Trump keeps tweeting and saying, there’s been almost zero criticism at the fact that Obama will be partly responsible for the extraordinary scope of powers Trump inherits. The Obama administration has not only done nothing to curtail the slew of extreme national security and war powers that Trump is about to acquire since the election – the White House is actively expanding them.Despite the horror of bequeathing unprecedented unitary war and extermination powers to a new chief executive considered by Obama himself to be mentally unstable, the fraught dilemma of how to cover Trumpian tweets was the sole topic of a Tuesday conference attended by media stars, pundits, and other practitioners of Pseudo-Journalism in the Age of Trump. Forget their post-Trumpian resolutions about going into the Heartland and interviewing just regular folks as an antidote to their cluelessness.
When in doubt, they still take the easy way out: they interview each other.
The New York Times describes important media personalities talking amongst themselves:
In interviews on Tuesday, political editors and reporters said that, for now, they planned to apply the same news judgment they would apply to any statement by a powerful leader, even as some acknowledged that social media allows Mr. Trump to reduce complicated subjects to snappy, and sometimes misleading, slogans and sound bites.
It's already taken them the better part of a day to explain to millions and millions of people that they can still burn their flags with impunity, despite a failed 2005 bill co-sponsored by Hillary Clinton that would have made it properly illegal.“Reporting complex policy issues out of tweets, I would say that’s not ideal,” said Carrie Budoff Brown, the newly installed editor of Politico, adding: “We have to treat it as one piece of a bigger reporting puzzle that we have to put together.”But fundamentally, she said, the thoughts of a president-elect are inherently newsworthy — as long as journalists also provide readers with the right context, like whether a proposal is feasible or legal, or correct a baseless claim.“This is the way he’s communicating with millions upon millions of people, and as journalists we can’t ignore that,” Ms. Brown said.
Even though some journalists have become at least semi-aware that Trump's Tweets are orchestrated distractions to keep them from covering his real scandals, they just can't help Tweeting out and printing all the Twitter news coming out of Trump World.
They are a clowder of gullible Sylvester Cats to Trump's malevolent Tweety.
Donald Trump is so unabashedly cartoonish, you might almost think he deliberately modeled his political persona on the original bullying psychopathic Tweety himself. From Wikipedia:
In his early appearances in Bob Clampett cartoons, Tweety is a very aggressive character who tries anything to foil his foe, even kicking his enemy when he is down. One of his most notable malicious moments is in the cartoon Birdy and the Beast. A cat chases Tweety by flying until he remembers that cats cannot fly, causing him to fall. Tweety says sympathetically, "Awww, the poor kitty cat! He faw down and go (in a loud, tough, masculine voice) BOOM!!" and then grins mischievously. A similar use of that voice is in A Tale Of Two Kitties when Tweety, wearing an air raid warden's helmet, suddenly yells, "Turn out those lights!" Tweety's aggressive nature was toned down when Friz Freleng started directing the series, with the character turning into a more cutesy bird, usually going about his business, and doing little to thwart Sylvester's ill-conceived plots, allowing them to simply collapse on their own; he became even less aggressive when Granny was introduced, but occasionally Tweety still showed a malicious side.Since America hates its revered presidents to be cartoonishly mean and nasty, the media and establishment "Never Trump" politicians are scrambling to make Donald appear normal. Mimicking Tweety's media transformation, Trump has quickly evolved from ugly raving raptor into irascible canary of a president with fluffy feathery hair.
Like his cartoon alter-ego, Trump manages to fool the predatory media cats almost every single time. In the Looney Tunes power hierarchy, Tweety-Donald must always be the winner, and Sylvester-Media is always portrayed as the loser. (see: "Failing New York Times"; "CNN the Network of Liars"; "Deceitful Dishonest Media" epithets at his Trump Tower pundit ambush.)
Even when journalists think they finally have Trump in their claws or jaws (#PussyGate, evaded taxes, fraud, graft) they end up spitting him right back out. He is not only still alive, he is unscathed.
"Hyde and Go Tweet" is the preferred Trump narrative. Just like in the animated story that has Sylvester making himself a Tweety sandwich out of the bird he thinks he's tamed, Trump keeps reverting back to form. As soon as the media treat Trump as redeemable, he strikes back. Again and again.
They created the monster. They claim they're going to eat him for lunch, but then they continue feeding him a diet full of steroids.
Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Trump and the media are actually two sides of the same entity. Whether the chatter and the spectacle are soothing or violent matters not. What matters is that the public stays tuned in. Lies and deceit become normalized as the various starring actors do battle with each other. Competition is preferable to competence. Ignorance becomes power. Immediate profits are the basis of all economic and social decisions. The freer the enterprise, the more enslaved becomes the population. Ethics are so yesterday.
Duh... that's all, folks.