Among the many fine things that President Trump has done in only his first thirty days in office is smack down the press. His attacks on the press have gotten the same entertaining results as his order on immigration did: talking heads in psychiatric level shock over the sheer personal violation they feel. Their eyes rolling in their heads, spittle flecking their lips, they whine and screech: Does he not KNOW who we are??!!
Yes, they repeat over and over again, We are the Press, guaranteed freedom by the US Constitution!
Jeez, they weren’t so interested in the Constitution while Hussein was president. Maybe we should point out to them that in their own view of the Constitution, it is a “living thing” responsive to changing social and political norms in which it can mean whatever we want it to. Maybe “free press” now means “a press told to mind its manners”. Just a little joke, I’m an Originalist so “free press” still means “free press.”
But what’s particularly intriguing about the nonsense issuing from their over-heated spitty lips is the word “adversarial.”
Again and again, they complain that the president has no business objecting to their lying, biased, often unsourced, “reporting.” He just doesn’t understand (the simple fool!) the special nature of the relationship in The U.S. between the (free) press and the government: that it is by its very nature “adversarial.”
Well, that’s o.k.. We know what adversarial relationships are like. The relationship between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier was adversarial. The relationship in North American courts between prosecution and defense are famously adversarial. But what does this really mean?
It means that, for example, that the prosecution gets to say things, often perhaps outrageous things (under the watchful eye of the court, of course), BUT then the defense gets to respond or rebut or simply bloviate in turn. Neither of the two gets to use the other as his (or her) punching bag without the other getting his (or her) turn. “Adversarial” means that BOTH sides get to punch.
Historically, presidents have for the most part decided to simply “take it.” This has generated a population of wussy news bullies who have taken it for granted that they can say absolutely anything with impunity. In effect, we are talking about a generation of snowflake reporters (I won’t use the overblown honorific they constantly bestow on themselves: “journalist.”) The combination of presidential forbearance and left wing control of the media has allowed the newsy population to develop and market a fictional “brand” for themselves: the honorable, courageous, deeply insightful, counter-balance to “power.” I suspect that this began in the post-war years with personalities like Murrow and Cronkite, the erstwhile priests of news, since canonized to News Sainthood. Again and again we hear them repeat the hackneyed phrase “we speak truth to power.” Jeez, get over yourselves! “Journalist,” today, is treated (by themselves) like “superhero fighting the forces of darkness.” But even in the comic books, the arch-enemies of the superheroes do fight back without the superheroes going into a crying tantrum.
Our modern “journalists” (it’s ok to use the word as long as it’s in quotes) resemble nothing so much as modern “Palestinians”: they throw rockets again and again at Israel, then get outraged when Israel hits back: “they hit back too hard, it’s disproportionate,” wah, wah, wah.
The lesson is simple: you don’t wanna get whacked, play nice. You don’t wanna play nice, then don’t whine when you get whacked. You insist on whining? Eventually, people are gonna point at you and laugh. It’s already started, get used to it.