Trump's angry weekend: CNN? Or People magazine?
Stories read like a Hollywood break-up, not political coverage
By Tatiana Prophet
The headlines were all over the web on Sunday: Trump explodes in anger at his staff, “sources” said, over Jeff Sessions' recusal from the Russia investigation as well as a number of other frustrating issues.
The story, which metastasized to every major outlet here and across the pond, appears to have originated on Saturday with this CNN report, "Trump angry and frustrated at staff over Sessions fallout."
"Nobody has seen him that upset," CNN quotes an anonymous source as saying. Trump himself is even "quoted" in the story, as relayed to CNN by "another source,” according to whom the president said: “The staff fumbled.”
The “fumble” was related to Sessions’ recusal last week over revelations he had met with the Russian ambassador twice last year, during the presidential campaign when he was considered a robust surrogate for the Trump campaign. This was after he had testified at his confirmation hearing that he had not had any contact with Russian officials. Sessions insisted in a news conference that he had answered the question sincerely, believing he was responding about conversations related to the campaign. But Democrats have insisted that he knowingly lied under oath.
The accompanying video appears to show chief adviser Steve Bannon pacing and gesticulating -- as evidence there was a heated discussion in the Oval Office. We all know that is a big assumption when we don't know what was said. And even if there was a heated discussion, the implications of these articles are still not proven.
Now I know it seems odd that while our country is so divided, and we are bombarded with a host of daily disturbing developments if not from the President’s own twitter feed, then from the national media, I would be focusing on unsubstantiated claims about the President’s anger level. After all, he’s an angry guy. Right? I mean, we’ve all seen the photos. And we’ve all heard the sound bites. Well, call me crazy, but I think now is the time to stick to our principles more than ever. Just because half the country is repelled by Donald Trump does not give us license to become sloppy journalists.
The following paragraph reads like so many of the numerous People magazine stories I’ve read about Brad and Angelina, or actually it sounds lot more like articles about Jennifer Aniston and her prior on-again, off-again wedding plans with Justin Theroux.
"Trump is upset because he doesn't believe he is getting the credit he thinks he deserves for his time in office so far because of self-inflicted wounds and missteps, the source said. An informed presidential ally outside government but close to the President said Trump was really angry about having a "mini disaster" a week. The President's mood is adding to tremendous pressure inside the West Wing and aides have been seen in tears in recent days at multiple meetings."
TIME Magazine didn’t even attempt to clear up whether their unnamed sources were giving them an exclusive, but simply wrote a column disguised as a story putting together Trump’s anger and frustration as the logical conclusion of a series of embarrassments and defeats in his first 40-plus days – an oft-repeated refrain among the national media indeed.
I know that before the election, the opinion pieces abounded about Trump’s temper, his impending implosion any day, and the low morale of his staffers. And yet, half the country saw him in a completely different light. I was one of those who had allowed the plethora of bad press shape my opinion of him. Until I started watching his speeches and talking to his supporters. And I stopped buying into the incredible hype of the mythical personality of Donald Trump that had been constructed by the national media.
Now was Donald Trump angry this weekend? I can safely say, yes. Christopher Ruddy wrote a column Sunday on his conservative web site Newsmax defending the president for being angry about alleged wiretapping during the campaign. Let me say at this point that being angry about wiretapping and being angry about a host of other things, including a bruised ego, are two entirely different things. For one thing, it’s entirely possible the Department of Justice was indeed wiretapping the Trump campaign. While they most likely received a warrant through a secret FISA court, it is not that huge of a stretch to think that perhaps President Obama knew about it. That would be unfortunate, but not completely in left field. Ruddy's column, by the way, was used by many national media to substantiate stories of Trump's anger, but none of them put the column in context -- that it was written as a vehicle for defending the President.
I realize that many of my friends and associates have watched his speeches, and still don’t find any redeeming qualities. But I’m not here to judge him on aesthetics, or even likeability; I’m just here to witness that he does connect. And not with a bunch of useful idiots, either. He connects with thinking men and women as well. So why this incredible disconnect between his portrayal in the national media and the perception of him by the rest of the country?
We probably won’t figure out how this gulf in perception has occurred until Trump leaves the White House. But I for one do not intend to behave in the same way that I did before the election. What’s puzzling me, however, is that the national media seems to be continuing on like business as usual, continuing to quote anonymous sources about the Trump camp’s imminent demise. I’m just kind of scratching my head because they’ve been saying those things since before the election. And those things were obviously not true. It’s not like Trump literally bungled his way to winning. He systematically stumped in the Midwest swing states plus Florida, which was not rocket science but still somehow eluded the Clinton campaign and its monumental brain trust.
So forgive me if I don’t buy into this “Trump is about to implode” narrative. If it happens, fine. But before that, I’m going to call out articles that are so thinly sourced, I could apply my makeup looking through them.