I just read a story in the New York Times about how Donald Trump is a “master media manipulator” who has created a dilemma for the press when it comes to covering him. This is unadulterated bullshit.
Trump is no more a “master media manipulator” than a party guest who takes a dump in the punch bowl is a “master party host manipulator.” The host is shocked. The host does not know what to say or to do for the time being because all expectations of how a party guest behaves have been profanely thwarted, but he has not been “manipulated.”
I have sympathy for the host in that situation, of course, and would agree that he faces something of a dilemma. It is his job to put on a smooth and cordial event in which everyone is happy and in which everyone enjoys himself, and now that has been ruined by a disgusting and obnoxious lout. A lout whose behavior he is now supposed to shield from the other guests and explain away lest they become upset. It’s a very awkward spot for the host, who must try to keep his composure and do whatever he can to create the appearance of normalcy. To make everyone think the party is going smoothly, even if it is not.
Does the press think it’s hosting a party and that the subjects it covers are its party guests? Is it the intent and purpose of the press to create the illusion that everything is normal and smooth and cordial and cover for its guest’s bad behavior? If so, I see its dilemma when presented with a shameless, immature obnoxious pathological liar as the next President of the United States.
Personally, I do not believe that the press’ job is like that of a party host. Rather, its job is like that of the neighborhood watch and it should treat the President of the United States the same way the neighborhood watch would treat a person who walked up and took a dump on someone’s front porch. It should tell everyone in the neighborhood that he took a dump on the porch. It should make a point to tell every neighbor that such a thing is disgusting and unprecedented and that such behavior is unacceptable in this neighborhood. It should care not, of course, for the feelings of the guy who took the dump and it should not care a bit if the guy who took the dump no longer considers them a friend. Put simply, it should treat a shameful act as shameful and make sure everyone knows what happened, precisely so that the behavior is not repeated.
It feels to me like the press thinks its hosting a party and it wants all of the guests to have a good time and be happy. It seems desperately important to the press that everyone in the neighborhood thinks everything going on is smooth and normal and according to some plan. It is only to the extent it believes this, and not that its job is to call out bad behavior and prevent more of it from taking place that a “dilemma” exists for the press with respect to Donald Trump’s behavior.