A couple of old sayings come to mind today. The first is something about ‘not biting the hand that feeds you’. The second is ‘never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel’ – Mark Twain. And then there’s the one about ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face’. Any and all of these apply today to the not-very-illustrious Donald Trump. The press has, for the past 11 months, given Donald Trump hundreds, nay thousands of hours of free advertising. My own belief is the media are the very reason da trumpeter has gone from being known as a silly clown to the republican nominee for the highest office in the nation. He owes them, because he has not needed to shell out cash for advertisements … every time he opens his mouth, he gets free advertising. So what does he do?
He bites the hand that feeds him, cuts off his nose to spite his face, insults those who buy ink by the barrel, and accuses the media of ‘making me look very bad’. WHOA … HOLD THE PRESSES … nobody, I repeat nobody, needed to make Donald Trump look very bad … he is doing a wonderful job of that all by himself! So what was the occasion this time? The media actually had the audacity to do some fact-checking and call Donnie on one of his many lies! Gasp!
The whole thing started back in January of this year, when Mr. Trump held a televised fund-raiser, the proceeds of which were, he said, going to benefit veterans. At the end of the day, he said that he had raised more than $6 million and that he himself was giving $1 million. Then just last week, the Washington Post and other media outlets asked Trump and his campaign for details about how much the fundraiser had actually raised and whether Trump had given his portion. When he refused to answer, the media went digging, as was to be expected … it is what the media do best! But alas … no evidence was found that Trump had donated a single dollar to any veterans group! After another call from the Post, Trump contacted James K. Kallstrom, chairman of Marine Corps-Law Enforcement Foundation, and pledged his $1 million. Asked why he waited so five months to make the donation, Trump said that he had to check out the charity, but in reality his foundation had donated to this particular charity in the past, and the vice-chairman of the group, coincidentally, is the managing director of one of Trump’s hotels! What a coincidence, eh?
Even the amount of the donations raised appears to be in question. Trump declared on the night of the fund-raiser that he had raised $6 million, then this week he claimed $5.5 million, while his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, says it was $4.5 million. On Tuesday, Trump denied that he ever said $6, even though it was plainly recorded for all to see. Can anybody who has run businesses, some even successful, possibly be this stupid? Never mind, don’t answer that.
Trump finally did provide a list of organizations that had received donations, saying that most had “gone out some time ago”. The Associated Press spoke or left messages with each of the organizations Trump named. Of the 30 groups that responded by Tuesday, about half said they had received checks from Trump just last week. Several said the checks were dated on or about May 24 — the date of Trump’s interview with the Post — and shipped out overnight. So, the little boy who got caught in a tangled web of his own making, scrambled to untangle himself. I just wonder, had the media not persevered, would he have ever made the donations, and if so, when?
All that aside, however, since we are, after all, accustomed by now to Donnie’s many fabrications and exaggerations, on Tuesday Mr. Trump held a press conference whereby he spent the majority of his 40 minutes lambasting those who had basically handed him the nomination just a few short weeks ago. He chomped right down on the hand that had been feeding him, and methinks he is going to live to regret that one! Until now, the media as a whole had done very little to dispute his lies, but I think that from this point forward we will be seeing a change in that attitude. Trump referred to the media as “very dishonest” … and if you can tolerate yet another old saying, I see that as the ‘pot calling the kettle ….’. Trump said: “The press should be ashamed of themselves. Veterans are calling me, and they are furious. You make me look very bad.” He referred to reporters in general as ‘dishonest’ and to a specific ABC reporter as ‘a sleaze’. Once again, the man certainly knows how to win friends and influence people, doesn’t he?
Although Trump claims that the reason behind his secrecy and reluctance to release a funds distribution list was that he preferred to make the donations anonymously, in the next breath he bemoaned the fact that he wasn’t being properly thanked for his ‘generosity’.
I forced myself to watch some 25 minutes of Trump’s press conference in preparation for this post. All I saw was a man tooting his own horn, reiterating how wonderful he is for raising all this money, and how unfairly he felt the press was treating him. By what … simply doing their job and checking his facts, holding him accountable? One thing I noticed … four of his minions were standing behind him throughout the conference, and every time he made a critical remark, all four looked and one another and snickered. Yes, they snickered like a group of high school kids. Donald Trump’s campaign is built on a foundation of lies, bigotry, and self-promotion, and it has brought politics in this nation to an all-time low level of maturity.
Trump has made an enemy of the media, and they are indeed a powerful enemy. I think, at least I hope, that the free pass he has enjoyed for the past year has finally expired, and that from this point forward he will be held accountable for the words that tumble from his mouth. Though I frequently rail at the media for their tendency toward sensationalism, and I still hold them responsible for Trump’s rise over the past year, it is times like this that I am glad our media have the freedom to do what they do, to investigate and call people on their untruths. Let us never lose sight of the value in that, and let us never make choices that will impinge upon the freedom of the press.