Michael Tracey: The Mainstream Media Has a Donald J. Trump-Sized Blind Spot


Will Truman

Will Truman is the Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. He is also on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

29 Responses

  1. Is “puppet for the Kremlin” worse than “pro-Islamic terrorist”? Because the latter has been part of the norm since 2008.Report

  2. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Liberals think that the mainstream media is going way too easy on Trump and not calling him out enough for the wilder and darker things he said like “women in the military should expect to be raped.”

    I think the problem with conservative complaints about mainstream media is that they think it represents liberal opinion while liberals believe otherwise.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy says:

      And it is possible that both sides are right. And wrong.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        This may be true, but observation has lead to me to conclude that the MSM leans more one way and is more consistent in that leaning than the other…..Report

        • Avatar Kazzy says:


          Which really isn’t inconsistent with my position.

          I’d actually agree that, looking at at the American framework, the MSM does skew slightly left of center. But I think that is complicated by the fact that the right extreme is much more represented in the American populace and the American media than the left extreme (though maybe that is a function of my own leftish bias).

          What I really meant is that it is entirely possible for the MSM to skew left AND to be too easy on Trump. The MSM isn’t a singular thing plus I think, more than anything, they pray at the alter of money so looking for any sort of consistently applied principled approach is a fool’s errand.Report

          • Avatar Damon says:

            “What I really meant is that it is entirely possible for the MSM to skew left AND to be too easy on Trump. ”

            Exactly. That’s what I thought you meant. I was simply pointing out that the MSM IS indeed left of center. We’ll have to disagree on the amount as I’d put it in “a whole lot”Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      For the record, Tracey isn’t a conservative, and he complains about high centrism as much as center-left bias.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Still strikes me as a Slate Pitch. I think the media has been kinder to Trump than they should be but Clinton’s minor scandals get blown out of proportion.Report

        • Avatar Will Truman says:

          I generally agree on the whole (and should add that I’ve been a lot more consistent on this than Krugman/Chait/Yglesias). But the Kremlin talk is getting uncomfortable.Report

          • Avatar Don Zeko says:

            It’s possible that Trump has gotten a pass in general, but that criticism on this point has been overwrought or unfair.Report

            • Avatar pillsy says:

              It’s not at all clear to me why it’s unfair (overwrought is a separate issue, but that’s not clear to me, either). If we’re adhering to such a strict standard of “appearance of impropriety” that it “raises questions” for one of Bill Clinton’s aides to apply for–and be denied–a diplomatic passport before accompanying Bill on a diplomatic mission, than how the hell else should they respond to Trump’s bizarre Putin praise, NATO waffling and employment of Paul Manafort?Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                Yeah, there is some evidence that Putin has some influence over Trump or people close to Trump. Putin is not above behind the scene’s meddling in electoral politics when he believes it suits him.Report

              • Avatar Will Truman says:

                I think there is definitely a story in there, but I think the unchallenged narrative, that he’s actually working for Russia rather than merely sympathetic to him, the conjecture about how Putin might hack our voting machines, how that ties into Trump… if this were directed at any other candidate with this flimsy a foundation, there would be a lot more blowback.

                I was intrigued by it at first. But then… nothing much came to light. Other than that it is acceptable conjecture. And so I’ve gone from a Trump-hating guy who posted a Siberian Candidate linkchain to “Guys, I think we need to cool it here if we can’t find something more substantive.”

                To which someone might respond “What about Hillary and the emails!!!!!”… well, coverage on that seems to be getting a lot more pushback. Tracey is the only neutral(-ish) operator I’ve seen pushing back on the Kremlin narrative, which allows him to be easily dismissed as “a conservative” or SlatePitching.

                I don’t think either is true. I think he’s a guy with a different perspective. Not necessarily a correct one, but one worth pondering. I think in some ways he is treated as a traditional candidate in ways he oughtn’t be. I am starting to think there are other ways in which he is treated differently in ways that he shouldn’t be.

                I am finding myself at times wondering the extent to which this might be backfiring. (And on some level, I know things used on him today will be used on other candidates tomorrow, the norms-breaking not being a one-way street.)

                Though, at the end of the day, this is such uncharted territory I don’t even know what the media should really do.Report

              • Avatar pillsy says:

                I think there is definitely a story in there, but I think the unchallenged narrative, that he’s actually working for Russia rather than merely sympathetic to him, the conjecture about how Putin might hack our voting machines, how that ties into Trump… if this were directed at any other candidate with this flimsy a foundation, there would be a lot more blowback.

                If it were directed at any other campaign, there would be a lot more blowback, because there would be a campaign organization and party establishment to help amplify the pushback, and the campaign would take pro-active steps to deal with it like either not hiring Paul Manafort in the first damn place or dropping him like a wet taco as soon as things started looking slightly hinky. Not responding with shtick about Russian hackers or going on RT for an interview.

                Now, I think, especially given that it’s Trump, that the explanation is almost certainly gross incompetence and knee-jerk authoritarianism, but (a) that’s not an excuse and (b) Tracey’s argument for fairness again turns out to be intensely scrutinizing Clinton and her campaign while inventing new, and abysmally low standards for Trump and his campaign, all in the name of fairness.

                After Matt Lauer’s performance the other night, I don’t think this is much of a pushback against the prevailing conventional wisdom of mainstream media organizations.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                This is a weird election, no doubt. One of the political virtues of Trump-as-politician is that he possesses that valuable and rare property of being rubber and not glue. He’s political teflon – nothing sticks to him. Part of that is because he’s so brazenly untroubled by expressing inconsistencies – sometimes even in the same sentence – but also because he’s willing to doubledown on the most extreme and controversial aspects of his views and by doing so own them. And then reverse himself with exact same vehemence the very next day. The upshot is that he and his campaign can express real admiration for Putin (who conservative’s have lavished overt admiration on since he invaded Crimea and made Obama look like a fool…) without any criticism of that stance “sticking”. Same goes for all his other absurd, sometimes obscene, claims.

                I’m not sure I’d go so far as to call any of this an actual political tactic rather than a politically fortuitous aspect his personality, one which in just about any context other than politics would be viewed by most people as a personal failing. It seems to me Trump is disconnected from reality – and of course conventional political norms – in some very pronounced ways and rather than that being a liability to his overall presence as a politician they have the effect of being viewed as virtues.

                Maybe the way to say it that Trump’s incoherence, anger-infused appeal to emotion, intemperance, etc create the perfect American political roarshcach where everyone sees something different in him and believe that they’re perceptions are 100% correct.

                And for the record, my perception is that he’s about 88% fucking crazy. (Or should I say “crazy like a fox”…??)Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                Trump is both crazy and cunning. I agree with you that Trump’s greatest strength is that he is shameless. It allows him to say or do anything and his supporters love him for it because most of them are shameless.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                Nothing sticks to Trump except African Americans, Hispanics, and erstwhile Republican white women dislike him more than any Republican presidential candidate in 50 years.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                And he’s effectively tied with the Democrat.

                Remember McCain’s “suspend the campaign” moment? That stuck to him. Nothing like that for Trump. Hell, no one even remembers who Curiel is at this point.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater says:

                Here’s another example of an issue not sticking to Trump, one which started this subsubthred: his ties to Russia and Putin. Seems to me that in the normal course of things, any other candidate would have to back peddle into explain/deflect mode if they were confronted with the exact same evidence folks have hit Trump with. But like Trumwill said, it’s devolved to the status of a political non-issue without Trump never addressing it in any substantive way. Which is sorta mind-boggling, if you think about it. He didn’t didn’t address it and the issue went away!Report

        • Avatar pillsy says:

          Despite the #slatepitch-iness of the piece, it recommends, at the end of the day, treating Clinton as a Presidential candidate deserving of intense, and unforgiving scrutiny, while treating Trump as a D-list Twitter troll and shrugging off pretty much everything he says because it’s meaningless shtick and outrage-fodder.

          This is to be done, of course, because to do otherwise would be unfair.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        Yet he also complains that Clinton hasn’t received sufficient scrutiny from the press, which doesn’t square with reality, but sure works as a #slatepitch.Report

  3. Avatar Autolukos says:

    TBH, I think it’s much more likely that Trump believes what he says about Putin than that Romney actually believed the 47% thing.Report

  4. Avatar pillsy says:

    For all the talk over the past 14 months about how Trump has obliterated the supposed “norms” that typically govern the operation of presidential campaigns, this was a norm-buster for the ages. “Puppet for the Kremlin”? That’s the stuff of a dystopian espionage thriller. If true, it’d constitute a scenario utterly without precedent in American history, potentially shaking the very foundations of the Republic. One might think, then, that Mook’s stunning attack would’ve engendered a wave of calls from sober-minded pundits for due diligence and avoidance of hyperbole.

    Um, OK…

    This frenzy has led to what Mollie Hemingway of The Federalist rightly terms a kind of stubborn “hyper-literalism,” where every last Trump quip, joke, or off-color remark is assigned world-historic importance. Thus, you get absurd situations like so-called media “fact-checkers” —the self-appointed guardians of empirical truth—proclaiming (to paraphrase): “Actually, Abu-Bakhar al-Baghdadi is the leader of ISIS, not Barack Obama.” Come on!

    …wait, what?!Report

    • Avatar Kolohe says:

      It’s the way the media won’t actually push back on Clinton’s (or Obama’s) repeated statements that Bin Laden was ‘brought to justice’. He was shot like a dog. Granted, a Kujo dog, not an Old Yeller dog, but either way, a very illiberal definition of ‘brought to justice’.Report

      • Avatar pillsy says:

        I get your complaint, but I’m having trouble figuring out how it relates to this article.

        Also, I was being… gnomic at best… so I was mostly just amazed that Trahey is simultaneously complaining about, and defending, hyperbole when it comes to charges of disloyalty.Report

    • Avatar trizzlor says:

      Jesus, it’s full of these:

      The same thing happened when Trump “challenged Obama to a golf game for the presidency.” Common sense would have told any normal person that this was a clear joke, but of course stuck-up journalists related it as a serious decree.

      First sentence from the linked POLITICO story:

      Forget about Hillary Clinton. Donald Trump joked Wednesday that he wants to challenge President Barack Obama for the White House.


      • So:

        Trump makes a joke that’s so obviously a joke that even Jack Cashill [1] would know it’s a joke.

        Michael Tracey reports that some journalists reported it as a serious statement.

        He justifies “journalists”with a singe link.

        The linked piece reports that’s it’s a joke in its second sentence.

        Does this Daily Beast piece have any value? Up to a point, Lore Copper.

        1. The dufus who “reported” that Bill Ayers wrote Dreams From My Father and then treated Ayers’s obvious sarcasm that indeed he did and he’s tired of being screwed on the royalties as corroboration.Report