Donald Trump

The Competence-Depleting Journalistic Competition Among Trump-Haters

The Competence-Depleting Journalistic Competition Among Trump-Haters
Richard E. Vatz, Ph.D.

There is an ongoing unannounced competition among journalists to see who can stand out as the preeminent Trump Hater.  This competition has been exacerbated by the nationwide focus on the coronavirus that requires political, health and economic expertise, triple stores of knowledge that most columnists and pundits lack.

And since there is so much writing about Trump by journalists lacking expertise on the sujet du jour, the rivalry moves into consistent efforts to be the most hostile and denigrating to the president, but the competition is fierce.

In a recent Washington Post (April 16), there is a cartoon by their Tom Toles that depicts death certificates from the coronavirus errantly signed by President Trump, who is yelling that he wanted his signature on the stimulus checks.  This is a despicable calumny blaming the president for deaths for which he is not responsible, the motive for the printing of which is to generate readership — and it probably has.

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On the op-ed page is an article by George T Conway, III and other members of the Lincoln Project.  Conway is the husband of Kellyanne Conway, the president’s advisor, and he has been prominently featured by the Post for no discernible reason other than that newspapers and electronic media think it is neat that her husband makes her look bad and implicitly that there is tension in the family of a Trump aide.  Read that day’s article, “We’ve never backed a Democrat — until now,” and you will read a piece with literally no observation that has not been written everywhere before.  They conclude with “The stakes [in the November election] are too high to do anything else [ but to vote for Joe Biden].” That is prototypical of the entire article’s profundity.

Max Boot, another conservative, wrote the other day that Trump was the worst president ever — hard to top that one. James Buchanan, Andrew Jackson and Warren G. Harding fans must be angry as hell.

Full disclosure: I like much of the president’s domestic and foreign policy and detest his rhetorically destructive style, a style which makes me cringe when he, as just one example, bizarrely attacked the late Sen. John McCain, who was a P.O.W. in Vietnam, by saying in 2015 “He’s a war hero because he was captured.  I like people who weren’t captured.”

Where can you find a mixed verdict in mainstream newspapers or television?

Check the op-ed pages for a week or a month in any mainstream newspaper and see if there are opinionated yet informative articles that are not simply “Trump is awful” pieces.

The competence of op-ed writers is just not evident if it is there at all…the competition to hate the president the most has destroyed journalistic invention.

I am looking for the “Trump is worse than Hitler” articles soon to come.

 Professor Vatz has taught political rhetoric at Towson University and is Author of The Only Authentic Book of Persuasion: the Agenda-Spin Model  (LAD Custom Publishing, 2019) ) and the co-editor of Thomas S. Szasz: the Man and His Ideas (Transaction Publishers, 2017).

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