By J. Michael Willard
The respected former network anchor Ted Koppel says the established media is “out to get” Donald Trump. This is like saying the media is an enemy of a pie slice of America.
The pie, whether it is a apple or — in the final reckoning — the proverbial humble pie, makes up anywhere between 38 and 40 per cent of Americana.
Sometimes it’s a little higher, sometimes a little lower, though he is in the basement of ratings when it comes to former presidents at this juncture in the Oval Offie.
As we all know, Trump, echoing past authoritarian leaders and despots, has utilized the Stalinist-tinged “enemy of people” in referring to news outlets he deems unfair to him.
It is his basket of deplorables.
There are many suspects that Koppel, a rather liberal-minded fellow, appears to be noting as “out to get” the president, including the New York Times and the Washington Post. These seem to benchmark Trump’s angst
While lower in the polls than other presidents some 27 months in, Trump is in slingshot range of a few of the less popular leaders.
So, folks like me, I suppose, represent enemies to that dedicated group who slavishly support Trump, those that wear MAGA hats and act like banshee-zombies at political rallies.
On my gloomier days, I agree with Trump that he could “stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and he wouldn’t lose any votes” from the faithful and gullible.
As the writer Kurt Vonnegut would say, sometimes as comic relief as the plot transitioned after a spell of high drama, “So it goes.” That’s also my tension reliever since yoga seems way too strenuous.
However, I disagree with Koppel on his media assertion that the “establishment” media is out to get Trump. Though he will not lose a single snore over it, he is wrong. More than that, it’s a cuckoo declaration.
With this, I mean no disrespect.
Koppel earned his stripes eons ago as one who brought insightful comment and questions to network media — as well as a measure of eruditeness. Yes, I have been a Koppel groupie.
However, in examining his conclusions, we have to first set ground rules: Who represents the “established media” which is often identified as “mainstream media?
Certainly, the talking heads of Fox News and the mavens behind that grey lady of business, the Wall Street Journal, represent established, though conservative, media venues.
Their ratings and their readership are high. Their DNA guarantees they are opinion leaders. They are not the ultra alt-right Breitbart news, though there is a viral strain coursing Fox that strongly suggests a know-nothing disease.
To others, the established media is represented by those targeted by Koppel, including the aforementioned New York Times, Washington Post, and — though not mentioned by name — CNN and CNBC.
As free-thinkers in what we consider a free society, we can, in essence, choose our own bourbon or our own Kool-aid, whichever the case and our political leanings dictate.
Having this smorgasbord of media laid out before us like a massive news and opinion banquet is a good thing. The fact that the sides are often contradictory and steroid-opinionated is called a free press.
On occasion, I graze up the channel scale and fix on a Tucker Carlson at Fox. I simply want to hear what the other side is saying, though, I admit, a little bit goes a long way, and he is an annoying twerp.
In Koppel’s words at a recent conference:
“I’m terribly concerned that when you talk about the New York Times these days, when you talk about the Washington Post these days, we’re not talking about the New York Times of 50 years ago.”
Actually Ted, you are.
Fifty years ago consumer options when it came to the broadcast media were limited to mostly three national channels, ABC, NBC and CBS. Today, one gets finger fatigue using the remote to traverse a 100 selections.
Just shy of 50 years ago, it was the Washington Post and the New York Times that aggressively pursued and brought down a president who sanctioned the Watergate burglary.
Were those publications “enemies of the people?” Some, at the time, perhaps thought they were, especially the cashiered Richard Nixon.
While there are many things for which to be thankful, I put the 1st Amendment guaranteeing a free press at the top of the list. Secondly, I praise the media in general — of all stripes and flavors.
Just pick what the news source you want — fine Tennessee sipping whiskey or that sugary Kool-aid stuff.