Trump’s Media Wars

REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton

Vlad Remmer Professor
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First days of Trump presidency have been marked by escalating feud between the administration and establishment media. Americans expected the inauguration coverage that celebrates democratic process, peaceful transition of power, breath and scope of the incoming administration’s undertaking, instead, the establishment media engaged in an array of vicious attacks ranging from fake news and “modified coverage” to a CNN-run segment that may be construed as inciting action harmful to elected officials. In the end, the worldwide audiences have been deprived of opportunity to savor this historic moment in American history by the militant elite media virtually taking meaning of “peaceful” out of the “peaceful transition of power,” while acting incensed when publicly scourged by the administration for journalistic malpractice and dishonest coverage of events.

Perhaps, the most harmful salvo came on the first day of the Trump administration. As the presidential visit to CIA headquarters was wrapping up, a number of establishment media networks attempted to perpetuate an imaginary of a chasm that allegedly exists between President Trump and the intelligence community sworn to serve his office. Even Obama’s political appointee Brennan could not help himself and stepped into the spotlight to chide President Trump for openly criticizing the establishment leadership for poor workmanship, mismanagement and politicization of federal agencies, pursuit of favors at the expense of work ethics and truth.

In an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell, a former aide to John Brennan at the CIA said: “Former CIA Director Brennan is deeply saddened and angered at Donald Trump’s despicable display of self-aggrandizement in front of CIA’s Memorial Wall of Agency heroes.” Brennan, Shapiro said, believes Trump “should be ashamed of himself. ”

What the establishment media ignored to mention is that only recently some 50 American spies said their war-intelligence was cooked on its way to the White House to bring it in the sink with Mr Obama’s official narrative. Intelligence analysts’ complaints even prompted the Pentagon’s inspector general to open an investigation into the alleged manipulation of intelligence. We will be well served by the reminder that flawed intelligence cited by the Bush administration helped political establishment to make the case for invading Iraq nearly 14 years ago at a great expenditure in blood and treasure, and to the detriment of our international repute. Today we can posit that the causality in failed Middle Eastern and Central European policies, metastasis of radical Islamist terrorism, mass populations-displacements over the past decade all tied to intelligence community’s leadership systemic failure to deliver truthful and compelling analysis.

Spirited political discourse and collective action are America’s time-honored way for challenger to enter the polity as well as for the political establishment to defend its stay in power and access to scarce economic resources. However, collective action by the establishment controlled media proactive in harming American presidency is the new phenomenon in America’s political landscape.

The American public for nearly decade was subject to open propaganda and misinformation by the handful of elite media networks engaged to advance political and economic interests of the establishment class. Subordinate to anti-Trump establishment elites, perpetrators of the intrastate information and ideological warfare engaged in dissemination of media reports supportive of the political establishment-friendly new-liberal policies and event-prone narratives created by the virulent leftist vector. This media operators’ calculus is clearly centered on forcing Trump administration to adopt failed policies of the past, denied by the majority electorate. Such misinformation efforts have been exemplified by the 2011-Benghazi event coverage and talking points designed to cover up the inept executive management at the state department, and “politics” instead of human-life centered administration response; allegations of Russian influence in presidential election designed to delegitimize president Trump; assertions of impending deleterious effect of president Trump policies on economic continuity of the economy; allegations of internecine racial and religious radicalism exhibited by Trump administration; even reports of a Martin Luther King Jr. bust disappearing from the oval office having potential to reignite racial tensions on the day when leftist and anarchists attempted to rain havoc on the streets of America.

Just how do promulgators of fallacies expect to get away with their concerted efforts to dupe Americans and damage a presidency?

In an effort to delegitimize president Trump, the establishment media strategies of misinformation employ “armed propaganda” and “the speed strategy” effectively exploit speed versus accuracy dilemma. ‘The speed strategy’ allows the media to control operational tempo, seize the initiative and place Trump administration in a position of weakness in constant reactionary state. The office of the president is bound by obligation to deploy message with speed is impeded by the time required to access information with accuracy; speed sacrifices accuracy as we have seen in some of Trump’s tweets. The anti-Trump media establishment on the other hand become adept at exploiting this weakness in its own asymmetric incursions against its own domestic audiences as exemplified by the aforementioned examples of “Benghazi event”, “Russian hacking” myth, “MLK bust-controversy”. In all cases the elite establishment media and their allies don’t bind themselves by moral obligations to present truthful account of events; they are hindered by hidden agendas and “conveniently incompetent” intelligence sourcing. They use new-liberal media networks in barrages of “armed propaganda” attacks to influence rather than in attempt to inform audiences, catching Trump administration in constant reactive cycle of trying to counteract every piece of misinformation further drawing attention of the community and, by virtue of doing so, amplifying their own message. In their pro-active state, the establishment media quickly reacts to president Trump’s message inconsistencies, actual or perceived, creating shock points, pushing the administration to tactically advantageous reactive state, in which media establishment control operational tempo, owns initiative.

The table can be turned on media personalities and their networks who are, in words of President Trump, “among the most dishonest human beings on earth…” It will require multidimensional, jarring, broad in scope and depth of devastation measures designed to increase costs of collective action by the media willing to engage in dissemination of disinformation damaging to the office of presidency and interests of American people; encouragement of popular support for media networks whose coverage is consistently “fair and balanced” ready to expose hypocrisy and corruption of establishment elites; enforcement of ethical standards in media and printed journalism; and lastly, deliver on promises that President Trump gave to American people.