President Donald Trump has blasted the press as “dishonest,” and “very unfair.” There seems, however, to be a quick solution to this issue: just kill people overseas.
Alex Pareene noted this in a March article following Trump’s address to Congress:
The only thing the elite Washington press corps likes more than a bipartisan commission on debt reduction is a stack of flag-draped coffins. That’s why the best reviews Trump has received so far in his short, mostly disastrous presidency have come in response to the moment in last night’s joint address in which he trotted out the widow of a service member—a SEAL whose death he’d denied any responsibility for just a few hours earlier—to a sustained standing ovation and rapturous press coverage.
This theory has continued to hold true in the past few days as the U.S. escalated its rhetoric against Syria, and subsequently used military force against the Assad regime.
At a Wednesday press conference following a chemical attack allegedly perpetrated by Syria, Trump said, “My attitude toward Syria and Assad has changed very much.” This came less than a year after Trump said at a presidential debate that Syrian rebels gaining power would be worse than the current regime.
After these remarks, Perry Cammack, a fellow with the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, tweeted, “I’ve not been a fan of Trump’s temperament, style or rhetoric, but this is undoubtedly his finest moment as president, thus far.” This comment was subsequently retweeted by Josh Kraushaar, politics editor at National Journal.
The next day the rhetoric was upped by the Trump administration as Rex Tillerson said “steps are underway” to remove Assad from power, and reports of a likely military strike grew. Bill Kristol, a fervent Trump hater and editor-at-large at Weekly Standard, tweeted, “If Pres. Trump takes appropriate action against Assad this [Never-Trumper] will of course support him. He’s the president, not merely ‘Trump.'”
Then Thursday night hit and the foreplay was over. The U.S. attacked a Syrian airfield with dozens of Tomahawk missiles and the press exploded its love all over the Trump administration. “We see these beautiful pictures at night from the decks of these two U.S. naval vessels,” MSNBC’s Brian Williams said, adding, “I’m tempted to quote to the great Leonard Cohen, ‘I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons.'”
The New York Times’ Nick Kristof, who wrote, “How Can We Get Rid of Trump?,” said on MSNBC, “I think [Trump] did the right thing.” CNN, the outlet Trump deemed “fake news,” also approved the strike. Fareed Zakaria said Friday, “I think Donald Trump became President of the United States” last night. While CNN contributor Matt Lewis said after the president’s speech that “this seemed like a very different Donald Trump. More serious–and clearly moved emotionally. Frequently invoked the Almighty.”
The love wasn’t only on cable news, which Trump is known to spend hours watching. If he cared to check out the “fake news” New York Times he would’ve read, “On Syria Attack, Trump’s Heart Came First.”
So what does all this mean? Let’s turn back to Pareene’s prescient March 1 piece: “Now that Trump has learned that there is a direct relationship between a president’s body count and how ‘presidential’ the mainstream political press considers him to be, the whole world is fucked.”