David Remnick of The New Yorker reports on Trump’s meeting with media executives this week.
The fantasy of the normalization of Donald Trump—the idea that a demagogic candidate would somehow be transformed into a statesman of poise and deliberation after his Election Day victory—should now be a distant memory, an illusion shattered.
First came the obsessive Twitter rants directed at “Hamilton” and “Saturday Night Live.” Then came Monday’s astonishing aria of invective and resentment aimed at the media, delivered in a conference room on the twenty-fifth floor of Trump Tower. In the presence of television executives and anchors, Trump whined about everything from NBC News reporter Katy Tur’s coverage of him to a photograph the news network has used that shows him with a double chin. Why didn’t they use “nicer” pictures?
For more than twenty minutes, Trump railed about “outrageous” and “dishonest” coverage. When he was asked about the sort of “fake news” that now clogs social media, Trump replied that it was the networks that were guilty of spreading fake news. The “worst,” he said, were CNN (“liars!”) and NBC.
This is where we are. The President-elect does not care who knows how unforgiving or vain or distracted he is. This is who he is, and this is who will be running the executive branch of the United States government for four years.
The participants all shook Trump’s hand at the start of the session and congratulated him, but things went south from there. The attendees included around two dozen anchors and executives from CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox, and ABC, including Lester Holt, Chuck Todd, Wolf Blitzer, Gayle King, David Muir, and Martha Raddatz. The Trump people did say that they would allow the new President to be followed, as tradition has had it, by a team of pool reporters.
Participants said that Trump did not raise his voice, but that he went on steadily at the start of the meeting about how he had been treated poorly. “It was all so Trump,” one said. “He is like this all the time. He’ll freeze you out and then be nice and humble and sort of want you to like him.”
“But he truly doesn’t seem to understand the First Amendment,” the source continued. “He doesn’t. He thinks we are supposed to say what he says and that’s it.”
This is how dictators talk, think, and work.
He died fourteen years ago today. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him and miss him. There’s still that worn spot on the bedspread where he slept, and I still make room for him on the bed.
February 1, 1989 – July 20, 2002
My ten-minute play “A Life Enriching Community” had a good reading at the Inge Festival’s New Play Lab. Thanks to the Living Room Theatre of Kansas City for bringing the play to life, and thanks to respondents Mac Wellman, Ron West, and Caridad Svitch for the good notes and thoughtful suggestions.
I’m traveling today — a grants conference in Tallahassee — and so blogging will have to wait until I get a spare moment, which may not be until later tonight.
Keep an eye on the place, okay?
My baby brother hits the big 6-0.
This was on TCM this last weekend.
So tonight is the first event in the long road to next November. And I’m already tired of this election. Or, as someone somewhere noted, I am really running short of damns to give. I just want it over with.
Don’t get me wrong: I care very much who wins the election. A great deal is at stake as it is with every election. The next president will probably choose at least one or more Supreme Court justice, and even a cursory glance at the rulings over the last five years shows just how important that selection can be, from Citizens United to Hobby Lobby. Letting someone like Ted Cruz or even John Kasich choose a lifer for the court is enough to make Oliver Wendell Holmes spin in his grave.
What I object to is the way this campaign has become little more than a reality show on crack. Even serious attempts by candidates to talk about the job that they will take up has been overwhelmed by the bullshit and infantile back-and-forth that would make a middle school bully proud. I really don’t care if Ted Cruz is Canadian or Chris Christie has a large waistline; I even don’t care if Hillary Clinton’s e-mail server was in her basement or if Bernie Sanders is a socialist. None of that will matter when war breaks out someplace in the world, a hurricane hits Miami, someone shoots up the Mall of America, or the economy takes a nosedive.
It would be really easy to blame all this on the media and the pundits, but we brought this on ourselves; if we didn’t want it, they wouldn’t sell it to us in between the commercials for adult underwear and cholesterol medicine. I would hope that at some point we would rise up and say “Enough!” but given our penchant for ballyhoo and bunkum — there’s one born every minute — I don’t think that’s going to happen anytime between now and next November.
January 28, 1986: Space Shuttle Challenger.
STS-51-L crew: (front row) Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair; (back row) Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik.
My assignment yesterday: keep Harley Davidson the dachshund out from underfoot in the kitchen while the turkey was being carved.
After the food was ready, I said “Git along, little doggie” to the long little doggie.