The Press prevented Trump’s re-election, but Trump mortally wounded the Press. By Jeff Gerth.
The two most inflammatory, and enduring, slogans commandeered by Trump in this conflict were “fake news” and the news media as “the enemy of the American people.” They both grew out of stories in the first weeks of 2017 about Trump and Russia that wound up being significantly flawed or based on uncorroborated or debunked information …
Before the 2016 election, most Americans trusted the traditional media and the trend was positive, according to the Edelman Trust Barometer. The phrase “fake news” was limited to a few reporters and a newly organized social media watchdog. The idea that the media were “enemies of the American people” was voiced only once, just before the election on an obscure podcast, and not by Trump, according to a Nexis search.
Today, the US media has the lowest credibility — 26 percent — among forty-six nations, according to a 2022 study by the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism. In 2021, 83 percent of Americans saw “fake news” as a “problem,” and 56 percent — mostly Republicans and independents — agreed that the media were “truly the enemy of the American people,” according to Rasmussen Reports. …
Not part of the uniparty:
[Trump] made clear that in the early weeks of 2017, after initially hoping to “get along” with the press, he found himself inundated by a wave of Russia-related stories. He then realized that surviving, if not combating, the media was an integral part of his job.
“I realized early on I had two jobs,” he said. “The first was to run the country, and the second was survival. I had to survive: the stories were unbelievably fake.” …
Only a few journalists supported truth over class warfare:
Matt Taibbi, who spent time as a journalist in Russia, also grew uneasy about the Trump-Russia coverage. Eventually, he would compare the media’s performance to its failures during the run-up to the Iraq War. “It was a career-changing moment for me,” he said in an interview. The “more neutral approach” to reporting “went completely out the window once Trump got elected. Saying anything publicly about the story that did not align with the narrative — the repercussions were huge for any of us that did not go there. That is crazy.”
Taibbi, as well as Glenn Greenwald, then at The Intercept, and Aaron Mate, then at The Nation, left their publications and continue to be widely followed, though they are now independent journalists. All were publicly critical of the press’s Trump-Russia narrative. (Taibbi, over the last month, surged back into the spotlight after Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter, gave him access to the tech platform’s files.)
Everyone now knows for sure that the Russia hoax was all fake news, made up by the Clintons and known by the FBI to be false at the time. Trump was right. So who will trust the corporate media any more?
It was a major failure of (real) democracy that Trump was not allowed to build the wall, his number one election promise and the one the crowds chanted. Not allowed by whom, exactly? Hard to say, but not in “their democracy.”