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Donald Trump’s War on Media: The Case For Fighting Back

| August 16, 2016

donald trump media

Biting the hand that made him. (Jamelle Bouie)

By Scott Powers

Donald Trump’s war on the media is getting out of hand — and it’s time the media started fighting back.

I’m sure Trump and his supporters would argue that the media already is fighting, and even started the whole thing. He doesn’t like the things reported about him. Every chance he gets he complains that they’re lies, and that the media are dishonest. He’s even got staff now dedicated to promoting that message on a daily basis.

It may be that Trump just can’t stand solid, accurate reporting about him. Or it may be that some, maybe many, maybe too many media are running with the silliest crap they can grab on him. And yeah, if that happens day-in and day-out, it can look like all the media are out to get him.

I’m going to leave that for historians to sort out. I don’t give a damn at this point.

One of the things that Trump does, though, is bully specific members of the media — most of them people he’s never met or read — in direct, hostile, daily barrages at his rallies, in front of big crowds of angry people.

I’ve been to three Trump rallies this year: one at the University of Central Florida in the winter, one at Daytona Beach last week, and one in Kissimmee Thursday night. In all three, he turned the crowd’s attention to the reporters and photographers penned into the media area and lobbed ugly insults, knowing we cannot respond. Several times per speech.

All the journalists covering his speech can do is sit there or stand there and quietly take it. Well, I for one don’t quite just take it. I tip my hat, smile and nod my head. Yep, folks, he’s talking about me. Here I am.

I assume Trump has done this at every rally in between the ones I’ve covered, and perhaps at every rally he’s ever had. I assume the traveling press has witnessed this so many times they can mouth the insults as Trump speaks them. I can only address he three rallies I covered.

Every journalist you’ll ever meet, to a man or a woman, will tell you that’s OK. We’re professionals. Our jobs during speeches is to listen and observe and report, and otherwise act like furniture. We’re tough. We’re thick skinned. We can take whatever you throw at us.

More importantly — and this is almost universally true — we’re literally not allowed to respond. And Trump knows this. For one, it’s unethical. For another, most editors or producers would be furious if a field journalist responded. It’s just not done. Nor is is done that the media itself would ever respond. That’s not what media do. And they certainly haven’t.

Well, I’m breaking ranks. And I’m calling on my brothers and sisters in the press to stop taking it.

context florida politicsIt’s getting worse. Much worse. Coarser insults drawing loud, angry crowd responses. And now Trump’s warm-up speakers are taking up the tactic, going even further than he goes.

It’s not a stretch to say that last week in Daytona and Thursday night in Kissimmee, Trump and his surrogates were literally inciting mobs against the media.

Picture this if you will: 50 to 100 journalists, photographers standing with their tripods on a riser, writers sitting at long tables in front of computers, all penned in by barricades, surrounded by 8,000 to 10,000 people who desperately want to believe every word Trump says.

Trump and several of his warm-up acts each call everyone’s attention to the media pen, then call us liars, dishonest, cheaters. Scream it. Over and over. Not casually or with humor, but with calculated and malicious anger.

In Daytona, the Rev. Webster Barnaby declared the men and women behind the barricades were vipers, who hated America, and “had the stench of evil.”

In his invocation prayer, Pastor Webster said that.

In Kissimmee, another so-called man of Jesus, the Rev. Mark Burns, a regular warm-up act on Trump tours, didn’t just lay into the media huddled behind the barricades, he invited the crowd to join in the fun.

“They’re here today! Why don’t you tell them how you feel! Tell them how you REALLY feel!” Burns screamed to the crowd.

And they did: thousands of people turned toward the media pen, stood, shook fists, raised middle fingers and shouted things like “Liars!” “Tell the truth!” and “Assholes!”

I, of course, tipped my hat, smiled and nodded my head. I tried to look some of the screamers straight in the eye where I could. I could see one man flipping us off make eye contact, and when he saw me tip my hat right at him, he looked like he turned an extra shade of mad. In another setting, he’d have rushed me. I have no doubt.

Particularly disappointing is Republican National Committee Co-Chair Sharon Day, who’s got one of the most important political jobs in America, yet can’t resist treating the men and women in the media pen like caged prisoners on display in a 17th-century town square. Come spit on us, Sharon. Get it out of your system.

Really, this is OK with everybody?

Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski got in trouble for bumping a reporter. Now that was a joke, news-wise. A bump? Really? I strongly fear that one of these days, after one of these rallies, that guy who flipped me the bird and some of his friends, or a bunch of guys just like him elsewhere, will jump a member of the press in an isolated corner of the parking lot and beat the crap out of him.

There comes a time when trying to not be the story, as most journalists are trained and instructed, becomes missing the story.

When it reaches this level, journalists who continue to ignore such vulgar behavior by a presidential candidate and his surrogates, just because it’s aimed at them, they’re not being professionals.

They’re being pussies, letting the bullies get away with whatever they want.

scott powers columnsScott Powers was a reporter at the Orlando Sentinel for 15 years, covering government, business and NASA, and before that reported for the Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, and Prior to that, he spent 19 years reporting for The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch, and smaller newspapers in Ohio and Texas.

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23 Responses for “Donald Trump’s War on Media: The Case For Fighting Back”

  1. DaveT says:

    So this clown is going to lay blame on the media for his loss. He might as well quit right now because every time he opens his mouth its becoming so irrelevant he just continues to lose voters everywhere.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Now that’s a Good one the media a war on the media and their need to fight back. I needed a laugh today.

  3. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    Well to be honest, the media did kind of start this. I seem to recall that Obama called them out on Trump’s success during the white house correspondents dinner specifically because they didn’t ask him difficult questions. Real journalism doesn’t sell subscriptions, raise viewership numbers, or sell tv ads. What does all three is opinionated reactive “can you believe that” reporting and “what’s new on the internet meme front” journalism. So really, “the media” can go to hell, because “fighting back” is going to do nothing. As the joke goes, once this election is over CNN is going to go back to coverage of flight MH 370.

  4. Lin says:

    This article is just too funny.
    The writer needs to retreat to his safe space.
    It’s about time someone stood up to the media.
    So many times I see a speech and then read a report afterward that bears no resemblance to the truth of what occurred. And this isn’t just the current election cycle and not just here in Florida.

    I guess it’s too much to expect accurate fair reporting from most of the national media who seem gleeful to use their power to advance an agenda instead of giving the facts and letting the public interpret them. It’s so arrogant to push an ideology and pretend it’s news. Bravo to someone who stands up to unfair coverage.

    The media-types are aware of their power to influence — but is the public so naive to think everyone believes everything they read?

    I appreciate when a news site designates their news as either news or commentary as Flaglerlive does, but most pretend to be news but are slanted like a seesaw.

  5. CLS says:

    Trump and his brainwashed supporters ARE a joke. Trump, like HITLER, doesn’t want the truth of what he wants to do and will do to be shown to the world, so he intends to partially destroy the 1st amendment (and he has admitted this) which our founding fathers created as a freedom for us all. It was Reagan and Clinton that messed up TRUE, research reporting. Reagan because he was a actor, Clinton because the less truth that is found and known, the more he can get away with.

  6. Knightwatch says:

    Trump is a media-hound right up to the moment the media exposes his ignorance. Then, it’s the media’s fault he gets called out. If he’d just stop talking he wouldn’t get caught pandering, misleading and lying. If Trump speaks out loud, it’s bulls**t.

  7. Common Sense says:

    The media doesn’t say the stupid, offensive things…Trump does. If he doesn’t want the world to know just how irrational and dumb he is, he needs to get the foot out of his mouth.

    He will blame the media, cheating voters and anyone else he can think of, rather than take responsibility for his actions. Can anyone seriously think this psychopath would make a good president?

  8. Ws says:

    What a funny article. Let’s get out the violins for the media ha ha ha. They started the fight to begin with and now they are crying like babbies. This article was good for a laugh so thanks Flaglerlive.

  9. Marlee says:

    Trump can not stand to be called out on his constant lies.

    Thank you media!

    It is amazing how supporters march in lock step behind him without thinking.

  10. Tired of it says:

    The media doesn’t report the truth ever. It takes a person of The Donald’s stature to call them out on it. Anyone with a brain knows that the media is filling us with a bunch of liberal BS. Those that believe it are the voters that got us into the mess our country is in. Keep it up Donald!

  11. DaveT says:

    I can’t stand crooked Hillary or broken brain Trump. And the media well the get it half right half of the time. In this new age of media, I don’t trust the media. When Walter Cronkite, David Brinkly, Peter Jennings Dan Rather and even Barbara Walters spoke people listened. Today its just a side show of glamour, short skirts and protect my job slanted journalism. They blew Zika out of the water for example.

  12. Instigator says: This is the Society of Professional Journalist code of ethics. Hold every newsie up to this standard and make your own decisions. Don’t allow people to fill your head with “how they want you to think” drivel. It is obvious the media supports a serial liar and tilts the reports to fulfill their agenda.

  13. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    “The media doesn’t report the truth ever….” *takes everything said on fox news as the literal truth*

  14. BlueJammer says:

    Kudos to DT’s Tiny Fingers! You hit the nail on the head.

  15. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    I think with trump the media reveled in the fact that they had finally found a bottomless, neverending well of ridiculous crap. Sensationalist, voicing the decades of conservative dog whistling, caveman-level puke ejected by only the oldest and most racist of backwoods sister-screwing subhumans. Trump loves attention, he’s worked the Hollywood system and he’s been in the media spotlight for decades. So like some weird, dysfunctional codependent abusive relationship the media gives trump what he craves, he gives the media what they crave, but trump is hitting them too hard and now we have someone in the media swearing that this time, this time they’re going to leave him but everyone else familiar with the relationship knows that no matter how many times the media leaves because they’ve been beaten tomorrow they’ll be back, because they love him regardless of the cost to them or their friendships or their family. And that is the problem. If it were just the media and trump engaged in this endless cycle of abuse, we’d be OK. But the media has a social responsibility to the people, and it’s become something akin to returning to the abusive relationship with kids in tow. And that makes the media just as deserving of contempt as trump.

  16. Newspaper Man says:

    The one thing Donald Trump would hate more than the attention he gets from the “lying, dishonest” media would be no attention from that same media. Trump thrives on all the media attention – his whole schtick depends on it. His ego needs to be stoked on a daily, possibly hourly, more likely minute to minute, basis, so he needs the media attention and the spotlight it shines on him. At the same time, he would prefer that attention be entirely positive, and when the messenger speaks truth to power and doesn’t fawn all over him like his minions and supporters, he lashes out and blames the messenger, which he feels he can do with impunity because, well, no matter what he says or does, the media has to cover him, has to keep that spotlight shining on him.

    Well, the media doesn’t have to do that, the media chooses to do that – and the media could just as easily decide not to do that. So, if the media really wants to fight back, really wants to hit “The Donald” where he lives, the best thing all those reporters and camera operators can do is to come together, call his bluff and not to cover one of his rallies. Imagine how his ego would react to that!

  17. Yellowstone says:


    Why doesn’t the media video tape this seemingly unprofessional behavior – then broadcast what the cameras saw on their respect networks? Afterall, it too is news and it would then be ‘fair and balanced’. Let the people decide.

    The video news, is just that – an objective record of what really happened – not a second hand transcription.

    Just wondering . . .

  18. Sherry says:

    Absolutely correct “Newspaper Man”! There is a very old saying that says “even BAD publicity, is GOOD publicity”. No matter what. . . there are very few voters in the USA who do not know who Trump is. His face and horrific words are plastered everywhere. Many (too many) voters simply tick their vote for either a particular party or for any name they recognize.

    Since Trump’s megalomaniac, narcissistic obsession is with seeing himself on TV or in the news. . . of course he is going to pick a fight with journalists. He is clearly a dangerous sociopath whose deranged ego continues to be fed by any means what so ever. He is absolutely psychologically compelled to “up his game” and become more and more outrageous so that the publicity mill keeps grinding and his name stays at the top of the 24/7 news cycle.

    If the Trump media frenzy were to collapse, and journalists moved on to do the hard work of investigative reporting on serious events happening locally and around the world. . . his ego and his campaign circus would also collapse. The trouble is that Trump feeds the tabloid media junkies juicy headlines every day and they hardly need to lift a finger. Trump boosts TV ratings and sells papers. The “profit motive” controls the media. . . not “real” journalism or the search for truth!

    Trump doesn’t need to spend money on campaign ads. The media is keeping his campaign alive for FREE! “ANY publicity IS GOOD publicity” because so many American voters are ignorant and are so very easily manipulated.

  19. Ron says:

    Flaglerlive along with the other media outlets trying to manipulate the election outcome in favor of Hillary Clinton the known corrup politian. It’s not going to work this time. Trump will win in a landslide.

  20. Sherry says:

    DTTF. . . Right On! Trump and the journalists. . . a classic dysfunctional co-dependent relationship. . . pure and simple!

  21. RP says:

    Trump supporters in a nutshell. WARNING, graphic language!
    It’s not just one person, it’s a whole bunch of racist supporters all over the country.

  22. Donald Trump's Tiny Fingers says:

    Considering trump’s choice of campaign management and who he chooses to associate with, his politics and beliefs are probably far, far more like the old soviet bloc than those of the press. I mean, Manafort lobbied with russian money in order to influence politics in the US. A vote for trump is a vote for communism.

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