The point, surely, is that the president of the United States spent God only knows how much time scrolling through internet garbage to find this GIF.
With Donald Trump as president, we are living a reality TV show. He is doing what he has always done. A staggering percentage of what he says, and instructs his minions to say, is false.
The CNN logo GIF was a joke, but his attacks on anyone who criticizes him are not. His defenders call him a “counterpuncher.” But the president of the United States is not a tabloid celebrity trading jabs with other shallow publicity hounds willing to say anything to keep their ratings up.
If Donald Trump the TV star lashes out at Rosie O’Donnell, it’s entertainment. When the president of the United States launches a consistent campaign to delegitimize any news outlet that criticizes him as “fake news,” that’s corrosive. He has power now. It’s the job of the press to criticize him. Respect for the free press is American etiquette, not to mention law. And yes, of course Republicans get more biased coverage from most outlets than Democrats do, but Trump should be able to shrug that off with a joke and a smile. As only Sen. Ben Sasse has had the integrity to say, Trump is “weaponizing distrust” in an era when we are already crippled by mutual suspicion.
There is a seemingly inexhaustible well of antipathy toward the “MSM” (mainstream media) in the conservative world. But I just cannot see that Trump’s hostility toward the “failing New York Times” and the rest has anything to do with conservatism. It’s all personal. He almost never knocks them for biased reporting on health care or regulation or even immigration.
And so, while CNN did itself no favors this week, the president who cannot see past his own nose has little standing to protest.
Writes for Creators Syndicate.