This was a pretty interesting book. MEDIA MADNESS: Donald Trump, the Press, and the War on Truth by Howard Kurtz. It focuses on the somewhat dysfunctional relationship between Trump and the media. Though it’s primarily a rumination and critique of the state of modern journalism, of which the author voices some serious concerns.
This book confirms a premise that I’ve mentioned before. In my 50 years of following presidential politics, I’ve never seen anything like the way the media has gone after Trump. Jimmy Carter of all people — he’s no fan of Trump that’s for sure — echoes that premise. “The media have been harder on Trump than any other president.”
The author also echoes another point I’ve made. Not only HASN’T the endless barrage of media criticism hurt Trump — he started out his campaign with about 40% approval rating, and has remained there to this date — it may have even HELPED to solidify Trump’s support with his base. Many of whom, like Trump, view the media as the enemy.
The author writes on the jacket blurb: “According to the media, Donald Trump could NEVER become president. Now many are on a mission to prove he SHOULDN’T be president. The Trump administration and the press are at war — and, as in any war, the first casualty has been truth.”
The author goes on to write: “To a stunning degree, the country’s top news organizations have targeted Trump with an unprecedented barrage of negative stories, with some no longer making much attempt to hide their contempt. Some stories are legitimate, some are not, and others are generated by the presidents own falsehoods and exaggerations. But the mainstream media, subconsciously at first, have lurched into the opposition camp, are appealing to an anti-Trump base of viewers and readers, failing to grasp how deeply they are distrusted by a wide swath of the country.”
“These are not easy words for me to write. I am a lifelong journalist with ink in my veins. But I am increasingly troubled by how my colleagues have decided to abandon any semblance of fairness out of conviction that they must save the country from Trump.”
The book basically covers the first year of the Trump presidency. And it goes back and forth showing Trump’s lies, exaggerations and distortions. And then showing the media’s lies, exaggerations and distortions about Trump. So NOBODY comes off looking particularly good.
Far from being a Trump apologist — the author had previously worked as an anchor at CNN, among other media outlets — the book is only secondarily about Trump. Its primarily a critique of the media. And the author points out over and over that the primary mission of journalists should be to objectivity report on the facts as much as possible. And NOT to proselytize for their particular positions.
And as a person with a deep love and concern for the journalist profession, he frets that the field of journalism may have seriously lost it’s way, and permanently damaged it’s credibility by how they’ve been reporting on Trump.