Trump has defeated the media, and here’s the picture to prove it.

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The picture above, tweeted out last night by Politico co-founder Mike Allen, is one of the saddest images I’ve seen since Election Day.

 

Here are a couple more gems that followed.

The occasion of these tweets, in case you haven’t heard, was the off-the-record cocktail party Trump threw for his traveling press corps — the same reporters he mocked throughout his campaign, and continues to call a bunch of liars, along with the rest of the media. The same reporters who watched Trump single out one of their own at three separate rallies in front of his hopped-up crowds, knowingly and deliberately putting her physical safety at risk. These reporters were invited to Mar-a-Lago, Trump’s Florida resort, to chat with him for a half hour over drinks, on the condition they don’t tell their readers (us) anything about what he says. Mike Allen thought we might be more interested in pictures of the fancy drapes at his exclusive beach club than his answers to boring policy questions, I guess.

It’s hard not to hear the utter glee in Mike Allen’s voice that pervades these tweets. This isn’t Mike Allen presenting Exhibits A through D of the utterly depraved way in which Trump manipulates his critics and seduces them into servility with cheap theatrics and mid-shelf champagne. This is Mike Allen reveling in it.

The defensive response from Mark Caputo, Politico’s Florida correspondent, while the gusts of the dust storm that Allen’s tweets kicked up blew at 100 miles per hour on Twitter, is perhaps even more pathetic.

The answer to Caputo’s question is yes. Obviously, yes. When a president refuses to meet with reporters in public and on the record, openly lies about things that stoke hatred and can get people hurt, and discredits the very notion of independent journalism, you don’t meet with him on his unprecedentedly anti-democratic and lop-sided terms. You don’t go and treat yourself to his roast beef with Lay’s potato chips or whatever garbage that is in the spread he put out for you, ask him whatever questions you had that you’re keeping secret from the rest of us, and then dutifully refuse to tell the public anything about his answers. Why do journalists covering the President-elect of the United States need this explained to them?

Trump has been flogging the media for almost two years now. More, if you include his birther crusade. Now, by accepting his terms — seaside wining and dining and a photo op for your Twitter followers in exchange for keeping your mouth shut — Trump’s traveling press corps has signaled their submission to his dominance over them. They have internalized his message to them, incredible for a reality show media creation whose path to the White House was made possible solely and exclusively through his years in front of network TV cameras, that they need him but he doesn’t need them back. They have telegraphed to Trump that he owns them now.

They might not see it that way, but it doesn’t matter how they see it, because from everything we know about Trump, we can be sure that’s how he sees it. And if he sees it that way, then behold the new rules of engagement for relations between the next Washington press corps and the President of the United States for the next four to eight years, at least.

Take another look at the picture. This is the indelible portrait of what Speaking Truth to Power now means, under President Trump.

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Author: Leighton Woodhouse

Leighton Woodhouse is a journalist and documentary filmmaker. His stories and videos have appeared in The New Republic, The Intercept, Gawker, VICE News, The Nation, The Awl, Fusion, PBS Frontline, and the Washington Post. He has a Master’s Degree in Sociology from UC Berkeley.

3 thoughts on “Trump has defeated the media, and here’s the picture to prove it.”

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