President-elect Trump clearly intends to fight with the media, but we’ve yet to see if they’ll fight back. (More)

“Not nice”

Yesterday Trump met with the New York Times, albeit not until after his customary Twitter rant:

It turns out the Times hadn’t changed any terms of the meeting. New chief-of-staff Reince Priebus apparently misinformed his new boss:

The mini dispute was resolved before noon. Trump showed up and started the meeting with some complaints about the Times’s reporting. Of the whole back and forth over the meeting, the Times reported, “Three people with knowledge of Mr. Trump’s initial decision to cancel the meeting said that Reince Priebus, the incoming White House chief of staff, had been among those urging the president-elect to cancel it, because he would face questions he might not be prepared to answer. It was Mr. Priebus who relayed to Mr. Trump, erroneously, that the Times had changed the conditions of the meeting, believing it would result in a cancellation, these people said.”

But as Tara Golshan notes in that Vox article, President-elect Trump has already set a pattern of insulting the media:

This latest Trump media tantrum is part of what has proved to be a consistently strained period between the press and the president-elect. Trump has long lambasted the Times for its coverage of him, as he did this morning – resulting in something of a subscription boom following the election. On Monday, he reportedly yelled at a group of broadcast news executives and reporters, including CNN’s Jeff Zucker, in Trump Tower. Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway denied those reports.
Throughout the campaign, he has cut off access to journalists too critical of the Trump campaign, vowing to never speak to them again (although his desire to be in headlines usually trumps these feuds). He revoked the press credentials of the Washington Post for being “phony” and “dishonest.” He has suggested he would do the same to the New York Times. He has targeted reporters in 140 characters, over and over again.

It has made journalists wary of how dedicated a Trump administration will be to transparent government. (The New York Times even asked him about his commitment to the First Amendment, and Trump said the press would be “happy” about his position.) But it also speaks volumes to Trump’s quickness to lash out against any individual or organization that speaks critically of him.

It’s called “playing the refs,” and Republicans have been doing it for decades. Alas, too often, the media roll over for it.

“He is the same kind of blustering, bluffing blowhard as he was during the campaign”

Consider his declaration, yesterday, that he is immune from federal statutes that govern conflicts-of-interest:

In fact that’s only true as regards one 1974 statute. Other statutes and laws also govern conflicts-of-interest, including the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause:

The law is not totally on Trump’s side. To the contrary, the nation’s highest law, the Constitution, includes a provision intended to prevent many of the conflicts of interest now facing Trump. Under the Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, “no person holding any office of profit or trust under” the United States “shall, without the consent of the Congress, accept of any present, emolument, office, or title, of any kind whatever, from any king, prince, or foreign state.”

Thus, for example, Trump cannot communicate to foreign diplomats that they can garner favor with him by patronizing his businesses, or seek special regulatory exemptions for his business ventures from foreign leaders.

For example, a President-elect who truly cared about “draining the swamp” would urge Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to appoint someone other than the man building the Trump Tower Manila as the new Philippine envoy to the U.S. No, President-elect Trump can’t tell President Duterte whom to appoint, but President-elect Trump could decline diplomatic credentials in the face of such an obvious conflict of interest.

But that’s the kind of story that will likely get a passing mention on the inside pages of a handful of newspapers, and then vanish. And President-elect Trump clearly doesn’t care about his image, other than it be that of a ‘strong’ leader:

First came the obsessive Twitter rants directed at Hamilton and Saturday Night Live. Then came Monday’s astonishing aria of invective and resentment aimed at the media, delivered in a conference room on the twenty-fifth floor of Trump Tower. In the presence of television executives and anchors, Trump whined about everything from NBC News reporter Katy Tur’s coverage of him to a photograph the news network has used that shows him with a double chin. Why didn’t they use “nicer” pictures?

For more than twenty minutes, Trump railed about “outrageous” and “dishonest” coverage. When he was asked about the sort of “fake news” that now clogs social media, Trump replied that it was the networks that were guilty of spreading fake news. The “worst,” he said, were CNN (“liars!”) and NBC.

This is where we are. The President-elect does not care who knows how unforgiving or vain or distracted he is. This is who he is, and this is who will be running the executive branch of the United States government for four years.

The over-all impression of the meeting from the attendees I spoke with was that Trump showed no signs of having been sobered or changed by his elevation to the country’s highest office. Rather, said one, “He is the same kind of blustering, bluffing blowhard as he was during the campaign.”

So yes, he’ll bully and belittle the media at every turn of the card. The question is whether they’ll stand up to him.


“I can think of no other reason for this squirrel’s actions”

Perhaps the media could learn from the Chicago squirrel that refused to step aside for an alderman:

Howard Brookins Jr., the alderman for Chicago’s 21st ward, had publicly spoken out about a toothy menace plaguing the city’s garbage carts: urban squirrels, which in Brookins’s view were “aggressive,” and aggressively damaging the trash cart lids.

He now has another reason to dislike the rodents. One recently sent him to the hospital with a skull fracture in a “freak bicycle accident,” as the alderman wrote on Facebook.

Brookins was biking along Cal-Sag Trail on Nov. 13, when a squirrel darted into his path. The squirrel cut Brookins’s bike trip short by wrapping itself in the spokes of the alderman’s bicycle. The alderman flipped over the handlebars and landed with such a severe impact that he fractured his skull, broke his nose and knocked out a handful of teeth, the Chicago Tribune reported. A woman who passed by called 911. Brookins was only able to leave the hospital Thursday.

“I can think of no other reason for this squirrel’s actions than that it was like a suicide bomber, getting revenge,” the alderman said to the Tribune on Monday. He told the newspaper a full recovery was expected to take months.

First, find someone who manufactures better trash cart lids. Just sayin’.

Second, if you’re riding a bicycle along a nature trail, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll encounter … wait for it … nature. That includes squirrels. Just sayin’.

Third, if you truly “can think of no other reason for this squirrel’s actions” – other than that this animal which has never met you somehow knows that you don’t like squirrels and is bent on suicidal revenge – them maybe you’re too damned narcissistic to hold public office.

Oh wait. Trump. I guess pathological narcissism is the new normal.

Anyway, the good news is that this narcissistic nincompoop ended up in the hospital. The bad news is that he killed one of my Chicago cousins in the process. I’ll let you know if the late squirrel’s family posts an announcement for where to send macadamias.


Photo Credit: Spencer Platt (Getty Images)


Good day and good nuts