Home   Bookmark and Share



 Print Friendly and PDF

The Media Swoons Over Trump: When He Embraces War

War is so ingrained into the US national fabric that the media class can only admire Trump when he promises a troop build-up with no end in sight

By Ross Barkan

August 25, 2017 "Information Clearing House" - On Monday night, Donald Trump spoke in front of the nation as a very serious man, reading off a teleprompter and assuming the steely gaze of TV presidents of yore. He uttered big words in measured tones and made vague pronouncements about a war in Afghanistan that promises to waste lives and money for years, if not decades, to come. A permanent conflict that is the actual Orwellian reality of America today.

No president, whether a constitutional law professor or a narcissistic reality show mogul, has the will to challenge a military-industrial complex far larger and more sinister than any British writer – or Dwight Eisenhower – dreamed of. So ingrained is war into the national fabric that our Washington media class can only think of pageantry when Trump delivers a speech about troop build-up with no end in sight.

Philip Rucker, the Washington bureau chief at the Washington Post, summed up the night as would any DC reporter grounded in political reporting’s worst traditions: “Tonight is a new President Trump: Acknowledging a flip-flop and talking about gravity of office, history & substance,” he tweeted last night.

Understandably, Trump seeming sober for a minute would trigger any observer to think this man, for a moment, was “new”. Understandably – as the 15,000 or so people who replied to Rucker’s tweet pointed out in one form or another – this is also absurd. Trump is Trump. He is not changing.

More important than the minimal substance of Rucker’s observation is why it was made at all. You have a president delivering a major address on troop deployments for the longest war in American history and reporters can only think about optics, not policy. The Twitter commentary treats Trump’s address as something like a beauty pageant. The public learns nothing.

For political reporters, the value of critiquing style instead of policy is in avoiding the nasty partisan fights that actually matter. Analyzing how something is said, rather than the meaning and impact of the words, is a supposedly objective act, allowing reporters to appear neutral.

Talk about elocution, and you’re fine. Talk about policy and you’re – gasp – biased.

War, though, triggers something else in the reporter class. As the disgraced Brian Williams, swooning over cruise missiles laying waste to a Syrian airfield, showed us a few months back, establishment journalists and talking heads haven’t met a war yet they couldn’t get behind – or at least fetishize. Washington journalists cheered on the Iraq war and reversed course when it was too late.

No Advertising - No Government Grants - This Is Independent Media

Get Your Free Daily Newsletter
You can't buy your way onto these pages

There is nothing quite as presidential, in Washington’s eyes, as a war. A war allows the most shallow, flailing and destructive presidencies to be redeemed in the eyes of the media, at least for a day. “War and killing are the US media’s pornography,” Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept tweeted.

The Donald Trump era has discombobulated the Washington establishment for many reasons, but perhaps most because it has shattered supposedly time-honored traditions. Trump usually doesn’t speak in platitudes or attend the White House Correspondents Dinner or comport himself like every other president. He doesn’t shoot the breeze with Colbert.

The bipartisan Washington consensus is that the Trump presidency is gross. But the policy, which is in fact retrograde and mostly gross, is secondary to how Trump acts. He is not presidential. This is the original sin.

What should terrify regular people (and even journalists) most is that Trump understands this too, as a media creature obsessed with TV punditry. He knows how he’s being reviewed. And he knows reporters and politicians in agenda-setting DC will extol him for finally getting tough, getting serious and being a president by blowing things up. He will be validated. He will have his war.

This article was first published by The Guardian -

October 2015, Trump declared that occupying Afghanistan was a “terrible mistake”






Search Information Clearing House


Click Here To Support Information Clearing House

Your support has kept ICH free on the Web since 2002.


Click for Spanish, German, Dutch, Danish, French, translation- Note- Translation may take a moment to load.

What's your response? -  Scroll down to add / read comments 

 Please read our  Comment Policy before posting -
It is unacceptable to slander, smear or engage in personal attacks on authors of articles posted on ICH.
Those engaging in that behavior will be banned from the comment section.
Click here to comment on our Facebook page



In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. Information Clearing House has no affiliation whatsoever with the originator of this article nor is Information ClearingHouse endorsed or sponsored by the originator.)

Privacy Statement