Following the cruise missile strikes into Syria, several commentators have questioned the news media (the main offender being cable news) for its knee-jerk fawning over neo- fascist Giant Toddler Donald "Rump" Trump's use of military force. Whether there's any plan involved (hint: there isn't), or whether the strikes were the most effective way to address the horrific use of chemical weapons by Syrian war criminal Assad (hint: maybe not), the cable news media couldn't be bothered to ask questions; they were too busy drooling over the boom- booms that they associated with Rump being "presidential." You can count on Fox "News" to be the loudest cheerleader, of course. But, as has been noted, two of the most egregious examples of this fawning were CNN's Fareed Zakaria and MSNBC's Brian Williams, as Washington Post media columnist Margaret Sullivan points out:
“I think Donald Trump became president of the United States last night,” declared Fareed Zakaria on CNN, after firing of 59 missiles at a Syrian military airfield late Thursday night. (His words sounded familiar, since CNN’s Van Jones made a nearly identical pronouncement after Trump’s first address to Congress.) [snip]
Brian Williams, on MSNBC, seemed mesmerized by the images of the strikes provided by the Pentagon. He used the word “beautiful” three times and alluded to a Leonard Cohen lyric — “I am guided by the beauty of our weapons” — without apparent irony. (our emphasis)You can now add Zakaria to the list of discredited pundits easily distracted by loud noises and bright objects. You can't be disappointed in Williams; he's always been a lightweight with a weakness for mock heroics.
Print media was also taken up by the thrill of perhaps seeing the long- awaited (but never to happen) "pivot" of Rump into anything resembling a serious adult.
Sullivan quotes Mother Jones' Clara Jeffery's explanation for the media swoon, as well as something that's been missing in discussions of the sincerity of Rump's motivations (our emphasis):
“It’s dramatic. It’s good for TV, reporters get caught up in the moment, or, worse, jingoism.”
She added: “Military action is viewed as inherently nonpartisan, opposition or skepticism as partisan. News organizations that are fearful of looking partisan can fall into the trap of failing to provide context.”
And so, empathy as the president’s clear motivation is accepted, she said — “with no mention of the refugee ban keeping those kids out, no mention of Islamophobia that has informed his campaign and administration. How can you write about motive and not explore that hypocrisy?” [snip]
Groupthink, and a lack of proper skepticism, is something that we’ve seen many times before as the American news media watches an administration step to the brink of war. [=cough= Iraq =cough=]Finally, a tip as to how the media should be viewing this going forward (h/t Daily Kos):
he's using his missile strike for a fundraiser. pic.twitter.com/IXOzODmo5Z— Scott Ludlam (@SenatorLudlam) April 8, 2017
This is what the media call "presidential." https://t.co/0SB0bsTmPs— Laurence Lewis (@TurkanaDK) April 8, 2017
"Trump is an unstable, ignorant, madman with no regard for democracy but I'm glad he's shooting missiles" is a bizarrely popular take.— Matthew Yglesias (@mattyglesias) April 7, 2017
(Photo: Is that Brian Williams, famous war correspondent?)