On the EDge: Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel

OPINION – Although we don’t buy as much as we used to, the old political admonition that you should never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel still rings true.

It’s a lesson Donald Trump has obviously not learned as he escalates his war on the press.

As the last man standing in the run for the Republican presidential nomination, at least for the time being, Trump is suddenly in a place where the scrutiny is cranked up and the questions much tougher.

And, as we have seen, he has trouble with the question “How?” when attached to his vague generalizations about policy.

Also, as we have seen, if pressed even moderately, he strikes like a cornered rattler, with pure venom and anger.

Trump was locked and loaded last week when he went scattergun on the media after reporters had the audacity to inquire about the whereabouts of the millions of dollars he supposedly raised and donated to veterans causes.

He ripped political commentators and analysts as being “disgusting” and being “among the most dishonest people” he has ever met. He called one a “sleaze,” another “a real beauty.” Of course, we all remember his denigration of Fox News reporter Megyn Kelly.

These aren’t hacks, like the ones who lurk in the special interest websites who masquerade as journalists and are paid to do favorable pieces about their candidate, and hit-jobs on the opponent. Both sides employ these guys who, when it comes to credibility, are on par with the tabloid writers who do stories about alien monkey babies ready to seize the planet.

Those of us who have been in the business for awhile realize that this conflict with the media is nothing new for the Republican Party. We remember Richard Nixon, Nelson Rockefeller, Spiro Agnew and even Ronald Reagan and their unflattering remarks about the media after being pressed for answers too painful for them to answer honestly. History shows that the media was right in pushing for those answers from those guys who were later trimmed in scandal.

Trump is walking that same path.

He doesn’t like it if you hold him accountable for the money he was supposedly giving to veterans.

He doesn’t like it if you ask him how somebody who has exploited foreign labor to manufacture his own goods – the Chinese and Mexicans who made his clothing, campaign hats, et cetera – can honestly criticize others in the commercial sector for doing the same thing.

He doesn’t like it if you point out that it is hypocritical for a serial womanizer like him, who cheated on his wives, to pass judgment on the husband of his chief opponent.

He doesn’t like it if you ask anything that requires more than a monosyllabic answer or grunt; he doesn’t like it if you ask him a question that requires thought or an explanation; he doesn’t like it if you don’t fawn all over him and lob up big, fat, softball questions he can answer in senseless babble.

And, he has made it clear that he would take a page out of the Nixon playbook and use the clout of the Oval Office to seek revenge on his ever-growing list of enemies.

Perhaps this childish whining about how unfair he perceives the media to be is the reason why the latest Reuters poll shows that Hillary Clinton has jumped from a statistical tie a month ago to an 11-point advantage over Trump. That is a significant edge, but today’s California primary could grow that number significantly.

The thing is, on the whole, the media has been exceedingly kind to Trump.

In the beginning of the campaign, he was a novelty. He was something different, a curiosity and as such, was splashed all over the print and broadcast media.

As the campaign wore on, he began digging deeper into his bag of vitriol and controversy. Now, the thing is, nothing makes a bigger headline than controversy unless it is a sex scandal. A sex scandal trumps all because U.S. news consumers are a prurient bunch. But controversy runs a pretty close second and Trump knows how to stir the pot of controversy, from his promise to build a wall along the Mexican border to his willingness to provide South Korea and Japan with nuclear weapons in some fuzzy-logic notion of foreign policy that has us all shaking our heads.

Still, his outrageous comments and demeanor made for good copy, especially for reporters saddled with covering the lackluster candidates that comprised the Republican slate. At that point, during the dog days of a seemingly endless blather of campaign rhetoric, they had to cling to Trump for quotes that would spice up their stories. To question or press him at that point was not only futile, but, could have lessened access, which makes things extremely difficult for a beat reporter. So, they played along, to a certain extent, to ensure they had something of note to report from the frontrunner.

Now, though, the stakes are higher, much higher.

The presidency is on the line and the A-List reporters are on the campaign trail.

This isn’t the first rodeo for most of these ladies and gentlemen and they are aghast at what they see. I mean, they are used to covering candidates who know how to use words. Big words. Smart words. Great words. Words with substance. Words with more than three or four letters.

They are looking for depth beyond, “I’m a smart guy. I’d consult my own brain first. Then I’d ask some other smart guys.”

They don’t buy into the third-grade name-calling. If they quote the pejoratives Trump tosses about freely as descriptors of his opponents it is only for the sake of accuracy. I guarantee they are amazed every time Trump refers to “Crooked Hillary,” or calls somebody stupid or a loser.

The job of the reporter, analyst or commentator is to serve as a watchdog for the people. In the realm of commentator or columnist, the job is to present a side to a story and, hopefully, engage the public and initiate discussion.

The questions regarding Trump’s supposed contributions and fundraising for veterans were necessary. He solicited money, promised a personal donation. It is in the public interest to follow up and give an accounting of how much money was raised and exactly where it went. Otherwise, how can we be sure that he didn’t pocket that money? The Trump campaign is running out of money, you know.

But, the presumptive Republican candidate would have you believe that information is nobody’s business but his, which gives us all a clue about how little transparency to expect in the tragic instance of a Trump presidency.

So expect the media to load up on barrels of ink, and its cyber equivalent, as we head into the heart of this election.

You see, we tend to stick together.

An insult against one of us is an insult against all.

Ed Kociela is an opinion columnist. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: edkociela.mx@gmail.com

Twitter: @STGnews, @EdKociela

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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Posted in Columnists, General Election 2016, Opinion / Columns / Shows, PoliticsTagged , , , , , ,

22 Comments

  • Anejo June 7, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Great article, Ed!

    What we’re witnessing is the spectacular death of the Republican party, as we know it. Donald Trump is the supernova.

    • Proud Rebel June 7, 2016 at 10:52 am

      As a life long Republican, I really do hate to say this, but I believe you are correct in your assessment. 🙁

  • ladybugavenger June 7, 2016 at 9:38 am

    Trump for President!

    • Proud Rebel June 7, 2016 at 10:55 am

      While I do see a huge difference between Clinton and Trump, (The USA is screwed either way,) I just keep hoping and praying that some miracle will happen. It is frightening to any intelligent person, to think that either the crook or the screwball is going to be our next president.

    • .... June 7, 2016 at 11:43 pm

      Trump For President !!!

  • Curtis June 7, 2016 at 10:14 am

    Ed decries the historical conflict between Republicans and the media. I am troubled at the lack of conflict between the media and Democrats.

    “An insult against one of us is an insult against all.” Circle the wagons — let’s get Trump!

    • Anejo June 7, 2016 at 1:08 pm

      Curtis, I’d argue that statement would depend on your choice of media. Most of us suffer from a degree of cognitive bias but there is a huge rivalry on the left between Clinton and Sanders supporters. It’s being played out in their respective media coverage. When that is decided it will be right vs left.

      Trump is the only Republican left. His bizarre, and erratic, behavior is guaranteed press.

      US politics is broken. It comes down to a two horse race and you’re either a Democrat, or a Republican. What used to be a fight between right and wrong, and the advancement of the American way of life, is now a multi-billion dollar puppet show between the faces of different corporate and lobby groups. Ironically these groups back both sides, so they always win. In the mean time we all get to wear buttons and shout out a different name for a few months and actually feel like we’re making a difference.

      What we should be focusing on isn’t Donnie, Hils, or Bernie, it’s how to make the electoral system benefit American citizens, and frankly I’m at a loss for that one. Whoever wins we all lose.

      • Curtis June 8, 2016 at 12:49 pm

        The media of which I speak is most of what is considered main stream media, both print and broadcast. I agree Trump provides such a target-rich environment for criticism and outrage it can’t be ignored. However, I believe the imbalance between the coverage of Trump and Clinton is outrageous. For an example of mass hysteria visit the opinion pages of the Washington Post. A relentless spewing of vitriol against Trump while the mildest of criticism of Clinton generally limited to her use of a private e-mail server.

        Another problem I have with the media is the blurring of the distinctions between news and opinion.

        I agree with your last two paragraphs with some quibbling. I don’t think the fight has been between right and wrong, but more between right and left. Both sides have elements of right and wrong.

        I certainly agree we need to make the electoral system benefit American citizens, but we can’t ignore the real harm that either Trump or Clinton can and probably will cause. Early next year one of them is going to be the POTUS and it’s going to be a bumpy ride with either of them.

        • ladybugavenger June 8, 2016 at 2:40 pm

          It’s too late to worry about harm. 8 years of Obama was harmful. Vote for Trump! We need a bully as a president instead of this roll over and lie on your back presidency that Obama stood up for. Hilary would be more of a roll over coward than Obama.

    • DB June 7, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      Curtis is right, journalism ‘died’ some time ago. Most of the media has taken it on themselves to make Hillary look as good as possible. They wouldn’t be able to ignore an indictment, but chances of that happening are about zero. (I find her handling of Benghazi to be much more damning than the email ‘scandal’, anyway)

  • Delmysgirl June 7, 2016 at 10:56 am

    Trump (I can’t even call him Mr. since that would imply I respect him) doesn’t honestly want to be President. When I heard he was running for President under the Republican ticket, my first thought was, disbelief and conspiracy theory. Do the research, he has switched political parties about five times over the years not to mention his personal relationship with the Clintons. I think he is running to insure Hillary Clinton succeeds in becoming President of the United States of America. By appealing to a large group of desperate people, he has guaranteed as many people will not vote for a respectable Republican candidate. Therefore, handing the Presidency to the Democrats. Add the Clinton supporters and Sanders supporters and the Democrats and going to wipe the floor with Trump.

    I seriously researched where on this earth could I move because I didn’t want to support either Trump or Hillary Clinton. Then I realized, I LIVE IN THE GREATEST COUNTRY IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. When Trump says, “I will make America great again”, I thought, when did America become NOT the greatest country in the world?! Does he not realize that he cannot just raise his hand and take the oath and start making changes without opposition? Or is he going to impose marshal law on day one so he can get his way? Where is he going to get the money to make all these changes? Does he honestly think Mexico is going to agree to pay for HIS wall? How? By bullying or imposing sanctions? This man is so narcissistic and delusional. The world is laughing at America and wringing their hands, waiting to destroy us.

    Congratulations…..minimum of four more years of Obama-ism.

    Ten signs of narcissism:

    1. Reaction to criticism with rage, shame or humiliation
    2. Take advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
    3. Have excessive feelings of self-importance
    4. Exaggerate achievements and talents
    5. Be preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence or ideal love
    6. Have unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
    7. Need constant attention and admiration
    8. Disregard the feelings of others, and have little ability to feel empathy
    9. Have obsessive self-interest
    10. Pursue mainly selfish goals

    • ladybugavenger June 7, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Your describing Obama

      • ladybugavenger June 7, 2016 at 12:42 pm

        Before the grammar police, it’s you’re

      • .... June 7, 2016 at 3:06 pm

        Well at least yuu dunnit spell it YORE. LOL !

  • 42214 June 7, 2016 at 11:18 am

    You’re logic is because the media has more ink they can be the bully, outlast you, out talk you, and beat you down. I think Trump talks too much and says some stupid things but he has helped in a small way to bring light on the fact that a large number of media are liars and driven by their own agenda. Katie Curic’s “documentary” and the state dept fiasco editing a filmed briefing are just 2 recent examples of unethical media practices. What part of the media are you in Ed?

    • Henry June 8, 2016 at 5:31 pm

      42214 – spot on comment. The media, of all political backgrounds, expect to be the election king-makers and can’t stand it when a candidate refuses to play by their rules. Thank goodness for the internet and the ability to independently verify information, so people are no longer dependent on news filtered through a very biased and often corrupt media.

  • hiker75 June 7, 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Too bad electoral votes determine president. If it were decided by popular vote, it could be the year a write in wins the election. Someone like Micky or Minnie Mouse.

    • .... June 7, 2016 at 3:09 pm

      Nah I don’t think the cat party would allow the mouse party to take over

  • Who June 7, 2016 at 2:13 pm

    One thing is for certain. Utahns believe in the political machine as evidenced by Romney’s comments. Living here in the bubble has clouded our views. We all spout the usual Obama rhetoric but, we’re not willing to embrace a business man that believes in less government and more private sector. I for one am voting, very happily I might add, for Trump. I am however, a small business owner AND not part of the local, shall we say, culture.

  • Bob June 7, 2016 at 10:08 pm

    Ed Kociela prattles on and on speaking about the mainstream media as if they have any credibility at all. Very foolish. The whole trump thing started from the anger people have about parts of the country looking like mexico, with all the crime and poverty and illegal aliens that come with it. my point: Ed should go back to mexico and write columns about how great the media is.

    • Henry June 8, 2016 at 5:22 pm

      Bob – excellent point. Journalists are consistently ranked near the bottom of favorability polls, and articles like this show why. With several glaring half-truths, Ed is starting to cross the line from commentator to propagandist. The sad part is, there are many gullible people who will conclude that Hillary is the better choice or, at worst, an equivalently bad candidate.

  • Ron June 8, 2016 at 9:48 am

    Ed writes: “….which gives us all a clue about how little transparency to expect in the tragic event of a Trump presidency.”

    All I can ask is,…. like the transparency of the Obama administration? Hah!! That’s pretty funny Ed. Perhaps you should consider writing for Comedy Central.

    As for Trump building a wall along the US-Mexican border….I think Ed is worried that he wouldn’t be able to return to the US if that happened. He would probably be really happy though, living full-time in a socialistic country. Wonder how that would work for you Ed.

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