US President Donald Trump talks to members of the media on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington on July 15. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)

The US Media and Its War with Trump

Al-Etihad, UAE, July 17

The US media, which waged an aggressive campaign against President Donald Trump, is finally coming to terms with its loss almost three years after the battle with the American president began. Trump first caught the American media off guard in July 2016, when he won the Republican nomination for the presidency. The second surprise took place on the eve of the election itself, when Trump defeated his rival, Hillary Clinton, despite the strong support she received from the media. However, it took almost three years – until now – for these very same outlets to acknowledge Trump’s victory over them. In his recent book The Enemy of the People: A Dangerous Time to Tell the Truth in America, CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta describes his challenges as a reporter covering the Trump Administration. In many parts of the book, Acosta describes a genuine fear for his personal and physical safety. However, Acosta’s book neglects to consider the extent to which this portrayal matches reality and the kind of influence it has on public opinion. Acosta, like other journalists who share his position, does not answer the single most important question that quite a few Americans are asking: How is it that journalists claim to be personally threatened while negative reporting about Trump seems to continue unabated? In fact, Acosta’s reporting grew more prolific after President Trump banned him from entering the White House. In all of his examples and narratives, Acosta fails to provide one convincing instance where he was actually subjected to danger. This question brings us back to where we started and raises the fundamental question: How did the US media lose its fight against Trump even though it reaches most Americans? The short answer is that it could not rid itself from the anti-Trump stance it began adopting three years ago. It is viewed as inherently biased. This does not mean that Trump’s policy is correct or that his performance is devoid of errors. But looking at the media, rather than at Trump, might be more helpful in explaining its lack of popularity. The US media has weakened its role and undermined its credibility by abandoning its professionalism and becoming a full-fledged political player. In doing so, it has lost its ability to persuade anyone with its messages other than those who were already convinced of them. The US media lost its battle with Trump because it turned from a neutral player to one deeply immersed in a political conflict. The biggest benefactor from this situation is Trump himself, who has gotten away with what would otherwise be biting coverage of his poor performance by rightfully claiming that the media is out to get him. – Waheed Abd al-Majid (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

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