The two hot debates of the week, one concerning tensions with Iraq and the other concerning the economy, show how far our media have come in covering Donald Trump and how far they have to go.
When he was running for president, Trump got all of the air time he needed and reporters did not dare to say that he was lying even when they could prove that he was. Now, with several websites and publications dedicated to counting up the lies, as they roar past the 10,000 mark and appear to be accelerating with every appearance on Hannity or campaign rally, you might think that balanced reporting had gained an upper hand.
But the president is still able to dominate the narrative and while virtually every story contains either a qualifier or a clear refutation, there is still a he-said/they-said quality to the coverage.
Take Iran. Trump and his favorite hawk, John Bolton, are convinced that the nation poses threats to our troops and our safety. Nobody else seems to think so.
This is familiar territory for Bolton, one of those responsible for the mess the world is in today because of his previous advice. And it is not odd for Trump who welcomes any chance to distract people from the news he fears most, the kind being uncovered regularly by Democrats in the House.
No sooner had Trump and Bolton raised the level of fear than a senior British official responded that he and others around the world saw no such increased threats from Iran or allied militias.
In the past when we have blundered into unnecessary conflicts, we were able to convince our allies to go along, decisions that many came to regret. Now, we will apparently have to go it alone if we want to start a war because nobody is willing to suspend disbelief. They know what the consequences are.
The same pattern is evident in the administration’s actions on the economy. Even his advisers have tried to warn the president that his approach on tariffs is uninformed and dangerous. The latest stories not only call into question his actions, they actually make fun of his inability to understand how the world economy works. As the Associated Press put it, the latest tariff moves are “raising questions among experts and even his allies about whether he either can’t — or won’t — grasp the fundamentals of the issue.”
So why do Trump supporters keep supporting him? Why do they insist on saying that even though they might not like some of the things he says or the way he belittles anybody he deems a critic, they like what he has done for the economy?
It can’t be based on facts because under Barack Obama, unemployment went down farther and faster, the GDP went up faster, job growth was higher, the stock markets rose faster. The only winning category for Donald Trump is the increase in the national debt.
The only conclusion is that the 40 percent who support Trump no matter what will continue to support him no matter what, no matter what anybody else says or what the facts show.