Leighton Smith: The case for President Donald Trump

Author
Leighton Smith,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Saturday, 26 January 2019, 9:32a.m.

COMMENT

On January 17 the media in the US lost its collective mind, again. The press in America has a refined formula and become very practiced at it. Just change a few details. This time Trump's finished - impeach.

Cast your mind back. First, he had no chance of winning the Republican candidacy, until he did, beating 16 other competitors including my choice, Ted Cruz.

How did that happen? But anyway, Hillary would wipe the floor with him, until she didn't. How did THAT happen? No, it wasn't the Russians.

It was because he was smarter than Hillary and he won 304 electoral college votes to her 227.

He was an outsider who beat all odds, and everyone loves a winner. Well, not exactly. The mainstream media of 2016 detested him and the group who detest him even more is the mainstream media of 2019.

The Washington Times quotes the Media Research Centre last October, four weeks before the midterm elections: "The most hostile coverage of a president in TV news history - 92 per cent negative".

It's not just the media. Refer to it how you will, there is a "deep state", and it has been out to get him before, even, the 2016 election.

So let's get back to January 17. On that evening a website of dubious repute, BuzzFeed, issued forth with a claim that the President of the United States had instructed his lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, to lie to the Congressional Committee.

There were the usual anonymous sources, but no evidence. The requirement for truth and accuracy has taken a deep dive if Trump is the target. It should be noted that BuzzFeed was the source for the release of the Steele dossier, the unverified document "bought and paid for" by the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.

Nevertheless, the story was followed by the usual suspects, The Washington Post, The New York Times, CNN, MSNBC et al. More careful analysis was available if you knew where to look, though it's obvious to any journalist or publisher that the lack of verification required caution. You had to read to paragraph nine to see "if the story is correct".

Over two days the landscape changed.

Robert S. Mueller, Special Counsel, with no clear mandate, issued a statement. "BuzzFeed's description of specific statements to the Special Counsel's office, and characterisation of documents and testimony obtained by this office regarding Michael Cohen's congressional testimony are not accurate."

Wow! We - and I say we because the whole world was now engaged - had been inundated with accusatory headlines as statements of fact. The cable talk shows were overwhelmed with excitement at the prospect of impeachment. Rational analysis was irrelevant. Even some Trump supporters were developing vertigo.

Mueller had never before broken his silence, as Special Counsel, to comment on media reports.

The media has become very divided and by default, very divisive.

Many people I know have stories of broken friendships due to differing opinions regarding, particularly, Trump and Brexit.

Recently I was driving my very close friends' car back to Sydney after a delightful break in the Blue Mountains.

He and partner were in the back when, against any sane measure of judgment, the T word was mentioned.

Before anyone could stop it, the conversation became rather aggressive until I decided to keep my mouth shut. That's not easy for me. After a short silence, the car's owner advised I was exceeding the speed limit by an unacceptable margin. Yes, I replied, I am trying to get away from the back seat. Laughter and peace prevailed.

Since the BuzzFeed story, it's been fascinating to watch as the fakestream media (FSM) has scrambled to save its battered reputation. The Washington Post described it as "the highest profile misstep yet for a news organisation during a period of heightened and intense scrutiny of the press".

I would be less polite. The New York Times broke the BuzzFeed report on the front page of the print edition but relegated Mueller's correction to page 11 the next day. What a surprise.

In the midst of all this, there was a concurrent story. Bruce Ohr, who had been number four in the Department of Justice, was revealed to have told Congress, last August, that everybody of consequence in the FBI and DOJ knew that the Steele dossier was fake from the very beginning.

Kimberley Strassel from The Wall Street Journal, an investigative journalist of the highest order, concludes "that senior Mueller players were central to the dossier scandal. The conflicts of interest boggle the mind....the FBI has been hiding and twisting the facts from the start."

Along with John Solomon from The Hill.com, Strassel has borne the brunt of heavy social media attacks in her persistent search for the facts. Wouldn't you think, wouldn't you hope, that in "the home of the brave and the land of the free" a far greater number of journalists would possess the integrity of these two.

PS: Don't forget the science is not settled....
PPS: My first podcast is this coming week.

• The Leighton Smith Podcast is available from 10am Wednesday at newstalkzb.co.nz, and nzherald.co.nz and on iHeart Radio.

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