Despite the Left’s howls of outrage, or maybe in part because of them, voters like what President Trump is doing so far. Rasmussen currently finds 59% of likely voters approving of Trump’s performance. That is a Reaganesque level that he won’t be able to sustain long-term, but it suggests that most voters are comfortable both with the direction of Trump’s policies and with his iconoclastic style.
The newspapers have declared all-out war on the Trump administration, but they seem surprised when Trump and his representatives return fire. Yesterday Steve Bannon called the New York Times to defend White House spokesman Sean Spicer:
Asked if he was concerned that Mr. Spicer had lost credibility with the news media, Mr. Bannon chortled. “Are you kidding me?” he said. “We think that’s a badge of honor. ‘Questioning his integrity’ — are you kidding me? The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work.”
“You’re the opposition party,” he said. “Not the Democratic Party. You’re the opposition party. The media’s the opposition party.”
The Times quotes surrogates like CNN’s Christiane Amanpour to deny the charge:
Journalists reacted with alarm and defiance to Mr. Bannon’s comments. “What country are we living in?” Christiane Amanpour, the CNN correspondent, wrote on Twitter.
“We are not the opposition,” Stephen Engelberg, editor in chief of the nonprofit news organization ProPublica, wrote in an email. “We are part of an essential function in any democracy.”
But note how the Times talks about both Spicer and Donald Trump:
The conversation was initiated by Mr. Bannon to offer praise for Mr. Spicer, who has been criticized this week for making false claims at the White House podium about attendance at Mr. Trump’s inaugural, for calling reporters dishonest and lecturing them about what stories to write, and for failing to disavow Mr. Trump’s lie about widespread voter fraud in the election.
In all likelihood, Trump exaggerated the effect of illegal voting on the election. Illegal immigrants and other unqualified people did vote, but most likely not three million of them. But as we have noted before, there is academic evidence to support the claim that several million illegal immigrants vote in national elections. Trump’s probable exaggeration can’t fairly be considered a lie.
On the other hand, as we pointed out here, Barack Obama did lie about the same subject–voter fraud–not two weeks ago. In his final press conference, Obama stated falsely that the U.S. is “the only country in the advanced world that makes it harder to vote” by, in some states, requiring identification. Shamefully, he went on to say, falsely, that any effort to provide adequate ballot security “traces directly back to Jim Crow.” This is historical ignorance as well as slander against those who care about the integrity of our elections.
In fact, as noted in the linked post, the U.S. is almost alone in the civilized world in failing to require photo identification in order to vote. What Obama said was not an exaggerated estimate, it was the opposite of the truth–a lie. But did the New York Times refer to it as such? Of course not.
During the eight years when the notoriously dishonest Barack Obama was president, did the Times ever characterize anything he said as a lie? Not to my knowledge. Why not? Because he is a Democrat, and the Times is a Democratic Party newspaper. I’m not going to spend my time searching the archives, but I would be surprised if the Times has ever referred to anything said by Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi as a lie, either.
Steve Bannon is right. The Times, the Washington Post, the Associated Press, and so on, constitute an opposition party when a Republican is in the White House. That is their prerogative, but they should stop pretending to be shocked–shocked!–when people notice.