Why Trump Dominates Coverage Again, Confuses Experts and Prosecutors


In the space of five days, Donald Trump, Elon Musk and Merrick Garland blew up the political landscape.

It’s like the mega-blizzard that dumped 80 inches of snow on Buffalo – nobody’s ever seen anything like it.

The media was consumed by each explosion, gasping for air as they towered over the resulting rubble, excited by soaring clicks and ratings.

Remember, only a week ago Trump did what some of his advisers had urged him not to do, launching a third campaign shortly after the disappointing midterm result that many in his party blamed on him. .

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Former President Donald Trump speaks during the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at the Hilton Anatole on August 6, 2022 in Dallas, Texas.
(Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Trump’s incredibly early statement drew denunciations from the mainstream press, which personally attacked him for having the temerity to run again. The journalistic assault went beyond his lackluster speech, barely quoted in major newspapers and not picked up by MSNBC.

Instead, the stories basically said “Donald Trump, who orchestrated an insurrection, fought impeachment twice, is a danger to democracy and a very bad guy to boot, his candidacy said…”

And some in the conservative media, led by National Review, have called Trump unfit for the job and the man who will lead the party to losses like he did in 2018, 2020 and 2022. When the former president retaliated by wishing the magazine was gone, he posted a fundraising appeal on his homepage: “Donald Trump Wants National Review to Die”.

One of the direct results of Trump’s announcement was Garland’s decision to appoint a special counsel to lead the Justice Department’s investigations into Trump. The attorney general also cited Joe Biden’s intention to run for re-election as the reason for appointing a neutral prosecutor in charge. Garland would always have the final say on any indictment, but it would be hard for him to challenge his appointee’s conclusion that there is either a strong case or no case against Trump.

It is striking that by choosing Jack Smith, someone no one outside certain legal circles had ever heard of, Garland sparked a debate among all who became instant experts on his career.

Among the left-leaning media, the reaction has been split between those who say it shows Garland definitely thinks there is strong evidence and those who call it a terrible idea that creates an unnecessary layer of bureaucracy and slows down the investigation. .

Among conservative commentators, who have given it far less attention, the argument is why Garland waited so long if he himself has a conflict and challenges Smith’s fairness. The truth is, Garland would have been criticized anyway.

Trump is now calling Smith a ‘radical left-wing prosecutor’ who is ‘totally controlled by President Obama and his former attorney general, Eric Holder, and who is ripping the Justice Department investigation ‘armed’ ‘just another witch hunt “.

The basis for the “radical” accusation is that Smith served in the DOJ during the Clinton and Obama administrations. But that doesn’t change the fact that he was a career prosecutor. In fact, he once headed the Public Integrity Unit, the department’s most sensitive position, prosecuting current and former incumbents and generally led by people of impeccable character. His current position was to try Kosovo war crimes in The Hague.

That doesn’t mean Smith’s case can’t be criticized — his conviction of former Virginia GOP Gov. Bob McDonnell was overturned by the Supreme Court — but he’s as close to an unbiased prosecutor as you can get. .

This story was still erupting when Musk intervened. In a cleverly designed move to lead Sunday talk shows, he reinstated Trump’s Twitter account.

A photo of the US Capitol on October 7, 2013 in Washington, DC, along with Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter.

A photo of the US Capitol on October 7, 2013 in Washington, DC, along with Elon Musk, the new owner of Twitter.
(Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

This fueled both media outrage and praise. Some liberals announced they would quit the app in protest rather than share a platform with Trump (didn’t they already share it with all sorts of sleazeballs?). Others said of course that a presidential candidate should be allowed on Twitter, nearly two years after Jan. 6.

Nobody could be shocked by this decision, which Musk had practically made a campaign promise. But the way he did it underscored his erratic management style.

After taking over the site, Musk said no one would be reinstated until he could form a content moderation board to review such actions. This was part of an effort to persuade advertisers that he was not abandoning existing rules against offensive content.

But Musk abruptly ditched that idea, reinstated a few people and posted a poll on Twitter about whether Trump should be allowed back. When the idea was backed by a narrow 52-48% margin, Musk said the people had spoken.

As a traffic generator, it was great: around 15 million people voted. From a political point of view, it was incoherent.

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Trump, who encouraged people to vote for him, said he saw no reason to return to Twitter and was sticking to Truth Social. But I’ve been saying for a long time that if he’s lucky enough to start hitting the 88 million followers he had when he was banned, he will. A compromise will be found and the tweetstorms will be back.

People ask if all of Trump’s coverage reflects a media obsession. Maybe, but he’s been at the center of three huge political stories in just a few days.

Former President Donald Trump's Twitter account was "permanently suspended" in January 2021.

Former President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was “permanently suspended” in January 2021.
(Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Footnote: Another of my predictions was that the scripted, restrained tone that Trump adopted in his announcement speech would not last.

Within days, he was back talking about the rigged elections and the pesky reviews.

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Take Maureen Dowd, who called him a traitor in her New York Times column: “The arsonist looking for a job as a firefighter. He’s the liar and trickster who undermined confidence in our elections.”

Trump fired back at Truth Social, calling her “the super weirdo who constantly writes so meanly about me.”

Then there was a riff that I couldn’t follow: “Why doesn’t she write her Trump escapes, where she bombed so much, over and over again.”

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And finally: “She’s a sick and angry person, possibly mentally deranged. Forget it, Maureen!”

Now imagine if that had reached 88 million followers.


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