Opinion

The media keeps getting Donald Trump wrong

The mainstream press downplayed much of Trump said, even when he made legitimate points.

Is it so extreme to think he’ll prove doubters wrong again when it comes to a new direction for America?

U.S. coverage of the presidential election in a New York newsstand. (Shannon Stapleton/REUTERS)

When Donald Trump descended by escalator to the gold-gilded lobby of Trump Tower in mid-June of last year to throw his "Make America Great Again" hat into the ring - beginning his spectacular ascendancy to the presidency - the press began its descent into knee-jerk, trumped-up charges that have further battered its low reputation.

During Trump's supposedly disqualifying announcement speech, the candidate blasted the establishment for selling out America to special interests, including keeping the southern border wide-open for cheap labour and a growing Democrat voting block. Instead, many in the mainstream media focussed on his comment that some illegal immigrants are criminals and rapists.

Yet, in Trump's infamous speech, the now president-elect didn't beat around the bush about problems being imported through illegal immigration. Many in the press took the most inflammatory snippet of Trump's speech and downplayed the part where he modified his bold statements: "And some I assume are good people, but I speak to border guards and they tell us what we're getting."

He was making two points: it's impossible to know exactly what America is getting when you are dealing with undocumented immigration and there are clear problems because of it.

It didn't stop there, of course.

Journalists whipped up furor by claiming Trump was a bigoted racist for speaking the ugly truth about any number of issues, and tried to delegitimize his claims. Many disregarded the vast majority of Americans who agreed that their superpower nation should have the fortitude to secure its own border from outside threats, and that President Barack Obama's renewed efforts weren't enough.

On immigration

The immigration file is just example of how the mainstream media distorted Trump's blunt and artless words throughout the last year and a half, instead of finding the truths that lie within many of his simple but ambiguous statements.

Don't think the mainstream media isn't aware of what went down: The New York Times sent an open letter to its readers, telling them the paper needed to "rededicate ourselves to the fundamental mission of Times journalism" in  the wake of the unexpected victory, a statement many interpreted as a concession that its coverage didn't go deep enough and reflect how Trump supporters really felt.

Proved conventional wisdom wrong

Trump's campaign proved conventional wisdom of presidential campaigns dead wrong by winning with less money and little ground game. Is it so extreme to think he'll prove doubters wrong again when it comes to a new direction for America and the world?

Maybe, just maybe, Trump is right about China manipulating its currency to rip off America. Maybe Trump has a cold-hearted point about refusing to bring in Syrian refugees because of the risk of terrorists infiltrating the system.

Maybe he's onto something when he suggests America should instead make safe zones within Syria for the refugees to go.

Maybe Trump is right to abolish UN climate change agreements and instead focus on rebuilding America and paying off its $20-trillion in debt. Maybe he's right to reassess NATO and ask allies to pay their fair share in defence spending.

Could it be possible the media has much of this wrong? It's not like they haven't been spectacularly wrong before, right?

This column is part of CBC's new Opinion section. For more information about this section, please read this editor's blog and our FAQ.

About the Author

Graeme Gordon is a freelance journalist writing for Loonie Politics and his blog, Raving Canuck.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.