Those interested in history know that newspapers used to be openly, heavily partisan (particularly in the 19th century); the appealing notion of there being a moral imperative to be objective when reporting is a relatively modern concept (here is an interesting link on this subject: The Fall and Rise of Partisan Journalism).
We all know the reality in today’s times: supposedly objective media are most certainly slanted to the Left or Right.
What amuses me this morning is the dueling coverage of Donald Trump’s appearance last night on the Stephen Colbert show.
Here is a headline from Yahoo TV:
UNSTOPPABLE: DONALD TRUMP STEAMROLLED OVER COLBERT <link>
Here is a headline on the same topic, from Politico.com:
COLBERT BESTS TRUMP <link>
So which is it?
As I read the transcript of the back and forth, what jumped out at me is how reserved Trump was — a stark contrast to his bombastic style — and how this allowed him to avoid the many traps Colbert had set for him. Trump fell into exactly zero of those traps, and came off looking strong and yet more diplomatic than he generally has been able to conduct himself.
Here is one example of Colbert’s attempt at provocation and outright mockery, in which Colbert:
…suggested an addition to Trump’s famous wall to separate the U.S. and Mexico: adding “a moat filled with fire.”
To which Trump replied that:
…he wants it to also have “a big fat door,” so that immigrants “can come into the country — legally.”
Note that Trump’s measured response brushes off the incendiary nature of the question / accusation.
What’s clear to me is that Trump has been working on modulating himself and his messages, and is succeeding in doing so. This simple reference to a “big fat door” in the border wall that would allow legal immigration while keeping out illegal immigration is exactly the right policy any sane nation should have. Such a policy is sound and impossible to oppose, unless you believe in open borders — come one come all, with no papers and no accountability. (And if you are one of those people, please send me your home address because I’d like to come over and help myself to all the food in your refrigerator once a week, thank you very much. Make sure to keep the door unlocked at all times, because in your mind, barriers should not exists between us, right?).
Let’s see what Politico.com meant by saying that Colbert “bested” Trump. Here is a recounting of the back and forth at one point:
Colbert then went on offense on the subject of money, one of Trump’s fortes.
“The Republican Party has been a big pusher of the idea that money is speech, and you’re a $10 billion mouth,” jabbed the host.
“That’s another way of looking at it,” Trump responded diplomatically.
“The other people out there want some of your money. Ted Cruz was on last night. He asked me to ask you if you’d give him a billion dollars,” said Colbert, referencing a Monday night interview with the Texas senator.
“Sounds good. Sounds good. He’s a good man, actually,” said Trump of his Republican rival, who has publicly aligned himself with the frontrunner even as most of the rest of the field has condemned him.
Trump sounds presidential during this exchange — measured yet brutally effective in letting Colbert’s cutting comments go off a cliff into nowhere.
The appearance was a home run for Trump in my opinion. He expended little energy while neutralizing a bombastic opponent.
And so the Politico.com headline is garbage, and they should be ashamed of themselves.