As usual, con-man Donald Trump played the press yesterday. What's not so common is that they actually admitted it:
After Donald Trump spent a mere 30 seconds addressing President Obama's birthplace during a 30-minute event that started an hour late at his new hotel in Washington, D.C., the anchors at CNN tore into Trump and his attitude toward the press.
Throughout Trump's event and after he finally addressed his efforts to fuel the birther movement, the hosts and reporters at CNN called out the Trump campaign for misleading the press and using the event to promote his new hotel.
As Trump let several veterans and military officials express their support for him, CNN anchor Kate Bolduan lamented that the network had been waiting 20 minutes for Trump to make the big announcement that his campaign had been promising. Co-anchor John Berman chimed in to complain about the confusing signals the press had received from the Trump campaign about the event.
"To be clear, we have been told this event would be an event where Donald Trump would address his past trafficking in the birther issue, the notion that President Obama was not born in the United States," Berman said. "He opened the event making a plug for his hotel, it is a new hotel, so in a sense, you could say he was leveraging five years of birther conspiracy to promote his hotel." ...
CNN then brought on John King, who trashed the way Trump maneuvered the press.
"So I really don't quite know what to make of that except for that we got played again by the Trump campaign, which is what they do. He got a live event broadcast for, what, 20 something minutes," King said. "We just got played."
"There you got after, what, four or five years of leading a fraudulent, reckless campaign against the legitimacy of the United States President, you got about, what, six or seven words from Donald Trump saying he's decided it's over. I guess he gets to decide that," he added.
Note that Donald Trump clearly and demonstrably lied - twice - when he did finally speak (blaming Hillary Clinton for birtherism and then claiming that Trump himself had stopped spreading this crazy conspiracy theory after Obama released that 'long-form' birth certificate). And he avoided taking any questions from the press who might have pointed that out.
Ashleigh Banfield continued to bash Trump's event, drawing comparisons to the way foreign dictators treat the press. She noted that Trump's brief comments on his birtherism came just one day after he gloated that reporters on his press plane were delayed and unable to fully cover his rally.
"I can tell you, having covered a couple of dictators in my life in other countries, covering those campaigns is a bummer, because they don't let you ask questions either. So that's why the American press, love them or hate them, are critical to this democracy," she said. "You have to be able to ask people questions if they're going to lead you, and if they're going to get your guns, your military, your nuclear codes. You have to be able to get to ask them questions."
"Either you have a media or you have what I witnessed in Saddam's era," she later added.
I have to admit that I'm surprised at how plainly the Associated Press described this event:
After five years as the chief promoter of a lie about Barack Obama's birthplace, Donald Trump abruptly reversed course Friday and acknowledged the fact that the president was born in America. He then immediately peddled another false conspiracy.
"President Barack Obama was born in the United States, period," Trump declared, enunciating each word in a brief statement at the end of a campaign appearance. "Now we all want to get back to making America strong and great again."
But as the GOP presidential nominee sought to put that false conspiracy theory to rest, he stoked another, claiming the "birther movement" was begun by his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. There is no evidence that is true.
"Hillary Clinton and her campaign of 2008 started the birther controversy. I finished it," Trump said.
While the question of Obama's birthplace was raised by some backers of Clinton's primary campaign against Obama eight years ago, Clinton has long denounced it as a "racist lie."
"Trump has spent years peddling a racist conspiracy aimed at undermining the first African-American president," Clinton tweeted after his Friday event. "He can't just take it back." ...
Trump's allegation on Clinton starting the controversy is the latest example of his tendency to repeat statements that are patently false. However, that did not affect his ability to beat more than a dozen challengers in the GOP primaries and has yet to dissuade his loyal supporters. ...
Hours later, Trump's campaign spokesman Jason Miller issued a statement that suggested the question had been settled five years ago — by Trump.
"In 2011, Mr. Trump was finally able to bring this ugly incident to its conclusion by successfully compelling President Obama to release his birth certificate," Miller said.
"Mr. Trump did a great service to the president and the country by bringing closure to the issue that Hillary Clinton and her team first raised," he added.
The facts do not match Miller's description. Trump repeatedly continued to question Obama's birth in the years after the president released his birth certificate. In August 2012, for example, Trump was pushing the issue on Twitter.
"An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud," he wrote.
If this becomes a new trend, of the media actually doing its job, for a change, I'll certainly welcome that. But I suspect that it's too little, too late.
Typically, our for-profit media rely on a "he said, she said" dynamic, reporting equally (supposedly) what both sides say and criticizing both equally. But when one side is flat-out lying - repeatedly - that balancing act itself gives the wrong impression.
And given that Trump is sensationalist, and that our media are profit-driven, they end up giving his comments far more publicity, anyway. Free publicity and a refusal to call lies lies have led to Donald Trump - Donald Trump - being a serious threat to become our next president.
The media didn't do all of that, but they've certainly helped!
Note that I don't expect the media to be politically partisan (except on channels like Fox 'News,' of course), but they should be partisan when it comes to the truth. Demonstrable lies shouldn't be given the same credence as the truth, just because a political candidate says them. That's a very false idea of being 'balanced.'