Op-ed: POTUS and his peeps

  • By Bob Franken
  • Tuesday, May 2, 2017 9:52pm
  • Opinion

Let’s be real, people: When President Donald Trump constantly savages journalists for reporting “fake news,” he’s faking it.

The man-child has a constant need for the attention that only mass media can provide. He watches cable news obsessively, reads the papers the same way, particularly the New York Post and, with someone there to explain the big words, The New York Times. When any report falls short of outright adulation, he throws a tantrum. And his followers roar their approval. The voted for him because they were angry at being left behind, angry at anybody and everybody identified as part of the “establishment” that they don’t really comprehend — they still are, but they love their Donald.

So it was on his 100th night in office. He spoke in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, a state chosen because it had raised a big finger to that establishment and voted for him. “I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington swamp … with much, much better people,” he bellowed. It also was more than 100 miles away from the subdued, but still pretentious, White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, that annual event where self-important media types and self-important Hollywood celebs mingle with self-important political types to tell each other how important they are. It was a little deficient in the celeb department; most of those stayed away, still getting over their post-traumatic stress disorder after Hillary’s loss. She wasn’t there either. In fact, the political ranks were depleted because the leaders of the Trump administration were boycotting in support (voluntary or coerced) of their great leader Donald Trump, who declined his invitation to attend. He became the first sitting chief executive not to show up since Ronald Reagan, who did have an excuse: He was recovering from being shot.

Trump’s excuse was that he wanted to be as far as he could from the gathering of journalists who “are a disgrace … incompetent, dishonest people.” Not only do they spread “fake news,” he says, but they work for “failing” organizations and are overall “enemies” of America.

It makes me proud to be one of those scumbags, but what’s interesting is how seriously so many of my fellow lowlifes take these attacks. It’s just part of the Donald Trump comedy routine that has served him so well over the decades. But like him, they are hypersensitive to criticism. Time and time again, they described the dinner as a celebration of journalism and a free press and all that jazz. What it was instead was a celebration of themselves and their thin skins.

“We are not ‘fake news,’” Jeff Mason, the association’s leader, declared as the audience roared approval. “We are not failing news organizations. And we are not the enemy of the American people.” Take that, POTUS!

Of course, they had to share the TV screen with a president who was out celebrating his 100-day milestone with the folks who had been with him from day one. The self-serving coverage of the dinner had to share an audience with the self-serving speech of the president. And on a Saturday night, the television audience probably numbered in the dozens.

Can you imagine what it will be like if President Trump actually attends the dinner next year? He says he’s considering it. But then, he’s considered many issues during his first days, but doesn’t have much to show for it. The job, he explains, is harder than he thought it would be.

Assuming he doesn’t get tired of the drudgery, and assuming he hasn’t created some international emergency, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he actually did show up at the reporter shindig, mingling with his enablers. Without them, he’d be just another bankrupt contractor. With them, while pretending he’s against them, he’s all for them. They made him president, the guest of honor.

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