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Thursday, November 29, 2018

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Nowhere is the dishonesty of the mainstream media’s portrayal of President Trump better illustrated than its almost universal condemnation of his administration’s use of tear gas to repel illegal immigrants along the southern border.

“Shameful,” “heartless,” were some of the adjectives hurled at the president.


As it turned out, the Obama administration used tear gas not once as under Mr. Trump but 79 times to repel illegal immigrants, according to U.S. Customs and Border Patrol figures. The mainstream media ignored it.

The same condemnation of Mr. Trump erupted after he said California needs to implement better forest management to minimize forest fires. Mr. Trump was said to be outrageously blaming the victims. But Jerry Brown, California’s governor, later acknowledged the need for better forest management. In fact, last August, Gov. Brown urged state lawmakers to ease restrictive logging regulations imposed to appease environmentalists.

The dishonest media coverage of Mr. Trump began when he announced his candidacy. Stories depicted his comments about murderers and rapists — along with “good people”— illegally crossing into the United States from Mexico as racist. Obviously, anyone electing to violate the law is more likely to be a criminal.

During the campaign, The New York Times ran a page one story above the fold that depicted what it claimed was “a debasing face-to-face encounter between Mr. Trump and a young woman he hardly knew.”

Donald J. Trump had barely met Rowanne Brewer Lane when he asked her to change out of her clothes,” the startling lede said of the 1990 encounter. What actually happened was that Mr. Trump offered her a bikini because she showed up at the last minute at a pool party at Mar-a-Lago without bringing a swimsuit. The paper framed her quotes to make it appear that her positive experience with Mr. Trump was a profoundly negative one.

Two days after the story appeared, an infuriated Brewer Lane was on “Fox & Friends” to totally refute the story’s implications. Indeed, contrary to the paper’s claim that the encounter was “debasing,” the story buried in the 16th paragraph the fact that after meeting Mr. Trump, the model began dating him.

Decades ago, the two New York Times reporters who wrote the story would have been fired for writing a clearly dishonest article. But in today’s media world, scam artists posing as journalists are not fired and even appear on TV without a sign of embarrassment to defend their bogus work.

Before the election, the media said Mr. Trump was a business failure and broke. After the election, the media said he was so successful and wealthy that his tentacles stretched all over the world, and almost anything he touched constituted a conflict of interest that would benefit him financially.

In fact, unless a president keeps his assets in cash under a mattress, any decision he makes may affect his wealth. Rather than benefitting financially from his presidential run, Mr. Trump took off from his business to campaign for two and a half years and now donates his salary of $400,000 a year to worthy government programs like the fight against opioid addiction.

To further denigrate Mr. Trump, the media often claim that his wealth is inherited. In fact, while his father early on would guarantee his son’s construction loans, when Fred Trump died in 1999, Mr. Trump was already worth $1.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Stories on objections to Mr. Trump’s plan to build a wall along the southern border attack the idea as racist but rarely mentioned that when they were in Congress, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Chuck Schumer all voted to authorize construction of security fencing along the southern border.

On Nov. 20, The Washington Post ran a story on the charity events that have withdrawn from using Mar-a-Lago as a venue. The story never mentioned that Mar-a-Lago is fully booked for the new season.

During Watergate, I sat next to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein at The Washington Post and later joined Mr. Woodward’s investigative team at his invitation. I know the pressure we were all under from Executive Editor Ben Bradlee to be fair and accurate. Today, journalists in the mainstream media — where a Pew Research Center poll found liberals outnumber conservatives five to one — simply cannot bring themselves to write a positive story about Mr. Trump or to give decent play to his successes.

When it comes to political reporting, the liberal media bias is pervasive and “all runs counter to President [Donald] Trump,” says former National Public Radio CEO Ken Stern. “When you are liberal, and everyone else around you is as well, it is easy to fall into groupthink on what stories are important, what sources are legitimate, and what the narrative of the day will be.”

• Ronald Kessler, a former Washington Post and Wall Street Journal investigative reporter, is the author of “The Trump White House: Changing the Rules of the Game.”


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