Trump and the media

Rizwan Ghani

FLYNN’S resignation is history. The refusal of another NSA nominee is not an issue. People don’t like to be center of attention or they don’t want to fall victim to the intense media scrutiny as it happened in the case of labour secretary nominee who had to withdraw because of an illegal resident worked at his resident in the past as a house maid.
White House is open to business. The coal mining bill was passed on Friday. Trump is fast tracking party’s social, economic and fiscal agenda in coming days and soon the press conference will be a thing of the past. But Trump-media standoff over Flynn’s resignation has drawn the battle lines between mainstream media and Trump with Republican base and conservative media behind him. It is not a good start and it should be avoided.
Whenever Trump criticizes media and “leaking” intelligence, his base just knows that their man in the White House is draining the swamp. Average American does not trust their main stream media. They feel let down by it after the 2008 financial crisis in which millions were pushed out of job, with no healthcare, pension or housing. Obama gave trillions of dollars to big businesses from these taxpayers money and the corrupt media looked the other way.
Even today majority of mainstream media mostly stays silent when it comes to exposing corruption in financial industry, Wall Street, perpetual increase in college tuition fees, soaring interests rates on individual loans, predatory policies of companies including telecommunication, airlines and mega chains in terms of pensions, hourly wages and healthcare cover. What was even worse was that the judiciary also remained silent while corrupt politicians stole public money.
“A Bad court” remark was a blunder on part of Trump. If he wants to be the legitimate president he will have to respect the judiciary as part of 3-part check and balance system of the US constitution, avoid future legal standoff with law or being thrown out of power or his decisions by the courts as part of judicial review under which court system has the right to review and cancel government legislation that is led to have been passed illegally (Marbury v. Madison case 1803).
If Trump wants to serve the poor, he needs media and judiciary on his side to “Drain the swamp”. But his standoff with both in last press conference has undermined his agenda. The Republican strategists have vowed to fight the press with conservative and social media.
This will make the working class America, the base of the Republicans, become more right-winged and intolerant. It will pitch Trump against judiciary, rule of law in terms of immigration, trade and commerce. The inward looking America will further isolate itself internationally. And it will make issue of “fake news” worse as Trump has already pointed out they have become “very fake news”.
A lonely, isolated America will neither serve its national interests nor the interests of the rest of the world in terms of moral and social support in terms of rule of law, women rights, human rights, independent judiciary, education, technical innovation, trade and commerce.
Trump is correct in saying that media has done tremendous disservice to American people. Media is confronting Trump as part of geo-strategic policies by the US allies in Europe. It is clear that Flynn’s resignation and Russia was pushed to national level ahead of the Munich Security Conference to influence US foreign policy on Europe, Asia, Russia, NATO (its future role, funding ), US military overseas deployment policy and ME. It was despite the fact that during election campaign Trump promised to keep America first.
Although May accepted that Iraq and Libya were mistakes but then the British media has been trying to drag Trump administration back to the old policies of military expansion and big defense spending. The timing of terrorist attack in a shrine in Pakistan coincided with the Munich Security Council is not only unfortunate but it also shows that innocent lives are destroyed to protect geo-strategic interests.
The good thing is that Mattis’ did not change US position on NATO. He said that America will play its role in security of Europe if other NATO members pay their due share. But he did not make any clear commitments in his speech which shows that US policy on NATO is on track. Trump will have to cut military and defense expenditure on Europe to free the required funds for nation building under American first policy. He is therefore right in maintaining that Europe should pay for its own defense. The democrats and American media should understand this reality.
Finally, during the press conference, Trump was right in saying that both America and Russia are nuclear powers and any confrontation between the two can only lead to nuclear holocaust. He therefore supports “Businesslike” good working relations between both countries. It makes perfect sense. And any positive development between both countries is going to be a good thing for the rest of the world. It can help resolve issues including Ukraine, Chechnya and Crimea.
—The writer is senior political analyst based in Islamabad.

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