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Three Perceptions, One Reality of President Donald J. Trump

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Donald Trump may well be the most controversial president in American history. Certainly, he is the most controversial president in modern times. What is it that makes him so controversial?

We have all heard the adage “perception is reality.” In fact, however, we know that perception is not reality.   Perception is a cognitive construct created within the brain, while reality is an actual objective state or condition of something existing in the outside world. An objective observer understands this difference and can distinguish between the two. However, this is where the concept of “frame of reference” often enters into our judgment and perception of reality. Frame of reference is defined as a set of criteria or stated values in relation to which measurements or judgments can be made.

It seems apparent that the mainstream media (MSM) views Trump as an incompetent and immoral imposter, deceiving the public in the office of the president. They use this perceptual gauge to evaluate virtually everything Trump does. It is this MSM frame of reference of Trump that led NBC News anchor Chuck Todd of Meet the Press on March 29th to ask former Vice President Joe Biden, “Do you think there is blood on the president’s hands considering the slow response” to the coronavirus?"

It was from that same frame of reference that MSM correspondents had been attacking Trump for a perceived “ineffective” and “slow response” for several weeks. This slow and incompetent response had, according to these journalists, resulted in hundreds of thousands of U.S citizens being infected with the virus.

The MSM attack continued during the April 13th White House briefing on the coronavirus. President Trump began the meeting by outlining dates and actions taken by his administration in response to the virus outbreak. He showed this brief video documenting the specific steps he had taken in an effort to respond to the MSM critics. After his introductory presentation, CNN correspondent Paula Reid, exhibiting a demeanor that clearly demonstrated a lack of proper respect for the president and his office, downplayed his explanations and continually pressed him on what he had done in response to the virus. Anderson Cooper and Jim Acosta of CNN later referred to the president’s reaction to Reid as a “total meltdown” and his video as looking like it was straight out of Beijing or Pyongyang. Such is the singular perception and reality of Trump by the MSM.

Donald Trump’s perception of the MSM is also his realty. He views the MSM as a hostile antagonist. They are an ever-present nemesis seeking his downfall. His encounters with the MSM are almost exclusively negative. His response to such an archenemy is to fight for survival. There appears to be something in Trump’s personality that requires him, when hit, to hit back twice as hard. His MSM adversary is ever-present and inescapable 24/7, 365 days a year. When Joe Biden presents a hypothetical plan of action on virtually anything, it is lavishly praised by the MSM. When Trump defends himself with a video presentation on specific actions taken in response to COVID 19, it is labeled as inappropriate campaign propaganda. Consequently, he sees few alternatives to counter-punching, when dealing with a bellicose press and mass media. Such is Trump’s perception and reality.

Perhaps like many other Americans, I have the perception that the bitter division and conflict between the MSM and Trump is very disheartening and damaging to our country. Certainly, I do not approve of Trump’s personal attacks and unkind words to members of the press and other critics. Sometimes showing disrespect to even those who might otherwise be friends and allies.

On the other hand, I strongly condemn the left-leaning MSM effort to undermine a conservative minded and conservative acting president. The MSM, with its efforts to embrace and promote liberal, left, and socialistic agendas and programs must be held accountable by someone. By default, President Trump has to be that “someone,” although his defense of conservative principles is not always in the tone and manner I feel most comfortable. This being said, there are not many voices or outlets that have so faithfully and demonstratively defended conservative principles against the leftist MSM. There has to be some honor given to a man so committed to the founding principles beliefs of this great nation. This is my perspective and reality. 

Finally, As for Trump, perhaps Charlotte Bronte’ best expressed the most accurate perceptions and reality in Jane Eyre:

“I am not an angel, ‘I asserted’ and I will not become one till I die: I will be myself.  Mr. Rochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me – for you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which I do not at all anticipate.”

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