This week, more than 100 newspapers will join forces in a coordinated effort -- spearheaded by the editors of the Boston Globe -- to editorialize against President Trump's attacks on the press. They're well within their rights to do so; intensely negative presidential rhetoric directed at the news media can be corrosive, especially when some of those broadsides cross a line into harmful demagoguery ("enemy of the people"). Even if Trump is more or less engaged in a self-serving performance and exaggerating for dramatic effect, every president's words matter. It's reasonable for journalists to push back against the normalization of over-the-top salvos against their profession, even if 'ganging up' to offer a stern collective lecture is unlikely to change minds -- and, in fact, plays directly into Trump's narrative of bias and unfair besiegement.
But without excusing some of his worst excesses, Trump does have a point: The media is exceptionally biased against him, resulting in extraordinarily and relentlessly negative coverage. Their eagerness to criticize Trump is abundantly apparent, too often resulting in sloppy, lazy and self-defeating errors. Rather than engaging in consistent introspection about why Trump's vitriolic criticisms resonate with so many Americans, many in the press congratulate themselves and each other, with some even grousing that Trump is treated too leniently. But as Fox News anchor Martha MacCallum posited on my radio show on Friday, are any mainstream media outlets suffering under the Trump administration? Overall, ratings, subscriptions, and clicks are all up, across the board. And what freedoms have actually been curtailed? There have been flare-ups and anti-transparency maneuvers here and there, but nothing more serious than certain Obama-era incidents.
For all of Trump's bluster, the free press remains free and thriving. And in spite of much hand-wringing about the president's statements endangering the physical safety of reporters (spectacles like the cursing and booing are ugly, to be sure, although there's some evidence that it's basically all part of the show), the element in American life that has recently engaged in documented, bona fide assaults against members of the media has been the hard Left. In Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, journalists were literally attacked by members of Antifa, whose acts of orchestrated mob violence and intimidation have been chronicled from coast to coast. Here are a few of the frightening scenes that played out:
Antifa's thuggery even forced a local hospital to implement lockdown procedures:
#BREAKING: UVA Medical Center is on lockdown. According to an emergency alert, all employees there are to remain inside.— CBS19 News: Charlottesville News First (@CBS19News) August 11, 2018
And a few vignettes from the "peaceful" "anti-hate" protests in DC on Sunday:
Protestors didn’t want to be filmed and cut my photographer’s audio cable cord. pic.twitter.com/GBLryCjWZs— DeJuan Hoggard (@DeJuanABC11) August 12, 2018
Masked antifa launch fireworks, water bottles, eggs at cops— Tim Mak (@timkmak) August 12, 2018
Secret service has backed off pic.twitter.com/Jrru0by0WM
A lot of this, too, blocking journalists from taking photographs. pic.twitter.com/hKkC8jRV6P— Terrence McCoy (@terrence_mccoy) August 12, 2018
If left-wing rioters and agitators targeting and roughing up journalists sounds vaguely familiar, it's because they did the same thing last summer, elsewhere in Virginia. Remember this?
5/ a source at the station says he's been out for three days with a concussion.https://t.co/ja7v2hsN7e— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 17, 2017
Given this pattern of behavior (here are additional scenes out of California), how have many in the mainstream media responded to these assaults on their brethren by leftist goons? With silence, with tsk-tsking over "whataboutism" (we mustn't distract from the Alt-Right menace by noticing other threats, you see), and with excuse-making euphemisms like this:
Confusion over an enormous police presence turned into anger Saturday night in Charlottesville as hundreds of protesters marched through the streets, growing angry at police and calling for an end to white supremacy. https://t.co/C8PwrEYoVL pic.twitter.com/VayIKa6yBJ— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 12, 2018
Why would there be any "confusion" over a heavy police presence at rallies and protests marking the one-year anniversary of terrible, violent, race-fueled clashes? And even if people were somehow startled by the heavy law enforcement footprint, in what way would that justify disgusting chants, violence directed at police, or violence directed at the media? Also, if it had been Trump supporters or Alt-righters who'd lashed out physically at officers or journalists, is there any chance whatsoever that we wouldn't be having an emergency, high-decibel "national conversation," featuring conservative speech and leaders under the hot glare of scrutiny and criticism?
Parting thought: In light of the intense debate over the implications of several social media companies' choreographed 'de-platforming' of Alex Jones last week, what possible excuse is there to permit Antifa to remain active on any of those platforms? Jones is a vile crank and lunatic. Antifa systematically uses threats, intimidation and real violence to menace and harm people whose (sometimes abhorrent) speech they dislike. If Silicon Valley is going to start dropping the ban hammer over 'hate speech,' there's no justification for looking the other way as loosely-affiliated left-wing networks plot hate-driven acts. I'll leave you with a more uplifting story on this subject:
One year ago, Ken Parker was a white nationalist and member of the KKK who marched on Charlottesville. A few weeks ago, he was baptized by the same people he once hated.— Nathaniel Williams (@Natdavewilliams) August 11, 2018
The gospel changes lives.https://t.co/uCRdg90Hni