The New York Times is having a hard time understanding President-elect Donald Trump.
Trumpism is a process and a philosophy of action and leadership so different from the normal Washington systems that the Times just seems incapable of understanding it. Furthermore, there is an Orwellian quality of deliberation misinformation and disinformation to the Times’ coverage.
President-elect Trump IS different. In fact, he is unique. No other American has won the presidency without serving in elected office or being a general in the military. No other billionaire has been elected to the presidency. No one has ever used social media as effectively. No one has had the scale and frequency of rallies. No one has understood that a 20,000-person rally with every person using his or her smartphone to send out photos and videos creates an audience the size of MSNBC. No one else has been dramatically outspent in both the primaries and the general election and won.
You would think that a person with these achievements would be worthy of a certain respect and of a curiosity about how he thinks and what he is trying to do.
If the New York Times were a serious newspaper it would start by recognizing that Trump is a remarkable leader and that this is a new phenomenon. Then it would try to explore and understand the differences between the old order and the world Trump is trying to create. Then it could describe the context of the President-elect and educate its readers accurately in an informed, coherent manner.
Unfortunately, the New York Times is trapped within the obsolete establishment mindset which was wrong about Trump throughout the primaries, then was wrong about Trump throughout the general election, then was wrong about who would win. This elite mindset has learned nothing. It is now enthusiastically being wrong about the transition. All of this is great practice for the paper to be wrong about the new administration.
Thursday’s New York Times story on Trump and foreign policy was a perfect example of its willful ignorance.
The Times reported that “President-elect Donald J. Trump seemed to suggest on Wednesday that the deadly truck attack on a Christmas market in Berlin vindicated his proposal during the presidential campaign to bar Muslims from entering the United States.”
That is a willfully false and malicious mischaracterization of the current Trump proposal. Trump has been very clear that he would focus “extreme vetting” on people from dangerous areas. He has rejected a general ban. Why would the Times deliberately ignore the current policy?
The Times went out of its way to assert that “It was not clear whether Mr. Trump was reaffirming his much-criticized call for a wholesale ban on Muslim immigration or his subsequent clarification that he would stop only those entering from countries with a history of Islamic extremism.”
The Times had to repeat the “much-criticized” line even though that is not Trump’s current position.
The Times went on to criticize Trump for his response to the Chinese seizure of a Navy underwater drone:
“It was the latest confusing turn in Mr. Trump’s positions on major issues since the election. In Twitter posts and comments over the last week, he has …accused China of an ‘unprecedented act’ in seizing a Navy underwater drone in the South China Sea; and then, after the Pentagon and China negotiated the drone’s return, suggested that the United States should ‘let them keep it!’”
This is a completely false characterization of a key Trump pattern.
The President-elect is a great negotiator. He outlined his strategies and techniques in the New York Times bestselling Art of the Deal. Every reporter should be required to read it. Trump was tweeting a series of negotiating positions letting the Chinese know that they had no bargaining leverage over the drone.
The contempt of the Times for the President-elect is clear as it reported, “The series of scattershot remarks has further unsettled a turbulent period in American foreign policy. It underscores Mr. Trump’s challenge in fashioning a coherent approach to the problems he will inherit in Asia, Europe and the Middle East, especially working with a team that consists of retired generals and an oil executive, few of whom have experience in the daily cascade of crises that confront every White House.”
So, the Times believes General Jim Mattis lacks experience in “a daily cascade of crises”“. They believe General John Kelly lacks experience in “a daily cascade of crises.” They believe Lt. General Mike Flynn lacks experience in “a daily cascade of crises.” It is unlikely anyone on the Times staff has experienced one day of the crises these combat-experienced veterans lived with for years.
The Times apparently believes that Rex Tillerson, described dismissively as “an oil executive,” can’t cope with complexity. Tillerson, as CEO of Exxon Mobil, led the world’s largest oil company (the 8th largest company in the world) producing nearly 4 million barrels of oil equivalent per day. It is the largest oil refiner in the world with 37 oil refineries in 21 countries. The headquarters alone has over 10,000 employees. But of course, the Times reports he lacks the experience to deal with “a daily cascade of crises.”
Finally, the Times finds an anti-Trump professor, “Philip D. Zelikow, who served in the administrations of both Presidents Bush and now teaches at the University of Virginia.” He said Trump “could end up picking fights with three-quarters of the world.”
Look at that quote from two angles.
First there is no evidence Trump wants to pick fights. He has been a very successful businessman with property all over the world. He is assembling a group of generals and business leaders who have a lot of experience working with allies and negotiating successfully.
Second, Zelikow represents the foreign policy establishment Trump has been criticizing. He is clearly a one-sided critic.
This entire article is typical of the inaccurate and misleading coverage the Times has given Trump for two years.
If this is what their coverage of the administration is going to be like it will be eight years of unending misinformation.
The arrogance of the Times is matched only by its willful ignorance.
It is a disservice to its readers and to what was once a great tradition of serious journalism.
Newt Gingrich is an author and former speaker of the House of Representatives.