WASHINGTON — Last week, President Donald Trump’s recently appointed chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, caused a stir among the press corps. He telephoned The New York Times and in what the Times reported as “blunt but calm tones” proclaimed, “The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.” Journalists reacted to his comments with “alarm and defiance.”
Christiane Amanpour, the pulchritudinous CNN correspondent, captured the alarm of many journalists when she responded on Twitter, saying, “Sorry, what country are we living in?” Well, perhaps I can be of help here. Ms. Amanpour, you are a citizen of the United Kingdom, being of British-Iranian heritage. Moreover, I have it on very good authority that you are living in London. So long as you obey the laws of the United Kingdom, you should continue to thrive; and so long as your documents are in order, you can travel to our shores anytime. But I advise you to avoid maudlin outbursts, especially in the presence of President Trump and Mr. Bannon.
Incidentally, Bannon knows his way around politics and media in this country. He was, until August, the chief of Breitbart News, and before that he was a naval officer and an executive at Goldman Sachs, and he did a stint in Hollywood. Now he is in politics. Looking back on the election, he says, “The elite media got it dead wrong, 100 percent dead wrong.” And he notes, “The mainstream media has not fired or terminated anyone.” I wonder why. The vast majority of political journalists might have awakened on Nov. 9 asking Amanpour’s question: What country are we living in?
For instance, at some point during the election cycle, The New York Times beheld a photo of candidate Trump waving at Trump Tower and joked: “Why he will win: We are stumped. And we really tried.” The newspaper was parroting the early insight of George Will, who said on Fox News “Special Report” that he would bet “One dollar on Donald Trump in the hope that he will be tempted to run, be predictably shellacked, and we will be spared ever more these quadrennial charades of his.” And so it went. The entire establishment got it wrong.
Bring up the now famous YouTube montage. On it we hear George Clooney saying: “There’s not going to be a President Donald Trump.
That’s not going to happen”; Sen. Bernie Sanders saying, “Donald Trump will not become president”; Rep. Nancy Pelosi saying: “Donald Trump is not going to be president of the United States. Take it to the bank.”; President Barack Obama saying: “I continue to believe Trump will not be president”; Stephen Colbert saying: “You’re not gonna be president”; Ron Reagan Jr. saying: “Donald Trump will never ever be president of the United States. … He’s an absurdity”; Fareed Zakaria saying, “Donald Trump will lose the election”; and Bob Beckel (presumably just back from rehab) saying: “This race is over. … This race, effectively, as of tonight, is no longer a presidential race.” Finally, the contagion was not contained to the Democrats and the never-Trump Republicans. In August, after strenuous polling, Politico asseverated, “Republican insiders are more convinced than Democrats that Donald Trump is so far behind Hillary Clinton that he can’t win in November.”
I could go on, but let me leave it that. There has never been in the history of the United States a ruling class — no, strike that — a class of so-called sophisticates so out of touch with the electorate. Their political leaders are now joining the feminist marchers and their mama’s boys in weeping in public. Last week, Bannon startled the whole class of so-called sophisticates by calling their press corps “the opposition party.” Well, it looks like an opposition party to me. They were almost unanimous in opposing Trump and flaunting certain values that only they occasionally maintain, such as fairness.
William McGurn at the Wall Street Journal is one of the handful of us in the press corps who are not guilty of being members of the opposition party. In his column this week, he came up with evidence that the Times has agreed with Bannon in the media being the opposition party. Back on Aug. 8, McGurn found the Times writing: “If you view a Trump presidency as something that’s potentially dangerous, then your reporting is going to reflect that. You would move closer than you’ve ever been to being oppositional.” At The New York Times, do they ever tire of eating their words?