It’s true that Donald Trump is different from any other president, probably ever. He doesn’t abide by traditional “presidential” mores to which his predecessors submitted. And that’s probably why people voted for him.
He’s sort of the manifestation of the average outraged internet commenter. Usually, the outrageous things Trump says are things that would be said on the internet under the condition of anonymity. But right now, Trump is the exact opposite of anonymous.
What’s not often mentioned is that while his style is markedly different from his predecessors, his substance is quite similar.
The media try to portray Trump and Obama as polar opposites in everything. Obama is educated, measured, a family man, calm, thoughtful, professional, presidential, deferential to the press, respectful of the separation of powers. (That’s not my perspective; that’s the media’s.)
Trump, on the other hand, watches a lot of TV, doesn’t read books, is bombastic, thin-skinned, volatile, childish, choleric, abusive of women, hateful of the press, completely and totally ignorant, hates the separation of powers, thrives on chaos, is racist, sexist, Islamophobic, xenophobic, yada, yada, yada.
The thing is, the two are the same in substance. I’ll explain in a second. For now, here’s CNN’s Jake Tapper lamenting President Trump’s comments on the federal judge who lifted the recent immigration restrictions, and also his comments on fake news:
Tapper: Alright to sum up, if a judge rules against the president, he’s a ‘so-called judge.’ If a poll shows the majority of you disagrees with his policies, the poll is fake. If a well sourced news story reflects something unflattering about him, that story is fake. So the judicial branch of government and the free press, two fundamental pillars of our democracy, if we take actions he does not like, we are not legitimate.
Let’s not pretend that Obama never criticized judges who didn’t side with him. And let’s not pretend that Obama didn’t slam the press when they didn’t cover him “fairly.” And what did he mean by “fairly?” Positively. If it was negative press, it wasn’t true.
Simmering tension between the White House and the Supreme Court spilled into public this week when Chief Justice John Roberts labeled the political atmosphere at the recent State of the Union address “very troubling.”
With six members of the court just a few feet away in the audience, President Barack Obama used the occasion to directly criticize the conservative majority’s ruling in a campaign finance case.
“It does cause me to think whether or not it makes sense for us to be there,” said the 55-year-old Roberts. “To the extent the State of the Union has degenerated into a political pep rally, I’m not sure why we’re there.”
Roberts was among the five justices who ruled in favor of loosening previous congressionally mandated restrictions on so-called “corporate” spending in federal elections. The decision opened up spending for a range of corporations, unions and advocacy groups.
The White House was quick to attack Roberts indirectly, focusing on the ruling itself, and Obama continued the criticism in his address, saying, “With all due deference to the separation of powers, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests – including foreign corporations – to spend without limit in our elections.”
And everyone knows how little Obama liked Fox News. From Hannity.com:
Obama Says Fox Is Entirely Devoted To “Attacking My Administration”, June 16, 2009, CNBC’s “Closing Bell“
JOHN HARWOOD: Last question. When you and I spoke in January, you said–I observed that you hadn’t gotten much bad press. You said it’s coming. Media critics would say not only has it not come, but that you have gotten such favorable press, either because of bias or because you’re good box office, that it’s hurting the country, because you’re not being sufficiently held accountable for your policies. Assess that.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: It’s very hard for me to swallow that one. First of all, I’ve got one television station entirely devoted to attacking my administration. I mean, you know, that’s a pretty…
HARWOOD: I assume you’re talking about Fox.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, that’s a pretty big megaphone. And you’d be hard-pressed, if you watched the entire day, to find a positive story about me on that front.
– Obama Calls Fox News “Destructive”, October 14, 2010, Rolling Stone Magazine
“Look, as president, I swore to uphold the Constitution, and part of that Constitution is a free press. We’ve got a tradition in this country of a press that oftentimes is opinionated. The golden age of an objective press was a pretty narrow span of time in our history. Before that, you had folks like Hearst who used their newspapers very intentionally to promote their viewpoints. I think Fox is part of that tradition — it is part of the tradition that has a very clear, undeniable point of view. It’s a point of view that I disagree with. It’s a point of view that I think is ultimately destructive for the long-term growth of a country that has a vibrant middle class and is competitive in the world.”
– Obama Takes A Shot At Fox News Owner Rupert Murdoch, May 10, 2011, Speech In El Paso, Texas on Immigration Reform
“One CEO had this to say about reform. ‘American ingenuity is a product of the openness and diversity of this society… Immigrants have made America great as the world leader in business, science, higher education and innovation.’ That’s Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News, and an immigrant himself. I don’t know if you’re familiar with his views, but let’s just say he doesn’t have an Obama bumper sticker on his car.”
– Obama Hits Fox News For Making “Compromise” A “Dirty Word”, January 27, 2013, The New Republic
“One of the biggest factors is going to be how the media shapes debates. If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.”
– Obama Blames Fox For Benghazi and IRS Scandals, February 2, 2014, Interview With Bill O’Reilly
The tensest moments came on Benghazi, with the host and the president talking over each other and at times sniping at each other.
“Your detractors believe that you did not tell the world it was a terror attack because your campaign didn’t want that out,” O’Reilly said. “That’s what they believe.”
“And they believe it because folks like you tell them that,” Obama said, adding on the IRS scandal: “These kinds of things keep on surfacing, because folks like you will promote them.”
Obama Hits Fox News For Obamacare Criticism, October 2, 2014, Obama’s Speech At Northwestern University
“I am not on the ballot this fall. Michelle’s pretty happy about that. But make no mistake: these policies are on the ballot. Every single one of them. This isn’t a political speech, and I’m not going to tell you who to vote for – even though I suppose it is kind of implied.
“But I have laid out my ideas to create more jobs and grow more wages. A true opposition party should have the courage to lay out theirs. There’s a reason fewer Republicans are preaching doom on deficits – because they’re now manageable. There’s a reason fewer are running against Obamacare – because while good, affordable health care might still be a fanged threat to freedom on Fox News, it’s working pretty well in the real world.”
President Obama: While affordable health care might still be a threat to freedom on Fox News, it’s working pretty well in the real world.
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) October 2, 2014
Obama Hits Fox News for Anti-Poverty Narrative May 12, 2015, Remarks by the President in Conversation on Poverty at Georgetown University
“There’s always been a strain in American politics where you’ve got the middle class, and the question has been, who are you mad at, if you’re struggling; if you’re working, but you don’t seem to be getting ahead. And over the last 40 years, sadly, I think there’s been an effort to either make folks mad at folks at the top, or to be mad at folks at the bottom. And I think the effort to suggest that the poor are sponges, leeches, don’t want to work, are lazy, are undeserving, got traction. And, look, it’s still being propagated.
“I mean, I have to say that if you watch Fox News on a regular basis, it is a constant menu — they will find folks who make me mad. I don’t know where they find them. They’re like, ‘I don’t want to work, I just want a free Obama phone’ — or whatever. And that becomes an entire narrative, right? That gets worked up. And very rarely do you hear an interview of a waitress — which is much more typical — who’s raising a couple of kids and is doing everything right but still can’t pay the bills.”
– Obama Takes A Shot At Fox News For Allegedly Covering Him Unfairly, September 20, 2015, Remarks by the President at the Congressional Black Caucus 45th Annual Phoenix Awards Dinner
“I want to repeat — because somehow this never shows up on Fox News. I want to repeat — because I’ve said it a lot, unwaveringly, all the time: Our law enforcement officers do outstanding work in an incredibly difficult and dangerous job. They put their lives on the line for our safety. We appreciate them and we love them.”
– Obama Claims “Certain Televisions Stations” Distort His Position On Guns, October 27, 2015, Speech at the 122nd International Association of Chiefs of Police Annual Conference
“And some of you who are watching certain television stations or listening to certain radio programs. Please do not believe this notion that somehow I’m out to take everybody’s guns away and every time a mass shooting happens one of the saddest ironies is suddenly the purchase of firearms and ammunitions jump up because folks are scared into thinking that Obama is going to use this as an excuse to take away our Second Amendment rights.”
– Obama Blames Fox News For Making Him “Seem Scary”, November 5, 2015, The New York Review of Books
“It’s interesting, because we’re talking in Iowa; people always, I think, were surprised about me connecting with folks in small-town Iowa. And the reason I did was, first of all, I had the benefit that at the time nobody expected me to win. And so I wasn’t viewed through this prism of Fox News and conservative media, and making me scary. At the time, I didn’t seem scary, other than just having a funny name. I seemed young. Sometimes I look at my pictures from then and I say, I can’t believe anybody voted for me because I look like I’m 25.”
– Obama Blames Fox News For “Balkanization Of The Media”, November 3, 2016, Real Time With Bill Maher
“The problem is we’ve got all these filters. Look, if I watched Fox News, I wouldn’t vote for me either because you’ve got this screen—this funhouse mirror—through which people are receiving information. How to break through that is a big challenge.”
– Obama Blames Fox News For Election Loss, November 29, 2016, Rolling Stone Magazine
“In this election, [they] turned out in huge numbers for Trump. And I think that part of it has to do with our inability, our failure, to reach those voters effectively. Part of it is Fox News in every bar and restaurant in big chunks of the country, but part of it is also Democrats not working at a grassroots level, being in there, showing up, making arguments.”
So, what exactly is the difference? Certainly not the substance. Obama’s said the same things about the media, and about judges whom he doesn’t like as Trump has. It’s just that Obama was more “presidential” in the way he delivered his attacks (whatever that means). Trump attacked a “so-called judge” on Twitter. Obama attacked a judge and a court decision he didn’t like in his State of the Union Address. Seriously, what exactly is the difference except the platform and style? A “diplomatic” way to call someone fat is really no better (and actually might be worse) than just saying the person is fat.
Every chance Obama got, he attacked Fox News. Fox News is often identified as right-wing media, and everything else is left-leaning. So, of course, Obama’s not going to like Fox, and of course Trump isn’t going to like networks that are not Fox.
Why can’t people like Tapper see this?
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com