Media “pundits” loudly predicted the US economy crashing under president Donald Trump – but his country has posted a 3.4 percent GDP growth for the first time in decades, with consumer confidence at an 18-year high.
But that variety of Trump-related good news rarely gets seen. The man who healed the economy of the world’s sole superpower continues being a pantomime villain for many. As I wrote before the US elections in 2016: this is Trump and the People versus the Media and Corrupt Establishment. Since then, the media has plunged deeper into the dark side.
By refusing to understand its need for survival with honest reporting, the so-called ‘mainstream’ media slips into the discredited downstream of 21st century information sharing. The Trump presidency will be known for the appalling extent of media bias and murder of journalism ethics.
Trump’s troubles will disappear if he surrenders to establishment forces funding mainstream media. But he fights. He fights against powerful vested interests, such as Big Pharma and their blood money profits from outrageously priced lifesaving drugs. Fourteen pharmaceutical companies in the US posted over $ 1 billion profits in 2018.
The media barely tells you how Trump’s policies, re-negotiated trade deals and slashing red-tape have created 5 million jobs; and pushed unemployment below 4 per cent, a record low since 1970. The US added 284,000 manufacturing jobs in 2018, the most annually in 30 years. Investment of $300 billion poured in, six million American workers enjoyed tax cut bonuses in 2018, women’s unemployment sunk to its lowest rate in 65 years. The world was spared the looming crisis of a bankrupt US economy.
Major media houses first debunked the extraordinary economic turnaround of the past two years, and then grudgingly underreported or ignored it.
Trump engineered the turnaround largely by wrenching away billions of dollars of exploitative corporate profiteering, including mega corporations exploiting illegal immigrants and overseas sweatshop workers as cheap labor. Vested interests want Trump out of the White House. How many media houses are their puppets?
In reality, Trump fights an anticorruption war that can lead to his assassination. Trump realizes that, as he hinted in an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan aboard the presidential aircraft Air Force One. Hired media guns already carry out his character assassination. Trump’s achievements in two years – including peace with North Korea and defeating the ISIS – are astonishing given the forces ranged against him, including corrupt backstabbers from within his own Republican party.
Like most political leaders, Trump faces some credibility problems. Past indiscretions could be haunting him. But more serious than a politician’s credibility – politicians come and go – is demise of media credibility, a suicide committed with inaccurate reporting, biased slanting of news, overuse of anonymous “sources and agenda-propagating news outlets.
All credit to Trump for fighting back, instead of bribing or buckling under unfair, relentlessly negative media attacks of a staggering intensity that no other leader has ever faced.
People fail to realize that Trump’s media battles are actually proof of his credibility, unlike politicians with media mouthpieces – the shameless lobbyists of demented corporate greed.
Journalism involves being critical, but so too does accuracy and respect for facts. News reporting has to be objective, not inaccurate or faked with false perspectives. The anti-Trump bias becomes more glaringly evident as the media ignores concrete allegations against other politicians of colluding with foreign governments – as in the murky dealings of the Clinton Foundation.
The anti-Trump media mischief has far reaching repercussions. Trump’s anti-illegal immigration battles misrepresented as ‘anti-immigrant’ has unleashed a political civil war in his country. Yet his presidency reduced unemployment among African-Americans, Asian and Hispanic- Americans to record lows.
I have not come across Trump making any anti-immigrant or racist comments, yet he is called ‘racist’ for trying to end illegal immigration – not immigration. Illegal entry into a country becomes equivalent of people sneaking in via your bedroom or bathroom window to live in your house. But the media refuses to recognize the distinct difference between illegal human smuggling/trafficking and legal immigration.
“I want people to come in, but they have to come in legally and they have to come in through merit,” Trump told Republican members of Congress at the White House on January 24.
The hypocrisy, double standards are incredible. Nobody went hysterical when Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama described “a humanitarian crisis at the border and we need to fix the immigration problem once and for all”. But when Trump does the same, he becomes a “fear-mongering” “racist”.
‘Tuco’, from Sergio Leone’s western ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, might have said: “There are two kinds of people in the world, my friend: ones that get brain-washed by the media and ones that use common sense and Internet search engines”. Check original sources of news, and see the ugly truth of how much the media hides the good and highlights or fakes the bad of anything to do with Trump.
The Confederate gold that ‘Tuco’, ‘Blondie’ and ‘Angel Eyes’ went hunting in the 1966 movie is not all glitter and greed. Gold is also called a ‘noble metal’ for its strong, non-corrosive nature. Like gold – Trump’s favorite color – he has endured, refusing to surrender despite venomous attacks against him and his family. In fighting back against unfair media hostility, Trump has rendered a unique service for honest journalism: exposing the degree to which major sections of the media are either alarmingly incompetent or dangerously corrupt as puppets of vested interests.
To be human is to be imperfect and Trump, like all of us, has imperfections, limitations. He makes blunders, as in declining the invitation to India’s Republic Day celebrations this year – and ironically, unable to give on schedule the State of the Union address that was ostensible reason given for snubbing the Indian government.
But most of the media ignore the positive sides of Trump. He has a rugged genius for cutting through cluttering clouds of cowardly political correctness, and doing what he honestly thinks is right. He is perhaps the only governmental leader donating his entire salary to charity, $400,000 a year (Rs 2.8 crores) – a volunteer president serving his country. Only the pure spirit of a volunteer can muster great strength, determined courage to fight all odds.
Corrupt minds cannot recognize courage. A better world needs a media that protects democracies better, with more honest, courageous journalists representing the truth – and ready to die for it.
(The writer is a senior, Mumbai-based journalist)