- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Today, the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, will be sworn into office.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to celebrate the weekend with him in Washington, D.C., while others across the country, will be watching their televisions to hear Mr. Trump take his 35-word oath, and deliver his first speech as president.

More than 60 million people in this country are hopeful — they want Mr. Trump to work on behalf of them to restore jobs in their dilapidated towns, to improve the education for their children, to help unite this fractious Republic, by making the American dream obtainable to all Americans.

They’ll dance at the balls this weekend, or toast champagne from within their homes. All are uncertain at what a Trump presidency may bring, but they are willing to give the man a chance.

All but the mainstream media that is.

Network heads and newspaper editors are filled with anxiety — yes, Mr. Trump’s supporters are jubilant, but the other half of this nation (including most within their own newsrooms) are devastated. And to them, that devastation is more powerful, more convincing. And thus, their coverage has reflected those fears, and none of the optimism.

Here’s a sampling of headlines produced from the media this Inauguration week.

From The Washington Post: “Will Trump follow through on his Day One promises? Doesn’t look like it.”

The New York Times: “Angst simmers in Washington as Trump presidency nears.”

The Chicago Tribune: “With Trump as president, many international students rethink future in the U.S.”

Boston Globe: “For many in Mass.; Trump’s big day is no celebration.”

The Washington Post editorial page this week was jammed with pessimistic editorials — there was no room for balance.

On Tuesday alone, the headlines read: “Trump has absolutely no idea what black America looks like”; Trump’s presidency is doomed”; “Not even Trump can easily reverse our progress on climate change”; “Trump gets no respect. That’s because he hasn’t earned it”; “Just when you thought the Trump ethics disaster couldn’t get worse, it did.”

Even a mundane report depicting Friday’s events from The Associated Press produced this headline: “Hundreds of thousands expected to clog the nation’s capital for Donald Trump’s inauguration.”

Notice they wrote “clog the nation’s capital” instead of “celebrate.”

There is no doubt Mr. Trump is a polarizing figure, but is he truly deserving of no positive coverage? His was the ultimate comeback story, where he defied all odds to become the leader of the free world. His presidency was the ultimate surprise, the stuff of legends. And yet, newsroom editors can’t find any inspiration in it.

But they could with President Barack Obama.

In the week leading up to Mr. Obama’s inauguration in 2009, the Los Angeles Times wrote: “Whether dancing or crying, celebrate.” The New York Post said: “Michelle Oh! First Lady is already fashion’s woman of the year, hail to the chic.”

Instead of focusing on disappointed Republican voters in the Massachusetts region, the Boston Globe decided to take a different angle: “`I just want to be able to say I went’ Thousands from area trek to D.C.” its headline read.

The New York Times was equally excited: “America meets in Washington to start celebrating Obama’s inauguration,” and “For Obama, rare chance for bold start on big task.”

The Washington Post, in the month prior to Mr. Obama’s first inauguration, wrote a glowing piece focused on the future president’s fitness regime.

“Between workouts during his Hawaii vacation this week, he was photographed looking like the paradigm of a new kind of presidential fitness, one geared less toward preventing heart attacks than winning swimsuit competitions,” the Post wrote. “The sun glinted off chiseled pectorals sculpted during four weightlifting sessions each week, and a body toned by regular treadmill runs and basketball games.”

Wow.

I understand Mr. Trump is not a swimsuit model, but he does have a mean golf game.

But this year, that type of fluff is just way too frivolous to print in the nation’s top newspapers. After all, we’re dealing with a “hellscape of lies and distorted reality,” in a Trump presidency, as The Washington Post’s public editor Margaret Sullivan warned this week.

Which brings me to my point.

If the mainstream media wants to regain its credibility after a disastrous presidential season — where it called all the shots wrong and misread the American populous — it needs to attempt to be fair.

Although its newsrooms are filled with Hillary Clinton supporters, they need to separate their ideology and fears, to try to understand how the other half of America feels — the ones who will be celebrating this weekend.

We know the country is divided. We know there’s going to be protests, rioting, and some discontent — those stories have been done. Heck, they’ve been drilled into our heads.

What would be refreshing to read, is a description of who the Trump voter is, and why they are journeying to Washington. What do they admire about Mr. Trump, and what are their hopes and fears for the future?

The news media has a job to report — and that means covering viewpoints different from their own, fairly and without judgment.

It shouldn’t be too tall of a task or too much to ask, but with Mr. Trump, it seems impossible.

Kelly Riddell is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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