- - Sunday, January 29, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The hatred of Donald Trump grows darker, more frightening and more irresponsible. A Secret Service agent assigned to protect the president put up a boast on her Facebook site that she wouldn’t “take a bullet” for this president. The ABC television network inserts a promotional blurb for a coming movie about a presidential assassination into a real-life interview with Mr. Trump. A teacher in Dallas (which knows about presidential assassinations) projects a photographic image of the president at his inauguration in her classroom, shoots at the image with a water gun and screams “Die! Die! Die!”

This irresponsibility speaks volumes about how far out of touch the arbiters of the national culture are with rest of America. Steve Bannon, a senior adviser to the president, remarked earlier this week that “they don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

In the wake of Nov. 8, many disappointed Democrats said foolish and childish things, one of them being that “Donald Trump is not my president.” But he is, whether they like it or not, and denying reality does not change anything. They’re still citizens, with a citizen’s responsibility to obey the law and treat elected officials with public respect. (They’re well advised to file their income-tax returns as usual.)

The mighty organs of the media have a special responsibility to keep calm and carry on, as difficult as that may be. The guardians of the truth, as they regard themselves, must first figure out what the truth is. Is there anyone in the shop to teach them to be objective, once the first rule of every newsroom? Are both sides of the story presented with appropriate weight? A competent journalist has always understood that he has the duty to be skeptical of every source in the spirit of the old city editor, staring at a credulous reporter with beady eyes under his green eyeshade, demanding that “if your mother says she loves you, check it out.”

Such skepticism all but disappeared over the past eight years in Washington. Whatever Barack Obama’s White House said was taken as received wisdom. Now the skepticism has returned, and that’s all to the good if applied to all in equal measure. The new president encourages uneven skepticism by sometimes saying outrageous things. The press has a responsibility to examine closely everything he says, and let the facts, and not a reporter’s morality (if any), sit in judgment.

Skepticism is healthy and necessary, and it’s a pity that it was in short supply in the White House briefing room over the course of the last administration. The press (loosely defined) and the larger media must resist the temptation to assuage its guilt by adopting an attitude that anything about Mr. Trump goes, the meaner and more irresponsible the better. This encourages recklessness in others.

The Texas teacher who shot the squirt gun was suspended while her superiors investigate further. The Secret Service agent whose boast all but invites attacks on the president’s person, has been suspended, too, and should be sacked as an example. Presidential assassinations are not for speculation and entertainment.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide