The conference calls happen about once a week. Rupert Murdoch, king of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, patches in to Arthur Sulzberger Jr., publisher of The New York Times, and sometimes we include that Jeff Bezos, owner of the Washington Post. Then they conference call me, except on some occasions when we gather under the the pseudonym reservation for “Broughton High Alum Group” in a back booth at Raleigh’s Players Retreat.
I have the most seniority as a member of the Left Wing Media Conspiracy, the one now conniving to take down the would-be presidency of Donald John Trump by, well, reporting what he says on the campaign stump.
Oh, we are a sinister bunch. Now I’m kind of talking out of school here, but Trump’s on to us, after all. Last week he called reporters the “lowest form of humanity.” Trump has been tweeting up a storm about what a bunch of crooks the media people are, and at one point reckoned that “if the disgusting and corrupt media covered me honestly and didn’t put false meaning into the words I say, I would be beating Hillary by 20 percent.”
Instead, of course, he appears to be beating no one, and the trouble has come because the media is reporting exactly what Trump does and says.
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It’s like I was telling Sulzberger. “Look,” I said, “what you guys need to do is make up a story about Trump ridiculing a reporter with physical handicaps. We’ll teach him a lesson.”
“Uh,” Sulzberger said, “the thing is ... he really did that.”
So I then told Beez (my nickname for Bezos because we’re brothers in conspiracy, after all), “You know you guys could report that Trump said if he shot somebody on Fifth Avenue it wouldn’t cost him any votes. Now something like that ... that would shock people.”
“Uh,” Beez said, “see, the thing is, he really did that.”
“Rooper,” I said to Murdoch, “I’ve got it. When Trump’s talking about how he’s against gun control and how Hillary Clinton is for it and will appoint federal judges that agree with her, you could report that he made some wild reference to how the ‘Second Amendment people’ might be able to stop her, implying some kind of violence. Now people wouldn’t stand for that, nossir.”
“Mate,” he said (he’s Australian), “the problem is, he said it and he’s still drawing crowds.”
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There’s great irony in Trump attacking the media, of course, since he is by his own design a creature of the media, from shameless self-promotion to “The Apprentice” to the Miss Universe pageant and other endeavors designed to put The Pompadour front and center.
And beware any politician who falls back in his foxhole and comes out firing at the media. It tends to be the last, desperate maneuver from a foxhole getting ready to raise the white flag. Trump is his own worst enemy; he didn’t need to recruit “the media” as his foe.
He’s made one vicious, vindictive, often nutty accusation after another about Hillary Clinton, criticized a Gold Star family, questioned whether John McCain was a hero, dismissed the entire Bush family and watched “his” Republican convention conduct what was supposed to be a showcase with all the class of an Animal House fraternity keg party.
And he’s not done yet. Trump’s still tweeting his dose of mean almost daily, and his occasional flirtations with teleprompters and calm don’t last. Those respites are like a balm that gets rid of a toenail fungus for a while, but you know it’s coming back.
In rising now to the bull’s eye of Trump’s tweets, the media’s in good company, with McCain, et. al. He’ll get bored and move on, of course, seeking an enemy that will resonate with his shrinking base of support.
In the meantime, we conspirators will keep trying. Next week, the guys are coming in and I’ve got the idea to take us over the top. I’m going to suggest we conspire to report that Trump said President Obama was the “founder of ISIS.” I mean, come on. They’ll have to shut down the Trump campaign by sundown. Yes, indeed. You bet. Uh, huh.
Jenkins: 919-829-4513 or firstname.lastname@example.org