I’m leaving for home in Israel in a few hours after two weeks in the US. I expected to be shocked by what I saw here, and I was–but not for the predictable reasons.
I was sitting at a Honda dealership, watching President Trump and Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri on TV, taking questions from reporters. All the American reporters seemed to care about was whether Jeff Sessions would be fired. And this after the Senate had its first vote on a health care “plan” that doesn’t really exist, but what we know of where it’s going is that it would be an unmitigated disaster. And there’s the prime minister of Lebanon, for heaven’s sake, standing next to Trump. His country is flooded by refugees from Syria. The US is the leading financial contributor to humanitarian aid projects for the refugees from Syria (why didn’t Trump say that?) but needs to do much, much more, at the expense of pointless military operations. Only the Lebanese reporters seemed to care about that.
For shame, American reporters.
Who cares about Jeff Sessions? When will my colleagues in the media realize that they are being played again? They covered process and titillation during the campaign, and we ended up with Trump as president. Now they’re covering titillation and Russia while the administration is dismantling some of the most important safety nets for the nation’s poor.
It’s so easy. Find some “evidence” of “collusion” and you’ve got yourself a headline that everyone will scramble to match. Pull an off-color quote out of a speech or a tweet, and there’s you’re next story. No matter that the Russia story will lead nowhere (you heard it here first), and the quotes and tweets are part of the smoke screen that neutralized you so effectively during the campaign. For shame.
It’s easier to get all outraged about an inappropriate speech to Boy Scouts than to actually dig into what these people are doing in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, health care and all the important subjects. But we must do that. We must start paying attention to the real issues. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: There is a right way and a wrong way to deal with Trump. We are doing it wrong.
If we continue down this path, the result will be disaster. “We” is the media, in case that’s not clear already. There’s still time to do this right, but it’s running out.
I return to a Mideast in turmoil over metal detectors and terrorists. At least we know what the story is over there, though we are also not immune to being played by skilled politicians.