Accuracy in Media

President Trump sat last week for an interview with the Wall Street Journal, and it made some news. But mostly it brought out snark from the mainstream media.

Chris Cillizza, formerly of the Washington Post and now of CNN, offered “Donald Trump’s 56 most unforgettable lines from his Wall Street Journal interview.”

First on the list: “We were going down, we were going down a long way,” Trump said. “This is Trump’s description of the end of the Obama presidency. And off we go!”

ISIS had 70,000 fighters in the field and controlled an area larger than Ohio. The Taliban and others were ascendant in Afghanistan, and Iran and North Korea were flouting international arms control agreements.

The economy was in shambles – in its eighth straight year of never achieving a single quarter of 3 percent growth, and regulatory overreach threatened to strangle the economic growth and low energy prices generated by the fracking boom.

Then, he quotes Trump as saying, “The cutting of regulation and all of the many things that we’ve done, including being a cheerleader for the country – and perhaps that’s part of the reason I’m going to Davos also – but being a cheerleader for the country.”

Cillizza responds: “An interesting comment by Trump – and telling. He quite clearly puts considerable stock in the idea that the president must be a cheerleader. It reminds of a story from the The New York Times that suggested Donald Trump Jr. approached Ohio Gov. John Kasich with an offer to be vice president – and a wide-ranging portfolio of responsibilities. What would the elder trump be in charge of, Kasich asked? “Making American great again,” was Don Jr.’s response.”

First, no one on the Kasich or Trump side confirmed he ever was offered the vice presidency with a large portfolio of duties. Mike Pence, who is a far more capable politician and whose ideology is far closer to Trump’s, does not play a major policy role.

Second, why, other than having written rapturously about Obama for eight years, does Cillizza find it odd for a president to consider himself a cheerleader for his country. If he is not proud of it, who should be?

Later, Cillizza quotes Trump as saying, “One of the promises that you know is being very seriously negotiated right now is the wall, and the wall will happen.” “Well, if you say so,” Cillizza chortles.

Only Democrats and Republicans right now are attempting to work out a compromise on the DACA Dreamers that quite likely will lead to enough funding for Trump to complete more than 700 miles of the wall.

The No.15 entry is hard to explain. “Unless it’s somebody that didn’t love our country, and the Democrats love our country,” Trump is quoted as saying. “We have different views, but the Democrats love our country.”

Cillizza tells us the president is talking about the visa lottery system and chain migration. “And it speaks volumes that he says that if you don’t agree with his view on these two topics, you must not love America.”

That is precisely what Trump does not say.

Later, Trump claims, “IK won an election that should never be won, because the Electoral College is far harder to win than the popular vote. The popular vote, for me, would have been much easier.”

Does Cillizza take the claim seriously? Does he point out Trump would have had a hard time in California, where two Democrats were on the ballot in a U.S. Senate race and there were ballot questions – including one about legalizing marijuana – that would have made going to the polls far more exciting for Democrats?

No. He merely says, “The 2016 election ended 429 days ago.”

He’s even more pithy a few items later, when Trump claims, “There has never been, in the history – in the history of an administration anybody that was more open than we were.”

“Uh,” Cillizza said.

The Trump administration is the most open in recent memory. The president’s tweets provide an insight into his day-to-day thinking Americans have never received from their president. Even Special Counsel Robert Mueller has said the Trump administration has been as cooperative as possible in turning over documents and making people available for interviews for his investigation.

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