Accuracy in Media

Secretary of Defense James Mattis was the “adult in the room,” and without him checking President Trump’s impulses, America is in danger, according to the mainstream media’s reporting on Mattis’ resignation Thursday.

“The Last Grown-Up Is Gone” – subhead: “James Mattis’ departure from the Pentagon will make a lot of people nervous. It should,” read the headline on Slate.

“’A morning of alarm’: Mattis exit sends shock waves abroad,” read one of the headlines on the Washington Post website. “The retired general was seen as a steady hand amid questions over America’s role in the world,” read the subhead.

“Trump sets government and markets into crisis,” read yet another Post headline. “The president’s decisions and conduct have led to a fracturing of his coalition,” the subhead said.

Don Lemon of CNN unleashed a 9 ½-minute diatribe, laden with pregnant pauses to allow viewers to grasp the magnitude of what he was describing.

“What happened today has made it crystal clear that President Trump is acting against the advice of top Pentagon and national security officials – because he thinks he knows better,” Lemon said.

He took Trump to task for having no military experience – a matter he never brought up during the Obama administration. “Does he know more about these conflicts than a 4-star general … a Four Star General with a 40-year military career? Well, we’re all about to find out. The world is about to find out.”

Lemon then read Mattis’ resignation letter, which pointed to differences over policy but promised a smooth transition and that the general would look out for the men and women in uniform until he leaves office officially in February.

He then looked into the camera dramatically, paused several seconds, and said, “No mention … of the president.”

He closed the segment saying, “Like I said, if you’re worried tonight, you should be.”

The Washington Post piled on with “Mattis resigns after clash with Trump over troop withdrawal from Syria and Afghanistan” by Paul Sonne, Josh Dawsey and Missy Ryan.

Mattis’ “surprise resignation came a day after Trump shocked American allies and overruled his advisers, including Mattis, upon announcing a withdrawal from Syria,” the trio wrote. “…The discord, coupled with other disagreements, caused Trump to lose a respected Cabinet official who won widespread praise at home and abroad but who experienced increasing differences with a commander in chief known for his skepticism of American allies and military operations overseas.”

Mattis’ value seemed to be calming outsiders not used to a new kind of president less bound by tradition and more by results.

“Long seen as a bulwark against Trump’s isolationist impulses and more extreme proposals, Mattis served as a calm ‘reassurer-in-chief’ as the president sent out startling and provocative tweets. His departure prompted a chorus of concern about the president’s temperament and decision-making processes and injected new uncertainty into the administration’s approach to global threats,” the Post wrote.

“Jim Mattis, Defense Secretary, Resigns in Rebuke of Trump’s Worldview,” read the headline on the New York Times story by Helene Cooper.

“Mr. Mattis had repeatedly told friends and aides over recent months that he viewed his responsibility to protect the United States’ 1.3 million active-duty troops as worth the concessions necessary as defense secretary to a mercurial president,” Cooper wrote. “But on Thursday, in an extraordinary rebuke of the president, he decided that Mr. Trump’s decision to withdraw roughly 2,000 American troops form Syria was a step too far.”

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