One week after Donald Trump’s inauguration, editors from CNN, Slate, Univision, The New Yorker, and The Huffington Post plan to huddle for a discussion on how to cover the Trump presidency.
The collusion has begun.
“Join Slate for a conversation with top editors in New York about how the news media can and should proceed to cover the Trump presidency,” says an e-mail making its way around the major media universe. “The panel will discuss strategies they are implementing at their outlets, and how journalists and media companies at large can play a bigger role in making sure that fact prevails over fiction in the coming months and years.”
The e-mail, reported by Mediaite, says proceeds from the Jan. 25 event at the NYU Skirball Center will go to the Committee to Protect Journalists, a nonprofit dedicated to the global defense of press freedom. This is the same committee actress Meryl Streep urged people to support in her controversial Golden Globe remarks.
Slate is bringing the media together to advance a liberal post-election agenda, just as the Democratic Party is using the confirmation process for Trump’s cabinet nominees as a first step in a rebuilding effort.
“That effort includes getting opposition research and outside messaging groups into high gear, fundraising off of certain confirmation hearing highlights or controversies regarding some nominees, and coming up with a way to paint the administration they will run against in four years in an unflattering light,” said Caitlin Huey-Burns in Real Clear Politics.
The gathering is consistent with a call by New York Times media columnist Jim Rutenberg for reporters to present “a united front”.
A united front for press freedom is an admirable goal. A united front to attack a presidency is not.
But if you regularly follow Slate, Univision, The New Yorker, and The Huffington Post, they are already consistent in their disparagement of Trump and his coterie of advisers and supporters.
The current New Yorker, for example, has a cover portraying Trump as a child taking off in the family car with the hope he’ll be apprehended before he can do too much damage.
The magazine itself features multiple stories denigrating Trump and his allies. One accuses Trump of being “a clumsy bigfoot” with his comments on contributions to his campaign from an L.L. Bean family member. Other stories lambaste Trump’s inaugural festivities, liken Trump to Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonalds, in an upcoming movie that “conspires to smooth any wrinkles of villainy”, and take on Peter Thiel, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and Trump supporter, in an odd piece about his views on Star Trek vs. Star Wars,
This all reminds me of the much-maligned JournoList, a private Google Groups forum for discussing politics and the media with membership consisting of 400 left-leaning journalists, pundits, academics and others. The forum, active during 2007-10, was accused of encouraging and facilitating coordinated messaging supporting liberal views, though many critics asserted any conspiracy theory was overblown.
JournoList did display, however, the inclination for the progressive community to bond over common political and personal biases. The new Slate-driven consortium of progressive publications is likely to head in the same direction, reinforcing their blue bubble as they battle Trump and his policies.
As Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote shortly after the election:
“Much of the mainstream, legacy media continues its self-disgrace. Having failed to kill Donald Trump ’s candidacy they will now aim at his transition. Soon they will try to kill his presidency.”