Making excuses: Trump blames media for faltering campaign

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S., August 24, 2016. © Carlo Allegri
It’s not just war zones where the media have to fear for their safety; it’s Donald Trump’s rallies too. Physical assaults and verbal intimidation have been reported in the press corps, as the floundering candidate riles up supporters against those armed with a pen.

Journalists are sure to face even worse conditions at Trump rallies as the failing presidential candidate continued his claims this week that the media were treating him unfairly. With no sources to back up his claim, Trump said that “virtually everyone” was aware “that the media pile-on against me is the worst in American political history!”

Trump’s allegations that the media are working against him have led to concerns over the safety of journalists. Reporter Jared Yates Sexton documented on Twitter his experience at a rally in North Carolina, where Trump’s concerns over the media had manifested in violent threats from his supporters.

Among the descriptors Trump has used for the media are “Dishonest and disgusting,” “corrupt,” “biased” and “liars.” He has also pointed out individual reporters at events, including Marie Claire’s Katy Tur, at whom he encouraged the crowd to jeer.

Some have taken the crowd’s unjustified anger with humor like Frank Thorp from NBC.

Some will argue that Trump is right in being angry at the media who have found him an easy target to ridicule since his announcement to run for president. Others would point to the fact that the media have been justified in their reporting on Trump.

Their role is to expose false claims and that they did when Trump claimed in January he had raised $6 million for veterans’ charities. When questioned in May on where the money had gone, it was quickly discovered that it had stayed put with Trump, forcing him to hastily offset it to charities to make good on his claim.

Instead of apologizing for lying to the American people, Trump turned the incident around against the media, claiming he had been going through a lengthy vetting process for charities and that the media were unjust in pressuring him into giving him money he had already claimed to give.

If, and this is a big if as Trump is behind in most of the polls, he were to win, what would be in store for journalism as we know it? Given their treatment at his rallies, would a journalist who does write something painting Trump in a bad light be in fear for their life as he identifies them to his angry supporters?

You can’t blame Trump for being worried, if as predicted by virtually all polls, he loses to “Crooked Hillary” in November. His business interests may even be in serious trouble. Already during the campaign, Macy’s cancelled his clothing line, and he’s lost his most famous gig as host of NBC’s The Apprentice.

Inheriting her husband’s fondness for suing, Trump’s wife Melania has threatened to sue at least 10 publications, including the Daily Mail, Liberal America and Politico. The Daily Mail had reported that a New York modeling agency that once represented her "also operated as an escort agency for wealthy clients."

In June, Trump posted that he would no longer issue press credentials to the Washington Post after calling their coverage of his campaign “incredibly inaccurate.”

The Post’s Executive Editor Martin Baron said his decision was “nothing less than a repudiation of the role of a free and independent press.”