By Kyle Smith
New York Post
Turn down the volume. Unclench your fist. Turn the dial back down from 11. Trump isn’t going anywhere for a while. Deal with it.
A year ago this week, I marveled at the pot-boiling-over frenzy of Donald Trump Derangement Syndrome in the media. Well, today, the media’s kitchen is a shambles. Spaghetti sauce is splattered all over the walls, and the Fourth Estate is pouring more Prego marinara into the pot while keeping the heat turned up to the level marked “thermonuclear.”
Not only is everything (still) hyper-politicized, but the lines between news media, lifestyle media and flat-out activism have faded into irrelevance. On Wednesday, the lead story in Teen Vogue, next to stories about how “I Will Never Use Regular Soap Again After THIS $6 Foam Body Wash” and “Everyone Basically Wore Lingerie to the VS Fashion Show After Party,” was this screaming headline: “The United States Voted ‘No’ on an Anti-Nazi UN Resolution.” It ran over a terrifying picture of crowds carrying banners, some featuring swastikas, with smoke in the background suggesting a terror attack. Only when you click through do you discover that there is no news here whatsoever: The US votes against this meaningless, nonbinding UN gambit every year because the US has this thing called the First Amendment. President Barack Obama’s appointees also opposed the resolution.
Meanwhile, “Black-ish” star Tracee Ellis Ross addressed a Women of the Year Summit earlier this month hosted by Glamour magazine. Her speech was ostensibly about being 45 and childless, but it could easily have been made by a women’s-studies professor at Barnard instead of a sitcom star: “I look back and think about all the ways we’re told that those two goals: being chosen and having kids, are what makes you worthy . . . this narrow story of ‘husband plus child equals woman.’ And the patriarchy — the patriarchy is not pleased with me right now. I’m failing at my function. Let me tell you, Mike Pence is f—ing confused by me right now.”
It seems unlikely that Vice President Pence is wandering around the White House buttonholing aides and saying, “My gosh, did you know that Tracee Ellis Ross is 45 and is unmarried with no children? I’m so confused by this information!” At the same Glamour magazine event, Congresswoman Maxine Waters called out, “You recognize when a leader is dangerous” and got the crowd chanting, “Impeach him! Impeach him!”
These days the drop-down menu on the website for Teen Vogue has “Fashion” in the No. 2 spot. No. 1 is “News and Politics.” Its latest edition stars Hillary Clinton on the cover alongside the headline, “Nevertheless, WE RESIST.” Readers resisted right back.
Teen Vogue has done so badly trading teen fixations for lefty harrumphing that this latest issue, which is also guest-edited by Her Hillaryness, will be the last to hit newsstands.
The culture warriors’ incessant politicization of everything has reached new levels of the ridiculous. At Newsweek on Monday, a story about a sociological study that revealed women like men who appear to be strong and wealthy was headlined in all caps: “MEN WITH MUSCLES AND MONEY ARE MORE ATTRACTIVE TO STRAIGHT WOMEN AND GAY MEN — SHOWING GENDER ROLES AREN’T PROGRESSING.” What’s more, this story was filed under “Tech & Science” rather than “Opinion.”
Over at Cosmopolitan, they’ve been running headlines like “This Theory About Why Donald Trump Actually Won the Election Will Leave You Worrying About Humankind.” Suddenly Cosmo’s unofficial motto is “Hot Sex Tips — and Why You Should Be Worrying About Humankind.” The GQ Resistance, meanwhile, is being run by the left-leaning Keith Olbermann, whose style is reflected in pieces with titles like “It’s Your Civic Duty to Ruin Thanksgiving by Bringing Up Trump.”
The unhinged coverage of all Trump scandals, real and imagined, has cost the media in the eyes of the public, among whom only 39 percent said they had a “great deal” or even “some” confidence in news outlets last November.
In the following months, the media tried to sell the idea that Trump supporters had been conned by “fake news” (based on a minuscule amount of Russian spending on Facebook propaganda that added up to the cost of less than a single airing of one commercial on a prime-time network TV show). But the cry of “fake news” was thrown right back in their face by Trump fans who sensed the claim was simply an attempt to distract from uncomfortable truths about Clinton’s shortcomings.
As of last month, still only 48 percent of Americans said they trusted the media, with 45 percent saying they have “hardly any” confidence in it. In other words, it’s basically a coin flip as to whether any given American thinks the media is just making stuff up. They aren’t, usually. But with every fashion glossy and sitcom star still beating a drum for Hillary a year after the election, while bashing Trump and everything he stands for from the front page to the sports section, can you blame people for losing respect for the press?
The media are correct in thinking they have an important duty in the Trump era. But the people are correct in noticing that the media is filtering everything through an obsessive hatred for Trump.
Kyle Smith is critic-at-large for National Review.