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Media vs. Trump, round 3: 'Mainstream' press mocks, attacks former president for announcing 2024 run

Prominent outlets continue to portray Trump as an authoritarian and insurrectionist, or they deploy mockery to dismiss him.

Published: November 16, 2022 7:57pm

Updated: November 16, 2022 11:04pm

The mainstream press doubled down on its efforts to paint former President Donald Trump as a threat to democracy after he announced his 2024 presidential bid Tuesday night, setting the stage for another slugfest between the corporate media establishment and the business magnate-turned-politician they love to hate.

For years, prominent media outlets have portrayed Trump as an authoritarian danger to the country, especially since the Jan. 6 Capitol riot. Many of the same journalists echoed that sentiment while covering Trump's campaign launch.

NPR, for example, tweeted, "Donald Trump, who tried to overthrow the results of the 2020 presidential election and inspired a deadly riot at the Capitol in a desperate attempt to keep himself in power, has filed to run for president again in 2024."

The actual news article similarly slammed Trump as "radioactive," blaming him for Republicans' disappointing performance in last week's midterm elections.

"Trump is launching another run for president and falsely claiming his candidates did well, despite the evidence that his brand and his style of politics have proven radioactive in competitive states and districts for multiple election cycles in a row now," NPR wrote in its news report. "Trump made his false narrative of a stolen [2020] election something of a litmus test for those he would endorse in these midterms. They bought in, were boosted in primaries and many lost in the general election, giving seats to Democrats that might have been won by non-election-denying Republicans."

The Washington Post, meanwhile, referred to Trump as an insurrectionist in the headline of its featured story on Trump's announcement.

"Trump, who as president fomented an insurrection, says he is running again," read the headline. The report began: "Donald Trump, the twice-impeached former president who refused to concede defeat and inspired a failed attempt to overturn the 2020 election culminating in a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol, officially declared on Tuesday night that he is running to retake the White House in 2024."

The Post's one-sentence tweet similarly described Trump, again referring to him as "twice-impeached" while adding he was "the subject of multiple criminal investigations."

HuffPost wrote in its headline and tweet that the former president is under criminal investigation and attempted a coup. The outlet's White House correspondent, S.V. Date, added on Twitter that Trump is "the only U.S. president to have attempted a coup to remain in power" but "nevertheless" is seeking the White House once again.

Despite such efforts to paint Trump as a danger to democracy, recent polling found that nearly as many Americans view President Joe Biden as an authoritarian threat as they do Trump, while also finding that even more Americans view the mainstream media itself as a threat to democracy.

Still, CNN's website referred to Trump's speech as "misinformation-laced" without elaborating. On the CNN television channel, meanwhile, one-time Trump White House official and current network commentator Alyssa Farah Griffin described Trump as a "man who after losing the election tried to overthrow the government, tried to disenfranchise 80 million voters and then incited an insurrection at the Capitol."

CNN also "fact-checked" Trump's announcement, tallying the number of alleged "false claims" made by the 45th president.

The network was hardly alone. Other prominent outlets, such as the New York Times, deployed their own Trump fact-checkers — a media staple when he was in office.

The Times, for example, deemed Trump's claim that his border wall helped stop the inflow of drugs and illegal immigration as "false," going on to seemingly argue that greater border security doesn't necessarily lead to less drugs and immigration. Just the News has reported on the historic surge in border crossings under the Biden administration compared to the Trump administration.

Much of the media's straight news coverage of Trump launching his campaign appeared to delve into commentary, echoing popular Democrat talking points about the former president.

"Since making his official announcement, Trump has quickly fallen back into one of his typical speeches, full of false statements, inflammatory discussion of immigration and crime, and nods to right-wing culture-war issues," wrote New York Times reporter Maggie Astor. "There is very little new here."

However, it wasn't just news outlets traditionally hostile to Trump that bashed him. The right-leaning New York Post, for example, buried Trump's campaign launch on page 26 while using the derisive front-page headline: "Florida man makes announcement."

The brief article, attributed to Post staff, was full of sarcasm, referring to Trump as a "Florida retiree" and an "avid golfer."

"With just 720 days to go before the next election, a Florida retiree made the surprise announcement that he was running for president," the sarcastic piece began. "In a move no political pundit saw coming, avid golfer Donald J. Trump kicked things off at Mar-a-Lago, his resort and classified-documents library.

"Trump, famous for gold-plated lobbies and for firing people on reality television, will be 78 in 2024. His cholesterol levels are unknown, but his favorite food is charred steak with ketchup."

The owner of the Post, billionaire Rupert Murdoch, reportedly said that his media empire, which includes Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, won't back Trump for president.

In recent days, the Post has published several stories critical of and mocking Trump, claiming he "sabotaged" the midterm elections for Republicans.

On television, meanwhile, the broadcast networks — ABC, NBC, and CBS — ignored Trump's announcement and stuck to their regular entertainment programming. Fox News and CNN, meanwhile, aired much of the speech but not all of it. MSNBC didn't show any portion live.

Moving forward, it remains to be seen whether news outlets will extensively cover Trump's campaign events, live rallies, press conferences, and on-camera interviews as they have in the past.

Democrats and progressives have been pressuring press outlets to ignore Trump, believing he benefited in the past from free media exposure. On Tuesday, CNN stopped airing Trump's campaign announcement live, cutting to analysis and "fact checking," after a staffer for the left-wing news-monitoring group Media Matters called out the network on Twitter for airing it.

It's unclear whether CNN's decision had anything to do with Media Matters' criticism.

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