By Jared E. Peterson
It would be challenging in the extreme to find a more telling example of major media corruption than the treatment of President-Elect Trump’s MLK Day meeting with Martin Luther King III, the slain civil rights leader’s son, a significant leadership figure in his own right in the black community.
As any even casual student of American media corruption knows, omitting the favorable, or limiting its coverage, is as effective in the service of personal destruction as featuring the negative. America’s solidly leftist corporate media ran true to form on MLK Day, Monday, January 16, 2017, almost completely ignoring the president-elect’s apparently amicable and positive meeting with MLK III.
The media’s near total blackout of the president-elect’s meeting on MLK Day with King’s eldest son – the mere fact of which would have been favorable to the president-elect – is reminiscent of the identical silent treatment accorded Trump’s enormously popular campaign speech at Gettysburg.
As reported by Daily Telegraph of January 16, 2017, Martin Luther King’s eldest son called his meeting with the president-elect “constructive” and, in conciliatory fashion, attributed Lewis’s words and the president-elect’s characteristically feisty response to the reality that “in the heat of emotion a lot of things get said on both sides.”
Reporters tried to prod the annoyingly uncooperative King into criticizing the president-elect or the president-elect’s comments about Lewis, but they got nowhere.
The meeting was obviously a triumph for the president-elect, showing at once his respect for Martin Luther King, Jr.; his desire for American unity; and his ability to favorably impress an important contemporary black leader.
But for all one might learn about it from major American media’s coverage, that meeting never took place.
In the early evening, EST, Monday, January 16, 2017, I reviewed the websites of CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Here are my unsurprising findings about major American media’s January 16, 2016 treatment of Trump’s meeting with King.
CNN: No mention at all. Both lead articles about the president-elect, of course, were negative.
CBS: No mention at all. Again, all the many articles on the president-elect featured at the home page were negative, most highly so.
ABC: The website’s January 16, 2017 lead article, complete with dramatic, eye-catching photo, was “Trump’s attack on Representative John Lewis spotlights tenuous relationship with African Americans.” But – wonder of wonders – buried three smaller headlines below that lead article is the headline “Martin Luther King III calls meeting with Trump ‘constructive.’”
Assuming that a reader chanced on that small headline, clicking on it brought up no article describing the meeting or quoting King’s favorable comments about it. Thus, ABC gave the meeting a headline but no actual reporting of it or of what the key participant said about it.
Washington Post: No mention at all.
New York Times: The Times’ website headlined with “As Trump era arrives, a sense of uncertainty grips the world.” Again, three articles deep below the headline, and in much smaller typeface, is an article titled “King’s son meets Trump amid tension over Lewis feud.” Clicking on that negative teaser brought up an article with the neutral headline, “With blacks alarmed by his tone Trump meets with Martin Luther King III.” Buried in the intensely negative editorial commentary that ran through the article were a couple of King’s obviously conciliatory comments.
So there you have it.
Of America’s three self-designated TV custodians of important, reliable, non-fake news, two – CBS and NBC – altogether ignored President-Elect Trump’s apparently positive meeting with Martin Luther King III on the national holiday honoring King’s father. The third, ABC, deigned to give the meeting a headline (well below its lead article) but no actual article, and no quotation or report of King’s amicable words about it – and, of course, no report of Mr. King’s dogged refusal to take reporters’ bait and criticize the president-elect.
On the print media front, America’s two self-designated premier newspapers equaled the performance of their electronic comrades: the Washington Post censored the meeting completely – to WaPo, like CBS and NBC, the president-elect’s meeting with Mr. King was an unevent. It did not happen. The New York Times was generous, giving the meeting a third-from-the-top, small-typeface headline that led into an article dripping contempt and oozing negative commentary and opinion.
Thus, a single day, an important newsworthy event in the life of the American political news cycle in dawning era of soon-to-be President Donald Trump, is consigned to the Memory Hole. None of this comes as a surprise to any close observer of the American political scene circa 2017. But occasional reviews like this are still useful.
They serve as a reminder that any thought that major American media might accord President-Elect Trump so much as quasi-even-handed coverage for even a short period is the triumph of hope over experience. The same media that was openly, unapologetically committed to destroying Trump’s candidacy is even more intensely committed to destroying his presidency.
The Trump administration should remain as open and transparent as the security of the nation allows – but that openness and transparency can be achieved only by expanding the organizations and individuals with access to, and therefore an informational basis for, honestly reporting the news. It cannot be achieved, as in the past, by according undeserved favored access to a corrupt establishment media that has elevated to fine art the distortion and, where necessary, concealment of major news stories.
CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, WaPo, and the NYT have all earned good seats in the apparently soon to be larger White House press room – near the distant entrances, far from the podium, behind the pillars, out of shouting distance.