A Tale of Two First Couples’ Affections

Negative coverage of President Trump has become as predictable as sunrise and sunset. Confirmed by a recent Harvard study showing 80 to 90 percent negative coverage from big media of Trump’s first hundred days. Typical Trump-bashing topics include Russia, James Comey, White House staff and Trump’s personal fitness for office.

These hackneyed topics are a news story to nowhere. Fake news contradicted within a day, typically based on “anonymous sources”, followed by the punch line buried deep in the story saying, “there is no evidence.”

Don’t take my word for it. “Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the mainstream press is full of fake news” according to a recent Harvard-Harris poll. Not just Trump supporters or conservatives, but across the political spectrum, including 53 percent of Democrats.

Much of the focus of fake news is the ongoing soap opera of supposed Trump-Russia collusion. Everyone in the know says there is no evidence, despite a year of investigation. Sometimes for a change of pace the media focuses on the arcane. Personal characteristics of President Trump that are somehow newsworthy, relevant enough to be discussed by a political panel on CNN.

First there was Trump eating steak, cooked well done, with ketchup. In my mind that is the only high crime Trump is guilty of thus far in his presidency. Not quite to the threshold for impeachment, but close. And worthy of a Washington Post article.

CNN joined the chorus with a story about Trump getting 2 scoops of ice cream with his chocolate pie while his guests get only 1 scoop. Underlying the story was that Trump is a selfish pig, demanding special treatment for himself while shortchanging his guests. The same CNN gushed over Obama taking his family and friends for shave ice in Hawaii. No word from CNN on how many scoops the former president ordered for himself.

The latest nonsensical story involved Trump’s recent overseas trip. Rather than focusing on the historic nature of his trip, where he visited, who he addressed, and what he said, we are treated to stories of orbs, veils and handholding. One of the more interesting and absurd stories is whether the First Lady swatted the President’s hand away when he attempted to hold her hand after arriving in Israel.

Johnny on the spot CNN called it “the swat heard round the world.” Complete with multiple photos and slow motion video, followed by detailed analysis from their political panels. Could it be a “brief moment of acrimony between the two” as CNN opined? The Daily Beast was a bit harsher, telling readers what this gesture really meant, “Melania’s swat proves she hates Donald just as much as America does.” Yep. America hates Trump so much they elected him president. And would do so again if there was an election rematch.

Would the fake stream media have said the same about Barack and Michelle Obama? No answer needed.

As an example, how did the left-leaning New York Daily News cover two different First Couple affections?

Flash back to 2008 when Barack Obama secured the Democratic Party nomination. He and Michelle exchanged a fist bump. The Daily News headline was giddy, “Barack and Michelle Obama's 'fist bump of hope' shows them silly in love.” The newspaper described it as “short, but sweet”, an “affectionate 11-second exchange”, that “emphasized Obama's youth and ability to transcend the stereotyped political gestures of campaigns past.” How sweet. How magical. Hope and change.

Flash forward to last week. Instead of a fist bump, Donald and Melania Trump exchanged a “low five”, which according to the Urban Dictionary, is a “celebratory gesture made by two people, slapping each other's lowered hands.” Not a first for Trump. He did much the same with low-energy Jeb during the presidential debates.

How did the Daily News cover Donald and Melania’s low five? With a much different headline than they gave the Obamas. “Melania slaps away President Trump’s hand on Tel Aviv tarmac at start of Israel trip.” Going further they describe it as, “the slap seen ‘round the world.” It was “a rebuff” because “his wife of 12 years didn’t comply with the unspoken command — and slapped his hand away instead.” Unspoken is that Trump is a cad, a pig, a misogynist, a bully.

Good thing the Trumps didn’t exchange a fist bump as did the Obamas. What might the Daily News headlines have been? “Wife-beater Trump tries to punch Melania.” Or “First couple get in a fist fight on their first overseas trip.”

The Australian news took it a step further with their headline, “Melania Trump is not even pretending she’s into this First Lady gig”, knowing for certain that “this is not what she signed up for”, bemoaning “her life shifted from long lunches and day spa visits in Manhattan to a fulltime position as a plus one.” Really? Did they ask her? Would they have ever said this about Michelle Obama? Or Hillary Clinton when she was First Lady?

Instead ask those who know the Trumps. Rather than painting Melania as a forlorn Princess Di, a close friend of Melania confirms that she is "enjoying her life and new role." That the First Couple "are very happy" and that "their relationship is great."

But that doesn’t fit the media narrative. The Democrat president is hip and cool. The Republican president is a troglodyte. 

Alternatively, one can look to one of the more credible news sources, TMZ, which showed the First Couple holding hands in the Sistine Chapel. I doubt CNN will have a political panel discussing this photo.

Is it any wonder Americans are tuning out the network and cable news shows and not reading newspapers? An echo chamber of predictable and fake news stories which two-thirds of Americans acknowledge as bogus. The drumbeat damages America and creates a “boy who cried wolf” effect for the media. Someday they will have important and real news to report, which will immediately be discounted as more fake news.

If President Trump can take a break from Twitter, as he has during most his overseas trip, we should take a similar break from network and cable news. Rather than listening to endless discussion of First Couple handholding or presidential handshakes and shoves. 


Brian C Joondeph, MD, MPS, a Denver based physician and writer. Follow him on Facebook,  LinkedIn and Twitter.


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