George W. Bush offered some (rather mild) criticism of President Trump on Monday when he sat down for an interview with NBC’s Today Show. While Bush’s comments inspired a million raging headlines that made it sound like he’s getting ready to don a pin hat and lead THE RESISTANCE, the former president was almost painfully diplomatic when Matt Lauer questioned him on Trump.
For instance, his answer when Lauer asked him about Trump’s war with the press:
“I consider the media to be indispensable to democracy. We need the media to hold people like me to account. Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power, whether it be here or elsewhere.”
Headlines around the internet made it sound like Bush was laying into Trump with this answer, but that’s because they’re trying to play martyr. Trump himself has praised the First Amendment and has gone out of his way to affirm the media’s role in U.S. politics. What he has taken exception to are not “bad stories” so much as “false stories.” And for as hard as the media was on Bush 43, it’s nothing compared to the whirlwind of knives being thrown at Trump. And to his credit, Bush acknowledged that in the interview.
“I think you have to take the man for his word that he wants to unify the country, and we’ll see whether he’s able to do so,” Bush said. “It’s hard to unify the country with the news media being so split up. When I was president, you mattered a lot more because there was like three of you and now there’s all kinds of information being bombarded out and people can say things anonymously. It’s just a different world.”
Even for all that, though, let’s not forget how thoroughly the American media trashed Bush. They would like us to, no doubt, because it lets them pretend that Trump is a unique and unprecedented danger to the United States. But if you really think back, you might remember the Michael Moores and the Keith Olbermanns of the world were saying the same things back then that they’re saying now. Then, as now, the Republican president was characterized simultaneously as a bumbling moron and a profoundly evil mastermind. Then, as now, the hysterical media told us that America was becoming a laughingstock to the world thanks to the actions of the president.
George W. Bush may not see eye to eye with Donald Trump, but we doubt he’s forgotten how the media misrepresented him to the public. He held his tongue then and he holds it now, because that’s just the kind of classy guy that he is. We respect that.
But then again, maybe if Bush had been a little more forceful in defending his administration against biased, liberal news, our country could have been spared the Obama years.
In any event, conservative America has tried to do things the classy Bush way for decades. Now we’re trying something new. Maybe this won’t work either…but so far things are looking pretty damn good. Trump is in the White House and the news media is playing defense more than ever before. We’re already beginning to see a balance that has been missing for a long time – not because the media’s “trying to be fair,” but because this president is going to make them justify every word they print. If that’s called “attacking the First Amendment,” then maybe it’s the media – not Trump – that has a strange interpretation of what “freedom of the press” actually means.