Trump, Streep, the press and the people

After Meryl Streep criticised Donald Trump (without naming him) in her Golden Globe speech there has been a big response in media and online, including from Trump on Twitter.

Streep’s speech refers to debunked claims made by Trump during the presidential campaign:

I watched when the World Trade Center came tumbling down. And I watched in Jersey City, New Jersey, where thousands and thousands of people were cheering as that building was coming down. Thousands of people were cheering.

He followed that up on on This Week with George Stephanopoulos:

There were people that were cheering on the other side of New Jersey, where you have large Arab populations. They were cheering as the World Trade Center came down. I know it might be not politically correct for you to talk about it, but there were people cheering as that building came down — as those buildings came down. And that tells you something. It was well covered at the time, George. Now, I know they don’t like to talk about it, but it was well covered at the time. There were people over in New Jersey that were watching it, a heavy Arab population, that were cheering as the buildings came down. Not good.

Trump tried to substantiate his claim by citing an article by Washington Post reporter Serge Kovaleski which said:

In Jersey City, within hours of two jetliners’ plowing into the World Trade Center, law enforcement authorities detained and questioned a number of people who were allegedly seen celebrating the attacks and holding tailgate-style parties on rooftops while they watched the devastation on the other side of the river.

Kovaleski pointed out that there were never any reports (substantiated or unsubstantiated) of “thousands” or even “hundreds” of people celebrating the 9/11 attacks in New York or New Jersey.

Trump responded in a campaign meeting by mocking Kovaleski, who is physically disabled.

This created controversy, and Trump responded to that with more blatant bull:

I have no idea who this reporter, Serge Kovalski [sic], is, what he looks like or his level of intelligence.

Despite having one of the all-time great memories, I certainly do not remember him.

I merely mimicked what I thought would be a flustered reporter trying to get out of a statement he made long ago.

If Mr. Kovaleski is handicapped, I would not know because I do not know what he looks like. If I did know, I would definitely not say anything about his appearance.

Trump obviously mimicked Kovaleski and admits “I merely mimicked”, so contradicts himself.

Kovalski says he talked to and interviewed Trump numerous times in the past.

Donald and I were on a first-name basis for years. I’ve interviewed him in his office. I’ve talked to him at press conferences. All in all, I would say around a dozen times, I’ve interacted with him as a reporter while I was at The Daily News.

So “one of the all-time great memories” cannot be trusted.

Streep in her speech at the Golden Globes this week:

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

Trump has responded to this in typical fashion via Twitter:

Meryl Streep, one of the most over-rated actresses in Hollywood, doesn’t know me but attacked last night at the Golden Globes. She is a Hillary flunky who lost big.

For the 100th time, I never “mocked” a disabled reporter (would never do that) but simply showed him “groveling” when he totally changed a 16 year old story that he had written in order to make me look bad. Just more very dishonest media!

Also typical is Trump’s tactic of blaming others for what he does, being very dishonest.

Trump has even flip flopped on his opinion of Streep. In an interview with The Hollywood reporter in 2015, asked if there were any actresses in particular he loved, he said:

“Julia Roberts is terrific, and many others. Meryl Streep is excellent; she’s a fine person, too.”

The difference now is that Streep criticised trump, something he seems intolerant of, and as Streep said he uses his power to attack those who criticise him. This doesn’t bode well for the presidency.

In a New York Times editorial: Streep vs. Trump for America

Trump’s psyche is no great riddle. He’s a study in neediness. Adulation is what he craves; admonishment he cannot abide. Trafficking in untruths and conspiracies, he calls the press that he secretly venerates dishonest for pointing this out. That’s called transference.

Soon he will have at his disposal far more potent weapons than Twitter to assuage his irascibility and channel his cruelty. It is doubtful that he will resist them over time. There is rational cause for serious alarm. If the world was anchored by America, it is about to be unmoored.

Yes, there is rational cause for alarm at how Trump behaves. But Trump is still strongly supported and lauded.

Meghan McCain, a conservative commentator and daughter of Senator John McCain, tweeted that, “This Meryl Streep speech is why Trump won. And if people in Hollywood don’t start recognizing why and how — you will get him re-elected.”

Trump is not an unclothed emperor – he openly flaunts his clothes and his fans adore his facade. They don’t want truth or honesty, they want to hear what he says.

And Trump delivers what they want to hear. How much is deliberate dis-ingenuity and dishonesty, and how much is ego driven ignorance, it is difficult to know.

What is easy to know is that Trump can’t be trusted. Despite his ongoing dishonesty and abuse of power that seems to be exactly what many people like about him.

It’s hard to see how this will end well.

This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage.That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution.

The state of the press may be as big a problem as Trump, who would not be president-elect without the extensive free publicity and promotion given to him by the press.

Both politics and the media are badly broken in the US, and it will be very difficult for them to extricate themselves from the mess. Blaming Russia ignores their own serious shortcomings.

And ‘the people’ are the ones who have enabled all of this. They voted for Trump (or at least enough of them to get him elected).

They seek news that suits their views.

They avoid paying for news.

They are willingly baited and click to reinforce the dumbing down of the news.

And they don’t care about dishonest and bullshit as long as it reinforces their prejudices.

Meryl Streep’s Golden Globes speech

Meryl Streep’s speech at the Golden Globes, after receiving a lifetime achievement award (which is deserved, she’s a top actor) is getting some praise:

“When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.”

“We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage”

 

UPDATE: Transcript of the key parts of Streep’s speech:

There was one performance this year that stunned me. It sank its hooks in my heart. Not because it was good. There was nothing good about it. But it was effective and it did its job. It made its intended audience laugh and show their teeth.

It was that moment when the person asking to sit in the most respected seat in our country imitated a disabled reporter, someone he outranked in privilege, power, and the capacity to fight back. It kind of broke my heart when I saw it. I still can’t get it out of my head because it wasn’t in a movie. It was real life.

And this instinct to humiliate, when it’s modelled by someone in the public platform, by someone powerful, it filters down into everybody’s life, because it kind of gives permission for other people to do the same thing. Disrespect invites disrespect. Violence incites violence. When the powerful use their position to bully others, we all lose.

This brings me to the press. We need the principled press to hold power to account, to call them on the carpet for every outrage.That’s why our founders enshrined the press and its freedoms in our constitution.

So I only ask the famously well-heeled Hollywood Foreign Press and all of us in our community to join me in supporting the committee to protect journalists. Because we’re going to need them going forward. And they’ll need us to safeguard the truth.

I really don’t see why that is being criticised.