A New York Daily News headline published October 30, 1975, is one of the most famous headlines in modern journalism.
The headline did not quote President Gerald Ford, but it editorialized exactly what the Daily News wanted to convey.
The headline read: “Ford to City: Drop Dead“.
The succinct reference was explained by writer Frank Van Riper in his opening Daily News paragraph: “President Ford declared flatly today that he would veto any bill calling for ‘a federal bail-out of New York City’ and instead proposed legislation that would make it easier for the city to go into bankruptcy.”
Van Riper’s second paragraph from 1975, conveyed more of Ford’s distress over the city: “In a speech before the National Press Club, Ford coupled repeated attacks on the city’s fiscal management with a promise that, if default came, the federal government would see to it that ‘essential public services for the people of New York City’ would be maintained”.
President Ford was not dismissing the people of New York. He was dissing their political leadership.
The headline on this posting (above) does not quote former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich. It is intended, rather, in the spirit of the New York Daily News, to convey Reich’s meaning.
What provoked Reich and led to his counsel, was Donald Trump’s final 2016 tweet: “Happy New Year to all, including to my many enemies and those who have fought me and lost so badly they just don’t know what to do. Love!”
Robert Reich explains why that Trump tweet is so dangerous and so wrong:
The man who is about to become President of the United States continues to exhibit a mean-spirited, thin-skinned, narcissistic and vindictive character [who] sees the world in terms of personal wins or losses, enemies or friends, supporters or critics.
Reich’s closing word to Trump was his hope that the president-elect would simply “grow up” and discover the missing maturity of an adult soon to be president. Reich wrote:
You have 20 days in which to learn how to act as a president. All of us – even those who oppose your policies and worry about your character – sincerely hope you do.
Based on Trump’s compulsive adolescent tweeting and his crony-inspired cabinet choices, Reich’s counsel is badly-needed. Unfortunately, everything we have heard or seen from president-elect Trump assures us the counsel will be rejected.
The man we elected as our next president is a former TV reality-show rich guy who defeated 15 Republican wanna-be presidential candidates, and then outran his establishment-blessed Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton, to become the 45th president of the United States.
Trump’s long-running gig for TV’s The Celebrity Apprentice, is no longer available. It has been filled by another larger-than-life personality, twice-elected California governor and international movie superstar Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Trump’s old reality show even has a new name. Starting with the 2017 season premier that aired on Fox Monday night, the new name is, get ready for the drumroll, folks: The New Celebrity Apprentice.
In any case, these days Donald Trump is too busy for TV reality shows. He is busy both with his compulsive tweets, and the construction of his cabinet.
The Democratic Party poo-bahs promise to examine Trump’s choice closely before they allow Senate confirmations.,
If he loses a few of his Cabinet preferences, Trump has a deep bench of wealthy moguls and Republicans he considers Trumpites, to bring into the game.
He will need his bench. The Boston Globe reports that Democratic Senate Minority leader, Chuck Schumer (NY), has notified Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Majority leader, that the Democrats will zero in on at least eight of Trump’s proposed cabinet appointees (bold face type added), listed by The Boston Globe.
Rex Tillerson, Trump’s choice for secretary of state; current Senator Jeff Sessions, an Alabama Republican who’s Trump’s choice for attorney general; Representative Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican tapped to lead the Office of Management and Budget; and Betsy DeVos, set to serve as education secretary.
Additional names expected to be under pressure from Schumer’s forces include: Representative Tom Price of Georgia, Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Health and Human Services and oversee changes to Obamacare. He will be attacked by Democrats for his support for privatizing Medicare.
Andrew Puzder, a restaurant executive set to serve as labor secretary, will face scrutiny for past comments on the minimum wage, among other policies. Also on the Democrats’s close-watch list are Steve Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs partner set to serve as treasury secretary, and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to lead the EPA.
Senator Schumer fired the first shot in the confirmation battle when he reported the Senate Democrats’ plans:
President-elect Trump is attempting to fill his rigged cabinet with nominees that would break key campaign promises and have made billions off the industries they’d be tasked with regulating/
Any attempt by Republicans to have a series of rushed, truncated hearings before Inauguration Day and before the Congress and public have adequate information on all of them is something Democrats will vehemently resist. If Republicans think they can quickly jam through a whole slate of nominees without a fair hearing process, they’re sorely mistaken.
Not on the Democratic hit list are retired Marine General James N. Mattis, set to serve as defense secretary; Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina, who Trump has nominated to serve as ambassador to the United Nations; and John Kelly, a former Marine general and Trump’s selection to lead the Department of Homeland Security.
On Sunday, the president-elect received what he should feel is the “good news” that his proclivity to reshape the truth to suit his purposes, was granted a free pass by one major news outlet, the conservative Wall Street Journal.
In an appearance on Meet the Press, the WSJ editor-in-chief Gerard Baker, said his paper has a strong desire to maintain what he described as “objectivity”.
The Informed Comment website quoted Baker as saying, “The Wall Street Journal would not call a lie a lie if it was told by President-elect Donald Trump”
Politico has more on the Baker comments:
Wall Street Journal editor Gerard Baker said that despite the fact Trump often makes “questionable” and “challengeable” statements, he’s instructed his staff to keep their social media postings straight laced in order to maintain the trust of the readers.
Asked by host Chuck Todd whether he’d be willing to call out a falsehood as a “lie” like some other news outlets have done, Baker demurred, saying it was up to the newspaper to just present the set of facts and let the reader determine how to classify a statement.
“I’d be careful about using the word, ‘lie.’ ‘Lie’ implies much more than just saying something that’s false. It implies a deliberate intent to mislead,” Baker said, noting that when Trump claimed “thousands” of Muslims were celebrating on rooftops in New Jersey on 9/11, the Journal investigated and reported that they found no evidence of a claim.
“I think it’s then up to the reader to make up their own mind to say, ‘This is what Donald Trump says. This is what a reliable, trustworthy news organization reports. And you know what? I don’t think that’s true.’ I think if you start ascribing a moral intent, as it were, to someone by saying that they’ve lied, I think you run the risk that you look like you are, like you’re not being objective,” he said.
Wrong, dead wrong. Handing Donald Trump unchecked freedom to say things that are not true, is irresponsible journalism.
Media alert: Our new President must not be allowed to get away with saying, “the dog ate my homework”.