On MSNBC’s AM Joy, Media Matters’ Eric Boehlert Calls Out The Fawning Coverage Of Trump's Syria Attack

Boehlert: “The Press Really Wants Him To Be Normal. They Really Want Him In Particular To Be Presidential, Because Then They Don't Have To Acknowledge How Radical He Is.”

From the April 8 edition of MSNBC's AM Joy:

JOY REID (HOST): That montage from Media Matters was just a small sampling of the media's fawning praise of Donald Trump's airstrikes in Syria.


Isn't the reality, going all the way back to the first Gulf War, which was the first time we saw embeds -- reporters who were put into the mission so that they almost felt like a part of it -- it is a way for an administration to get the media on their side, isn't it?

ERIC BOEHLERT: Yeah, there’s a long history of it. Ronald Reagan invading Grenada, the Panama with George Bush senior. These sort of small incursions that will, you know -- they're not massive employments of troops, but they'll grab the news cycle for four or five days, maybe a couple weeks. And so, you showed that clip of the first Gulf War, but it's really the second one that goes down in history, right? That was almost a two-year collapse of really what the media should do in the United States, which is tell the truth. That was really kind of a lap dog chapter in the American press. So, sure, if you drop bombs, you're going to get good press in the short term. And so we're already seeing this narrative from the White House kind of unraveling in terms of what was the outcome, you know, what did this accomplish? Was this airfield even destroyed or did they use it that night? So in the short term, yes. Long-term, you have to show that you've accomplished something, I think.


REID: You hit on a thing that is a sort of a bit of a pet peeve of mine, this idea of “Donald Trump became president.” This keeps happening, he keeps “becoming president” by doing things that approximate normal to people, right? And so what is this tick that people in this business have that they are desperate, almost, for Donald Trump to, quote, “become presidential” and to approximate normal? What is this about?

BOEHLERT: It's very important, and this is an ongoing crisis, almost, the press has. They are desperate to present him as normal. He's not. He's never going to be. They didn't have to pretend [Barack] Obama was presidential. or even presidents before that. This is unique to Trump. We saw it when he addressed Congress, right? This kind of very radical agenda, but the pundits liked the optics, they liked the language. “He became president,” “It was a pivot,” and things like that. So Trump does not operate the way any other president has in modern times or ever. But the press seems anxious to drag him into the mainstream.

So when there is a glimmer, when there is a glimpse of him doing something normal, they kind of pounce on it, right? So then the narrative is, he had this epiphany, right? He saw these images of these children, and sort of -- he was like this Grinch-type figure, right, and his heart grew three times in one day. And so that was the storyline. There is projection because that's how a president is supposed to act, so we're going to pretend Trump is normal. But it doesn't add up, right? Because we already know, he's not letting these Syrian refugees into the United States. So he hasn't had an epiphany. He used them -- he demonized them throughout the entire campaign. But the press really wants him to be normal. They really want him in particular to be presidential, because then they don't have to acknowledge how radical he is.


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