Roger L. Simon

Transition: The Mainstream Media Does Its Duty—or Not

The mainstream media — whose biased reporting during the 2016 presidential election will be the subject, one imagines, of numerous books — is still trying to justify that bias during the transition to the Trump administration.

Two current memes are the sleazy claims of anti-Semitism against Stephen Bannon and the seemingly more serious allegations that said transition, only just over a week old, is badly disorganized and fraught with infighting.

Just one of many examples of the latter is this morning’s dispatch from Bloomberg: “The news about key contenders for Cabinet positions in the future Trump administration came after the transition team gave its first detailed update on Wednesday night amid reports of infighting and disorganization.”

If you say so.

On a newly instituted daily press phone briefing regarding the transition Thursday morning,  Trump communications advisor Jason Miller and RNC strategist Sean Spicer seemed to me anything but disorganized or indicative of a particularly high degree of infighting, but what I do I know?

For that matter, what does anybody else really know?  Common sense dictates that the types of people who aspire to great power in our (or any) society would be jockeying for positions at a time like this.  That’s essentially “dog bites man,” but our press is easily willing to abandon such a hoary watchword of reporting for any possible reason to denigrate the man who so deceived them by actually getting elected.

The comic version of all this was the chorus of complaints when Trump snuck out of his Tower without telling the media for dinner with his family at 21. One wag on television insisted the reason this was so dangerous was that no one would know where to find him in case of another 9/11, as if Donald didn’t have the most recognizable face of the planet now that Michael Jackson has expired. (The patrons of the restaurant gave him a standing-o on his arrival.) More to the point, Barack Obama is still president in case of a disaster and easily found, one assumes, at the Acropolis or in Peru or somewhere.

Although a good start and worth holding, this first daily briefing was not especially revelatory if you have been paying attention. It mainly consisted of the names — already, for the most part, publicly available — of those who would be meeting with Trump in the next day or so or have met with him.  Some of these people are potential cabinet members and others, like Henry Kissinger, at this point hors de combat but on the short list of grey eminences normally consulted.

Many of these cabinet positions — State, Defense, attorney general — have been discussed ad infinitum in the press, but one that seems to have been relatively ignored — Education secretary — may ultimately be the most important.  For some time now, the U.S. has been spending close to the most per student of any nation while getting, for a first-world country, some of the worst results.  Why? When watching what is going on on our streets and campuses right now — this revolt of the “snowflakes” — we might be getting a clue.  What our kids have been receiving is too often indoctrination, not education. Nothing could be more perilous for our future.

One candidate for Education secretary reported to have met with Trump was fellow New Yorker Eva Moskowitz. Though a Democrat, Ms. Moskowitz wandered off the reservation of her party as a strong advocate for charter schools and school choice. According to the AP, she took herself out of the running, but other candidates like Michelle Rhee and Jeanne Allen have similar views.  If Trump, with the help of one of these women, revitalizes our moribund educational system, he will have achieved changes of lasting significance.

If there is one area where there has been some — in this case very positive — disruption in the transition  it is the ejection of lobbyists from the team, many associated with Chris Christie.  Trump pledged in his Gettysburg speech to disconnect lobbying from public service, promising a five-year ban on such activity after serving.  This ban would be permanent when associated with foreign countries.  On this one, so far, the president-elect seems to be following through.

A final press claim that Trump was ignoring foreign leaders seems particularly absurd.  As of midday Wednesday, he or vice-president-elect Pence had spoken with twenty-nine, including the twin powerhouses Putin and Xi-Jinping.  Tonight Trump has his first face-to-face meeting with a leader – Japan’s Shinzo Abe.

Despite the press disinformation, these people are indeed moving quickly, possibly quicker than any recent administration. An indication: the phone briefing I was on will continue Saturday and Sunday.  There goes the weekend!

UPDATE: Writing quickly, another important point I omitted that was discussed on the phone call is that Trump is initiating “landing teams” in key areas like national security to work with the current administration to facilitate a smooth transition.  This is clearly a good and organized idea, very businesslike.  More here.

Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of PJ Media.  His latest book is I Know Best:  How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If  It Hasn’t Already.