As I have made clear, I suspect the ONLY motivation at the White House for ordering air strikes against a Syrian airbase last week was to change the topic of news coverage which, other than chatter about the "nuclear option" to place Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court, was about Russiagate and the palace intrigues within the Trump regime. The stunt worked and most of the feckless media feel for it and granted Der Trumpenführer what he wanted. This is the same media, of course, which through its laziness and delusions over "balance" and false equivalence helped put Trump in the White House. It's disturbing that so many in the media are little better than Pavlov's dog. But, as an op-ed in the New York Times lays out, the problem extends far beyond coverage of last week's opportunistic air strikes. One has to wonder if and when journalists will wake up and get their heads out of their asses. Here are column excerpts:Does anyone still remember the Carrier deal? Back in December President-elect Donald Trump announced, triumphantly, that he had reached a deal with the air-conditioner manufacturer to keep 1,100 jobs in America rather than moving them to Mexico. And the media spent days celebrating the achievement.
Actually, the number of jobs involved was more like 700, but who’s counting? Around 75,000 U.S. workers are laid off or fired every working day, so a few hundred here or there hardly matter for the overall picture.
Whatever Mr. Trump did or didn’t achieve with Carrier, the real question was whether he would take steps to make a lasting difference.
So far, he hasn’t; there isn’t even the vague outline of a real Trumpist jobs policy. And corporations and investors seem to have decided that the Carrier deal was all show, no substance, that for all his protectionist rhetoric Mr. Trump is a paper tiger in practice. After pausing briefly, the ongoing move of manufacturing to Mexico has resumed, while the Mexican peso, whose value is a barometer of expected U.S. trade policy, has recovered almost all its post-November losses.
In other words, showy actions that win a news cycle or two are no substitute for actual, coherent policies. Indeed, their main lasting effect can be to squander a government’s credibility. Which brings us to last week’s missile strike on Syria.
The attack instantly transformed news coverage of the Trump administration. Suddenly stories about infighting and dysfunction were replaced with screaming headlines about the president’s toughness and footage of Tomahawk launches.
But outside its effect on the news cycle, how much did the strike actually accomplish? A few hours after the attack, Syrian warplanes were taking off from the same airfield, and airstrikes resumed on the town where use of poison gas provoked Mr. Trump into action. . . . To achieve any lasting result, Mr. Trump would have to get involved on a sustained basis in Syria.
So what have we learned from the Syria attack and its aftermath?
No, we haven’t learned that Mr. Trump is an effective leader. Ordering the U.S. military to fire off some missiles is easy. Doing so in a way that actually serves American interests is the hard part, and we’ve seen no indication whatsoever that Mr. Trump and his advisers have figured that part out.
One thing is certain: The media reaction to the Syria strike showed that many pundits and news organizations have learned nothing from past failures.
Mr. Trump may like to claim that the media are biased against him, but the truth is that they’ve bent over backward in his favor. They want to seem balanced, even when there is no balance; they have been desperate for excuses to ignore the dubious circumstances of his election and his erratic behavior in office, and start treating him as a normal president.
One might have expected that experience to serve as a lesson. But no: The U.S. fired off some missiles, and once again Mr. Trump “became president.” Aside from everything else, think about the incentives this creates. The Trump administration now knows that it can always crowd out reporting about its scandals and failures by bombing someone.
Real leadership means devising and carrying out sustained policies that make the world a better place. Publicity stunts may generate a few days of favorable media coverage, but they end up making America weaker, not stronger, because they show the world that we have a government that can’t follow through.
And has anyone seen a sign, any sign, that Mr. Trump is ready to provide real leadership in that sense? I haven’t.