Regular viewers of ABC, NBC and CBS evening newscasts could be forgiven it they believe that every liberal despises President Donald Trump. According to the Media Research Center, a conservative media watchdog, the broadcast networks’ 2018 coverage of President Trump remained as hostile as that of the year before. MRC reports, “The tone of coverage remains incessantly hostile: 90 percent negative, vs. just 10 percent positive (excluding neutral statements), matching the historically bad press we documented in 2017.”
Trump-haters feast on three big supposed outrages.
First, they claim that Trump operates as Russian President Vladimir Putin’s lap dog. The president counters that he has “been FAR tougher on Russia than Obama, Bush or Clinton. Maybe tougher than any other President.” Second, on immigration, they accuse Trump of hatred and xenophobia. Trump argues that his position merely mirrors that of recent Democratic leadership. Third, they insist that Trump colluded, conspired or coordinated with Putin to win the presidential election. Trump angrily dismisses this investigation as a “witch hunt” and claims Special Counsel Robert Mueller lacks evidence that implicates him in some sort of “collusion.”
Most liberals completely dismiss Trump’s defenses. But not all liberals.
Trump and Putin
A July 2018 NPR “Morning Edition” broadcast called “Is Trump the Toughest Ever on Russia?” examined Trump’s assertion, “There’s never been a president as tough on Russia as I have been.” NPR largely agreed, “That might sound like hyperbole, but in this case, there’s actually some basis for the president’s boast.” Trump, said NPR, increased spending on the European Deterrence Initiative; sent lethal weapons to Ukraine (which President Barack Obama resisted doing); changed our military’s rules of engagement in Syria, which resulted in hundreds of dead Russian soldiers; pushed for greater domestic energy production, potentially harming Russian oil market share; and sanctioned dozens of Russian “oligarchs.” NPR quoted Daniel Vajdich, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, who said, “When you actually look at the substance of what this administration has done, not the rhetoric but the substance, this administration has been much tougher on Russia than any in the post-Cold War era.”
Trump on immigration
Peter Beinart, a liberal columnist at The Atlantic, has also written for Time magazine and the New York Times. In August 2017, he took fellow liberals to task for their complete turnaround on the issue of illegal immigration. In “How the Democrats Lost Their Way on Immigration: In the Past Decade, Liberals Have Avoided Inconvenient Truths About the Issue,” Beinart said liberals used to sound like Trump: “In 2006, a liberal columnist wrote that ‘immigration reduces the wages of domestic workers who compete with immigrants’ and that ‘the fiscal burden of low-wage immigrants is also pretty clear.’ His conclusion: ‘We’ll need to reduce the inflow of low-skill immigrants.’ That same year, a Democratic senator wrote: ‘When I see Mexican flags waved at pro-immigration demonstrations, I sometimes feel a flush of patriotic resentment. When I’m forced to use a translator to communicate with the guy fixing my car, I feel a certain frustration.’ … The columnist was (New York Times’) Paul Krugman. The senator was Barack Obama.”
Beinart said Democrats used to argue that illegals took jobs away from Americans and put downward pressure on Americans’ wages. But Democrats switched their position when political winds switched. “A larger explanation is political,” writes Beinart. “Between 2008 and 2016, Democrats became more and more confident that the country’s growing Latino population gave the party an electoral edge. To win the presidency, Democrats convinced themselves, they didn’t need to reassure white people skeptical of immigration so long as they turned out their Latino base.”
Trump and Russian ‘collusion’
T.A. Frank, who writes for Vanity Fair, is a self-described liberal. He recently warned “Trump haters” to brace themselves for a letdown when Mueller releases his report, because “those who hope for an unveiling of indictments linking Putin and Trump in a grand conspiracy have no more reason to celebrate than they did a week or a month ago.” As to Trump’s alleged softness toward Russia, Frank concurs with NPR. “Trump’s White House,” he wrote, “has pursued what is arguably the harshest set of policies toward Russia since the fall of communism.”
Frank, of course, acknowledged the guilty pleas of several Trump associates and has slammed them and Trump for their “sleazy” behavior. “But,” writes Frank, “the purpose of the investigation was to address suspicions of underlying conspiracy – that is, a plan by Trump staffers to get Russian help on a criminal effort. Despite countless man-hours of digging, this conspiracy theory, the one that’s been paying the bills at (“The Rachel Maddow Show”) for a couple of years now, has come no closer to being borne out.”
So, for those you did not vote for Trump and yet do not consider him a combination of Darth Vader, Adolf Hitler and Alfred E. Neuman, take comfort. You are not alone. At least, not completely alone.