Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Supporting President Trump

Q.: What do all these headlines have in common?

CNN: Trump apologizes to Kavanaugh for sexual misconduct allegations during confirmation;
TIME: President Trump apologizes to Kavanaugh, says judge was 'proven innocent';
NBC News: Trump apologizes to Kavnaguh on 'behalf of ournation,' says judge 'roven innocent';
Fox News: President Trump apologizes to Brett Kavanaugh and his family at cremonial swearing-in as Supreme Court Justice;
Bloomberg: Trump apologizes to Kavanaugh and declares him 'proven innocent';
Politico:  Trump uses swearing-in ceremony to apologize to Kavanaugh;
Associated Press: Trump apologizes to Brett Kavanaugh 'on behalf of our nation' during ceremonial TV event;
New York Times (AP article): Trump apologizes to Kavanaugh during swearing-in ceremony.

A.: They all state that President Trump apologized to Brett Kavanaugh.... and they're all inaccurate.

(O.K., "Tiger Beat on the Potomac," Politico, doesn't count.)

Let Merriam-Webster explain that an "Apology usually applies to an expression of regret for a mistake or wrong with implied admission of guilt or fault and with or without reference to mitigating or extenuating circumstances."

President Trump did not admit guilt or fault. He couldn't have because he certainly was not responsible for the nominee having been criticized- or as he puts it, "tortured."  Kavanaugh was tortured by Democratic senators, over whom he has little control and no responsibility.

Donald Trump has apologized only once, and that was for the words on the Access Hollywood tape, an admission of a mistake he has since retracted at least twice by suggesting at least twice that the tape was "fake" or "doctored."

No one would deny that an apology is a good thing, and Trump benefits by headlines characterizing an attack on Democrats as an "apology." But an individual can apologize only for what he is directly, or at least in large measure, responsible. (That would include a minor child or possibly an employee for whom one is largely accountable.)  If your immediate neighbor slugs his neighbor on the other side, you can express regret to the second neighbor but you cannot apologize on behalf of the other, for you are not responsible for his behavior.

Members of the media probably are unaware that they are running interference for President Trump. They usually provide some context in the body of an article, invariably read predominantly by partisans, individuals who already have formed opinions of the President. Many, perhaps most, people read only the headline and even when they go further, may remember only the headline.

Reporters and editors may not like the President and if they have any sense- given Trump's continuing attack upon them- do not. However, headlines, as well as the photo-ops the President stages, give a favorable impression of him. 

It is, presumably, inadvertent. Nevertheless, the media has consistently promoted the Trump presidency, allowing themselves to be manipulated by a President whose frequent rallies demonstrate that every day is a campaign for him.

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