Friday, November 10, 2017

Trump vs. Obama -- Who Got Treated More Unfairly?

It's an article of faith for the Trump-supporters that The Donald has been treated way, way worse than anyone else--especially Obama. The corollary to this in This-Is-How-You-Get-Trump country is that Romney (and maybe McCain) were so demonized by the liberal press that the media's scorched-earth attack on them (Romney gave someone cancer! BINDERS OF WOMEN!) meant that the only reasonable alternative was, of course Trump.

In other words: attack an honorable man like Romney, you'll be responsible when voters elect a dishonorable guy like Trump.

The Omnivore is here to tell you this is all bullshit. Of course you won't believe The Omnivore--and you won't read the argument carefully enough to make a cogent rebuttal--but you get to look at it anyway. The Omnivore is generous like that.

Who Got It Worse--And How Would We Tell?

This is a harder question than it might first appear. There are a number of different dimensions on how presidents are treated and we need to consider them. The Omnivore avers that these are (more or less):

  1. News Reporting - Is the media's news about the president generally good or bad?
  2. Entertainment Response - How does the American entertainment system view the president?
  3. Partisan Media - What does partisan media say about the president? How far off the "center" do they push the narrative?
  4. Populace Hatred / Violence / Vitriol - What do non-media voices and actions think about the president?

1. News Reporting

We are 1 year into Trump's tenure and it is certain that his news reporting has been worse than Obama's. Of course he's also had a far worse first year than Obama did.  For example: despite controlling every branch of government (if you include a majority of conservatives on SCOTUS) the Trump administration has been:
  • Unable to repeal Obamacare
  • Unable to start the wall and make Mexico pay for it
There's, of course, a lot more to the story--but suffice it to say that Trump's problems with the Republican Agenda are not the media's fault. They're not even the Democrat's fault. If you think that Obama's first year should have been factually reported as negatively as Trump's, you're crazy.

Loser: Trump - He did get reported worse, but he worked hard to earn it.

Let's look a little deeper: What about false stories? A major contention of Trump-supporters is that the MSM, out to get Trump, makes up stories and reports falsehoods. They can list them--greedily--ticking them off: The FISH FEEDING STORY!! The LEAKS THAT TURNED OUT TO BE FAKE! THE TRUTH ABOUT PHOENIX SPEECH TURN-OUT, CNN HAD TO FIRE PEOPLE, and so on.

It is true that: (a) The media, composed of educated liberals is demographically definitely opposed to Trump and (b) that some of the reporting has been false. It is true that there is a "rush to get Trump" that didn't exist for Obama.

So Trump gets it worse there. Is that the whole story? Not . . . exactly.

First things first: major media outlets do not as a matter of operational accord just make up stories. They don't "make up" anonymous sources. Malfeasance can happen anywhere--but by and large the (multitude) of stories appearing daily in the MSM are based on sound journalistic practice.

So what's going on with Trump beyond the fact that they don't like him? Well, Trump contributes to chaos in news around him in a way that Obama did not. Huh? The Omnivore is just being partisan again? Okay--tell The Omnivore which of these you disagree with:
  1. Trump's "palace intrigue" levels are off the charts. Obama had some major staff fluctuations but was comparatively super-sedate. This creates leaks from Trump's people--which are going to contribute to false stories or, at least, some awful-sounding but hard to verify ones.
  2. Trump and Obama both sparred with the press--but Trump outright lies to them (or has his press secretary lie to them)--in over-the-top, trivial / petty ways that Obama did not. This is going to create more tension than Obama did. This doesn't excuse bad behavior or bad reporting--but it can take a chaotic situation and make it worse.
  3. Trump is a bigger news generator than Obama. Plainly. More news, more mistakes.
  4. Trump, perhaps, has the Intelligence Community against him. Obama did not. This may well be Trump's own doing (to hear ex-IC people tell it, anyway).
  5. Trump, being a political novice in a way Obama wasn't, has come into the White House in a whirl of scandal (Flynn resignation, firing Comey and Sessions rescuing himself), and so on. This, again, doesn't excuse false stories--but it is going to create chaos in reporting in a way that is, again, self-inflicted.
So let's look at some of the blown stories:
  • Rosenstein Threatened To Quit: WaPo reports someone said he did. He denies it. Assessment: probably not fake reporting, might be wrong though. This isn't specifically about Trump. NOT #fakenews.
  • Comey Resource Request: NYT reported that Comey had asked the DoJ for more resources. When Comey's deputy got to congress he denied they were needed. Observers noted that the FBI had to wait a long time for a DAG to be confirmed to help oversee the probe from the DoJ. Not specifically about Trump. POSSIBLY #fakenews.
  • CNN Claims Trump Is Under Investigation: Jeff Toobin claimed that Trump was under investigation. He wasn't--not specifically. BUT: this was not a reported news story. It was a talking head legal analyst who got his facts wrong. NOT #fakenews.
  • CNN Connected Grand Jury Subpoenas to Comey's Firing: Subpoenas were issued to Flynn about business records in the Russia case. CNN said 'they learned of the subpoenas hours before Trump fired Comey'--this makes it sound like it's connected. They weren't. This is a gray-zone (the reporting is correct--and is a scoop--but it casts the president in a bad light). We'll call this a case of bias-in-the-news but it is NOT #fakenews.
  • CNN Reports Scarmucci Linked to Russian Bank Under Senate Investigation: The story went live but there was a breakdown in procedures. Three people were fired. YES - #fakenews.
  • Trump-Blows-A-Kiss-To-Comey: This was tweeted and then some media outlets picked it up. In fact, it seems unlikely (by the audio-exchange) that Trump was "blowing a kiss" to Comey. Much has been made over the tweeting of the story rather than the news outlets reporting on the event--but we'll call this YES - #fakenews.
  • Neil Gorsuch's Fascism Forever Club: Gorsuch listed the club as a joke in his high school year book. Some outlets like Vice, The Nation, and US News and World Report reported on it. There was some tweeting. YES - #fakenews (but, uh, it maybe wasn't that much of a joke).
  • Trump Considered a Proposal To Mobilize The National Guard To Secure Mexico: AP reported it--but it was mostly bogus (there was a pre-release draft. It didn't say what critics said it did, like, mostly at all). YES - #fakenews.
  • NPR and Reuters Reported that Kuwait's Ambassador Held a 60k event at Trump Hotel when Trump was There. Pay-to-Play? No. They got their dates mixed up, issued retractions. NOT #fakenews.
  • Sessions 'Filth' Scandal: Prepared remarks by Sessions described international criminal organizations that rape and kill innocent civilians as filth. He left out the 'filth' in spoken remarks. People tweeted that he called illegal immigrants filth. 1. This was tweeted, not reported (there was an article in the Daily Kos). 2. He wasn't talking about illegal immigrants--as a whole. So that wasn't fair. It also wasn't about Trump, the line about filth was in the printed remarks. This wasn't a MSM report so, despite being defamatory and wrong it's NOT #fakenews.
  • Laughing at Sessions: A woman laughed at Sessions, got escorted out, got prosecuted for disorderly conduct. It was reported as her being convicted "for laughing." Not true the way the stories reported it. Not about Trump--but, YES - #fakenews.
  • Fake Beer Story: Tweets postulated that there was a big beer bash after passing house healthcare reform. There wasn't. However, this was mostly tweeted (Joe Scarborough called the news about it deplorable--but it wasn't a news report). Therefore: NOT #fakenews.
  • Rape Is A Pre-Existing Condition: The ACA reform allowed a hypothetical insurance company to see that you had taken medication proscribed after a rape and use that as an existing pre-condition by which to raise your rates. Yes - that could happen. No, that was not in the bill. It made waves though. We'll call it YES - #fakenews.
  • The Ivanka Fund That Wasn't: A report said that Ivanka had a fund. The Saudis were paying into it. She didn't (the fund was "inspired by her."). This was reported as potential corruption. It wasn't. So; YES - #fakenews.
  • Phoenix Crowd Sizes: Trump gave a speech in Phoenix. A person there reported a crowd size that was small. An examination of the venue by the local Phoenix paper indicates that that number was just for the main chamber. Trump's number (reported as a lie) includes all the chambers (fair) and people turned away (estimated--but at least reasonable). This means that Trump was more or less right--but the reporting wasn't malicious--it was just using a security person's sound bite report. That is NOT #fakenews.
6 Fake
6 Not Fake
1 Unkown

Stories About Trump Specifically (Counting Ivanka as "about Trump"): 6 out of 13.

What Does This Tell Us?
There may be more "fake news" candidates than this--but going by Google, it would appear that out of literally thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of stories printed about Trump, there were 13 major candidates for "fake-news reporting" and most of them were not about Trump and half of them were not fake enough to qualify as real, malicious, made-up news.

What Does This Mean For Trump vs. Obama?
There were numerous, numerous made-up stories about Obama from Fox (such as Ebola getting more resources than ISIS thrown at it from Britt Hume, or Lou Dobs claiming that Obama manipulated deportation numbers to make them seen higher). Since Fox was the #1 network at the time it does not count as "partisan media" (which we'll do later). 

On the fake-news about Trump count, The Omnivore considers that the charge that Trump is getting it worse than Obama is overblown to start with--but, worse, Trump has far more aggravating factors in play than Obama did.


2. Entertainment Wing Response

Trump gets it worse for sure here. Firstly, the right doesn't have an "entertainment wing" the same way that the left does. Hollywood is almost entirely leftwing. Rightwing Talk Radio and Fox 'entertainment' talking heads only claim they're entertainment when the chips are down. Otherwise they're really partisan media. All the comedy-news shows are left. Except Carlson Tucker--but his audience thinks he's news too.

On the other hand, what has the Entertainment Wing done to Trump? Well, let's see . . . We really only have to look at one.

Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live has been brutal to the Trump administration. No questions asked. They weren't to Obama. It is important to note that some of the targets (Sean Spicer, notably) are making themselves targets by, essentially, lying their asses off to the press. That wasn't imaginary--the press secretaries that Trump has sent out have had to do an impossible and highly mockable job. 

They didn't acquit themselves well. This is self-inflicted. On the other hand, having Alec Baldwin do a devastatingly funny Trump impersonation isn't. They didn't have this for Obama.


3. Partisan Media

Yes, yes--The Omnivore knows: The Mainstream Media is partisan. Here's the deal, skippy - first off, news is either adhering to standardized journalistic practices (major networks) or not (partisan networks). Secondly, the subset of outlets that interface with politics and do not do standardized best-practices journalism encompasses things like The Daily Kos or Salon and Pajamas Media or Breitbart.

Fox is both--its nightly news is, in fact, news. Oh, sure, it has bias--but they all do. The talking heads? Those guys are partisan media (Bill O'Riley, Hannity, etc.). This also includes, on the right, Limbaugh, the talk radio guys (Levin) and so on. 

So how'd they do?

What Partisan Media Says About Trump
What is the left's story on Trump? Well, let's see:
  1. He's racist. He called for the Central Park 5 to be executed and has still never backed off (even though they were exonerated). He got sued in one of the biggest civil rights discrimination cases ever and settled. Etc. They say he's racist.
  2. He's sexist. Locker room talk, eh?
  3. He's crazy / suffering literal dementia / is a certifiable narcissist. Yep. They say that.
  4. He's incompetent or just stupid. The first is less partisan media than a kind of meta-narrative about his overall effectiveness--but claims that Trump is stupid are within the partisan zone for sure.
  5. He's small-mined and mean. He's a bully.
  6. He's a white supremacist. This is different than being a racist, subtly. In this charge he's promoting the Klan/Nazis. In the first, he's personally acting racist.
What'd they say about Obama?
  1. He's racist. That he either hated white people or wanted to stoke racial animosity.
  2. He's a narcissist. This was literally said. 
  3. He's incompetent and stupid. His book was ghost-wrote. He can't speak without a teleprompter.
  4. He wasn't born in the US / has a secret evil history. Our current president said this.
  5. He's a crypto-Muslim. Yep, this was said / believed. A lot of people think he's an out-and-proud Muslim.
  6. He's secretly gay. Yep. It's a story.
Now--you ask what the weighting of all this is? Right--does the MSM overwhelm the partisan media? Is biased / #fakenews reporting in the NYT so much more impactful than Breitbart? Of course you do. You have to. But let's be honest here.

Culturally, yes--the Washington Post and New York Times have far more cachet. However: 
  • Partisan Media, including the talking heads on Fox reaches 50% of the voting population with far more trust and efficiency than the mainstream media reaches "the left."
  • Partisan media played a massive role in both the Republican primary and the election of Trump in the general election. If you don't agree with that, you're being an idiot.
  • The right has tuned out the mainstream media to a nearly complete extent.
As such, yes, Pajamas Media is pretty crappy as a traditional news source--but the right-wing spectrum is as politically powerful as the left.

Having said that, let's also acknowledge that while some of what is said by partisan media about Trump is bullshit (he probably isn't actually crazy and doesn't fit a narcissist diagnosis done at range by telepathy) let's also not pretend that more of Trump's partisan attacks are aided by self-inflicted wounds. 
  1. He fumbled the White Nationalist thing. Badly.
  2. He did say all those things on the pussy-tape.
  3. He sure looked like he mocked a reporter.
  4. Threatening to lock up Hillary looked autocratic and petty.
  5. He really was sued for discrimination. 
The Omnivore will go so far as to grant that partisan media--by definition of being partisan--is making overblown or overly broad claims about Trump--but if you argue that Trump is not aiding and abetting those charges, you are simply in denial.

There's one more thing: the right wing media is more conspiracy obsessed than the left-wing partisan media. What? You don't agree. Okay, folks: I give you Alex Jones being promoted by POTUS. Sit down now. I can keep going--trust me. But I don't need to: YOU BEEN TRUMPED.
CONCLUSION: It would be a tie until you get to the Birther In Chief being president and otherwise rational people on the right believing wild conspiracies because of degenerate right-wing media. Obama got it worse from partisan media. 


3. The Populace
What about the great span of humanity that isn't The Media? Do they HATE Trump more than they HATE Obama? How would we even measure that? Well, we have a few markers.
  1. What do the protest signs say? Which are more hateful?
  2. Helooo--Inauguration Day Riots, anyone?
  3. Who has the most hateful memes?
  4. Who has the most hateful conspiracy theories?
  5. What about hanging in effigy / artistic "decapitations"?
Protest Signs
Let's ask Google Images for the first picture under: "Obama / Trump protest signs" and . . . RATE THE HATE!


Okay, okay--let's take the first ROW of signs. How about that? (Click the image to be able to read it)

Is that better? The first row of signs is pretty respectable for anti-Trump and racist as hell for anti-Obama.


Inauguration Day Riots
There was a riot on the day of Trump's inauguration. Lots of property damage was done. A limo was torched. Six police officers were injured. One guy was sentenced to four months in jail for assaulting them. Here's a few things to note:
  1. Every presidential inauguration has had protests since, at least, Nixon.
  2. The vast majority of the protesters on Inauguration day were peaceful. There weren't any arrests at the so-called "women's riot" the next day.
  3. While 200 people were arrested in DC on inauguration day, many of them were swept up in mass-arrests and the charges were dropped.
In other words: this wasn't apocalyptic. You'll disagree, Trump-voter--but you've gotta show your work on this. Still, Trump wins this one.


Anti-Trump / Obama Memes - Emails
The top-left Google Image for Anti-Trump/Obama memes returns this:

Okay, that didn't work. Let's look at the first page and find the "two most hateful"?

An analysis of the anti-X memes suggests that the worst of the anti-Obama memes--in fact, many of the anti-Obama memes--just went to hard-core racism. The Omnivore had a hard time finding much directed at Trump beyond either calling him stupid/a joke or trashing his character in broad terms.


The Conspiracy Theories?
One of the ways that hatred projects itself is in conspiracy theories: this is the fin-cresting the water of "I really hate the guy--but I don't have a good reason--so, hey, maybe he's an alien!" What conspiracy theories are spread about each man? In this case we will go beyond what the "partisan media said" and go straight to the cray-cray.

Again, we are going with google searches on Obama / Trump conspiracy theory.

Obama: Man, where to start. There was the Jade Helm was gonna take over America thing. The Omnivore finds that on the first page. There's the secret plot to bring 100-million Muslims into America (apparently to create the caliphate). The Omnivore is aware that Alex Jones claimed that Hillary and Obama were demon possessed and surrounded by flies.

During Obama's campaign there were not one but three anti-Obama movies. One is Dinesh D'Souza's--and it's lame but isn't a conspiracy theory exactly. But two of them questioned Obama's birth. One claims to have naked pictures of his mother (shown on screen--they aren't--but man is it tawdry). These were mailed out to random Republicans.

There is: "He thanked Satan in his acceptance speech." (No, really).  He threatened to kill Chelsea Clinton (no, really). He married his male college roommate (no, really). He purged generals who would stop his takeover of America (seriously, this was a theory). He has killed a whole lot of people. And--he teleported to Mars. Seriously.

These are silly--but make no mistake: people believed them. People believed he was Muslim and swore in on a Koran. People were told these things (maybe not the Mars one) by people they trusted in the conservative media sphere. These ridiculous stories are cited as reasons by people who don't like him.

These things have real impact.

Trump: Searching for conspiracy theories on Trump turns up the silly Melania Body-Double theory. There is a story that Trump sent the head of the CIA to meet with a Seth-Rich Truther conspiracy theorist. Oh, wait--that's real.

There's the story that Trump likes Alex Jones--hold on, that's real too. There's the theory that Trump colluded with the Russians. Uh . . . that's being investigated.

There is a theory that 3 million illegals voted but no one can prove it. That's--wait, that's his.

Louise Mench has numerous conspiracy theories about Trump--that he's been impeached already or some shit. There is a conspiracy theory that Trump is being targeted by the Deep State. That one might be real depending on how you define "targeted" and "deep state."

In other words? Trump's "conspiracy theories" are mostly either (a) real theories, (b) the actual truth, or (c) coming from him. The remainder is the Louise Mench theory which is stupid--but does not allege that he is the anti-Christ or, in fact, that he's worse than most people think. It just alleges that the rest of the government has already done something.

The Deep State theory is less a conspiracy theory and more a "conspiracy observation." The idea that it's Obama saboteurs who are doing the leaking is (a) overshadowed by Trump's own White House staff which is definitely doing a lot of the leaking and (b) the fact that the theory, if true, means that Trump's calling the CIA Nazis (or whatevs) got personal.

It's not saying that there's a praetorian guard that's going to remove him--just that there are crypto-Democrats trying to smear him by releasing (presumably real) intel. 


Effigies And Visual Threats
Trump had the beheading thing. She apologized and lost her job. Trump has been made into a pinata which, is "kind of hanging" but more getting hit with a stick.Trump has been hung in effigy. There are pictures. There aren't that many. Obama had a gigantic portfolio of lynching signs and effigies.

You can say that hanging is hanging and it's all the same. The last black guy was lynched by the Klan in 1980's which, you know, you were alive for. You knew that right? What this comes down to is that there's a massive racial overtone here that you don't want to acknowledge. That's okay: The Omnivore (and you) know why it is.

It's Just a Hanging. Right?


The final score is:
  1. News Reporting: TIE
  2. Entertainment Wing: TRUMP
  3. Partisan Media: OBAMA
  4. General Populace: OBAMA
In other words, who got it unfairly worse--worse press, worse hate? It's Obama. 

The reason you think Trump got it worse is because (a) you don't acknowledge Trump's obvious--and unarguable self-inflicted wounds in the calculation, (b) because you either didn't pay attention to what was said about Obama or just figured he "deserved it" (The Omnivore knows--YES, The Omnivore is arguing that "Trump deserves it." If you wanna argue that's not reasonable, give The Omnivore a real, actual breakdown of the allegations vs. Trump's own actions and see what it looks like for yourself).

There's also (c) you you minimize things you don't like. So if Breitbart runs a racist story or two, you think "Eh. That's an outlier." When emails come out showing that Milo was working with White Supremacists and was doing this stuff under Bannon's aegis, you go "Eh. Bannon isn't racist so ipso hocus-pocus I should ignore this stuff." When Fox News runs 8 years of relentless anti-Obama talking-head conspiracy garbage designed to scare old people into buying gold you go "Eh. It was maybe a good investment. Whatever."

And then you claim whatever you want because you've convinced yourself that your arguments are so common-sense that you just don't need to--indeed can't--back them up with jack shit.


  1. Rob is right, you are adorable. You really believe Obama was treated unfairly by the media. Thats cute

    1. Amusingly, I covered your response in the last line. If you didn't read that far, glance up!

      -The Omnivore

    2. Dawn, I've read your blog. You go through hoops trying to rationalize your stance on Trump (and other things).

  2. I think there might be a distinction to be drawn here between hate and ugliness. The terrible (and undeniable) racist overtones to the anti-Obama material you cited sure is ugly, but I'm unclear on how much of that can be legitimately classified as "hate". Maybe I'm splitting hairs here, or maybe I'm not but it makes no difference; psychology isn't my area of expertise (and I think it's mostly nonsense anyway). At the risk of sounding somewhat incoherent, let's try this: there's a line, however fine, between legit hate (unambiguous desire to do harm) and fear (augmented suggestibility, diminished critical faculties, fight-or-flight, adrenaline psychosis, etc).

    I'm mindful of what Master Yoda had to say about this (fear → anger → hate → suffering), but then we shouldn't be taking advice from fictional characters portrayed by puppets/CGI, right?

    Hell, we've already got the suffering, all over the political spectrum. The '60s are never coming back, man.

    Where am I to go now that I've gone too far? -- "Twilight Zone", Golden Earring

    -- Ω

    1. What we have is a situation where people want to hate, but don't have enough obvious cause for it. They find the snake oil salesman willing to sell them a reason, so they buy in to it. The cognitive dissonance between "my life isn't as bad as it should be if all this were true" and the "I really want it to be true that Obama is a Kenyan space lizard" leads to a serious breakdown in one's ability to rationalize normal behavior going forward. This has been going on in gradually more excessive and bizarre ways since Limbaugh first started his "America Held Hostage" countdown in Clinton's first term, near as I can tell.

    2. Anyway, the reason we don't have a metric ton of Trump conspiracies that are wackadoodle is because (of course) the primary generator for those are the same people currently explaining to us that Trump's a good guy and its not his fault, he really is trying. The left simply doesn't have the ability to dive off the deep end like the right can; the left is too good at self-critiquing and self-loathing to find the time to foster genuine belief in madness.

    3. Oh, the left wing has its share of wacko conspiracy theories, make no mistake - but I must agree that relatively few of them rise to the level of "Kenyan space lizard" or "sekrit Muslim terrorist". And for all the bizarre things wingnuts have said over the past few decades (Dan Quayle and George W. Bush, among others, have lists of jaw-droppers which go on and on), Dr. Ben Carson has got to be in a class by himself. It was he who, in October 2013, told the Values Voter Summit, "You know Obamacare is really I think the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery. And it is in a way, it is slavery in a way, because it is making all of us subservient to the government, and it was never about health care. It was about control."

      I know Ommie's quoted that whopper before, but I couldn't resist. There's a level beyond looniness, beyond stupidity, and even beyond garden-variety psychosis. In naming that condition I will have to defer to comedian Bob Nelson's famous football routine: "dain bramage".

      -- Ω

    4. Thanks...I had forgotten about that Carson quote but yes it is a doozy!