I was talking with someone the other day about doing an honest assessment of Trump as President and the question came up “is there literally anything you can say that was good about him?” I realize to most of us here that’s rhetorical, but I figured it was worth examining, and so I thought about it and I came up with three things. Maybe you’ll agree with them, maybe you won’t, but on this, his final day in office, here are what I feel are the honest to god, 100% serious, three most positive things I can say about the presidency of Donald Trump:
1. He killed fewer foreigners than any president in my lifetime.
Donald Trump has wreaked unforgivable, fatal horror on the United States, which is actually a rarity because usually presidents do that across the entire planet. George W. Bush followed up his dad’s massacre and overtly killed a million people. Clinton killed at least a half million through the wanton cruelty of the Iraq sanctions he maintained for his entire presidency. He also bombed four separate countries. Obama bombed seven, all while initiating a policy of murdering people with robots, including Americans abroad. Ronald Reagan. Just… Ronald Reagan. The painful irony of Trump’s racist isolationism was it made him completely disinterested in the American empire, and so he spent all his time killing his own citizens instead. I hope you didn’t know any of them. You probably did.
2. He derided and dismissed the White House Correspondent’s Association, who completely deserved it.
For four years we have not had to deal with the self-righteous masturbatory decadence of the DC media reporting on the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, a small annual fundraiser that about a decade ago the DC media elevated into what is now called “nerd prom,” a gross spectacle where they all pretend their profession is a celebrity class by hosting a dinner with the President attending that they eventually just straight-up invited actual celebrities to. Trump, who hates the media that allowed him to exist, eschewed ever attending the Dinner, an activity that involved spending about fifteen minutes having the tamest of carefully-reviewed jokes levied at him while CNN correspondents bragged about sitting next to Dr. Oz as this happened.
Trump did not consider this worthy of his time or the dignity of his office and he was completely right. Joe Biden will almost certainly attend the first one that is held post-pandemic and it will be a three-day story in the DC media about the importance of restoring its prestige and impact back to times such as 2013, the year they also invited Lindsey Lohan.
It is alleged in an early biography piece about her that one of the media’s sources of disdain for Hillary Clinton was her open derision of the Dinner, a part of the media’s insistent belief that Trump would be a more positive ally to the national news media. Good job with that, guys.
3. He rendered the title of “fact-checker” meaningless, which is good, because it is.
Somewhere in the mid-2000’s the press came up with this weird idea that they would have a dedicated position in their newsrooms of a person who would report on whether or not politicians were lying. This job used to held by people known as “reporters,” who would explain lies in difficult-to-understand terms for their audience, such as “this isn’t true” or “the president is lying.”
Instead, the role of “fact-checker” was created, who would analyze things the president said using a “fib-o-meter” or “three Calvins pissing on a crying George Washington.” This left reporters to be relieved of the job of saying when things were a lie, in favor of more compelling explanations of how one side said something, and the other said the opposite, and really, who’s to tell who is right anyway? This broad redefining of the role of contemporary journalists was heartily embraced by the nation, who rewarded them by eliminating about 90 percent of their jobs.
In another moment of total accidentally irony, Trump lied so much, on such an astronomical level, that it became virtually impossible for reporters to avoid doing their job. By the end of his presidency, it became so unavoidable that it was embarrassing for any correspondent to not immediately point out if what Trump said was actually true. The role of “fact-checker” became irrelevant in the wake of an even stronger group of people with the skills to identify falsehoods from a particular politician, known as “everyone.” Will this save journalism? It’s too soon to tell but when even Twitter has to put warning labels on bullshit you know you’re on to something.
It is not lost on me that two of these three things are, basically, an indictment of our media, who bear much of the responsibility for facilitating every nightmare that’s fallen on us from the last four years of Trump, including his election to begin with. If anything, it’s probably worth it for a lot of people in our media to consider that when I took seriously a challenge to thing of something, anything nice to say about Donald Trump, most of them were about how he treated them like they deserved.
Photo: Patrick Semansky/Associated Press