Book review of The Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021 by Peter Baker and Susan Glaser

No president has ever been as obsessed with the media as Donald Trump. His most significant insult on Twitter was “Fake News”, which he did not get tired of addressing in the “Failed New York Times”. He was so consumed by his hatred of the Washington Post and its owner, Jeff Bezos, that he sought to deny Amazon federal contracts and access to the US Postal Service. Trump tried for months to end a merger involving another hated media company, CNN, and even encouraged Rupert Murdoch to buy CNN’s parent company (at the aggressive selling price his efforts produced).

The obsession was mutual — and highly lucrative, for the purposes of Trump’s ire and admiration alike. Trump cast a spell on the mainstream media, but readers, subscribers, viewers, and advertisers Throw all the dollars at them. Digital subscriptions to the Times and the newspaper soared during Trump’s presidency. The Combined viewership of CNN, MSNBC, and Fox It more than doubled between 2015 and 2020. The biggest benefactor was of course Murdoch’s conservative media empire. As the right-wing media’s bottom feeders feast on the detritus, Fox News It became the closest thing to US official television ever. In one year, Trump tweeted stories on his shows 657 times.

This last gem comes fromThe Divider: Trump in the White House, 2017-2021Written by Peter Baker and Susan Glaser (it’s from The Times, it’s from The New Yorker). Considering Trump’s decision to fill his residence after the presidency with it confidential documentsNot to mention that the book could run in 2024, the book is wonderfully timed. Well-paced and attractively written, “The Divider” brings out the best of highly resourced journalism in the Trump era. However, it also illustrates some of the industry’s shortcomings that Trump has repeatedly exploited.

new Trump book Worth reading only if His argument or what he revealed opens new horizons. The thesis of Baker and Glasser’s book is unoriginal, if accurate: Trump has posed a unique threat to American democracy. The threat was reduced by his own incompetence, the incompetence of many on whom he relied and the resistance of many others–some principled, some prejudiced, some self-preserving. But the threat was magnified by the anti-democratic swing of the Republican Party that he exploited, the difficulty of the constitutional order that he defied, and the growing mastery of the loyalty-testing politics with which he excelled.

And the American media, let’s be honest, has also aided in Trump’s attack on American democracy — and not just right-wing sources who glorify his presidency and radicalize his voters. Trump would never have joined the White House had it not been for the prevailing media actions that made secret messages on Hillary Clinton’s email server the biggest personal issue of the campaign. (The iron is too thick to cut.)

Even after Trump took power, journalists struggled to rein in old instincts: broadcast every tweet, focusing on political fluff rather than the substance of politics, to give “both sides” an equal say. Only with the passage of time and our growing understanding of Trump’s intentions did we see it Meat Investigations of his finances, policies, and manipulations, and how they were abetted by his increasingly sectarian party. Baker and Glaser compare Trump to the velociraptor in “Jurassic Park” who are gradually figuring out how to cram their new human prey (the prey in this case is American democracy). The metaphor is suitable for journalists as well. Under an unprecedented attack, Trump’s cover-ups have had to learn while hunting.

The Divider is, in many ways, a sign of how adaptive journalism is. It displays some old instincts: Despite having more than 650 pages of text, it has little to say about the policies pursued by Trump and his fellow Republicans, or about the political organizations that supported, fought against his party or pressured Washington during his presidency. (The National Rifle Association, for example, is not mentioned once.) It seems that many anecdotes and backstories exist only because Baker and Glaser know them. However, the book is the most comprehensive and detailed account of the Trump presidency published to date, and that would not have been possible, Baker and Glaser wrote in their confession, without the diligence and fortitude of their “working” fellow press corps. To cover the Trump administration while being vilified as “enemies of the people”.

To this rich factual context, Baker and Glaser frequently add new and disturbing stories, based in part on more than 300 interviews they have given. If their argument deals with the familiar ground of Trump’s book, The Divider highlights plenty of new discoveries. Biggest Spades offers vivid new details about Trump is more dictatorial than ever. In a chapter called “My Generals,” Baker and Glasser describe how Trump was so frustrated with his military leaders for refusing his various powerful orders that Chief of Staff (and retired General) John Kelly asked why his generals couldn’t be. Like Adolf Hitler during World War II. When Kelly replied that these generals had tried to kill Hitler, Trump replied: “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him” – as if that was what should be remembered about the Nazi regime.

As explosive as this new quote is, we’ve known for a long time how Trump feels about a power like Hitler. However, Baker and Glaser unearthed several other episodes that demonstrate – before January 6, 2021 – how shockingly he was willing to go into office. The authors reveal A set of exchanges between Trump and Attorney General William Barr suggest that the president was really serious about his threats on Twitter to lock up electoral rival Joe Biden. “It pissed me off,” Barr told the authors, a bit like being at last upset about juvenile delinquents. A child malfunctions when the brakes on his teacher’s car.

Another revealing story concerns Trump’s painstaking attempts to get the Food and Drug Administration to approve a coronavirus vaccine before Election Day. The scale of the “bombing” was unprecedented – repeated meetings and phone calls from the president and his associates, who accused the independent agency of “sabotaging the electoral effort.” Trump, of course, failed, but not without damaging public confidence in the vaccine. If he doesn’t, he may still be president.

The fact that Trump eventually lost makes it easy to look back with confidence that everything turned out as it should. But, as Baker and Glaser says, recycling a quote on Waterloo that Kelly used, “it was a close thing.”

Reading this line, one cannot help but wonder if it would have been less close if Baker and Glaser had shared all the troubling facts they knew before the 2020 election. When an article from New York based on “My Generals” was presented in mid-August , There was criticism That the authors have kept some of their most explosive disclosures under wraps to make “The Divider” more newsworthy and potentially profitable.

Assessing this charge is difficult, because Baker and Glaser rarely cite their own interviews and never say when any of them will take place. So it is not clear what information they could have made public before November 2020. But the concern is certainly true. Journalism is a business, and journalists need to make a living. But they also have a responsibility to inform the citizens before these citizens enter the election booth, which is very annoying when it seems that they Withholding relevant information for commercial reasons.

Good journalism is indispensable to a democracy, and it needs to be defended now more than ever. The Divider, with its devastating portrayal of a demagogue still dominating his party, shows why. It also suggests that the press needs to have a serious conversation about its role and responsibilities in today’s charged politics. In this hands-on moment, we need journalists focused on the horizon and screaming quickly and clearly about the icebergs that lie ahead.

Jacob S. Hacker Professor of Political Science at Yale University and co-author (with Paul Pearson)”Let Them Eat Tweets: How the Right Rules in an Age of Extreme Inequality. “

Trump in the White House, 2017-2021

Written by Peter Becker and Susan Glaser

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