Elliott: Media should abandon portrayal of Trump as ‘apocalyptic’ for country

Jackson Elliott, Op-Ed Contributor

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Many American journalists and writers — from Charles Blow to Maureen Dowd — have spent the last two years essentially prophesying that Donald Trump’s presidency would prove apocalyptic for the United States. When stocks dipped after the election, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman wrote that “we are very probably looking at a global recession, with no end in sight.” In another column, he predicted that the aftermath of Trump’s presidency “may well be apocalyptic” in the long run. Such sentiments were not restricted to the media. When Trump won the presidential race, protesters reacted emotionally — and at times violently — to the news. In a characteristic quote, one interviewee told KGW News, “I feel like we’re doomed.”

During Trump’s first 100 days, studies have shown that broadcast news coverage of Trump was overwhelmingly negative. Yet, after a year under what some media personalities have referred to as “the Trump regime,” the supposed end of the world has proven somewhat underwhelming. The “global recession with no end in sight” has failed to appear —  in fact, the GDP has continued to rise in the past year. Whatever power the “Trump regime” possesses couldn’t stop Women’s Marches throughout the United States. Nor has the administration done anything about the virtually constant negative press coverage except accuse the media of bias. Although tensions with North Korea have increased under the “regime,” it seems doubtful to me that nuclear Doomsday will ensue because Trump told Kim Jong-un his nuclear button was “much bigger (and) more powerful” than Kim’s.

Seeing that their predictions have so far proven less accurate than they may have wished, many American journalists have continued to look for more hidden signs that the apocalypse is here. Some writers used their seemingly newfound expertise as psychologists to call into question Trump’s mental fitness for office. To me, most of these insinuations seem to be getting a little desperate.

If Trump has issues with his mental fitness that make him clearly too dangerous and unpredictable to govern, a person with obviously destructive deficiencies has succeeded in business, reality television and politics. If Trump is Putin’s puppet or quasi-puppet, he has done a miserable job of helping advance Russia’s interests. One of his first acts in office was to fire 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian government airfield  — despite Syria’s position as an ally of Russia. Since then, Trump has accused Russia of violating sanctions of North Korea, and approved new sanctions on Russia, although he hasn’t fully implemented and imposed them yet. It seems to me that “unbalanced” is a word that might describe Trump’s coverage more than it describes Trump himself.

Over the past year, some in the media have seemed to view themselves as prophets of the  apocalypse. Ultimately, this only draws more and more people into panic and partisanship. But judging from some columnists’ predictive record, even when Trump leaves office, it seems likely that we’ll still be waiting for this supposed Doomsday to actually occur.

Jackson Elliott is a Medill sophomore. He can be contacted at jacksonelliott2020@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.