OPINION: CNN's reaction to 'wrestling' tweet plays right into Trump's hands
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Another day, another example of how adults have left the room both in the Oval Office and at a major cable news outlet.

You’ve all seen by now the retweet from the 45th president showing him wrestling “CNN” to the ground. It is, of course, just a superimposed CNN logo over the face of WWE president Vince McMahon from a few years ago during a Trump cameo.

 

Is the video funny? That’s a subjective question.

Is it beneath the presidency? Of course.

Does Trump incite violence against the network by “wrestling” a logo? C’mon...

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But Trump isn’t changing. This is how he’s going to act in his spare time. And as sure as you were born, he’ll attack the media at least a few times per week for the rest of his time in office.

 

Obvious statement of the day coming next is that Trump’s base absolutely loves each and every tweet, particularly when the target is more hated than Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill This week: Senate wrapping up defense bill after amendment fight Cuomo warns Dems against cutting DACA deal with Trump MORE, Nancy Pelosi, Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenGOP eying 'blue slip' break to help Trump fill the courts Overnight Regulation: FTC launches probe into Equifax | Dems propose tougher data security rules | NYC aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions | EPA to reconsider Obama coal ash rule Overnight Cybersecurity: Kaspersky to testify before House | US sanctions Iranians over cyberattacks | Equifax reveals flaw that led to hack MORE, and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSenate Dems hold floor talk-a-thon against latest ObamaCare repeal bill Trump bets base will stick with him on immigration Dems call for action against Cassidy-Graham ObamaCare repeal MORE combined: CNN.

Michael Goodwin, a fine political columnist and Pulitzer winner, described perception of the 37-year-old network best in a New York Post piece last week, writing that CNN sold itself for years as “boring but trustworthy.”

“Now it’s boring and untrustworthy,” he concluded.

How untrustworthy?

A Rasmussen poll from earlier this year asked if viewers trust the political news they’re getting from their cable news network of choice.

Result? Fifty percent of Fox News viewers said they trusted the network. Forty-three percent of MSNBC viewers said the same. CNN came in third in the three-horse race, with just 33 percent of those tuning into CNN saying they trusted the network.

In other words, two-thirds of CNN viewers don’t even trust what they’re seeing.

Does Trump have the right to attack the network? The First Amendment says he does despite it not being what traditional presidents have done in the past save for former President Obama’s periodic potshots at Fox News.

Does CNN have a right to defend itself? Of course. But the network needs to stop trying to out-Trump Trump while doing so.

“Instead of preparing for his overseas trip, his first meeting with Vladimir Putin, dealing with North Korea and working on his health care bill, he is instead involved in juvenile behavior blowing the dignity of his office,” the network wrote in the statement on Sunday. “We will keep doing our jobs. He should start doing his.”

Biting. Condescending.

And just as juvenile as the president’s wrestling retweet.

This kind of overreaction from the network also plays exactly into Trump’s argument of the media being the true opposition party. And in this case, CNN could have defended itself without all the editorial and snark.

“I think you guys are getting played man,” Rep. Scott Taylor (R-Va.) said on CNN’s “New Day” Monday morning. “I think every time he does this you guys overreact — and by you guys I mean the media in general — and you play right into his hands.”

That’s 100 percent correct.

Taylor also asked “New Day” host Alisyn Camerota to share numbers of the network's negative coverage of Trump.

“What I would like you to do is the next segment you have put up the numbers of your negative coverage of the president as well too,” Taylor said.

“Congressman, that is a crazy suggestion,” Camerota replied.

So what are those numbers? A recent Harvard study showed that 93 percent of CNN’s coverage of the Trump administration has been negative. In other words, for every 100 stories or segments you see on CNN, just seven can be deemed positive toward the administration.

We’ll just leave that there.

There’s also a complete lack of self-awareness from CNN personalities such as Chris Cillizza, who serves as its editor-at-large.

Example: In 2012, then-Vice President Joe BidenJoseph (Joe) Robinette BidenBiden slams Trump over golf gif hitting Clinton Overnight Tech: Equifax hit by earlier undisclosed hack | Facebook takes heat over Russian ads | Alt-right Twitter rival may lose domain Overnight Finance: CBO to release limited analysis of ObamaCare repeal bill | DOJ investigates Equifax stock sales | House weighs tougher rules for banks dealing with North Korea MORE quipped that Republicans wanted to put black people “back in chains.” Here was Cillizza’s response on MSNBC at the time.

“This is what you do if you’re Joe Biden because you don’t have a lot of great choices,” said Cillizza. “You have to, kind of, embrace your Biden-ness.”

“He is someone who speaks his mind,” he continued. “This tendency to speak his mind — some people call it gaffes, some people call it honesty – this is not new to Joe Biden.”

“Joe Biden, you know, he embraces his Biden-ness in a way that very few politicians do,” Cillizza concluded with a laugh.

Compare that to Cillizza’s reaction to Trump’s wrestling tweet yesterday. 

 

Translation: Biden was just being Biden. But Trump can’t be Trump. Check.

But Trump will be Trump. You can — like me — be part of the 71 percent in a recent Fox News poll that thinks his tweeting hurts his agenda. One tweet about James Comey and “tapes” earned him a special council in the Russia investigation, for example. And while the president’s travel ban was put into place last week, a huge victory for the administration, everyone was talking about his bloody facelift tweet about Mika Brzezinski instead.

But the president isn’t going to stop tweeting about the media. From Friday morning until Sunday night, eight of Trump’s 14 tweets were about the Fourth Estate.

CNN went so far to say the wrestling tweet was meant to encourage violence against the network. Its senior media correspondent even contacted Twitter for comment to see if said tweet violated the social media company’s policy because of its “hateful conduct.”

 

Twitter not surprisingly said it didn't.

Net-net: Trump will tweet. He will attack CNN more than any other outlet.

CNN will respond, overreact and play right into his hands in the process.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) is a media reporter for The Hill.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.