It's all the rage in media today...
Conduct an interview with Donald TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE and do anything short of throwing a pie in the candidate's face before a swift verbal kneecapping, and you'll be "Lauer'd" by your own brethren.
Our latest “Laure'd” victim is Mark Halperin of Bloomberg and host of Showtime's "The Circus" covering the 2016 campaign behind the scenes.
Halperin, also a regular presence on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," had an informal Q&A with Trump on Wednesday at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new hotel in DC.
When we say "Lauer'd," of course, we're talking Matt Lauer, who media members thought was a bit too easy on Trump by asking him twice as many questions than Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHeller won't say if Biden won election Whitmer trailing GOP challenger by 6 points in Michigan governor race: poll GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 MORE during a September Town Hall event (The NBC-sponsored Commander-in-Chief forum) with the two candidates.
Short version: Lauer didn't editorialize against Trump for X, Y, Z (which wasn't his job) while having the audacity to press Clinton on her mishandling over classified information. In a related story, the theme of said forum was national security, making the pesky email focus relevant and stuff.
No matter, the Twitter knives were out. And by the time the pious elites were done, the term “Lauer'd” became downright mainstream.
To my colleagues in the media: Elections are a serious business. If u are a moderator, prepare. Don't be another @MLauer and look the fool.— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) September 8, 2016
Matt Lauer's interviews of Clinton and Trump were a complete disgrace to journalism https://t.co/P3Xv8QbkpH— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) September 8, 2016
This #NBCNewsForum feels like an embarrassment to journalism. It's about soundbites, not serious discussion of foreign policy.— Nicholas Kristof (@NickKristof) September 8, 2016
Seriously -- everyone, and I mean everyone, knew this would happen. And Matt Lauer didn't have a followup planned? https://t.co/mm5ufZKjEx— Paul Krugman (@paulkrugman) September 8, 2016
Hollywood Reporter headline: Don't Get Lauer'd: Nervous Networks Prep for Presidential Debates
Enter Halperin after his short interview with Trump in Washington on Wednesday:
This transcript of Mark Halperin’s Trump interview can’t be real… pic.twitter.com/M4x4EkuW1f— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) October 26, 2016
Washington Post: The lap dogs of democracy who don't bark at Trump
The Daily Beast (under a header of "Lap Dog"): Mark Halperin Tells Trump What He Wants to Hear in Embarrassing Interview
Salon: BULLSH****R OF THE DAY: Mark Halperin, for his backward take on the Trump campaign's voter suppression strategy
So was the interview as pandering and horrific as noted above? A search for anything positive about it couldn't be found (in an effort to present matters fairly), so let's go to the transcript and the questions in question.
Halperin to Trump: “People who say this was a great Trump speech, as far as you’re concerned, do you think they’re all great?”
Analysis: While Trump was criticized for leaving the campaign trail for a few hours to showcase a new hotel (which, in essence, is part of the campaign image he wants to portray as a successful businessman), the speech he gave at the hotel launch was one of his better ones in terms of focus on efficiency: "Under budget, ahead of schedule" was Trump's theme of the day, which beats attacking Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanPaul Ryan researched narcissistic personality disorder after Trump win: book Paul Ryan says it's 'really clear' Biden won election: 'It was not rigged. It was not stolen' Democrats fret over Trump-district retirements ahead of midterms MORE or the women accusing him of sexual assault.
Halperin, who deserves some benefit given his reporting chops over the years and particularly for being the co-author of the 2008 campaign masterpiece that really put him on the map via the best-selling "Game Change," asked a fairly standard question there.
Trump's speech was well received, even beyond his supporters. And yes, Trump does probably think all of his speeches are great given the bravado we've seen on display of the past 15 months, so Halperin was just included that part in an attempt to provide context.
But since the question included something positive, that's a big no-no in myopic media land, which via muscle memory now skews negative on Trump almost no matter what. It's just all part of the widely-embraced Jorge Ramos new rule of journalism: "Neutrality is not an option," wrote Ramos, a Univision anchor in Time Magazine. "Judgement Day is coming" for any journalist who doesn't take out Trump.
And those who don't, get “Lauer'd” on Twitter and in print.
Halperin to Trump: “You’ve redefined how candidates talk about polls. Some polls you’re winning, some you’re behind. We have a new poll where you are up in Florida. What’s your general sense of where you are in the battleground states?”
Note: There's nothing inaccurate in that question. Halperin could have been more precise in stating Hillary Clinton leads in most polls nationally and some in Florida, including the Bloomberg poll, yes, but the hysterical reaction as noted above citing this very question as a big problem shows how far gone we are as a media covering Trump.
Halperin to Trump: “Do you think you’re going to get 270 electoral votes?”
Not going to bother to go through the archives of past interviews with presidential candidates, but it's safe to assume this question has been posed in the homestretch of a campaign to the one trailing somewhere less than 4000 times.
Bullying is rampant online in America. Most media members used to show some modicum of respect for one another.
Now it's Mean Girls II, but with adult men in the starring roles.
Mark Halperin didn't kneecap Trump.
Didn't lecture him under the guise of an interview.
Instead, he asked the kind of questions he's been asking since "The Circus" launched on Showtime covering the campaign trail.
Halperin was once the toast of the town for "Game Change," particularly as it pertained to all of those chapters on Sarah Palin that turned into an HBO movie.
But that was then, this was now.
Halperin didn't get the memo on how to engage Trump.
And now he's been “Lauer'd,” the equivalent of purgatory in the press.