Media once hated HW — before using him to jab Trump

A great American who served his country both in battle and in Washington's political trenches passed away last week. The 41st president, George H.W. Bush, died at the age of 94. By all accounts, he was the very embodiment of class, dignity and honor.

But if you watched some of the media coverage of the ceremonies this week, culminating with the state funeral at the National Cathedral, the last three words that come to mind are class, dignity and honor. It was yet another pivot back to all-things-Trump, right down to allegedly serious pundits sounding as if they were auditioning for a role in "Mean Girls 2."
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ABC News truly took top honors for cheesy coverage. The network's chief foreign affairs correspondent Terry Moran mocked President Trump planning his own funeral by imitating him, with video of Bush's funeral procession on the screen as a backdrop. “It will be the best presidential funeral ever," Moran said in his Trump voice. "No one will ever have seen anything like that funeral."

"And perhaps a recognition, in terms of his involvement in the proceedings, by President TrumpDonald John TrumpBusiness, ballots and battling opioids: Why the Universal Postal Union benefits the US Sanders supporters cry foul over Working Families endorsement of Warren California poll: Biden, Sanders lead Democratic field; Harris takes fifth MORE that he someday will be getting a similar treatment when he passes, as a former president of the United States," ABC's Devin Dwyer responded.

"Probably a different tone in that funeral," Moran said. "First he’s going to choreograph it. So, there might be more trumpets and fanfare." 

"Yes, he would do it bigger, one would imagine," Dwyer concurred.  
 
Think about when all this "Night at the Improv" stuff was being performed: During a funeral procession. For a former president. On national TV. 

The New York Times was little better, with reporter Peter Baker morphing into a mind-reader. "While speakers talked about Mr. Bush’s civility, his commitment to the institutions of government and his faith in alliances, Mr. Trump was sitting feet away, his arms tightly crossed, as if in defiance," Baker wrote — not in an opinion piece, where these kinds of conclusions are drawn, but in a straight news story. 
 
Baker continued, "Without directly saying so, the speakers pushed back against Mr. Trump’s mockery of the former president’s volunteerism slogan 'a thousand points of light' during campaign rallies this year. 'To us,' the younger Mr. Bush said, 'his was the brightest of a thousand points of light.' "

Think about that line — "Without directly saying so" — and ask yourself: How does Baker know the aforementioned speakers where pushing back against "Mr. Trump's mockery" of the late president? Perhaps they were doing what normal, sober, honorable people do at funerals during eulogies — focusing on the person being honored for his life's accomplishments, what he meant to his family and, especially in Bush's case as a former president, his legacy. 

In this exercise of opinions dominating what should have been sober, nonpartisan news pieces, the bronze goes to the Washington Post which, after talking about the "smallness and meanness" of Trump, criticized the president for being stoic — during a funeral. "The smallness (and meanness) was evident the moment President Trump entered Washington National Cathedral for Bush’s state funeral, shed his overcoat and took a seat with his fellow commanders in chief," wrote the Post's Greg Jaffe on Dec. 5
 
"Trump briefly shook hands with former president Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaObama, Bush among those paying tribute to Cokie Roberts: 'A trailblazing figure' US-Iran next moves — Déjà vu of Obama administration mistakes? Cost for last three government shutdowns estimated at billion MORE and his wife, Michelle. Beyond that exchange, the four presidents in the front row seemed incapable of even fleeting contact," he continued. "Trump, arms folded across his chest, stared stoically throughout, as traits of his predecessor, so different from his own, were praised." 
 
It's almost as comical as the press pretending that Bush represented a time of an objective press that reported on leaders of each party without fear or favor. 
 
Bush 41 was called a "wimp" on the cover of Newsweek during the '88 campaign. (After all, he only flew 58 combat missions and was shot down over the Pacific before, in later years, running the CIA.) He was called a "racist" for the campaign's Willie Horton ad, before accusing someone of racism on a daily basis became all the rage. 
 
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A 1996 poll by the Freedom Forum found that just 7 percent of Washington-based reporters voted for Bush. For those keeping score at home, that's a 12-to-1 ratio in favor of his opponent at the time, Democrat Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonRNC spokeswoman on 2020 GOP primary cancellations: 'This is not abnormal' Booker dismisses early surveys: 'If you're polling ahead right now, you should worry' Words matter, except to Democrats, when it involves impeaching Trump MORE
 
Fast forward to his death, and some are calling him the greatest one-term president ever. Funny how that works. 
 
George H.W. Bush, by all accounts, was a great man. There are so many aspects to celebrate about his life before, during and after his presidency that it would be quite easy to fill the airtime during the proceedings surrounding his passing. 
 
Yet, in a media world that only sings the one-note tune of Trump, it isn't shocking to see that media unable to broach the current president in the most dismissive, derisive ways imaginable during the celebration of a prior president who embodied the very class that some in the Fourth Estate have zero ability to exhibit. It's wholly expected. 
 
Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) is a media reporter for The Hill and host of "What America's Thinking."