I watched with amusement the past few days as the news media savaged President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpOvernight Defense & National Security — The Pentagon's deadly mistake Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Interior returns BLM HQ to Washington France pulls ambassadors to US, Australia in protest of submarine deal MORE, first for forcing some ex-generals off his team and then for drawing down troops from the conflicts in Syria and Afghanistan.
My colleagues at many publications and networks were in full-throated hysteria, suggesting the nation is approaching the brink of disaster. Some actually used that very word.
Things sounded so dire that I almost felt like I was reading a chapter from the Book of Revelations or a script from a new Bruce Willis movie. Take, for example:
- Tom Brokaw suggested the USS America is under the dark spell of Captain Queeg, one that needed to be broken by mutiny because Trump disagreed with his Defense secretary and summoned troops home. (FYI, I think the National Institutes of Health needs to develop a vaccine for the opinion disease that seems to afflict supposedly neutral ex-anchors these days.)
- A co-host, Brian Kilmeade, at “Fox and Friends” suggested the president just revived the terror group ISIS by pulling troops from Syria.
- The Washington Post ran an editorial with a headline exhorting Americans to “be afraid” because Trump dismissed ex-general James MattisJames Norman Mattis20 years after 9/11, we've logged successes but the fight continues Defense & National Security — The mental scars of Afghanistan House panel advances 8B defense bill MORE as Defense secretary.
And then I remembered this is the same news media that took the opposite side on all these issues just a few months ago.
For example, the Post, that bastion of journalism whose marketing tagline is “Democracy dies in darkness,” the same paper that lambasted Trump for dismissing an ex-general as a Cabinet secretary last week ran an article, a year ago with this priceless headline: “Let’s not staff a White House with generals ever again.”
Okay, so hiring a general is bad — and firing a general is bad. Hmmm. Apparently democracy isn’t the only thing in darkness at the Post. Collective memory, common sense and consistency apparently are searching for a flashlight, too.
Now to NBC, where Brokaw was the face of the network for decades and still is identified as a special correspondent on “Morning Joe.” His colorful tweet comparing Trump to an infamously insane Navy captain from American literature was prompted by the troop-withdrawal decision.
But there’s a funny twist: It was Morning Joe himself who declared on MSNBC during the Obama years that it was time to bring our troops home. Hmmm. Okay for Barack ObamaBarack Hussein Obama Chelsea Manning tests positive for COVID-19 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Obama backs Trudeau in Canadian election MORE, but reckless for Trump. I’ll let you decide.
And now for Fox.
Kilmeade’s disdain for the troop withdrawal was overt, and it was expressed on one of the president’s reported favorite morning shows, “Fox and Friends.”
That’s the same “Fox and Friends” show that frequently showcases Judge Andrew Napolitano, and the same network that ran a column from “Judge Nap” in 2017 declaring that Trump’s original intervention in Syria was both “emotional and illegal.”
Hmmm. Bad for Trump to enter Syria, and even worse for him to leave it. Somebody seems to have been “napping” on the consistency watch.
I am neither a fan nor foe of Trump. I can’t be. That’s because I took a vow of neutrality when I entered the journalism profession.
But I am confused by all these opinion somersaults by major news outlets.
And maybe that’s just it: Maybe it’s time for journalists to report just the facts, and to leave the opinions to their readers and viewers.
It could save a whole lot of hypocritical flip-flops in the future.
John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video.