It’s safe to say the media has had a field day with portraying Donald Trump and many of his cabinet nominees as greedy opportunists whose only motivation for wanting to serve in federal office is to enrich themselves.
Think back to the big deal journalists made about Trump’s tax returns during the fall campaign, strongly hinting that the successful businessman was in essence a thief simply because he might have side-stepped income tax liability by obeying the laws on profits and losses.
Needless to say, now that Trump is on the doorstep of actually becoming president, the media talkers are hard after him to produce evidence that he’ll be completely cut out of the family business. Such avoidance of conflicts of interest are important (if you don’t believe it, just ask the Clintons), but there’s no reason – at all -- to believe Trump is only in this for the money.
And neither are his cabinet nominees who are also giving up a potential load of loot by agreeing to trade their private sector positions for a microscopic (in their eyes) federal salary.
Jamie McIntyre of the Washington Examiner reports, “As Cabinet nominees head to Capitol Hill next week, they'll be pledging to senators their willingness to give all their time and effort to the job. But in some cases, they'll be giving up a whole lot more if they're confirmed…
“The more complex your situation, the greater your wealth, the more diverse your assets, the more onerous the government requirements become.
“And there's the cost of filling out all the required forms, which carries the risk of making a mistake that could open you up to allegations of wrong-doing.”
The last concern listed is no joke. Haven’t we all been subjected to some sort of dirty looks from government agents when a “t” isn’t crossed or an “i” dotted in some disclosure forms? Imagine what it’s like for many of these appointees who have accumulated wealth only to be put under the microscope by the prying eyes of senate staffs who are hungry to dig up every last potential conflict?
And it’s not just the super-rich who are giving up a lot. McIntyre’s article also highlights the plight of nominees such as Defense Secretary designate James Mattis, a man who served in the military for over forty years and only recently retired. It goes without saying that Mattis isn’t “wealthy” by any means and serving in the Trump administration (and all the personal costs associated with it) probably means he’ll be working for free.
Mattis isn’t the only one.
After the election Trump reaffirmed he would serve on a salary of $1 a year. We all know it isn’t much of a “sacrifice” for a famous celebrity and Trump will still enjoy the perks of the office, not the least of which is living rent-free in the White House and flying everywhere first-class on Air Force One (though he said he won’t be taking too many vacations because there’s too much work to do).
But it shouldn’t be underestimated how deep a personal financial disadvantage it can be to virtually drop everything and head to Washington for some of these folks. The same applies to congressmen, though by running for office they know what they’re getting into.
Regardless of the factual realities of the incoming Trump appointees, the media will still crow about how men who are worth hundreds of millions or billions aren’t giving up anything to try and reform the government. Nonsense. They’re putting their personal reputations on the line while opening up their lives to public scrutiny in addition to foregoing whatever money they could have earned for four or eight years.
The intense media condemnation that goes along with helping a divisive figure like Trump is enough to give many a reasonable person pause. A number of prominent celebrities who have declined to perform at Trump’s inauguration clearly understand the risk.
Trump’s nominees deserve respect for their willingness to run the gauntlet of public scorn in order to try and do some good for America. They deserve praise, not contempt.
Blatantly unfair media magnifying Democrats’ fearmongering over Trump cabinet nominees
Regardless of how successful Donald Trump’s nominees have been throughout their lives or how qualified they might be to lead their respective departments in the new administration, the media and Democrats aren’t likely to give them the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their confirmation hearings.
Points are there to be scored and reporters are in possession of the basketball. Expect them to hog the ball, shoot at will and commit offensive fouls in the process.
Trump’s team is aware of the impending negativity blitz and is already claiming the media doesn’t respect them.
Joe Concha of The Hill reports, “Sean Spicer, the longtime GOP operative and strategist for the Republican National Committee, criticized a media landscape that he said mocked Trump even as it cheers on Democrats.
“While he said the media seems to understand that Trump represents a larger movement after his presidential win, his remarks reflected longstanding antipathy on the part of the Trump team on how the businessman has been treated.”
That “antipathy” is well-deserved for most in the hostile media who seem to have a heck of a time just delivering the who, what and when basic facts of current events.
The Hill’s Concha has proven to be one of the fairer reporters where Trump is concerned – so it’s not surprising he would offer the president-elect’s point-of-view on the media.
An objective observer would probably admit the coverage of Trump’s campaign and now his transition hasn’t been all that fair. Though it can be argued the major papers, online news sites and cable channels gave Trump more than his fair share of exposure during the Republican primaries, there’s little doubt that once he squared off one-on-one against their darling Hillary Clinton, the tone turned decidedly negative.
Starting perhaps with the uproar over Khizr Khan and Trump’s remarks after the Democrat convention last summer and continuing on through the non-story that was former beauty queen Alicia Machado, the media picked up every last tidbit of tabloid journalism and ran with it.
Trump himself often fueled the fire, but where was the objective reporting on Clinton’s health issues and obvious lies about Bill Clinton’s “airport runway” colluding with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Hillary’s private email server?
There was plenty there to report. Instead we got a lot of photo ops with Hillary hugging children or mindless cheerleading as the Obamas traveled the country dissing Trump and his supporters as racists, misogynists, homophobes and gun toting religion-clingers.
The tone of the analysis has changed a bit during the post-election transition, but the “cheerleading” for Democrats hasn’t abated. Journalists are reporting every little utterance from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, for example, no matter how ridiculous.
Max Greenwood of The Hill reports, “Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D) on Saturday accused Senate Republicans of trying to ‘jam through’ President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet nominees without the proper ethics screenings…
“’The Senate and the American people deserve to know that these cabinet nominees have a plan to avoid any conflicts of interest, that they're working on behalf of the American people and not their own bottom line, and that they plan to fully comply with the law,’ Schumer said.”
Yeah sure – they’re working for their own bottom line. See above.
Greenwood further reported Democrats are even complaining that they haven’t had time to review the documents – because they haven’t received them yet. “A Democratic Senate aide said that four appointees have not yet filed disclosures with OGE (Office of Government Ethics): Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designate Ben Carson, Education secretary pick Betsy DeVos, Homeland Security nominee Michael Kelly and Commerce secretary pick Wilbur Ross.
“Kelly is set to go before the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday, DeVos is slated to have her confirmation hearing Wednesday, and hearings for Carson and Ross are expected to take place Thursday.”
One of the first Trump nominees to face the Democrat gauntlet starting Tuesday is Senator Jeff Sessions, who has served in Congress for twenty years and has been thoroughly vetted in just about every way possible.
Instead of accepting Sessions’ service at face value, the media publishes stories like “Is Jeff Sessions Trump's scariest Cabinet pick?” Dean Obeidallah of CNN writes, “[T]he worst of this horror show may very well be Trump's choice for attorney general: Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, known to most as U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions. It's a selection that should concern Americans who believe in equal rights for all…
“Sessions' well-documented views on issues ranging from equal pay for women to voting rights to the LGBT… are jaw-droppingly extreme. We aren't talking mainstream conservative views, but a worldview that is often far to the right, skirting outright bigotry.”
Granted Obeidallah’s is an opinion piece but the mainstream reporting isn’t all that different from it. They depict Sessions and other Trump nominees as heinous monsters intent on denying everyone in America who isn’t white and male of any kind of legal protection or federal benefits.
Add Schumer’s “they haven’t been properly vetted” claims to the pile and you’ve got a perfect storm of pessimism brewing before Trump’s nominees even step up to the microphone. The media is also failing to note that most of Obama’s nominees were confirmed around the time of his inauguration.
Where were the calls of “vetting” back then for leftist ideologues like Eric Holder?
It’s going to be a heck of a week.
Trump’s cabinet nominees get the full treatment in preparation for hearings
Because the confirmation process is destined to be so contentiousness and nasty due to the Democrats’ baseless and personal snooping and the media’s biased reporting just stirring things up in the court of public opinion, Trump’s more “controversial” nominees are getting the full treatment in preparation for their hearings.
Nancy Cook and Andrew Restuccia of Politico report, “Seated beneath bright lights that mimic the conditions of a camera-packed hearing room, President-elect Donald Trump’s Cabinet picks are being put through hours-long mock confirmation hearings this weekend to prepare for the Senate grillings that may decide their fates.
“Numerous murder-board sessions are being run in anticipation of one of the most consequential weeks for the Trump transition: Nine of the president-elect’s Cabinet picks, many of whom have no federal government experience, will face Senate questioning this week — including from hostile Democrats eager to score points on everything from the president-elect’s admiration of Vladimir Putin to the candidate's wealth and potential conflicts-of-interest.”
The Senate confirmation process has gotten so ridiculous that these “murder board” preparation sessions have taken on the air of job-prep mock interviews where someone might ask you to explain whether you left your previous employment or if your employer demanded that you go.
Someone will no doubt make a list of the ten dumbest confirmation questions. Bring it on.
For some of these queries the Democrat senators don’t seem to want to take yes or no for an answer, reasoning such simple responses must be masking the nominee’s hidden prejudices against some Democrat constituency.
One can only imagine what it must be like for the nominees themselves, people who have spent their lives and careers seeking to succeed and then having to explain to some pampered professional politician why it is that they succeeded. Or why he or she might oppose some obscure federal program that was created decades ago and no longer serves any kind of useful purpose.
In that sense confirmation isn’t too much different than a presidential debate where some clueless media figure asks candidates questions about topics like birth control and how they plan to defeat ISIS once in office.
I’m not saying the nominees shouldn’t be questioned at all – far from it – but the “screening” these days appears to be more like an inquisition than a basic formality where senators get to know the nominee without seeking to slander the person.
Nowadays it’s more like the opposition party is probing the nominees for the dirt to attack them later on.
The Constitution provides for “advise and consent,” not for brow-beating someone to try and foster dissent.
Political observers will be keeping an eye on the vote count and I’m sure the so-called “moderate” Republicans in the senate like Susan Collins, Lindsey Graham and John McCain will be getting a lot of attention this week to see if they might be willing to vote “no” on a nominee’s confirmation. If the answer is “yes,” that Republican will become an instant celebrity with the media.
Let the Star Chamber-like interrogations commence.