Donald Trump is a narcissistic boor with a seriously impaired capacity for empathy with other human beings. Those personality characteristics explain his tactless choice of language in his condolence call to the widow of the slain serviceman, David Johnson. And that really is all that there needs to be said about this matter. Instead, the avalanche of media coverage of this story plays into Trump’s hands. It lends plausibility to the narrative that the media are out to get Trump and will seize on every minor transgression in that nefarious effort. There is plenty in in Trump’s behavior that is ugly, hateful and truly dangerous. That is the message that the media needs to attend to; it dilutes that message to dwell on Trump’s every small offense against common decency.
Nancy LeTourneau of the Washington Monthly has done a fine job of exposing the faux outrage in White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s fervent defense of his boss. Unfortunately, not that many people read the Washington Monthly. I’m guessing that the mainstream media will mostly not pick up on the falsehoods Kelly spouted–after all, it’s not easy to attack a gold star general engaged in an emotional catharsis (in the words of the NY Times). Kelly has done a masterful job of exploiting the media’s excessive attention to this story.