If you’ve never seen a bullfighter in real life, you’ve almost certainly seen one recorded on television or fictionalized somewhere — the Saturday morning cartoons or The Dick Van Dyke Show.
The commonality in almost all the depictions is the sequined toreador luring the bull to charge a red cape held in his outstretched hands.
The bull, irritated and angry, charges the cape, determined to gore it, when at the last second the bullfighter jerks the cape away, revealing to an increasingly infuriated bull that he’s charging nothing but air.
The bulls fall for it every time. And it turns out the American establishment media behave in almost exactly the same way when it comes to President Donald Trump.
He waves a red cape at them. They charge. He jerks it away. They look like idiots. And the process starts again.
It looks something like this: Trump baits the media. Does something that seems outrageous. Says something outrageous. Hints at something outrageous.
The media react, howl about impropriety, criticize lack of decorum, condemn salaciousness and sputter charges of law-breaking.
The howling, however, always begins before they explore the facts — which they’re not very good at anyway — and by the time all’s said and done, the media’s left standing there with egg splatters so big the public can hardly make out the saccharine expressions of faux concern on their faces.
It happens over and over. Stormy Daniels. Omarosa. Calling white supremacists very fine people. A bevy of women whose sexual harassment claims went nowhere. Trump University. Russia meeting at Trump Tower. The Mueller Report. The Scottish resort and Air Force accommodations. So very many others too numerous to list. And now Ukraine.
Every time the media take the bait and go all-in on how devastating the scandal du jour will be to the president — and every time the president comes out stronger than before. As recently as Tuesday, Trump’s approval rating clocked in at 53 percent.
Trump is to the establishment media what the bullfighter is to the bull. He is their rival, their mocker, their puppeteer.
The so-called Ukraine scandal is no different. On Sept. 18, The Washington Post vaguely reported on an alleged whistleblower report involving the president.
Impeachment talk began soon thereafter. Trump decried the entire charade. That only made the media attack harder.
Then Trump released the transcript. The evidence it contained wouldn’t be strong enough to convict a homeless man of jaywalking, let alone a sitting president of impeachable offenses.
Next, the whistleblower complaint came out, rife with statements of “I don’t know” and multiple false assertions beginning on page two of the nine-page document (there was no talk of servers in the way described and Barr and Giuliani weren’t referred to multiple times in tandem).
All along the way, Trump has mocked the media and Democrats, deriding them 140 characters at a time on Twitter and goading them into ever greater predictions of at last one actual triumph over the rogue president.
Now Trump has encouraged Democrats and the press to go after the only man they come close to hating as much as him — Mike Pence, the unapologetically Christian vice president.
That’s catnip to the media. They think Trump’s throwing Pence under the bus. One Salon headline giddily asked if the Ukraine story might pull down Pence along with Trump.
And just like that, the mindless media bulls charged again.
Pence is unquestionably clean as a whistle. There’s never been a hint of corruption about him, and he appears to live out the tenets of his Christian faith meticulously.
The media have already begun to charge at Pence, just like a bull charging that irresistible red cape. And, just like every other time, they’re going to charge as hard as they can, only to find that there’s nothing but empty air awaiting them on the other side of the cape.
They will look exceedingly foolish, just like the bull.
Any number of other analogies work, too. Trump lures the media into quicksand: The more they struggle, the more they sink. He sets up a tar baby: The more they strike, the more stuck they get.
That’s been Trump’s strategy since day one, and the media fall for it 100 percent of the time.
Traditionally, at the end of a bullfight, the toreador takes out a saber and plunges it between the bull’s shoulder blades, piercing the heart. But on occasion, if the bull has performed especially well, the toreador may spare him.
The media has not performed especially well — not at any point in any of the fabricated Trump scandals. By the end of his eight years in office, Trump will have left the media in a crumpled heap, pierced through the heart.
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