The far-right chorus complaining about the deal that freed an American POW added a member yesterday, when Donald Trump appeared on Fox News. While that would ordinarily be easy to ignore, it was Politico’s story about Trump’s complaints that stood out (via the estimable Kaili Joy Gray).
The piece itself, totaling 269 words, is basically just quotes from Trump condemning the agreement that freed Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from his Taliban captors in Afghanistan. The host of the “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show called the deal “terrible” and “horrible,” adding, “I think it’s going to turn out to be one catastrophe.”
If at this point you’re thinking, “Who cares what he thinks?” the answer appears to be, “Politico cares.”
National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel have both stood by the decision to release five prisoners in exchange for Bergdahl on Sunday talk shows, but Trump, a negotiation expert, says that the Obama administration needs to brush up on its skills.
And it’s that objective, matter-of-fact description of Trump as “a negotiation expert” that reinforces a lingering concern.
My fear has long been that major news organizations would stop treating Trump as an odd, conspiracy-minded carnival barker and start treating him as a credible voice with valuable insights on current events and policy disputes.
That’s a mistake.
Trump has no background in military service and has never demonstrated an expertise when it comes to negotiating the release of prisoners of war. So why is it worth 269 words in a stand-along Politico article when the reality-show host complains on Fox News? Why are his opinions being contrasted with National Security Adviser Susan Rice and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, as if the perspectives of all three enjoy comparable weight?
Indeed, wasn’t the question of Trump’s standing as a credible national figure resolved a few years ago?