Trump is beating the media at its own game

He labels reporters in the same way that they label him. He upends their dishonest framing of debates by treating them as what they are, liberal partisans. His exchange last week with April Ryan, a correspondent for the American Urban Radio Network, captured that perfectly. She asked him a loaded question not as a neutral reporter but as a water-carrier for the Congressional Black Caucus. So he treated her that way. “I’ll tell you what, do you want to set up the meeting?” the president said to her, after she asked if he would meet with the CBC. “Do you want to set up the meeting? Are they friends of yours?” Of course, they are friends of hers and she was trying to score a partisan point for them. Had Trump not deconstructed that for the audience, her question might have done him damage. Instead, it fell flat and looked unserious.

Reporters are thrown by a president who questions them as aggressively as they question him. And they resent that he refuses to accept as “facts” what is nothing more than their biased interpretation of the facts.

Everything they accuse Trump of is on display in their own coverage. One can only laugh at the eruptions of prissy sanctimony over Trump’s tweet calling reporters an “enemy of the people,” given the invective in which they have indulged over the last year. Having called him a despot and worse, who are they to scold anyone on intemperate language?

From ill-mannered reporters come lectures on manners. From partisans come demands for non-partisanship. Almost all of the complaints of the press can be boiled down to one demand: that its conservative targets unilaterally disarm. We fight, you surrender — that is the media’s idea of civility.