Which brings us back to the Trump assault on Mika and Joe. The absurd presidential tweets didn’t just bury any discussion of CNN’s troubles, as everyone in Washington on both sides of the aisle had to agree that the president was way out of line. What this story really did was to reinforce the impulse of most reporters to view bias against Trump as a journalistic obligation rather than a temptation to be resisted.
Those inveighing against Trump’s tweets were doing more than aiming at a favorite target. They see themselves as taking part in a justified crusade against a man who ought to be evicted from the White House by any means, fair or foul. The condemnations were fervent not so much because reporters abandoned objectivity in the heat of the moment but because they believe that the nature of this president dictates a different kind of coverage from what any president has ever received before.
In this sense, Trump hasn’t only confirmed Bannon’s thesis that the media are the opposition; he has also allowed his opponents to defend their bias as virtuous.