Has There Been an Overreaction to Trump’s Wrestling Tweet, and Does It Undermine the Media’s Credibility?
Another day another tweet.
On Sunday, President Donald Trump — leader of the free world and guardian of the largest nuclear stockpile on Earth — decided to tweet a silly video of himself “punching” WWE chief Vince McMahon with a CNN logo imposed over McMahon’s face. The tweet was sent forth from Trump’s own @RealDonaldTrump account as well as the official @POTUS ensuring that future generations will be able to peruse it from the Donald Trump Presidential library.
Was it stupid? Yes. Was it detrimental to Trump’s legislative goals? Probably. Was it anything we haven’t seen before? Not really.
On that last point, the media should take a cue. It’s bad enough covering Trump’s daily Twitter frivolity at the expense of real issues, but indulging in an endless feedback loop of overwrought hysteria over Trump promoting “violence” or any other outlandish claims will only undermine all of our credibility to cover the issues going forward.
Going beyond the insanity of the president’s overall behavior — hardly a fresh story — every storyline undergirding the tweet’s relevance to the national conversation has been painfully contrived.
Maybe it will incite violence, as Morning Joe regular Eddie Glaude Jr. suggested on MSNBC today? Maybe it will. But so might violent movies, Rap music, and Grand Theft Auto. Liberals who once abhorred such logic after the mass shooting at Columbine High School, seem all to ready to embrace the anti-free speech claptrap when it comes to a stupid joke by Trump.
And let’s be perfectly clear. It was a joke. It was not a particularly funny joke, or very “presidential,” as we once defined that word, but it was a joke.
In the EU, the chances of being killed by a terrorist in 2016 were just five times greater than being killed by lightning. The chances of being murdered for some other reason were more than 30 times greater than that of being killed by terrorists and the chances of dying in a sporting accident 51 times greater.
Terrorism is frightening: indeed, its aim is to ignite fear. But surrendering to fear is to give terrorists what they want: the sundering of our open societies and the division of the world into believers and “crusader” enemies. We have no reason to give them this victory and must not do so.
It should be noted that 2016 was a relatively bad year for EU terrorism. Robert Muggah, an expert on terrorism, notes that between 2010 and 2014, the average probability of dying at the hands of a terrorist was 0.0018 per 100,000 (0.0000018 per cent). This rose to 0.034 per 100,000 in 2015, then falling to 0.027 in 2016.
This modest rise in the number of European victims of terrorism in recent years has struck fear in the hearts of many Americans: Donald Trump, for one, has milked it ferociously. Yet 15,696 people were murdered in the US in 2015, a rate of 4.88 per 100,000. In the UK, the murder rate was 0.92 per 100,000. That gap is really worth worrying about.