Days 91-94 of the Trump Administration

Ivanka Trump at the W-20 Summit in Berlin, Germany.

Days 91-94—For this post, I am employing a different approach. Unlike the day-to-day format, this post focuses on one event and the way two sources report on it. Crooks and Liars, a left-wing website, and Breitbart, a hyper-conservative source, provide contrasting views of this single event. This post reflects on the differences in reporting by these two organizations on Ivanka Trump, daughter of the President, and her recent participation in the W-20 Women’s Summit in Berlin, Germany, which focused on women and entrepreneurship. She was invited by and appeared alongside German Chancellor Angela Merkel, International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde, and the Netherlands’ Queen Maxima.

According to Breitbart, Ms. Trump was “rudely” booed when she spoke of her father. She said “I’m very, very proud of my father’s advocacy—long before he came to the presidency but during the campaign, including in the primaries, he’s been a tremendous champion of supporting families and enabling them to thrive.” In regards to her upbringing, she added that “there was no difference” in the way that she and her brothers were treated. She later told Breitbart via email that her father’s focus on childcare and paid maternity leave “are central to the economic empowerment of women and they will ensure economic growth and job creation across the country.” Breitbart seems to be implicitly critical of NBC’s coverage of the First Daughter’s trip to Berlin by highlighting NBC’s reference to Ms. Trump as “the billionaire’s daughter.” Neither article offers an explanation for why some women in the audience may have booed in the first place, when there is seemingly plenty to boo about. For example, Trump’s pussy-grabbing comment might make women question his commitment to families. Furthermore, Trump’s infamous pussy-grabbing comments were made while his wife Melania was pregnant with their son, Barron Trump. In my opinion, the most telling information about the coverage comes not from the articles themselves, but rather the comment sections. One Breitbart user commented:

“Ensuring that women enter and stay in the workforce is vital…” This is absolutely poisonous feminism. Women should be taking care of their children so they don’t get indoctrinated and abused in day care centers. I’m officially off the Trump Train until Princess Ivanka is removed from the White House team.”

The comment has 75 up-votes and those who responded generally agree with the user’s sentiments, signifying the hyper-conservative consumer base that the news source attracts.

Crooks and Liars’ coverage of Trump’s reception at the Summit, on the other hand, is quick to point out that the Summit is not targeted to all women, but is rather aimed at the privileged. The author starts by saying “…any panel discussion about women and entrepreneurship featuring Ivanka Trump is clearly not aimed at the single mom working the gas station register of her third job.” The author seems to sarcastically attack Ms. Trump’s character, referring to her answer to a question concerning her father’s past treatment of women. The writer says that “her answer was as carefully crafted as her shoes.” It is clear that the author targets the hypocrisy of Ivanka Trump, an “heiress” to her father’s fortune, delivering a speech on economic empowerment for women. The article closes on a rather scathing note after the author deridingly notes that the President will appreciate his daughter’s “perseverance” for finishing her speech despite being booed:

“The perseverance of women struggling to decide between buying milk for their children and sanitary napkins for themselves? Not so much. I bring that up because Chelsea Clinton did — the same week Ivanka is cheering entrepreneurialism as honorary chair of Camp Nepotism’s Office of Emoluments.”

It is interesting to note the differences in tone that the authors from each source use in writing their pieces. What strikes me the most is the stark difference between the focus of the articles. The Breitbart article briefly touches on the booing (as does the Crooks and Liars article), but then praises the First Daughter for her defense of the President and his policies, while not mentioning the causes for concern that led some audience members to boo. The comment section, featuring unabashed criticism of Ms. Trump, gives an insight into the type of consumer reading Breitbart. On the other hand, the Crooks and Liars article tears into Ms. Trump and the latent hypocrisy in her speech, noting that the vast majority of women do not have access to the resources that she does and that she does not represent the plights of these women.

It is important to understand that both of these sources represent radical ideologies. Breitbart attracts viewers from the “alt-right,” a hyper-conservative ideology that attracts extremists in favor of shutting borders and restoring traditional family life. Meanwhile, Crooks and Liars, a leftist source, appeals to voters on the extreme left. Both of these sources offer subjective viewpoints on current events that clearly demonstrate their ideologies. The casual observer should be wary of sources farther away from the centrist points of view because they pick and choose facts and cast their reporting in a manner that fits their narratives.

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