The media is full of astonished reports that some of President-elect Donald Trump’s nominees for Cabinet positions appear to disagree with him on key policy issues, from the U.S. relationship with Russia to the legality and efficacy of water-boarding.
The differences are being presented as if they are, at the very least, cause for grave concern about the stability of the Trump administration. At worst, we are led to believe, the differences are proof that Trump is as incompetent as the media warned.
But just eight years ago, the media were singing an entirely different tune about the perceived policy differences between the President-elect and his picks. Back then, mainstream journalists were waxing romantic about Obama’s so-called “Team of Rivals,” comparing him to Abraham Lincoln, the subject of a celebrated Doris Kearns Goodwin biography of the same name.
Here is a typical example from the Boston Globe, commenting on Obama’s fateful selection of Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State:
But while Clinton is a winner in this arrangement, so is Obama. He manages to look magnanimous in pursuing his “team of rivals”-style cabinet, while turning a potential critic into a loyal subordinate. In addition, he frees himself from some of the demands of US allies, whose expectations are as great as those of his most ardent supporters.
Ultimately, Obama’s “team of rivals” kept their policy differences with him — if they had any — to themselves. Trump’s appointees are making their differences clear — and Trump has not tried to stop them. Yet instead of commending him for his magnanimity, the media are mocking him for his short-sightedness. Suddenly, Cabinet conformity is a good thing.
It is all a sign that the extreme bias that affected mainstream coverage of the 2016 presidential campaign has not abated.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.