Detroit News writes almost 500 words about Trump needling Michigan's governor for not endorsing him

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Published by: Dan Calabrese on Wednesday March 15th, 2017

Bang up job, Fourth Estate.

I'm going to tell you now about something that is about as close to non-news as a thing can be. It's the sort of thing that might, on a slow news day, be worth 100 words or less in one of those light-hearted roundup pieces. But it is sure as hell not worth a major headline and a full news story, precisely because it's the sort of thing that is a) completely devoid of substance; b) of interest only to political insiders, and probably not many of them; and c) not a big deal by any stretch of the imagination.

Here it is: President Trump traveled to Michigan today to meet with some people from the auto industry. Gov. Rick Snyder also attended. Snyder is a Republican, but he refused to endorse Trump even in the general election last year. In case you missed it, Trump won anyway. So when a photo was being taken, Trump called Snyder over and invited him to be in the photo, "even though you didn't endorse me."

There. I just told you about it in 70 words, and even that was probably more than it deserved. And right now, you're asking, "Why did he even waste 70 words on this? Who cares?"


But the Detroit News, for whom I have written columns occasionally since 2010, thought it was a major news story, devoting 498 words and a prominent headline to it. Political reporter Jonathan Oosting breathlessly gives us the details:

Snyder, who did not endorse in the 2016 presidential election but has been working to build relationships with the new GOP administration, joined Trump and auto industry executives on a tour near the American Center for Mobility at Willow Run.

A pool journalist invited to tag along reported that Trump was walking with General Motors CEO and Chairman Mary Barra and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao when he called Snyder over for a photo.

Trump’s endorsement joke was met with “awkward laughter,” according to the pool report.

Snyder later told reporters the exchange wasn’t personally awkward for him.

“I mean, he’s made that comment about quite a few people,” Snyder said of Trump. “So I view as something that, again, let’s move forward, let’s build bridges and let’s make a stronger economy in our country.”

That's a synposis. Fair use doesn't permit me to excerpt the whole thing, but then again why would I even want to? There is no news whatsoever in the piece.

Politicians always manage to get past an election season in which they sometimes end up on opposite sides. They have to. There's this thing called governing that happens after the election, and if you only talk to people who endorsed or supported you, you can't govern. It's impossible. Trump seems to have a sense of humor about dealing with people who didn't endorse him, as well he should since he had the last laugh.

But the very fact that Oosting wrote this story, and that the News ran it, gives you the totally false impression that there was anything unusual going on here. Politicians pose for pictures all the time. It doesn't mean they're best friends. It just means they had mutual interest in being somewhere, or that their constituencies overlap. Politicians also deal with each other in a civil manner every day even though they may not have supported each other's election campaigns, for whatever reason. This stuff is not personal.

GDP growth for Obama's final year? A measly 1.6 percent

It can occasionally be worth a grin to look into things like this, but the political press has gone way too far in making trivia like this the focus of their coverage in lieu of actual substance. No one cares that they posed for a picture. No one cares about the pool reporter's opinion that the moment was awkward. And to be honest, no one in Michigan really cared about Gov. Snyder's non-endorsement of Trump. I believe Snyder has done a good job as governor and I could spend all day telling you why, but a political juggernaut he is not. He endorsed Mitt Romney and Romney lost Michigan. He refused to endorse Trump and Trump won Michigan.

People vote the way they want, not the way Snyder or any other politician tells them to.

By the way, the Detroit News - whose editorial page usually leans Republican but has trended libertarian in recent years - also refused to endorse Trump. Michigan voters weren't influenced by that either.

Dan's new novel, BACKSTOP, is a story of spiritual warfare and baseball. Download it from Amazon here!