Whatever happens over the course of Donald Trump's presidency, he will go down as the central figure in an unprecedented meltdown of the mainstream national press.
Don't ask us. Don't ask Media Matters. Don't even rely on a Harvard study that found the big three networks giving Trump only negative coverage more than 90 percent of the time his first year in office.
To get a real sense of the media's weird obsession with one strange and powerful man, listen to Rep. Nancy Pelosi — the anti-Trump California Democrat and presumptive speaker of the House.
For the record, Trump says and does a lot of stupid things. He causes anxiety and sleepless nights among rational Americans. He sends outrageous tweets from a phone that is only footsteps from a nuclear football capable of scorching the world.
Trump might have involved himself in crimes and should exit the White House if convicted of anything serious.
Trump deserves, and should expect, a healthy dose of critical press. On these points, Pelosi would surely agree. She also knows everything has limits.
In a shocking response to CNN chief White House correspondent Manu Raju, Pelosi told the press to knock it off with the day-and-night fixation on Trump.
Raju asked Pelosi on Thursday about her view of "Trump being implicated in crimes."
"I wish that the press would spend a lot more time on what we need to do here to meet the needs of the American people instead of morning, noon and night allegations against the president," Pelosi replied. "The Justice Department, the Mueller investigation — they'll work their will, but there are other things going on that are newsworthy."
She did not stop there.
"I think you'd have more viewers and readers if you address concerns that people have rather than just this ongoing, ongoing coverage of what's current with the president from one day to the next."
Raju tweeted a response, criticizing Pelosi for sounding like a critic of the media.
We doubt Pelosi suddenly feels sympathy for Trump, or antipathy for the press.
Love or loathe Pelosi, it is hard to question the seasoned politician's political instincts. Her response to Raju was likely a political calculation, involving a few key elements.
As the likely speaker, she must lower expectations for a House impeachment of the president. She should underpromise, overdeliver.
Additionally, to succeed in her final leadership role, she must be able to work with the president. Even if her caucus impeaches Trump, he likely will remain in office.
Finally, Pelosi knows the public thinks less of the media than it does of Trump. The president's approval rating held between 48 and 50 percent this month, as the public's trust in the media slowly recovered from a low of 32 percent in 2016 to about 45 percent this year.
The mainstream national press should continue its watchdog role against the White House, today and for generations to come. It should also heed Pelosi's wisdom. The vast majority of Americans don't center their lives on the White House or Trump. They care about the presidency, but also about two other separate and equal branches of government and an economy that dwarfs the federal budget. The audience would like to know what else is going on.
REPRINTED FROM THE COLORADO SPRINGS GAZETTE