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Hatred of America's Presidents: Personal Attacks on the White House from Washington to Trump
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ix Introduction On May 17, 2017, President Donald J. Trump addressed the graduates at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. In his address, as is routine for presidents when they speak at a military academy commencement, Trump thanked the cadets and their fami- lies for their service to the nation and spoke about policy objectives for his admin- istration. Perhaps not so routine for this type of venue was Trump’s partially off-script remarks about his ongoing feud with many in the news media: Now, I want to take this opportunity to give you some advice. Over the course of your life, you will find that things are not always fair. You will find that things happen to you that you do not deserve and that are not always war- ranted. But you have to put your head down and fight, fight, fight. Never, ever, ever give up. Things will work out just fine. Look at the way I’ve been treated lately—(laughter)—especially by the media. No politician in history—and I say this with great surety—has been treated worse or more unfairly. You can’t let them get you down. You can’t let the critics and the naysayers get in the way of your dreams. Whether Trump’s assertion is true may depend on not only one’s political per- spective but also one’s historical knowledge of the presidency. Judging to what extent a president has been treated unfairly by or attacked in media coverage is hardly an objective exercise. Supporters of Trump would probably argue that this president, attempting to govern in the volatile and hyperpartisan political environ- ment of 2017, faced unprecedented personal and political attacks and even hatred from opponents in the Democratic Party (for example, the movement to “resist”) as well as the Republican Party (the “Never Trump” movement). Those who oppose Trump might argue that the attacks and hatred are justified. Of course, Trump can give as good as he gets when it comes to verbal vitriol for example, his use of Twit- ter throughout his campaign and the early months of his presidency included reg- ular attacks against “fake news” and certain members of the press, including this