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Donald Trump has convinced conservatives to save his ego, not the country

President Donald Trump smiles as he prepares to speak at his "Make America Great Again Rally" at Orlando-Melbourne International Airport in Melbourne, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

This undeclared war between the media and Donald Trump is a jumbled mess and I think that’s exactly how the president likes it.

It’s jumbled because a lot of conservatives aren’t sure how to react. Their creed that the media is generally liberal — which is true — and needs to be addressed head-on has handed an opportunity to Trump, one that he is using to fit his own purposes, not the conservative movement’s.

First, let me say upfront that the president is covered by the First Amendment every bit as much as any other American and he can criticize the press every hour, on the hour, if he chooses to do so.

This narrative that he’s somehow limiting the freedom of the press or taking America on a hellish bobsled ride to dictatorship because he spends so much time beating up the media is ridiculous — even when he’s mean.

The media needs to put on their big boy pants and be prepared to receive as graciously as they give, even when Trump’s characterizations aren’t accurate.

But it’s my own reaction to Trump’s anti-media strategy that has me the most puzzled and feeling a bit schizophrenic because I vacillate between cheering and bemoaning his attacks on the press.

I cheer because we had eight years of softball questions from the mainstream media for Barack Obama, so it hardly seems fair that their claws have suddenly come out.

About 96 percent of media people who donated to one of the presidential campaigns this past year gave to Clinton and a good chunk of the media has disdain for the average voter — especially those who voted for Trump.

But then, I later complain because I am, after all, a member of the media and like anyone else, I don’t like being painted with a broad brush. When I was a news reporter, I never made up fake news and I have never actually seen other members of the media just make stuff up — not even my most liberal friends in the press.

I cheer because it would seem that there isn’t a government program that the media doesn’t love, that most who cover government are unwilling to look at how free markets can solve myriad problems and many embrace the idea that what they do for a living should be funded by taxpayers (huge eye roll).

Then, later still, I’m back to complaining because I remember that Trump is not a conservative. He agrees with a lot of the liberal press on the issues. He doesn’t complain about the media just because they are standing in the way of his agenda and making his policies look bad, but because he doesn’t like it when the press makes him look bad.

He’s using the long-term frustration that conservatives have felt towards the news media to convince them to fight for him, not their principles.

Sadly, many conservatives are buying it hook, line and sinker. You have to give him credit. Trump has managed to take conservative eyes off the ball and enlist them in a battle to save his ego as opposed to the country’s soul.

But, maybe the most frustrating thing of all for me is that I’ve now spent precious time (my time writing, your time reading), gazing at my belly button, discussing the role of the press and helping to bolster the image that media types are self-obsessed.

That takes the focus off what’s wrong (and even what’s right) about the Trump administration which is what the media should be focused on.

And if you check my wallet you may find a receipt in there for a hook, a line and a sinker — with a Trump logo on them and a stamp that says “Made in China.”

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