John's Notebook: President Trump's place in history

Trump's place in history
Trump's place in history 01:43

This week, President Trump reflected on his place in history.

"Look at the way I've been treated lately. Especially by the media," Mr. Trump said. "No politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly."

Actually, there's plenty of competition for that title. President John Adams was labeled a hermaphroditic character by a journalist who was so rough on Adams that he threw him in jail. A newspaper published that Jefferson was dead and when caught in the lie said they were just trying to make readers feel better. Abraham Lincoln was called a gorilla and an idiot and a newspaper called for his assassination.

The press was more partisan then, but even in modern times, President Trump is in good company in feeling aggrieved. Here's a Trump-like complaint from a recent president -- cleaned up a bit: "I have fought more darn battles here for more things than any president has in 20 years… and not gotten one darn bit of credit from the knee-jerk liberal press, and I am sick and tired of it … You get no credit around here for fighting and bleeding."

Was that Richard Nixon? He did douse the press in expletives, but no, that was Bill Clinton. Lyndon Johnson said the presidency was like being a donkey in a hail storm. Sometimes you just have to stand there and take it.

President Trump has challenged so many traditions of the office and public life, but by complaining about his shabby treatment in the press, he is a very traditional president.