Mocking Donald Trump’s Twitter feed during the GOP primary was amusing.

It was a way for journalists and pundits to kill time between campaign events starring those they deemed the real candidates.

Rushing to mock Trump’s tweets was also sort of funny during the general election, even though things seemed far more serious then as there was a possibility the billionaire businessman from Queens could become America’s next president.

Now news media just looks petty as its members still compete to be first with the wittiest and most shared putdown of Trump’s frequently silly Twitter comments.

The Republican presidential candidate will soon be sworn in as America’s 45th president, and the weird rush to mock, eye-roll and back-slap for the best “LOL!” response to his Twitter feed is an embarrassing waste of time for people who are supposed to act as a check on the presidency.

Here’s an example of media’s online response to a single Trump tweet (all of these accounts are verified, by the way):

You get the picture.

It’s like this for almost every single one of Trump’s tweets. He shoots off a 140-character thought, and members of the press jump to attention, rushing to score the sickest burn.

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“What we’ve continued to try to do was work towards seeing a viable, two-state solution realized.”

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Some of the responses are genuinely funny! Others, not so much. But that’s not the point.

This is not a question of respecting the president-elect (anyway, respect is earned, not given). It’s not even a question about whether people are being too “mean” to Trump. It’s about the fact that members of the press are undermining their ability to make reasonable and credible arguments against the incoming president’s proposals because they are all outing themselves as fierce and derisive partisans.

There is already an enormous amount of distrust between media and many of the people who voted for Trump. If the press is genuinely concerned about America’s 45th, and if it wants to act as an effective check on his presidency, then it must be able to convince voters that opposition is rooted in principle, and not merely politics.

Reporters rolling over each other with the best “LOL” responses to Trump’s tweet are not going to get newsrooms to that place.

Consider, for example, when Trump tweeted on Dec. 17, “We should tell China that we don’t want the drone they stole back.- let them keep it!”

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12/22/16 3:21 PM

The response from news journalists was typical: It was scornful and dismissive.

Absent from many of these knee-jerk responses was any sort of careful and measured attempt to address the fact that the president-elect had just encouraged China to keep a multimillion-dollar piece of U.S. military equipment. There is a major opportunity here to contrast Trump’s foreign policy views with opposing ideas. There’s also the question of whether journalists are allowing themselves to be distracted by the incoming president’s social media presence.

The sick burns were fun and all during the primary, long before anyone thought they would have to write “President-elect Donald Trump.”

But this is serious now.

Trump will be sworn in next month, and those members of the press who inhabit a very loud and well-read space on social media should treat him and his vows to take authoritarian, strongman-like actions as the serious challenges that they are.

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