I recently read Norm Ornstein’s and Thomas Mann’s superb and prescient 2012 book, “It’s Even Worse Than It Looks: How the American Constitutional System Collided With the New Politics of Extremism.” For those of you who haven’t read it, I strongly recommend it, as you really can’t understand U.S. politics today in the absence of that book’s core thesis: that, as host Brian Stelter explained this morning on CNN, “there’s been asymmetrical polarization” politically in recent years, as “the Republican Party has moved further to the right than the Democratic Party has moved to the left,” and as “the media has not fully explained to the audience, to the readers, to the viewers this idea of asymmetric polarization and as a result we pretend there is balance when there’s not.”
In response, Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank admitted that “we in the media generally are guilty of this sort of false equivalency and saying there are equal and opposite things occurring here,” when “the fact is they have not been equal and opposite things,” and that the media absolutely can NOT cover Trump the way it covered George W. Bush or John McCain. For his part, Norm Ornstein noted that the reaction by the media to his book’s irrefutable argument was “a willful decision, especially by television networks, cable and broadcast to ignore that argument completely,” and instead to continue with their complete false argument (I’d add cynical and cowardly as well) that “both parties are the same.” Today, with the rise of neo-fascist bigot and know-nothing buffoon Donald Trump, it’s a “real gut check time for American media.”
The question is, will the media rise to the occasion? Personally, I’m not optimistic, having spent years watching closely – and railing against – the corporate media acting like what’s happened with the Republican Party in recent years – from Newt Gingrich to Dick Cheney to John McCain’s disgraceful selection of Sarah Friggin’ Palin as his 2008 running mate to the rise of the extremist Tea Party to Donald Trump – is normal, no different than what’s happened on the “other side” (huh? what’s the Democratic Party equivalent to any of that stuff I just mentioned???). Also, seriously, think about who we’re dealing with here – Chuck(les) Todd? Wolf Blizter? Fox “News?” — and their level of intellect, moral backbone, etc. In short, god help us…or at least don’t expect the corporate media to do anything but what’s good for their preccccciousssss ratings. Ugh.