Check out MediaMatter’s video demolition (see below) of the corporate media’s pathetic coverage of Donald Trump. Key points: 1) the media treating Trump like simply an “unfiltered, tough-talking conservative [is] doing a lot of damage to the way we talk about bigotry in American politics;” 2) in fact, “since day #1, Trump’s campaign has been DEFINED by racial and religious bigotry; 3) Trump is “literally speaking [white supremacists’] language,” yet “most journalists avoid calling Trump’s campaign bigoted…so instead news networks just ask Trump if he’s a bigot and them move on;” 4) news networks “talk around Trump’s bigotry by using neutral words like ‘controversial’, which “just means people disagree about it, which is a really unhelpful and misleading way of talking about bigotry,” putting “racism and Islamophobia as any routine policy disagreement”; 5) “journalism is at its best when it holds public figures accountable,” and doesn’t just consider racism and other bigotry as “weird quirks of Republican politics, they’re something different and they deserve to be treated differently…by news anchors and journalists.” The danger, as MediaMatters points out, is that if the media refuses to do its job on this, then Trump’s bigotry could become normalized, just as climate science denialism became just “one side” in a “controversy” or whether Barack Obama was born in America became a “controversy” worth devoting even 2 seconds of air time to.
In short, the corporate media is cravenly allowing for the normalization of bigotry, ignorance, and lies. Ultimately, as Andrew Sullivan explains in a brilliant and frightening new essay, the corporate media is facilitating the rise of fascism in America. See below the video for a few highlights from that piece, with my comments in italics.
- “Is [Donald Trump] testing democracy’s singular weakness — its susceptibility to the demagogue — by blasting through the firewalls we once had in place to prevent such a person from seizing power? Or am I overreacting?” (No, you’re not overreacting)
- “I think we must confront this dread and be clear about what this election has already revealed about the fragility of our way of life and the threat late-stage democracy is beginning to pose to itself.” (Except, as MediaMatters points out, this has NOT been fully “revealed” because of the media’s cowardice, greed and incompetence.)
- “…it is precisely because of the great accomplishments of our democracy that we should be vigilant about its specific, unique vulnerability: its susceptibility, in stressful times, to the appeal of a shameless demagogue.” (What’s crazy is that these “times” aren’t particularly “stressful” compared to many other periods of U.S. history — except possibly to white men who are terrified that they’re losing – have already lost? – their former dominance over women, African Americans and other minorities.)
- “We have lost authoritative sources for even a common set of facts. And without such common empirical ground, the emotional component of politics becomes inflamed and reason retreats even further. The more emotive the candidate, the more supporters he or she will get.” (And here’s where the media is a huge part of the problem, as they continue with their “both sides” false equivalence, the very concept that there are two equivalent “sides” to everything, even when that’s utter bull****.)
- Trump “intuitively grasped the vanishing authority of American political and media elites, and he had long fashioned a public persona perfectly attuned to blast past them.” (Yes, and also to coopt and/or neuter them, just as Hitler coopted and/or neutered many of the German elites during his rise to power.)
- “In such a shame-free media environment, the assholes often win. In the end, you support them because they’re assholes.” (Evidence: check out the 2010 and 2014 mid-term elections — particularly the 2010 “Tea Party” monstrosity — and also the 2016 GOP presidential contest from hell.)
- “…as the tea party swept through Washington in 2010, as its representatives repeatedly held the government budget hostage, threatened the very credit of the U.S., and refused to hold hearings on a Supreme Court nominee, the American political and media Establishment mostly chose to interpret such behavior as something other than unprecedented.” (This drove me bonkers in 2009-2010, that the media covered the rise of the Tea Party as entertaining, fun, interesting, and at the same time totally “normal” in the “both sides” sense. And no, the media hasn’t gotten any better since then; if anything, they’ve gotten worse.)
- “…what makes Trump uniquely dangerous in the history of American politics — with far broader national appeal than, say, Huey Long or George Wallace — is his response to all three enemies. It’s the threat of blunt coercion and dominance.” (Key words you won’t be hearing from the Wolf Blitzers and Chuck Todds of the world: “uniquely dangerous.”)
- “To call this fascism doesn’t do justice to fascism. Fascism had, in some measure, an ideology and occasional coherence that Trump utterly lacks. But his movement is clearly fascistic in its demonization of foreigners, its hyping of a threat by a domestic minority (Muslims and Mexicans are the new Jews), its focus on a single supreme leader of what can only be called a cult, and its deep belief in violence and coercion in a democracy that has heretofore relied on debate and persuasion. This is the Weimar aspect of our current moment.” (See How Does Donald Trump Score on Umberto Eco’s 14-Point “Ur-Fascist” List of Features?)
- “No modern politician who has come this close to the presidency has championed violence in this way. It would be disqualifying if our hyperdemocracy hadn’t already abolished disqualifications.” (This shouldn’t even have to be said, but of course advocacy of torture should be another automatic disqualifier for public office in America.)
- “Those who believe that Trump’s ugly, thuggish populism has no chance of ever making it to the White House seem to me to be missing this dynamic. Neo-fascist movements do not advance gradually by persuasion; they first transform the terms of the debate, create a new movement based on untrammeled emotion, take over existing institutions, and then ruthlessly exploit events.” (Everyone needs to watch the movie Cabaret, but for now just check out this spine-chilling excerpt.)
- If Trump ever became president, he “would make Cheney’s embrace of the dark side and untrammeled executive power look unambitious.” (Darth Cheney, that is.)
- “Trump is not just a wacky politician of the far right, or a riveting television spectacle, or a Twitter phenom and bizarre working-class hero. He is not just another candidate to be parsed and analyzed by TV pundits in the same breath as all the others. In terms of our liberal democracy and constitutional order, Trump is an extinction-level event. It’s long past time we started treating him as such.” (Apparently, the corporate media – and maybe Americans in general – can’t wrap their brains around “extinction-level events,” whether we’re talking about a President Donald Trump or global warming or mass extinction of species or…yeah, much more interesting to spend untold hours covering/dissecting the jokes at the White House Correspondents Dinner, the latest bad weather somewhere in America, the latest pseudo-“scandal” or whatever. Ugh.)