View Full Version : Election: the new normal

David G
12-18-2016, 11:21 AM
Well... let's hope not. Let's hope this is the abberation that finally points out to voters how far down the wrong path we've ventured.


It didn’t take a clairvoyant to predict that President-elect Donald Trump would be almost instantly normalized by the press since he had already been normalized by them when he was a candidate. After a 60 Minutes interview, Lesley Stahl declared him “more subdued and serious.” NBC’s Andrea Mitchell reported approvingly upon the transition as if proposed White House counselor Steve Bannon and proposed attorney general Jeff Sessions, two men with racism in their pasts, were ordinary appointments. Mitchell’s colleague at NBC, Chuck Todd, chastised Sen. Harry Reid, after his eloquent and impassioned attack on Trump, for being “too harsh.” And so the media fell into line. To which we can only invoke John Oliver’s emphatic post-election pronouncement: “THIS IS NOT NORMAL.”

Under normal circumstances a candidate who incited his supporters to attack the press might raise First Amendment issues. But these are not normal circumstances…

That, however, is only one of the media’s derelictions. Far more serious is their normalization not of Trump but of his voters. The former is typical cowardice under threat of reactionary populism. The latter is an endorsement of reactionary populism that may have far-reaching consequences for whether the country can ever be reunited after having been torn asunder.

First Trump. The media impulse to render Trump ordinary, and their sudden disinclination to criticize him is natural reflex. The press needs him as it needs all presidents because the press need access. Trump was fairly brilliant in branding the mainstream media as his opponents and, worse, a group of snotty elitists who disdained not only him but also his supporters. The general public doesn’t much like the press to begin with and Trump ramped up the hatred, so that, according to some reports (http://www.rawstory.com/2016/10/watch-trump-fans-shout-nazi-era-lying-press-insult-at-media-during-rally/), a cluster of his supporters began using the term “luginpresse,” or “lying press,” which is how the Nazis characterized those organs that opposed Hitler. More, they began to intimidate the press, verbally and even physically.

Under normal circumstances a candidate who incited his supporters to attack the press might raise First Amendment issues. But these are not normal circumstances, so Trump can target the press with impunity. Their only recourse is to make peace, which is what they seemed to be doing when they met with Trump this weekend, and peace means less rigorous coverage. The meeting, according to accounts, didn’t go well, but it didn’t have to. Trump bullied the press, and they stewed. We all know how this turns out. No matter how much the media may protest (http://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/donald-trump-personally-blasts-the-press) and show false bravado, he will thrash them into submission. Always remember: The news media are in the eyeball business, not the information business. And Trump gets eyeballs.

Then there is the “Theodore H. White” syndrome. White was the longtime journalist-cum-novelist who came up with the idea of “cinematizing” the 1960 election campaign between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, going behind the scenes, showing the candidates up close and personal, and driving the electoral drama. He became the ultimate insider before there were insiders. But with The Making of the President 1960, both a best-seller and a Pulitzer Prize-winner, White not only changed the temper and tone of political coverage; he created a quadrennial fairy tale (http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/04/teddy-white-political-journalism-117090). In White’s telling, as reported in that first volume and subsequent volumes, the American people somehow manage to make the right decisions, choose the right men, which made the democratic process infallible, even magical.

White would later express misgivings about what he had wrought, turning the election into a soap opera. He seemed to have fewer misgivings about the fairy tale aspect, but that has had as much influence. To decry Trump’s election now is not just to decry Trump. It is to question the wisdom of the American people. And that, not many journalists — certainly no journalist who is dependent upon the American people for his living — dare do. Trump is ours, whether many of us like it or not. And he is the media’s...

David G
12-18-2016, 11:31 AM
How Journalists Covered the Rise of Mussolini and Hitler Reports on the rise of fascism in Europe was not the American media's finest hour

12-18-2016, 12:22 PM
Hey, everything's cool. He won. Might makes right is now a virtue. Imagine kids in school filtering this.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-supporters-violent_us_5854c489e4b08debb7896896?vvrs37e99zveu3 di

"You people were vicious, violent, screaming, ‘Where’s the wall? We want the wall!’ Screaming, ‘Prison! Prison! Lock her up!’ "I mean you are going crazy. I mean, you were nasty and mean and vicious and you wanted to win, right?” said Trump, speaking from an outdoor stage at the Florida fairgrounds.

But now, you’re mellow and you’re cool and you’re not nearly as vicious or violent, right? Because we won, right? Now you’re sort of laying back ... you’re basking in the glory of victory.”