When history looks back at the Trump era — asking how the hell it could have happened — after they compile a massive list of all the Republican Party’s corruption, they’ll compile a similarly massive list of all the ways our news media normalized, spread and profited from the GOP’s corruption. Journalism is the only non-governmental job enumerated in the Constitution. It shouldn’t be the collecting pool for egomaniacs who like to be on TV. It shouldn’t base its reporting on the demonstrably false assertion that “both sides do it”.
Because it’s bullshit.
Our system (unfortunately) forces us to make binary choices. This or that. The legislative process itself is supposed to be about compromise but the final choice of whether to do or not do is “yes” v “no”. It’s just the nature of binary choices that they increase polarization and reduce nuance. Both sides may do “something” but they’re not doing the same something — because they’re motivated by different things.
“Modern” Republicans (an oxymoron if ever there was one) are good at marching in lockstep. Modern Democrats not so much. Up until the 2020 election — where Democrats have unified like never before — we were still the exact same group about which Will Rogers said “I’m not a member of any organized political party, I’m a Democrat”. See, American News Media? NOT the same thing. Unorganized people CAN’T march in lockstep together.
Both sides don’t oppress the other sides voters. Both sides don’t think it’s normal to use the courts to stop counting votes. Both sides don’t embrace herd immunity as the way to solve our pandemic problem. Both sides don’t acknowledge on the down low that Donald Trump is the worst thing to ever hit America but, hey, “tax breaks”, ya know?
Both sides are not cynical. Only one side is — and that, unfortunately for us, is the side our news media keeps emulating. “Both sides do it” is a cynical sledge hammer where scalpel-like skepticism is called for. It’s malpractice atop bad writing atop brain dead, perspective-free analysis.
When we get to the other side of the Donald Trump Debacle — and we will because the overwhelming majority of Americans are done, done, DONE with Donald Trump and his Corruption Meets Treason Meets Fascism road show. We’re hip now to the stone cold fact that Trump did not “win” election in 2016, Russia won it FOR him (not the same thing). We’re hip to the fact that Trump just tried to pull the exact same illegal stunt THIS time (he thought the Hunter Biden computer would be this election season’s “but, her emails!”). That stunt, by the way, is what got Trump IMPEACHED!
Don’t forget: Trump is the first POTUS ever to run for re-election having been impeached for cheating in the very election HE’S RUNNING IN. That’s quite an accomplishment.
The last four year’s debasement of our political system has made clear: relying on norms over enforceable laws is foolhardy. Everything must be spelled out for some people — what’s illegal and what isn’t. Even so, they’ll still try to violate the spirit of the law while keeping to its letter. Perhaps if we baked a respect for the commonweal into our education system, we’d “indoctrinate” some of the greed and selfishness out of people.
Ours is a government OF the People, BY the People and FOR the people. That’s how self-government works. We do it for US. Anyone who stands outside of that larger purpose — and then tries to manifest their disrespect for our purpose in reality — to our detriment — needs to pay a price. Funny thing? When you hit greedy people in the pocketbook, the feel it even worse than if you had cut off a limb.
Makes punishing them easier.
While having to punish people sucks, real problems begin if we DON’T punish those deserving of our collective punishment. Bad behavior becomes more viable. Cheating to win becomes “one more way to win”. If we had punished Richard Nixon instead of pardoning him, the surviving Nixonites like Roger Stone and Paul Manafort would have been less inclined to act so subversively — because their subversion carried real risk.
Unfortunately, we keep cutting Republicans slack. We forget who they are and what they’ve done. Take Bill Barr. Lying about the Mueller Report wasn’t Barr’s first time at the “fix Republican criminality” rodeo. He covered up the Iran-Contra scandal so completely we don’t even remember it anymore. He covered up his cover-up so completely that a bunch of DEMOCRATS even approved Barr’s nomination — as if he hadn’t, in the past, taken a great, steaming dump all over them and the whole idea of “justice”.
To this day, most of our news media members have failed to do the same rudimentary due diligence on Donald Trump that Fusion GPS did when they got hired to do oppo research on Trump by the owners of the Washington Free Beacon back in 2016. The first thing Fusion did, co-founder Glenn Simpson testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in August 2017, was get ahold of every piece of PUBLICLY AVAILABLE information concerning Donald J. Trump. They got every book, magazine, newspaper, radio show, TV show, interview, snippet or blind item they could. What they found in PUBLICLY AVAILABLE material so convinced them that Trump was a Russian mob money laundering criminal that they hired Chris Steele to further investigate inside Russia.
Americans have already gone to the polls in record-breaking numbers because we want to preserve (and improve upon) our democracy. After we finish punishing the Republican Party for trying so hard to undermine that democracy, we will turn our gaze on the press.
I hope they’ll all be ready for their close up when the time comes…