A big, big part of “Both Sides Do It’s” destructiveness flows from its cynical insistence that every single one of us behaves exactly the same and for the exact same reasons. “Both Sides Do It” journalism assumes that every American is entirely self-interested first and foremost – that we all behave like white, Christian men with money and power. “Both Sides Do It” asserts that everyone steps onto a level playing field, that whatever happened before this instant is utterly irrelevant to the present and that every point of view also has a valid point. This last belief – that’s the justification “Both Sides Do It” journalists use when they refuse to “take sides” or judge anyone’s story – even for its veracity. Oh, sure – journalists eventually got up the gumption to call Donald Trump’s lies “lies” (somewhere above the five thousand lies mark, I think it was) – but those lies create a context. A man who lies every day is more than just a serial liar. He’s lying for a reason – and the reason isn’t “just because”.
There may be a political angle to a liar’s lie, but the lie itself transcends politics. The fact that the liar lied asks a whole bunch of other questions that – to date – most American journalists would never even THINK to ask because to ask those questions, they would have to think differently. They’d have to stop thinking “both sides do it” because they don’t – and never, ever have.
Conservatives think one way and Progressives think an entirely different way. Those two diametrically different ways of thinking produce consistently different results and actions from those doing the thinking. A racist is not motivated by the same triggers his victim is. And – for the record – racists are the WORST judges of whether or not they’re racist. Only an idiot – or an American journalist – would ever think to ask such twaddle. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and a racist’s victim is the only person qualified to call out a racist’s racism. Who is anyone else to question what any racist’s victim has experienced? Walk half an inch in those shoes – the shoes belonging to a racist’s victim – before daring to tell them anything. Maybe if more ignorance was met with shouts of “Oh, shut UP!”, there’d be less ignorance about.
Conservatives and Progressives want very different things for America. And they want them for entirely different reasons! And, yes – they both have their points of view. But, really, do both points of view have equally valid points? Does a conservative argument to limit the vote – even if that means violating a voter’s Constitutional right to vote – have equal merit with that voter’s Constitutional right to vote? Of course it doesn’t. The whole argument’s a non-starter.
But, our news media does the equivalent of giving flat earther’s credence. They report without noting its deliberate unconstitutionality. And that deliberateness – that’s criminal behavior not a political opinion. It’s criminal behavior at the behest of a political opinion. The opinion is one thing. The attempt to manifest that unconstitutional opinion into reality changes it from an idea into an action – and actions unlike ideas CAN be made illegal as this one absolutely is.
As we speak, the GOP is actively engaged in a coup d’etat seeking to wrestle control of our government away from those We The People freely and fairly elected. The Republicans wanted to DENY the transfer of power that they were obligated to be part of – that they swore an oath to do! When they do the opposite of what they swore an oath to do? IT’S A CRIME!
Our problem is that we, thus far, have been too slow to prosecute these crimes – so slow, in fact, that we’ve given the criminals the impression that their crimes aren’t crimes. That their criminal behavior isn’t criminal; that it’s “normal”. That’s not the case. The rule of law cannot enforce itself. It relies entirely on us to go and actually apply it – and apply it fairly and equitably. Ideas are easy to have but, man, they can be a stone cold bitch to execute.
Another stone cold bitch to get right? “Journalism”. American journalism is far too easily impressed by celebrity. The strange thing about humans is that even the most powerful – Vlad Putin included – are fan boys of someone or something. Maybe it’s an actor or singer, maybe a writer or thinker, maybe it’s someone they love but who won’t love them back. Most journalists have been J Schooled into thinking that their politics have no place in any story they’ll ever report. That’s naïve. Worse, it’s stupid.
England to this day remains a “newspaper culture”. Newspapers color the political discussion there far more than they do here. Sure, sure – the powerful read the New York Times and the Washington Post. But way more Americans turn to Fox News for their information. Fox News has nothing to lose from officially making itself the GOP’s official Trumpism mouthpiece. Tell the world something it doesn’t already know. Neither CNN nor MSNBC is anything like a comparable megaphone for the Democratic Party that Fox News is for the GOP.
That’s not just an unlevel playing field, it’s an unlevel stadium! Hell, the whole zip code’s screwy and sitting on its side!
While it’s absolutely so that no one can truly see the world from another person’s perspective – we’re all strictly limited to seeing the world through our own eyes – that doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate that their perspective is different from ours. Patterns of behavior describe a personality far more accurately than pretty much anything that personality can say to describe themselves. After Donald Trump’s third public lie, “that liar Donald Trump” is how he should have been introduced as a matter of general understanding. His followers wouldn’t have had a problem; they don’t care if he lies. Chrissake, they don’t care if he rips them off and steals every dollar they have!
Just as “Trump is a liar” should have been part of our nuts and bolts understanding of Trump, so, too, should be “he’s corrupt”. The two go hand-in-hand of course so, no great leap there. But, it’s the corruption that makes the lying essential – lying is how criminals evade investigation and prosecution for their crimes. Criminals know one thing about the Truth – the last thing it’ll do is “set them free”.
Last night, at long last, Rachel Maddow put the “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” story front and center. As even casual readers of this blog know, that’s a story I’ve gone on and on and on about. Everyone in that room on June 25, 2016 who heard Kevin McCarthy insist that the man they were about to nominate to be POTUS posed a grave national security threat and didn’t call the FBI to report it? We need to investigate them – investigate why they failed to uphold their oath office. We need to know why they then circled their wagons around Trump – and the fact of his being a grave national security threat – and did everything they could to make that grave national security threat president. We need to know WHY they did everything they could to cover up this fact – and every other part of Trump’s strange relationship with Vladimir Putin.
Considering everything that’s happened since that moment – since the GOP willingly and knowingly kept that secret to themselves – we can’t NOT see that moment for what it was, is and remains: an act of overt TREASON. A line can be drawn from then to every strange thing Trump did vis a vis Putin from “Russia, if you’re listening!” to the photo below to Trump’s relentlessly beta behavior toward Putin’s alpha.
“Putin pays Trump” would explain that look on Don’s face better than anything else. Or “Putin OWNS Trump”. Same difference.
It’s all treason.
Why the Republicans chose to behave this way in the first place (fear of demographic obliteration by a rapidly diversifying America) matters. It fully explains their motivation without straining credulity whatsoever. The GOP doesn’t have any agenda to speak of in the normal sense. That doesn’t mean they don’t have an agenda. They do: permanent minority rule. The problem? That doesn’t comport with how our system of government, our Constitution or the rule of law work.
Our news media – driven by “Both Sides Do It” demons – have normalized things that should never have been normalized. When the MSM stopped being outraged by “Mexicans are rapists” and “pussy grabbing” because “her emails!”, they normalized both Trump’s racism and misogyny. In time, they’d normalize every single perverse, twisted, anti-democratic, indecent and flat out corrupt behavior. “That’s just how he is!” the press and its talking heads insisted. “That’s why his voters love him!”
To be honest, I don’t care why fascists love another fascist. I don’t care why racists love another racist or why rapists love another rapist.
I don’t need to see the world from their point of view simply because their point of view has no point. No matter how many times a racist restates his racism, he’s still a goddamned racist! A lie reworded is still a lie. Integrity once destroyed can never grow back. The second your integrity gets dinged? It stays dinged forever. Even when people forgive you, this piece of context will remain as a marker.
Tolerating Republican corruption has not served Democrats or Progressives well at all. It’s emboldened Republicans and given the news media a host of false impressions. Mis-framing Republican corruption as “just a political opinion” has made the news media partly complicit in the Republican assault upon America. The news media may not be the perps themselves, but could they please slow down a little as they drive the Republican Party’s getaway car?